Avoiding engagement ring envy, or: How I learned to love the symbolism

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by Sarah Eliza
Something Blue!
Thanks to KT Wilson for uploading this to our Flickr Pool.

Engagement ring envy — the stuff of legend and myth? Or a nasty side effect of being engaged and the wedding industrial complex?

Recently I met up with an acquaintance of mine after not seeing her for many, many years, and we were discussing her recent engagement (cue the typical "oohs" and "ahhs" from me). She then proceeded to wink at me and say her new fiancé was taking her to Tiffany on Bond Street in London. I am sorry to say that almost automatically that ugly little Wedding Industrial Complex demon was ranting in my ear…

Demon: You know… you LOVE Tiffany…
Me: I am well aware of that.
Demon: You know… you always DREAMED of having a Tiffany engagement ring.
Me: Your point?
Demon: Well… she has just got engaged, what if she will have the engagement ring that YOU always wanted?
Me: Fuck…

As you can see, it's a sneaky little demon that feeds on your wishes and fantasies. Or, in this case, the wishes and fantasies of twelve-year-old Sarah. The Sarah who was determined to marry a dark eyed, handsome man who had plenty of money in the bank and would ask her to marry him on top of the Eiffel Tower.

I have spent a few hours now considering my rather extreme reaction to her happy news and I have come to a conclusion: screw you, little demon.

  • Am I getting married? Hell yes, I am.
  • Am I having my dream wedding? Not exactly… but this wedding is more than I could ever dream of.
  • Am I marrying a dark eyed, handsome man with plenty of money in the bank? Well, he is dark eyed, incredibly handsome and, alright, he doesn't have a lot of money, but he has a heart of gold and, last time I checked, the gold prices were rising. He is incredibly valuable to me.

So I started to think, why the hell am I so jealous?

It was then that I realized: the entire culture of engagement rings almost asks for it. Many women have reported that other women have almost demanded to see their engagement ring. Some have even had to endure murmurs of, "oh, it is not a diamond" if they chose to step outside the norm.

An engagement ring is not about how much money it is worth, it is about locking in a moment in time. When I am old and in my dotage, I can look at my engagement ring, reflect on the lifetime of love it symbolises and also remember what position we were in our lives when it was bought. I can remember the days where our love held us together, despite money woes and how he made sure that, despite these woes, he bought me a ring anyway. I will be able to look into the eyes of my children and grandchildren and tell them that mum and dad/grandma and grandpa were meant to be together because they rode the ups and downs that life gives and how you know you have found the perfect person the day you hold their hand and step forward to beat down all that life throws at you.

  1. My engagement ring is a large manmade dark pink sapphire, I picked out myself from Kay Jewelers and was just lucky enough to find a wedding band later on at Littmans that fit against it perfectly. Oh and it costs us less than $200!

    My thoughts were, if we are ever poor enough that we need to start selling our things, my ring wont be worth enough to someone else and I wont have to part with it!

    It is stunning and I LOVE IT!

  2. My engagement ring came from etsy. It's a beautiful pearl cocktail ring from the 1950s. I think it cost about $45; I love it, it's totally my style, and my husband chose it for me. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

  3. I actually do no have engagement ring envy, even though my ring is less than 1/4 of a karat. What I have is freaking engagement envy. Mine, while sweet, was so dull.

    • Oh my GOSH I KNOW! I am waiting to be engaged to my lovely SO, and its so painful. Especially when at least 3-4 of my friends are engaged and planning their weddings. I have one of them who posts the EXACT FREAKING DAYS! Its so irritating. And I'm just waiting on everything.

    • I had engagement envy too! The first time my fiance proposed was on the couch… the second time was on top of the CN tower because I let him have a do- over. I wanted a story to make people cry! I had waited long enough (7 years!) for a proposal and the plans fell through without a backup. For me the proposal was the most important part!

