Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Ring(s)

I have two engagement rings. I'm not ashamed to say this, although I know it is non-traditional. Eventually, I hope to have three: my current two rings as well as one that I picked out myself. I've gotten some pretty unpleasant reactions to my ring; people who don't understand why I'd accept something that wasn't brand new and 100% what I would choose if I had all the freedom in the world, and people who think it's ridiculous that I have an heirloom ring from BOTH sides of the family, instead of just using one or the other. You can't please all the people all the time.

My mom's set
When John and I started talking about getting engaged, we realized one of the factors that kept us from moving forward with it sooner was the fear of the expense. It seemed so frivolous to put money towards a piece of jewelry when we are a young couple starting out on our lives. And, as backwards as this may sound, we would rather put the money towards the experience of a wedding right now than a rock. I've never been fixated on nice jewelry, although I do wear a lot of costume jewelry, and the idea of putting a small car on my hand was overwhelming. John told me he had his great aunt's ring that he had been thinking of proposing with, but wanted to make sure I was ok with not having "my own" ring. I realized I could probably use my late mom's ring as well, and we decided that using a family ring was the way to go. When both families wanted us to have the rings, it became really hard for me to decide between the two; my mom's ring had so much meaning to me, but could not be un-soldered from her wedding band without being re-set, and John's great aunt's ring was more my taste, so we had both sets resized and I switch between the two.

John's family ring
Sometimes I wish that I had the opportunity to pick out something that I felt suited my (very large) hand better or reflected my personality, and I won't lie, as someone working in the wedding industry I see a ton of HUGE rocks and wonder if people (especially clients) look at my ring negatively because it is smaller. It's not even that I prefer the look of a larger stone; I don't even particularly care for diamonds in general. But it's hard not to get sucked into that way of thinking; I see huge diamonds surrounded by more diamonds every day at work or on Facebook, and those rings always get more oohs and aaahs than mine. I have to remind myself that my rings are valued on a different, more personal scale that near-strangers can't understand; they represent family history, and the loved ones who can't be with us to celebrate this moment. The rings represent two families coming together and supporting our decision to get married. They do not represent a man "purchasing" me with a piece of jewelry that he put his life savings towards. More importantly, they represent our shared values; choosing a solution with more meaning behind it than money, something that John and I are already struggling to uphold with our wedding planning. John and I decided that at some point in the future when the money isn't quite so dear to us, we might pick out a new "engagement" ring (and even then I can almost guarantee that it won't be the monetary equivalent of a new car!), but for now I love looking down at either of my rings and knowing they symbolize our families' love and support, and our desire to start our lives together sooner rather than later.

I respect all couples' decisions when it comes to rings, whether they choose to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a ring or to not exchange rings at all. If a couple has the money for a large diamond ring, then more power to them! My problem is with a society that tells couples their engagement or marriage isn't worthwhile unless they are willing to drain their bank account for a ring, or that tells women it is ok to demand something beyond their partner's means.

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