Apparently, where proposals of marriage are concerned, engagement rings are out and promise rings are in. At least, less hopeful men are opting to present their sweeties with gigantic diamond solitaire rings when they propose and instead buying the big bling later when they can choose something that they know their future brides will love.
“It used to be the case that a man would buy an engagement ring to offer to his fiancé when he proposed to her,” said one jewelry retailer. “But that tradition is starting to die out as women prefer to choose their engagement ring themselves.
He continued. “Now, men are just as likely to buy a promise ring to propose with. This is a less expensive ring which is used symbolically during the proposal. The couple can then go shopping together to purchase the ‘real’ engagement ring, allowing the bride-to-be to have a say in the type of ring she wears.”
Um. Okay. So now men are supposed to buy two rings? Promise rings have traditionally been worn by women who were going steady, betrothed or “engaged to be engaged,” or committed to men they might or might not marry at some point in the future. The promise rings I’ve seen in stores tend to look a lot like scaled down engagement rings. According to Google Answers:
It wasn’t until betrothal ceremonies became passé in the late 18th and 19th centuries that an engagement ring finally became *the* thing to wear. The name “promise ring” (and the idea behind it) didn’t come about until recent years (in the 1990s). It is a custom mostly (but not entirely) followed by Christians, and is a way for young couples to promise that someday (usually at no set date), they will marry. A promise ring usually assumes the marriage will take place over a year from the time of giving. The promise ring comes before the engagement ring, which is given when the couple is ready to begin planning their wedding.
It’s sort of like a hierarchy of jewelry. The promise ring is trumped by the engagement ring which is trumped by the wedding band.
Personally, I think some of the promise rings out there are so lovely (like the white gold and princess cut diamond ring above), I wouldn’t mind getting one as an engagement gift.