  4. Even though my longtime boyfriend and I know one day we will eventually get married (as it stands we know we are going with April 1st ####) but for now we are happily content with where we are. For me, I don't buy into what the Wedding Industry Complex wants me to believe is THE standard in engagement rings. Part of me just wants to buck the whole idea. But truly, for me, the engagement ring and wedding band are going to be my most valued pieces ever. No matter the style, price, etc. they are going to make it feel "official" official to me. Sure, the marriage license will be there and it is something I will gaze upon knowing legally we are married but the ring will be an extension of that. Something simple that makes me feel giddy.

  5. Admittedly, my first question upon seeing my ring was "are you serious?" simply because my ring has a center aquamarine and I wasn't sure if he wanted to marry me or just give me a sparkly and I didn't want to be all "OMG yessss!" if he wasn't proposing and make things weird. I can't say I've ever felt ring envy though, mostly cause mine is beautiful and I've never seen anyone outside of a tabloid cover that has a bigger ring. Not that we're rich, all the diamonds are family stones and only the aquamarine is new, but I certainly don't feel out of place with it walking past the Louis Vuitton store. No clue how much it would cost, but it's 11 stones making up 5.5 carats and I'd assume that's a few grand.

  6. No envy here! I got exactly what I wanted. Red amber, garnets, and honey colored amber. It suits me perfectly and it shows just how well he knows me in designing it and having it made!

    I did get the demand to see it and lots of people commenting on its uniqueness but all of them then said, 'It is so your style and fits you guys exactly.'

    • I'm another one who got exactly what she wanted. My ring is a claddagh with 3 tiny emeralds set into the heart. The wonderful part is this: if he'd asked me to send him a picture of what I wanted – it would be exactly what he got for me.

      I don't have ring envy at all. I've got my perfect ring.

    • No envy for me either! I had always wanted a specific brand of ring and when my fiance and I started actually shopping around I fell in love with my ring elsewhere. It was the first ring out of hundreds that we had looked at over the years that he remembered and that means more to me than the name on it! People always tell me how unique it is and that it suits me perfectly! Couldn't be happier

  7. My Ring was made by someone on Etsy.. I found it one day randomly and fell in love with it! It's totally fake (i.e Cubic zurconia) and as a result it was 24$!!! (after shipping!)

    My FH was always worried about "the rock" cause he grew up thinking that he'd have to spend 3 months work of money just to get me a ring that was good enough.. and as a result has been delaying in proposing. So when I saw this ring and I got teary eyed (I'm NOT a jewlery person.. this has never happened.. so I know I was onto something GOOD) I frantically sent him the link and told him that if he was serious about wanting to marry me this was the ring I just Had to Have.. he looked at the price and was like "Really?… are you sure it's good enough" To which I verbally spanked his bottom (I was at work, he was off that day) and told him that it was the first and only ring I have ever felt any sort of anything to and that if he spent a whole bunch of money we didn't have on a ring I wasn't going to like just because it was what other people told him he should do I'd keep spanking him until he changed his mind lol.

    As a result the ring was ordered, re-sized and sent off to me.. It's now hiding somewhere in my house as FH has said since I basically picked out and ordered the ring, he wants to do a "proper proposal" when I least expect it LOL. Fingers crossed for Christmas!

  8. A cousin of mine has the big Tiffany solitaire rock. It's lovely, no doubt. I would estimate the stone at at least a carat, set in platinum. I have my grandmother's re-set three-stone ring and matching wedding band. It has a center stone of about half a carat, with smaller flanking stones. The matching wedding band has four small stones across. It's super vintagey looking in a midcentury Mad Men era way, but most importantly it was my grandmother's. So it's sentimental, plus we didn't give a load of money to the diamond industry in the process of getting engaged.

    I'm also pretty sure it would make me nervous to walk around with a giant diamond on my finger. My mom has a huge anniversary ring, and I just don't understand how she wears it around without feeling awkward and nervous that it might be damaged or lost.

    This just seemed to be the right practical and sentimental choice for us. We spent a modest amount on refurbishing/repairing the rings, and I get a family heirloom to wear as a bonus.

