“I don’t understand about diamonds and why men buy them. What’s so impressive about a diamond, except the mining?”

This is one of my favorite strings of lyrics ever, from the talented Fiona Apple, and her song ‘Red Red Red’.

I’ve never been one who was wowed by diamonds. I don’t understand the obsession a lot of girls my age have with engagement rings.

I’m at the age where lots of people are getting engaged or married, and I am happy and excited for my friends who are going through this process, or have committed lovingly to another person in this way.

I have to be honest that the entire wedding industrial complex irritates me, but I understand it is an industry, and it’s going to do what it has to do.

“Nobody will know you’re engaged if you don’t have a diamond ring”, someone once told me when I expressed that I actually don’t care for the way diamond rings look, and wouldn’t mind if I didn’t have one with diamonds, if I were to ever be engaged.

Well…ok. Would the fact that I am engaged or married need to be branded on me? That makes me feel a little like Bessie down at the farm getting tagged before she becomes a hamburger. Ok, ok, a little harsh, but you get what I mean. Wearing an engagement ring isn’t like having a giant label slapped on you, and on you go to the marriage mill. Right?

Enter stage right: Admiral Ackbar. It’s a trap!

Though some scholars debate this, the engagement ring has been thought of as wedding insurance to some. Divorced your lady? Well, she can keep the ring as consolation for the fact that she is now a damaged woman (these are not my words, but a summary of some of the texts I read). Back in the day when women didn’t work or support themselves, a diamond engagement ring was a sort of financial security.

Enter Breach of Promise to Marry. This obsolete ruling let a woman sue her husband-to-be if he broke off the marriage. When that law went the way of the dinosaur, diamond rings saw a spike, and legal and economic scholars see a major link there.

Lady, would you agree to be a wife? Hooray, your diamond is your price! You are insured. Now, if anything happens, you keep your diamond. Sold!

That train of thought is supposed to be old fashioned these days, with women being financially independent. And yet our society still has a fixation on diamonds and, specifically, diamond engagement rings.

Sure, old (expensive and shiny) habits die hard, just like the idea of a white wedding dress, which we can point to Queen Victoria for.

De Beers chronicles the history of the engagement ring in a way I find slightly amusing, if only because De Beers was the company that basically told us, “hey, ladies, marry for diamonds!”

Love isn’t forever, diamonds are! This article chronicles their ride to and from engagement land.

Here are a few of my beefs with this, aside from, you know, the whole somekidmayhavelostlimbsoroverworkedforyourjewelry issue.

For one, the obsession with weddings mystifies me, so please enlighten me. I like weddings. I enjoy going to other people’s weddings. I wouldn’t object to having one myself. I love picking out wedding cards for people. I am fascinated by what song people pick to play as their ‘wedding dance’. I like that people come together to celebrate love. But I like that people come together to celebrate love.

No, I didn’t just forget and type that sentence twice, I wanted to reiterate. With it being so easy for us to post on Facebook or Instagram, and with Pinterest wedding wishes up in everyone’s face, our lives are a little saturated with wedding-ness (I am making that a word). Being a woman in her twenties, weddings are constantly marketed toward me. That’s right, I’m looking at you Facebook’s Star Wars engagement ring advertisement! So, you realized that I’m in a relationship, and that I am a nerd? Thanks.

Having the constant You want this! You want this! You want this! thrown in our faces is a little daunting. And I know that a lot of people do want it–the wedding, the ring, the nice dress. What I disagree with is when it becomes so much about having a wedding, or a diamond, and less about having a marriage.

Case in point, from one of my generation’s TV staples. Someone once told me that he and his wife decided to have an over the top expensive wedding because they wanted people to take it seriously. So, when is spending lots of money on a wedding more meaningful than the relationship? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it shouldn’t be.

Yet I still hear girls complain and gossip about engagement rings. The other day, I was put on hold, and could hear the girl on the phone talking to her co-worker about her friend’s diamond ring. Well, I guess she thought she’d put me on hold. In a nutshell, her poor friend was being dissected because her fiance’s ring didn’t make a great impression on her friends.

I’ve heard girls criticize one another about this plenty. Her wedding band was too big, and looked funny. She didn’t wear the wedding band with the engagement ring in the correct order. Her diamond was too small. She didn’t get a diamond. Yada yada yada.

Shouldn’t it only matter to the couple getting married? If we are living in a day and age when women can support themselves, and she agrees to get married (and can, but marriage inequality a whole other hurdle for our society)…

I’m so happy to see my recently engaged or married friends making these decisions based on their own individuality and incorporating their unique ideas and personality into their rings and wedding ceremonies, diamonds or not.

And for that matter, I don’t support putting someone down for choosing a diamond ring, just like I don’t expect someone to call out anyone at the grocery store who is buying a product with palm oil in it. Let’s play nice.

I just cringe at the idea that an engagement has to involve diamonds, or that a woman or couple can be looked down upon for not eating up the diamond or wedding industry’s ideals.

Don’t wear something just because some jewelry store tells you that diamonds equate to love, or because you want your friends and family to believe in your marriage. And don’t get caught up in the fantasy of a wedding or engagement festivities over the act of getting married.

In case we forgot: it’s marriage, not a show.

About The Author

Farah is a writer and producer who works mainly with music and educational media. When she is not at work or writing about music, she plays the drums in an indie jazz band. She enjoys sci-fi, prefers to sing show tunes while she cleans, and consumes an obscene amount of seltzer water. You can follow more of her writing and music on Twitter at @LaParadiddle.

6 Responses

  1. Martin Cummins

    I really enjoyed this piece. I guess it comes down to preferences, as you have alluded to in the article. Working in the engagement ring sector myself, I meet a variety of people with different outlooks on weddings and engagement rings, on a daily basis. Some are traditionalists that want the diamond ring, the church wedding and the big reception. Others, are on a strict budget and are limited in what they can afford. There are those that want all the trimmings and those that want low key. However, one thing is constant in the couples that I meet. Their commitment to each other is clear to see.

  2. Luke

    This whole progressive women craps gets on my nerves I am trying to do something and I hear a little girl with an open mind but no sense. It is ok though you will eventually grow up.

    • Leia

      Hi Luke,
      Out of curiosity, since this piece does say that it is up to preference, why is a woman going against diamond rings childish to you? Do you have to spend thousands on an object in order for your love to be legitimized, or grown up? How is spending lots of money on something for show more sensible if you don’t enjoy it?


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