What’s love worth?

Decidedly different ring

A great piece in a recently issue of the Indianapolis Star asks, Does love’s sparkle require a diamond? It includes a number of heartbreaking interviews with engaged couples who were simply not taken seriously because their engagement did not begin with the man presenting the woman with a huge chunk of ice. The article got me thinking. DeBeers would have us believe that one’s commitment should equal the cost of two months salary. The first thing anyone asks a future bride is, “Can I see the ring?

When Jordan Corbin and David Wentworth got engaged, he proposed to her with a mother-of-pearl ring that cost about $20. Corbin loved that it was an atypical engagement ring and named it her “magic ring.”

Buying a diamond engagement ring “is what a guy does when he has no imagination and is afraid you’re not going to love him,” she said.

Her family did not agree. When the couple flew to Corbin’s home in Texas, one of the first things her stepfather said was, “Let’s see the ring.” He took her hand and with a disapproving groan, threw it back down and walked away.

But what of students? People with lower incomes? Not to mention people who think that the diamond trade is exploitative and artificially jacks up prices.

I’d like to think that in this modern era, we’re all open minded enough to believe an onyx in a simple silver setting can mean commitment or even that a young couple just starting out might really rather put that those thousands of dollars into an IRA that will support them in their old age. But I guess we’re not.

30 Responses to “What’s love worth?”

  1. Amy November 11, 2005 at 5:10 pm #

    “Not to mention people who think that the diamond trade is exploitative and artificially jacks up prices.”

    Amen, sister! My fianc proposed sans ring, assuming I’d know my taste better than he. The points you mentioned raised my humanitarian/libertarian hackles enough that I had a gorgeous ring designed around my aquamarine birthstone instead of a diamond. Can’t say I’ve gotten any tasteless comments about it, thank goodness.

  2. JayKay November 11, 2005 at 5:11 pm #

    Believe me, I could rant on and on about all the issues surrounding the diamond trade (and I did! What you are reading now is my second draft…quite modified.) but I think it comes down to one thing, for me. I don’t like diamonds. I never have…even as a kid. And now my dislike has been further fueled by the atrocities that take place near the diamond mines every day.
    On another note, I myself have a very simple engagement band…with no stone. And now that I think about it, most of my married friends have rubies and pink or blue sapphires in their rings. One of my friends even wears a gold Irish friendship ring…
    My point is, its no longer necessary for the man to present the woman with a huge chunk of bling to prove his love for her (at least in my circle of friends). In fact I tend to agree with Jordan’s statement that a diamond ring “is what a guy does when he has no imagination and is afraid youre not going to love him, she said.

  3. Never teh Bride November 11, 2005 at 5:39 pm #

    Another interesting fact to note is that before 1947 and the “A Diamond is Forever” campaign, opals, rubies, sapphires and turquoise were the more popular engagement gem of choice!

  4. Annalucia November 11, 2005 at 5:47 pm #

    In the novel “Busman’s Honeymoon,” we learn that Harriet Vane receives a “large solitaire ruby” engagement ring from Lord Peter.

    And for what it is worth, it is also possible to be engaged (and even married) without wearing any kind of ring whatsoever. The Annalucia dislikes rings, and it would have been foolish to buy one and leave it in a drawer. So she and the Tedesco go without. They are none the less married for all that.

  5. Jane C November 11, 2005 at 6:00 pm #

    I couldn’t wear a normal solitaire ring on a daily basis. Whenever I’ve worn rings that had a “jewel” in them, they get snagged on my sweater or whatever, and then I have a damaged sweater and threads stuck to my ring, and once I even accidentally pulled apart a (good-quality) turquoise ring and lost the stone. Risk that with a $12k diamond? No thanks.

    My boyfriend knows that I’d rather have him invest that two months’ salary, and present me with documentation, saying, “Look, I’ve started saving up for a house.”

  6. Never teh Bride November 11, 2005 at 6:46 pm #

    The article mentions the seriousness of the commitment. If anything says serious commitment, it’s the establishment of a shared nest egg!

  7. enygma November 11, 2005 at 7:38 pm #

    Please. How many celebrities have given each other rocks the size of Pluto as a “sign of their commitment” only to have their marriage annuled or whatever 6 weeks later. If both partners are happy, then that’s all that matters.