    I'm not going to lie, though, a tiny part of me twinged when I saw that giant Tiffany sparkler. But then I remembered that while that might be perfect for her and her now-husband, it wouldn't reflect me or my relationship accurately at all.

    • I completely feel the same way. My husband bought me a ring perfect for me and a perfect representation of who we are. At first, I had worries that my family would judge because it wasn't even a typical cut/shape (Star Trek Insignia ring!) or that he had diamonds put into it instead of a different stone. But as the wedding approached, I realized how much more of a gift he gave me.
      Every time I showed it, I got to tell our story and even express our geeky habits. And even though I was hesitant about the diamonds, I realized without them, the piece of traditional-ness that I needed in the ring wouldn't exist. In the end, it was perfect and was more than I could have dreamed of having.

  9. It's hard not to get jealous sometimes when I see women with expensive beautiful things of any kind, not just rings. But I remind myself that that there are always people with more, just as there are always people with less. Some friends would be jealous I think of any ring or wedding, because they haven't found that relationship yet. I'm lucky enough to have been proposed to, even though it was with a ring that cost $10. We got married with wedding bands that cost less than $50 each. That's who we are and the life we live. To have something else, I would have to be someone else.

    So I let myself get a little jealous sometimes, because that's human nature. Then I take a moment to be grateful for and appreciate what I have, which is a lot.

    • "So I let myself get a little jealous sometimes, because that's human nature. Then I take a moment to be grateful for and appreciate what I have, which is a lot."

      So beautifully put! Brought a tear to my eye. Bless you 🙂

    • "So I let myself get a little jealous sometimes, because that's human nature. Then I take a moment to be grateful for and appreciate what I have, which is a lot."

      Yes, yes, yes, thank you for this. I berate myself when I feel these twinges of jealousy, like I should be above it. We're all human. It's okay and normal. I just need to let myself feel it for a moment, breathe, and remember what I have is what I love.

    • Thank you, thank you, thank you, perfect timing for your perfect sentiment! Going to keep it and re-read as necessary! Hope you know that your words touched others!!

  10. As those who've read my book know, I didn't have an engagement ring at all. There was no proposal, and no ring. I didn't realize it was a thing until people kept wanting to look at my hands and realized there was nothing on them. HA!

    • My parents didn't have engagement rings either. When I got old enough to notice that other people did have them, and asked her about it, she said, "Oh, he didn't ever propose… it just became clear that we should either get married or break up, so we got married."
      I love that, because it makes it so clear that it was an obvious mutual decision.

      • I wanted to do without(we were incredibly tight with money at the time), but my better half insisted I had to have a ring. In the end it was nice, granted. But so long as I got him I really wasn't that concerned. And he likes to see me wear it.

      • My mom wore two rings, but the "engagement" ring was actually her 1st anniversary present. They have a very cute story in which her sister proposed to them – hence, no ring.

      • My mother also didn't have an engagement ring. She and my dad were not very well off when they started out – in fact he was just a private in the military and 33 years ago, he wasn't even paid enough to put gas in his car every week! So her engagement ring was her 10th wedding anniversary gift from my father. And it was a beautiful memory for the family – he bought it for her, re-proposed and they renewed their vows with my sister and I present as witnesses.

        As for my husband and myself – he proposed to me in the hospital while we were waiting to see the oncologist just as he was being diagnosed with cancer. I had a small diamond solitaire that I had bought for myself a couple of years prior, and he suggested I move it from my right hand to my left. I told him I would only if that meant we were getting married and he basically said "well, obviously" and that was it. My actual engagement ring is a white gold band with a dark blue sapphire in the middle flanked by 2 round diamonds on either side stacked vertically and then three other rectangular diamonds stacked on top of each other on the outsides of the round diamonds. We found it on kijiji for $200. It originally had a tanzanite in the center, but I am super hard on things and had worn down all the shoulders, so he decided to have the stone replaced. Anyway, I love my ring. I love that it isn't something every other girl will have, and I regularly get complimented on how pretty it is. I did once get a "well it's pretty, I guess, but not very traditional" to which I replied "actually, it is very traditional – you should do some research on the history of wedding and engagement rings". 😉

