Weddings

We need to talk about the big problem with engagement rings

Does the bad outweigh the good when it comes engagement rings?

The problem with cheap engagement rings

There are a wealth of problems with engagement rings (pun intended).

Firstly, did you know that expensive engagement rings were popularised by men who owned the world's diamond supply?

Diamond company De Beers worked with an advertising company in the 1930's to sell the idea that if a man truly loved his fiancée, he would buy her a diamond ring before their wedding. The bigger the diamond, the more he adored her.

Then there's the pre-wedding dogma that an engagement ring should cost a man three months salary - that ridiculously arbitrary belief originated with the same 1930s De Beers campaign.

An original De Beers advert.
An original De Beers advert.

Despite their questionable origins, engagement rings remain the symbol of eternal love.

So how much weight do people put on the cost of their engagement ring these days?

According to The Knot's annual Real Weddings Study, the average cost of an engagement ring in 2016/2017 sits at $6,163.

But US-based jeweller Anna Sheffield disagrees that there is an 'average' cost any more, revealing a rings weight is tied more to the values and integrity of the material and the maker.

"That's minuscule! Try ***again***, Johnny."
"That's minuscule! Try again, Johnny."

These real women are proud of their 'cheap' engagement rings and what they represent

Sarah Browning told NTL that her husband proposed when the pair were still students, "So cheap was key."

"I'm most proud of the fact that it was a total surprise! The fact that he went out ring shopping still blows my mind. And he later told me he chose a lower set diamond because he knows I like gardening. I love it because he chose it for me."

'Plus-size' model, Laura Wells is endlessly proud of her 'cheap' engagement ring.

"I love that it is a blue stone, just like the ocean and Jesse picked it out by himself knowing that I would love it. The dark blue colour of the sapphire changes with the light just like the ocean changes colour during the day."

Samantha Nay, another proud cheap ringer owner, sees the practical side of the price range, "I see a ring more as a symbol - it's not the ring itself that's significant.

"I like the idea that if I ever lost it, I could go into a store and replace it with anything and wouldn't be heartbroken about losing some irreplaceable family heirloom."

Brittany's ring was almost $5000, and she acknowledges that's expensive for more people.

"I'm proud that he picked the one I wanted (I didn't know he was proposing and gave his friend suggestions are different prices, this was my wildest dreams ring). It's the style I wanted, and to me, it shows how he puts my desires ahead of his to get me what I want."

Brittany's amazing ring.
Brittany's amazing ring.

So an engagement ring remains a material token, but one that still holds significant emotional and social significance, full of romance and sacrifice.

The problem with engagement rings is that they also remain a symbol of unnecessary luxury built on a pursuit of profits and out-dated gender roles.

After speaking to so many happy and in love women my cynicism has been marred by the thought that the good may outweigh the bad when it comes to rings of love.