  8. Dawn November 11, 2005 at 7:46 pm #

    Not to mention people who think that the diamond trade is exploitative and artificially jacks up prices.

    I have a friend who falls into this category, and her husband got her a beautiful black opal ring for their engagement, which she loves and shows off just as much as any other girl. If it makes the couple happy, that’s all that should matter.

  9. Sahuarita November 11, 2005 at 10:09 pm #

    I completely concur! There are so many options for lovely rings out there that are not diamond. Living in a town where there are more engagement ring stores per capita than New York City (and probably the rest of the states, too — Provo, UT has the nation’s highest marriage rate) diamonds are so BORING now. Really.

    I’ve fallen in love with the idea of a pearl engagement ring ever since reading the Ann of Green Gables books. I’m not sure how it would look, really, but the IDEA is what matters.

  10. Kimberly November 12, 2005 at 5:43 pm #

    Sounds like someone’s stepfather needs to be locked in a room with Miss Manners and beaten senseless (properly, of course) until he learns not to be so obnoxious about gifts of love. Can you imagine how rude he is with the gifts people give to him? Please.

    Engagement rings are like marriages – they need to suit the two people involved, and no one else. Among my friends, the rings range from a tanzanite and platinum spider to grandma’s heirloom ring to a hammered gold lion band to a gold claddagh.

  11. Lori November 13, 2005 at 2:12 pm #

    People sometimes speak of fairly modern customs as being traditional. I believe the simple gold band has had a longer run than the diamond ring.

  12. Megaera November 14, 2005 at 4:16 am #

    oooh….on a random note….Annalucia are you married to a German man then, or just a guy of German descent? As it is, the Megaera loves all gemstones equally, wilthout petty favorites. :)

  13. Rob November 14, 2005 at 2:04 pm #

    The girls reaction is a good indicator of the relationship. Isn’t marriage supposed to be about love and commitment?

  14. La BellaDonna November 14, 2005 at 2:30 pm #

    La BellaDonna, her reaction is “Yes … and no.” And she has a certain sympathy for the stepfather, however poorly his reaction may have been expressed. La BellaDonna was raised to believe that it was the thought that counted, and that the stone was not important. Which was a good thing, because when La BellaDonna got engaged, the man who proposed would not get her a ring, on the grounds that the last time he got engaged, and gave the girl a ring, the engagement came to nothing. Which was … disappointing, but acceptable, because La BellaDonna is nothing if not the supportive partner.

    Well, not only was there no engagement ring … there was no 10-year anniversary ring. There was no 20-year anniversary ring. There was also no commitment to assist, not in supporting the hardworking La BellaDonna, but in supporting himself. The lack of an engagement ring turned out to be a very accurate gauge of his concern for and appreciation of La BellaDonna. So, twenty-three years later, much sadder, and perhaps a tiny tiny bit wiser (she hopes), and without the Despicable Ex, La BellaDonna understands that the stepfather may see the engagement ring as saying, among other things, “I have a job'” “I am employable;” “I will endeavor to support your stepdaughter, independent woman though she is, to the best of my ability and in a way which will not cause you endless worry for her sake;” and numerous other messages, in a text not entirely sub-. I am not saying that only a diamond will convey these message, I am not saying that only a ring can convey these messages – but I can understand that someone who stands in for a father could be concerned. No, a ring is not a guarantee of a lifetime commitment, even if it’s meant that way at the time; but the lack of a ring doesn’t mean a romantic, devil-may-care, freewheeling-spirit-commitment-anyway, either (although I am very happy that for the Annalucia and the Tedesco, their commitment is ringless and permanent).

    There will be a ring of some sort in La BellaDonna’s future, since her sweetheart is the kind of man who wishes to buy La BellaDonna a ring. And as I stated in another post, I do not know, nor do I care, what kind of ring it will be; it will be enough that it is from him, and that it was what he wanted me to have.

  15. the Di November 14, 2005 at 3:35 pm #

    I’ve decided on a free trade ring, actually, preferably recycled. Retailers like GreenKarat are affordable and have wonderful production practices. I had always wanted a small diamond in a white gold band, but after researching the diamond industry more, I’m too disgusted to take part in it, and my affection for diamonds cannot overpower that. Instead, I’ll go for a fake diamond or a less expensive gem. This one is just lovely, and I emailed the picture to my boyfriend. We’re talking marriage after college, but why have him invest that much money on our STUDENT BUDGETS in a piece of sparkle? I’d rather have money saved up for a cool honeymoon or a few months rent on an apartment, or even new furniture.
    Remember folks, it’s the marriage that counts, not the wedding.