  11. My fiance and I designed my ring with a jeweler who'd worked with my mother on some pieces, and it has a purple sapphire- it is totally wonderful and perfectly us. I actually don't get the "where's the diamond" comments, more "wow, that is so cool that you guys did that." And, I have a co-worker who got her ring off Etsy and it has no stone, and is so so pretty. Though sometimes I look at the bling-y diamond rings some women have and think they are gorgeous, I wouldn't trade my ring for the world.

  12. I'm not so sure if ring envy is a WIC thing as much as it is a human thing. Some people get it, some don't. We all get jealous at one point or another. I never really got ring envy, but I've felt a little bit of dress envy here and there. It happens and we just have to work through it and let our rational side triumph in the end. Now the WIC and obnoxious ring expectations are another thing… (like hell my fiance and I would spend 3 months of his salary on a damn ring!)

  13. I have a lab created solitaire sapphire and I love it so very much! (I teach art and I can't even wear it most days with paint and clay around!) My mother tried to convince me I wanted a diamond! She even told me to get to side diamonds around the sapphire, or a diamond wedding band. She didn't see the practicality of it, clay does not easily come out of small spaces! And it's very minimalist and very me. Now that I'm married I wear my plain band to school.

    Now on the other hand she just got engaged and her ring is so gaudy to me! It's a huge diamond surrounded by small diamonds (twice) then diamonds go down the band too! D:

    • I also have a (pink) lab created sapphire solitaire, set in white gold that I picked from Amazon and it was less than £50. My mum said to me that although it's pretty, she thought "other people might think it isn't real". It's real to me, and I love it, and that's all that matters.

  14. Designing a custom ring together rocks, too. A good jeweler can help you put together something amazing that won't break the budget.

    I love my custom ring. It completely killed ring envy for me.

  15. PERFECT timing. I was just having a mini stressful moment on this exact subject. Like, should we have just splurged on my ring? Should I have gotten the largest version (my ring style comes in 3 carat weights, I got the middle one)? Should I have gotten one with one, large, center stone? (I have 4 small in the center that create "one", with a halo around those and then diamonds in the band…half eternity for my wedding band)

    Does it really matter? Nope. I love my rings! They are sparkly *ooooh aaahhh* and they look good on my hand without looking too small or obnoxiously large. Just right for me!

    I hate this culture that has been created about getting a ring with "good finger coverage" and the "highest quality diamonds" as if, past a certain point, anyone other than a jeweler can really tell.

  16. I can't say I have ring envy at all. To me, the custom art deco ring with pink tourmeline and black diamonds my fiance had made for me is the prettiest, best ring ever. I'm not a diamond girl. And the fact that he took the time to have a ring made from scratch (which wasn't cheap) and find the most perfect hot pink stone to go in it… Well, my heart sings every time I look at it. Because it was chosen with love, just for me.

  17. I married sans engagement ring. We had been talking marriage for some time and when I asked why he hadn't popped the question and he answered "because I can't afford a ring yet". I told him, screw the ring! If we love each other we should just do it, we didn't need a freakin' ring to prove our love.
    When I did tell people I was engaged everyone automatically looked at my hand. Some even gave a sympathetic smile and head tilt when I told them there wasn't a ring. Despite them feeling sorry for me, I felt sorry for them that they put such a value on a rock and not the sentiment behind marriage.

  18. I don't have a ring and it was my decision. I went through a short phase of wanting a "sparkly" as I thought of it but I remembered all the reasons why I'm not having one and I'm still happy with my decision. We will both wear wedding bands when the time comes though.

