What’s the Real Deal Behind an Engagement Ring?

Credits: Photo - Anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location - Sarah G. Schmidt's lawn

Summer is just around the corner. Many 20 and 30 something young things calendars are full of friends and family inviting them to be a part of them getting hitched. In most cases there is an engagement period in advance of the big day. With engagement comes jewelry. More specifically diamond rings. It’s big business.

In 2015, Wedding Bells estimates that there was 160,324 weddings in Canada. Brides.com suggests that the etiquette for an engagement ring is still the standard three months salary in most instances. The same site notes the typical spend averages out to just over $5,000. That’s a decent chunk of change at approximately $801,620,000.00 every year! Astronomical national spend aside, rings have grown to become a symbol of everlasting love and commitment. But it hasn’t always been such a happy story. 

The Atlantic reported a few years ago the true reason behind a man providing a woman with an engagement ring was a sort of virginity insurance. The article says,

“A now-obsolete law called the "Breach of Promise to Marry" once allowed women to sue men for breaking off an engagement… There was a high premium on women being virgins when they married… If the groom-to-be walked out after he and the bride-to-be had sex, that left her in a precarious position. From a social angle, she had been permanently "damaged." From an economic angle, she had lost her market value. So Breach of Promise to Marry was born.”

Ewwwww, right?

Luckily advertisers have since spun the legend of engagement rings into something more palatable. DeBeers goes on record for the first to sell engagement rings as a, “symbol of everlasting devotion.” This sentiment is a much better sales pitch than considering a ring as compensation for keeping ones legs shut, hey?

Divorce rate for first marriages in Canada is about 40% from the most recent and available polls. That’s nearly half of those rings purchased that are probably not being worn. Being the pragmatic and curious person I am, I can’t help but wonder what happens with them? Anecdotally we know that many sell. Some repurpose into other jewellery and some simply give them back.

Whatever happens to them there is some foreshadowing evidence depending on the amount spent. One study reports that a high cost in ring – and wedding - may lead to higher divorce rates. It makes sense as finances is a major point of tension in relationships. Buyer beware. There is proof that too much of a good thing can come from a too big ring-a-ding-ding.

Of course it’s not inherently bad to want a beautiful ring. The idea behind marriage is beautiful. It can be lovely. Why not own a lovely engagement ring? It matters not to me what you choose. Just do you.

For me it’s another case for going into the purchase with your eyes wide open. Know the facts. Know your budget and be thoughtful. If your eyes are more magpie than modest keep in mind there are always anniversaries and other wonderful life moments that could warrant an addition or upgrade.

If you need some suggestions for local jewellers, hit me up.