  16. Lori November 14, 2005 at 3:45 pm #

    Sigh…It’s been my observation that people who are stingy with money and gifts are also stingy with their love, gratitude, compassion, kindness, and forgiveness. And for all their stinginess, they have little wealth. (And by stingy, I don’t mean frugal.)

  17. CBOT November 14, 2005 at 4:36 pm #

    I have to agree with La BellaDonna. Cheapness is not always a virtue, and I think it often (though of course not always) signals a controlling man.

    Considering this is an off-shoot of a blog where the Manolo advises that we all purchase $400+ shoes, I don’t understand why so many of the above commenters would think a $20 ring was acceptable.

  18. Jane C November 14, 2005 at 7:38 pm #

    CBOT: I do agree with you in not finding a $20 ring acceptable, unless there was something else (along the lines of what I mentioned–money put to some other good use, or a large gift of a more practical nature) to go with it. If all he spent to show that he was committed was $20, I would not be impressed, unless he was starving and in debt and genuinely had no money (in which case I’d probably put off the wedding for a while).

    I would be rather disgusted if someone handed me a $20,000 ring, but I’d also be disgusted with a $20 one. Something in the $200-$2,000 range, I could handle. This for example. By the way, I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than $70 for shoes, and I have some pretty cool shoes.

  19. Annalucia November 14, 2005 at 11:16 pm #

    Hola to the Megaera (who I hope is not as alarming as her name suggests) and in answer to her question:

    “are you married to a German man then, or just a guy of German descent? ”

    the Tedesco is of German ancestry on the father’s side, and Irish ancestry on the mother’s, but he looks very much the German, whence his name for the purposes of this blog.

    And the Annalucia is very sorry to hear of the Despicable Ex of LaBellaDonna, and is glad to hear that he has been replaced by a Gentleman of Character.

  20. La BellaDonna November 15, 2005 at 11:05 am #

    Gracias to the Annalucia for her good wishes. Yes, La BellaDonna is fortunate indeed to have the Gentleman of Exemplary Character, who is getting his affairs in order so that he and La BellaDonna may face the future together unencumbered. Alas, one does not make it to our ages without the Encumbrances Needing Ordering, but the Gentleman of Character is worth the wait. (The GC was not amused when La BellaDonna innocently revealed the winters picking up wood off the railroad tracks to heat her house in the winter – and not the *possibly* exaggerated tales of The Manolo, either – it was the Chestnut Hill West local in Philadelphia.)

  21. Nopenname November 16, 2005 at 12:52 pm #

    I believe my ring cost around 200. It’s a very pretty huge chunk of sapphire in a white gold and gold band.

    My birthstone is diamond…I don’t find it particularly pretty or enchanting of a stone. Compared to others, even amythest, it tends to come up lacking in my eyes.

    So, Since my husband knew that going into it, he bought be a very beautiful sapphire ring.

    Three years later, when I was pregnant with our daughter for mother’s day he bought me a similar sapphire ring with three sapphires in it…sort of symbolizing our three years of marriage and linking the mother’s day present with the original engagement ring.

    Further the engagement ring is all I wear I do not have a wedding band.

  22. Never teh Bride November 16, 2005 at 10:53 pm #

    That sounds lovely, Nopenname!

  23. CyndiF November 17, 2005 at 10:40 am #

    My engagement ring was a tanzanite with three small diamonds on the side. How small? When we got the insurance statement from the jeweler, it stated that there were 0.03 carats of diamonds in the ring. So, I told everyone that my fiancee got me a 0.03 carat diamond engagement ring.

    I would recommend tanzanite, which I love, except that I have since heard that Al Qaeda is effectively in control of the tanzanite mines and subsequent profits, which takes a bit of luster off the stone.

  24. Lori November 17, 2005 at 11:49 am #

    Anyone concerned about terrorism or exploitation may be interested in a ring with a Montana sapphire. Besides the traditional blue, they come in a variety of colors. For those who like the look of diamonds, some of the sapphires are colorless. Check out http://www.jsjewelrystudio.com/sapphires.php

    The sites adds, “Prince Charles chose a blue sapphire for Princess Diana’s engagement ring.”