  19. Oh ring envy. I was guilty of it. SIGH. But when all your newly engaged best friends are happily throwing their two carat diamonds in your face it's hard not to feel a bit sad. Luckily I came to the realization that the ring I was hounding after was ridiculous. Then I started to look at antique rings, and I found a place that sold them for amazing prices. That's where I found my ring from the 1940's with the .98 carat very flawed diamond. I LOVE IT! But wow does the WIC affect my friends, do you know how many times I heard that my ring is "cute"?! Or, the fact that it was better that I picked it since my fh knows nothing?! Or why would I want something old?! Or that all that matters is the size?! Wow, I am so glad my logic kicked my envy monster in the arse!

    • Where did you find the antique ring? We have been looking for one, but don't want to spend too much money. 🙂

      • Try looking in your local phone book for "estate sale" or "vintage" jewelry places. Or try googling "vintage jewelry" +your town, but the phone book will turn you on to more little local places without website, that probably have lower prices.
        You can find a vintage piece and shop local. Win win. 🙂

    • "Cute" kills me. It feels like such an insult regarding all things-wedding, at least for me… like I'm a little girl who isn't grown up enough for things like weddings. I've gotten "cute" with both my dress and my ring, which ordinarilly I LOVE, but once I started hearing "cute," I started to doubt myself and my choices.

  20. I had a weird experience at work lately. Myself and one co-worker I don't see very often both got engaged in the fall. At the office Christmas lunch it got mentioned that there would be two staff weddings next year so afterwards she came over and said "hey, i haven't even seen your ring!" – so i showed her my lovely tanzanite and diamond ring (which i helped pick out.) she was perfectly lovely and oohed and i looked at her's. Which was beautiful and a more traditional all diamond type. I made a comment about it being a big rock (it was!) and she said "are you kidding? the first thing I said when he proposed was 'is that the ring? really?' I wanted something bigger."

    I kind of didn't know what to say to that. You know?

    • It's really odd to me that it's okay to know and voice what you want if it's a non-tradtional stone, or an antique, or a certain design, or even just a cheaper ring. But then it's looked down if you want something typically more expensive? I don't get it. What's wrong with wanting a bigger stone, if there's nothing wrong with a person wanting a sapphire or an antique ring? (Using the royal you btw)

  21. I was at a friend's wedding this summer. During the message, the officiating pastor held up his late mother's wedding ring. It was just a narrow, simple gold band, and it was worn to a wire. And he said that made it so much valuable to him than anything else could– that she'd worn the ring so hard and so long that she wore it out.

    My dad passed away this summer, and my mum's been wearing his ring on a chain around her neck ever since; he worked with his hands a lot, so the band is a bit nicked and scarred, and that's always what I think of when I see its wear.

  22. Currently I'm not sporting an engagement ring because we haven't had a 'proper' proposal as yet, and in any event I'm trying to talk him into getting matching tattoos instead (he can't wear rings in his job, too dangerous, and I don't want to be the only one wearing a ring).

    But when I had an engagement ring, for my first wedding, it was a star sapphire in a silver band, and cost less than my dress – both of them being secondhand and under $50 each. For some reason, people adored it even though it wasn't a diamond. Thing is, I can't say I've ever had engagement ring envy because I've never been a fan of diamonds (which is what everyone else seems to be wearing). I like pretty rings, but I've never been faced with a situation where I'd be envious of what someone else is wearing. Also, my tastes are very different to what anyone else I know wears. Now, rings on the Internet, that's a whole different story …

  23. I never really got ring envy, though the person above who mentioned dress envy drove it home for me – my dress came from Goodwill, and I liked it, but when a dear friend got married a few months later in a dress that probably cost my entire wedding budget… let's just say I was sad. But my wife and I knew that we just wanted simple rings; we each just wanted one, and didn't want to spend much money on them. In fact, when she proposed, I didn't think she was proposing at all, because I knew she didn't have a ring for me, and she knew I wanted one. Of course, miss tricks-up-her-sleeve ended up proposing with her True Love Waits ring (oh the irony!), which I wore until we married (except when we went to visit her parents, as her mother would have keeled over). Our wedding rings are small – mine is a sapphire from a jeweler, hers is four small diamonds from Graigslist. She was worried about bad relationship vibes with a Craigslist ring, but the seller said "It was the right ring, just from the wrong person," and we've given it a great home.

