It's supposed to be every girl's dream. The love of your life drops to one knee, whips out a velvet box and opens it to reveal a giant glittering diamond ring with the promise that he will spend the rest of his life making you as happy are you were the moment you laid eyes on that jumbo jewel.
Ancient Egyptians began the custom of giving betrothal gift of a ring symbolizing the never ending cycle of life and the space in it a gateway to be worn on the fourth finger which was believed to have a vein connected directly to the heart. Romantic, right? Traditional engagement or betrothal rings were just plain circular bands made from gold, silver, iron or other metals.
So why is now that not just any ring will do? Why does it have to be a diamond?
Kate Middleton is the latest in long line of royals to set trends.The first well documented diamond engagment ring was given to Mary of Burgundy by her future husband Maximilian I, Archduke of Austria. It wasn't a love match; her family had a ton of land & he was the Emperor of Rome but she did get a nice piece of ice and set a trend in wedding jewelry which endures to this very day; wealthy people buying things that not so wealthy people can't afford and rubbing it in their faces.
But we can probably blame the mainstream explosion of diamond rings to the same people that convinced us to "just do it," that "Coke is it," & that you can "have it your way" at Burger King; advertising execs.
Gerald M. Lauck of NW Ayer & son, the ad company responsible for the slogans "reach out and touch someone" & "be all that you can be", & Harry Oppenheimer, founder of DeBeers met in 1938 to devise a marketing strategy to counteract the falling prices of diamonds. They linked the diamond with love & romance and developed ad campaigns geared towards a man's business savvy and a woman's romantic inclinations. The ads affirmed that no proposal was complete with out a big diamond and they even featured ads with famous places of worship to solidify the link between diamonds and the sacred sacrament of marriage.
I never wanted a diamond engagment ring. Besides the fact the I'm obsessed with the color purple, the idea of walking around wearing thousands of dollars on my hands makes me extremely nervous, especially with my predeliction for losing things. It's also the suffocating conformity. Diamond engagement rings in our society are a trap designed to make you feel great if your ring is more expensive than someone else's and feel worse if it isn't. And what about these poor guys being told to spend two months salary on something that you can accidentally leave on a sink while washing your hands (not that I know anyone who's ever done that). They're bombarded with ads that actually convince them that their proposal might get turned down if they don't choose a big enough diamond?! I didn't like my first engagment ring but I knew the man that gave it to me was the one that I'd be sharing my pudding cups with in the old folk's home. It almost makes you wish for the earlier days when men proposed marriage with thimbles.
Celebrities aren't immune from the diamond madness. Mark Zuckerburg received almost a much negative press for his choice of a ruby wedding ring, which he designed himself, as he did for Facebook's poor wall street debut and on the red carpet at the 2004 Golden Globes, Joan Rivers famously called Kevin Costner a "putz" in front of his then fiancee, Christine Baumgartner when she saw the elegant but small diamond he chose for their engagement and that was right before she called her a "fool" for not holding out for something "4 times that size". In 2003, Kobe Bryant bought himself 9 more years of marriage with a $ 4 million, 8 karat diamond sparkler after he was caught cheating. Kim Kardashian's world wind wedding stunner was worth an estimated $ 2 million for a marriage that lasted 2 1/2 months! Maybe Mr. Lauck & Mr. Oppenheimer's theory about diamonds being connected to everlasting love is a little skewed...a brilliant marketing strategy, but skewed.
So, if you're looking to jump off of the hamster wheel that is the diamond engagement ring game, take a look at some other gem options:
Rubies are one of the rarest gems in the world and due to it's crimson brilliance are associated with passion, love, romance & devotion. In ancient times it was used as a talisman for protection. Rubies are also said to prompt emotions such as generosity, inspiration and prosperity, making it a natural choice for an engagement ring.
Famous Ruby Rockers: Sarah Fergeson, Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie, Priscilla Chan (Zuckerberg), Victoria Lockwood (Spencer)
Sapphires have long been used in engagement rings because the sapphire symbolizes romantic love, truth and commitment. Some of the highest quality sapphires come Montana, in the good old US of A. During the 12th century, the crusaders would present their wives with sapphire rings to test their fidelity because the sapphire's color was believed to fade when worn by an impure or unfaithful woman... men, am I right ladies? The sapphire is known as the "gem of kings" and is a royal favorite.
Famous Sapphire Sporters: Kate Middleton, Princess Diana, Penelope Cruz, Elizabeth Smart, Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth II, Liz Hurley
Emeralds are one of the rarest gemstones, harder and rarer than diamonds. Legends have it that the emerald has the power to heal. Emeralds stand for youthfulness and permanence of love and emerald engagement rings symbolize love and all the meanings associated with love.As an engagement ring, the emerald's stock is quickly rising.
Famous Emerald Empresses: Jackie Kennedy, Wallis Simpson, Halle Berry
There are a multitude of options for making the perfect engagement ring that suites your personality and won't make you the fanciest person living under a bridge. What I love most about my non traditional ring is that it's unique. I get tons of compliments on it and I've never seen another one like it. When paired with my custom designed wedding band I can look down at my hand and know I have something special that's one of a kind and all mine, just like the man who gave them to me.
he likes me, he really likes me! ... and Tiny Tower.
What's your take on diamond engagement rings? Comment below or post a pic of your non-diamond engagement ring on The Adding Bliss Facebook page.
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