  25. Bria November 18, 2005 at 6:19 pm #

    This might be a totally horrible thing to say, but the first thing I think when I read the comments about diamonds’ lack of prettiness is that y’all haven’t seen very good quality diamonds. Poor cut, poor color, and poor clarity, esp. when combined with meh settings…leave a lot to be desired. A well-cut stone with good clarity and color grade of I or better can look really, really lovely.

  26. Jessica November 18, 2005 at 6:29 pm #

    The Di — thank you for posting the GreenKarat link! Now if only I knew a subtle way of making sure my boyfriend would see it . . .

  27. sheas November 23, 2005 at 5:43 pm #

    I’m relieved to see that there are so many women out there that didn’t find a huge diamond enagement ring necessary.

    I’ve always been horrified by the diamond industry. It’s a complete and total sham. When I was engaged, my husband gave me a beautiful Tanzanite ring, which at that moment in time was currently considered “conflict-free”.

    I now wear a beautiful three-stone Moissanite ring as my wedding band which I would heartily recommend to anyone who is looking for a diamond alternative. Moissanite has many of the same qualities as a diamond and looks just like a diamond to the naked eye. Not only that, but it has more fire than an average diamond and frankly I can’t stop staring at it. Yes, I stare at my own finger.

    Some people complain that Moissanite can have a slight green cast, but that’s why you shouldn’t buy Moissanite from JCPenney’s! Many higher-end jewelers are beginning to work with Moissanite and there are a lot of options out there at the same cost as JCPenneys. My three-stone came from a trunk show at Marshall Field’s where the selling manager told me that the interest in Moissanite has just exploded.

    The best part about Moissanite is that it’s much more affordable than a diamond. This may come off as self-absorbed, but my Moissanite ring is much bigger and flashier than most of the diamond rings I see and it was a fraction of the cost.

    Not to mention that Moissanite is created in the USA. It feels good supporting a company at home.

    (Sorry for my long-winded rant… My sister received a Moissanite engagement ring that just knocked my socks off and I’ve been obsessed since!)

  28. Rock Hound December 20, 2005 at 5:09 pm #

    I don’t think a huge diamond is required and De Beers has a lot to answer for in both trade practices and the way the run mines. However, must of that “information” about history and artifically jacked up prices is from the Canadian diamond industry. Diamonds did not become “popular” among the working folk until two things happened. One – there were enough working folk who could afford luxury goods. Two – international commerce had reached a point were working folk could get things like diamonds. Check some old Sears catalogues. You will see, almost 100 years before 1947, that they are full of diamond engagement rings.

    Do some research on the cost of other gemstones. Ruby prices are also “jacked up.” Do some research on the minerals required for using our computers as we are right now – that’s a nasty story. Google “coltan”

  29. Twistie February 2, 2006 at 2:39 pm #

    When my husband and I got engaged, I took him out and showed him the ring I wanted: a sterling silver frog. When you take it off and look under the frog, you see a man. IOW, it’s an enchanted prince.

    My beloved was quite perplexed by this choice and asked me several times if I was certain this was what I wanted. Eventually he said: but don’t engagement rings have stones?

    My reply was that he could spend $83 on a ring that would make me smile every day for the rest of my life, or he could spend several hundred to a thousand dollars on a diamond, which frankly I would only care about at all because he gave it to me.

    He saw the light.

    Fifeen years later, my frog prince makes me smile every day, and those extra bucks have come in handy for more important things. He was willing to spend whatever it took, and I got exactly what I wanted at a bargain. What’s more, my frog gets squeals of delight from practically every woman I show it to, but nobody else has one quite like it.

  30. Dataceptionist February 23, 2006 at 9:26 pm #

    For me the problem with Moissanite, is that its fake. And you know it. Whats the point? Why pretend to have something you don’t?

    And regarding tanzanite, its actually my favourite stone also and CynidFi and sheas might be interested to know that by Carat weight Tanzanites are actually more expensive than Diamonds. That’s comparing the Grade A tanzanites to your bog basic J/K colour SI clarity. I still think they’re amazingly beautiful. Along with Teal coloured tourmaline which is also quite rare.