  24. My engagement ring is a teal-colored tourmaline in white gold. I have no idea how much it cost, and I don't really care.

    I DO care that my fiance shopped for, I shit you not, three months before he found something he thought I'd like. I'm incredibly picky about jewelry, and he NAILED it. To me, that's priceless. I know it's just a thing, and if I didn't love my engagement ring it would be just fine, but the fact that he took that much care and put that much thought into it means the world to me.

  25. I have not had envy either. I got the perfect ring for me (Green sapphire stone with small diamonds in an antique looking setting). I may look at other women's engagement rings and the big diamonds, but it wouldn't have meant as much to me if my fiance bought me something like that. He put a lot of thought into what I would like and found the perfect thing for me.

  26. Etsy is still my go-to place for ring-shopping. I don't want, or expect, a big, expensive ring. Literally, the only piece of 'bling' I own is a Han Solo blaster pendant. I just want something blue, with a bird. That's it, that's all. Thanks for this reminder that it's not about the cash, it's about the commitment.

  27. I agree with a comment above about this post's perfect timing! I LOVE my ring. He had it designed with me and our lifestyle in mind. But, out of nowhere, a couple of weeks ago I found myself with ring envy! I see a lot of big flashy rings… and I think the majority of the reason for it was that my yoga teacher's huge rock is always in my face in class, and it is very sparkly and pretty. Mine is lovely, and when people see it they immediately say it is very me. I am clutsy and active, and I wanted something I could wear every day no matter what, because I am very sentimental with ring symbolism. I like a comment above about how it's just human nature to compare certain things with others, be it a ring, or a dress, or anything else for that matter. I was mortified by my jealousy. I think it is mostly because it's not that he got what he could afford… he did. But, I know that when he said he was going to start shopping he'd just gotten his bonus and had plenty of money, that we kind of just spent on random things. Finally he realized he was out of money and still wanted to get my ring. I was suddenly upset recently when I thought that he should have planned more for something I am going to wear for the rest of my life. But you know what? It's perfect. It's us. And, we do squander our money on food and bike stuff and experiences. We never clothes shop and our car is in dreadful condition, but we love food and that's honestly where most of our money goes! We are two people who prefer to spend our money doing things together, rather than on stuff. And, I'm pretty damned proud of that. Sometimes our monkey brains take over for a minute, and it just takes a bit for the rational brains to fight back. My ring is a perfect gift from the wonderful man who knows me better than I know myself. Which is obvious, because he knows I could never deal with the giant ring my yoga teacher wears — I'd poke my eye out!

    • "I was suddenly upset recently when I thought that he should have planned more for something I am going to wear for the rest of my life."

      I totally see that you got over it, but I'm not sure where this sentiment comes from that the engagement ring is permanent. I know a woman who's gotten a new engagement ring every year of her marriage for the last 6 years- she almost has one for every day now!

      Who says we're tied to these pieces of metal and stone forever? Get a new one together on an anniversary, or just for fun. And switch it up now and then!! Why not? We're offbeat brides!

      • I guess personaly I understand the sentiment of never wanting to swap tge ring we started our lives together with.

  28. My husband and I were married on April 1st and when my Uncle who was presiding asked for the rings, my maid of honor produced one of those big plastic ones in the picture (but in pink). My Uncle has a fantastic sense of humor so I thought he'd laugh with the rest of us, but I think his expression of sheer horror made the prank even funnier. 😀

    As for my actual ring, the center diamond is an heirloom from his family. It belonged to his great grandmother. I will never part with it, because no matter what monetary value it is, it will always be worth more to me because it is from my husband – and his entire family, for that matter – and he is the most amazing man I have ever known.

  29. I will completely admit I have ring envy but really its for any ring. He asked and I said yes so we are engaged (planning has started) but he didn't have enough money to get me the ring HE wanted. Personally I would be fine with a ring from a Cracker Jack Box. But he wants a "proper" ring and a "proper" proposel! I don't even feel like I NEED a ring but the non-rude ppl look at my left hand and the rude ppl say "where's the ring?" or (really rude ppl) "well you're not engaged if you don't have a ring." (kid you not 2 ppl have said this.) Sigh…

  30. This is my second wedding, and the proposal was not a surprise. Before it happened I discussed the ring. I let my fiance know that I did not want an engagement ring. I am not a fan of diamonds, and refuse to buy into the after-effects of a successful marketing campaign by DeBeers in the 20s.

    In January my fiance and I are going to a "wedding band workshop" where we will craft our bands for each other. We will be bending, soldering, shaping and polishing our bands for each other. For me this has a lot of meaning about what our marriage means.

  31. my engagement ring was a vintage set we found at the pawn shop for 150. the rings lock together with a tiny swing arm and that was the big seller for me. not the size of the diamond lol. for our anniversary he got me a stuuupiidd sparklie blue topaz with simulated diamonds from a collection at sears called Zeghani. they make crazy pretty stuff but its not too expensive!! mine was 130! sales rock 🙂

  32. OMG! I love your 'heart of gold and gold prices are on the rise' part!

    My engagement ring belonged to my deceased grandmother. It is all I have left of her. Its gaudy and large and I hated wearing it. When we got money, we decided on just bands since I was miserable with that ring (it cut my face if I slept on my hand). So we decided to give up all non-ethically mined or man-made diamonds. Not being able to afford them, we went with an engraved pattern that had special meaning to us and I can say my ring cost no one their life.

    Best decision ever, but when I see sparkly, I still get 'weak kneed' and jealous! Sigh!

  33. I agree, it is the thought that counts, not how expensive it was, or how many carats it has.
    I have an engagement ring, but I hardly ever wear it. (I had it resized twice, but now that I wear my (plain, 3mm white gold) wedding band it sits too far up on my hand and has to get resized, again…)
    We did want something to mark the occasion, but I did not want anything new (also because of the whole blood/conflict diamond thing. I would just feel uncomfortable). So we found a (cheap) secondhand (vintage) band with 7 tiny (diamond) stones. One for every day of the week!
    We picked it out together, but I haven't worn it much. I just don't have a strong emotional band with it.
    However… I do wear my "promise" ring. This was a ring we bought when we bought a house together, and we had to sign all sorts of legal documents (This is something you can do in the Netherlands, for when you buy a house together without being married, for if one of you dies, or if you would break up, you know, all that fun stuff :p!). This was before we were even engaged but this did mark the moment we made our first really serious commitment together.
    What I love about that ring is that we used a stone I already had (when I was 21 I wanted a beautiful ring, but did not had a man to give me one, so I bought one myself). And we bought a setting on ebay, offered as scrap gold (it was missing it's center stone). I loved that the ring used to be worn by the sellers grandmother. Who wore it all her live. (he was so happy to hear the ring would not be melted down, but restored and loved once again!) I love it because we set the alarm at 3.50 AM to make the final bid on the ring. And I love it because we did all of that, together. On a very tight budget. But that makes it all just the more meaningful.
    Yes, sometimes I do get ring-envy. Just as dress-envy and big-wedding-envy… But I guess that's normal. We did not have a lot of money to spend, and even if we did, we probably would have spend it on our home… Yes, it stings (and makes me angry and sad sometimes) when people think (and say) we did not have a "real"wedding, just because it's not what they would have done.
    My man and I are married, and we love each other. And he doesn't need a ring to let me know he loves me, he lets me know that himself, every single day.

  34. I love my engagement ring, it's a wee conflict-free diamond in a beautiful birds nest setting on a brushed silver band, suits me to a tee. Around the same time that we got engaged, two of my colleagues did too, they're sporting massive rocks. I get some weird reactions from people, they're a little taken aback by it's size- are always polite but their pitch changes to an anticlimatic "oh… It's so… You". I couldnt imaging lugging a hefty sparkly thing around and don't think expecting my future husband to sacrifice three months salary on a rock that was mined by people who have horrific work conditions could possibly be good karma for a token of our lives coming together. Plus my fingers are much too stumpy- it would look ridiculous! I'm yet to meet someone envious of my ring, but would assume millions have fiancé envy cos my fella's the bomb.

  35. Pre-engagement, I used to rage whenever I'd hear commercials for diamond engagement rings on the radio, worded in such a way to imply that diamond engagement rings are a requirement and that the bigger, the better. I had told my then-non-fiance that if he ever wanted to marry me I never, ever wanted a diamond because it would just remind me of the commercialization of weddings in general. In the end, I got a claddagh engagement ring with a alexandrite for the heart and *gasp* DIAMOND in the crown. Turns out, his mother sent the diamond from her engagement ring, so its both sentimental and it doesn't support the diamond jewelers I have grown to loathe.

    Strangely enough, very few people even both to ask to see the ring so I don't have any issues related to that.

  36. The whole engagement ring debate has always been kind of hilarious to me. I'm not a hardcore jewelry girl, and I never wear rings normally, so the idea of an enormous ring that's going to get caught on stuff seems weird.

    Recently I was chatting with a friend (who, admittedly, is a bit of a "princess" type) about rings. I said that my boyfriend knows that I like small/medium colored gems and that I want it to be unique, and that otherwise I trust him to find something I will love. She looked at me like I had two heads, then told me about how she's told her boyfriend she insists on a very specific 2kt diamond solitaire ring she found somewhere. It was pretty funny to hear such a totally opposite perspective from mine!

  37. My Viking and I have an ongoing joke about how the TV tells me he has to buy me diamonds or he doesn't love me. I've also repeatedly told him that if he tries to give me a diamond ring I will spray him with a water bottle and say "No! Bad boyfriend!"

    I don't think I've ever coveted anyone else's ring. I mean, they're pretty, and often the rings are very "them" but they're not "me".

  38. What's funny to me is that I thought I was avoiding the whole issue by not having a ring. But even though I didn't want one so many people around me acted like it was some kind of terrible crime that had to be put right asap.

    No matter how many times I said I didn't care they insisted on being "sympathic" and acting as if I was jealous of everyone else's rings, even ones I hadn't actually noticed.

  39. i think all rings are pretty in their own way but there was always something saying hmmmm. not me. and i never figured it out. i always looked at mens wedding bands thinking wow they have cool stuff why cant we have cool stuff…my man stumbled across a ring that SCREAMED my name. center diamond with 10 diamonds on each side but that just the accent in this case i wasnt focused on the diamonds… i was focused on the fact that it was a BLACK rhodium ring! o…m…g how i love it. no white gold rose gold any gold nothin. black rodium…shiney smooth beautiful black and it makes the diamonds POP with the colour contrast. i get judgement all the time…."a BLACK ring? really? BLACK?" , "OH he didnt go with anything traditional…" , "well i guess its nice..u know kinda weird but well i guess its nice" .pff what do they know right? if it means the world to you and your significant other had thought about what YOU want and not what OTHERS expect then it means a million times more. and i love it ladies! uniqueness at its finest (just like me!)

    • WHERE did he find a womans ring in black? we've been looking at dude's rings in black, he hasn't picked uet, but pretty sure that's the route we're going. i have my grandma's ruby (it's about the size of a fingernail) that i have always wantedd to have set for my engagement ring. i was thinking of black diamonds to go with it, but how awesome would the deep red ruby look set in black?!?!?! must. know. details.

  40. i get ring envy sometimes. i think it is mainly because my fiance picked out something that i wouldn't have picked for myself. i do think it's beautiful, it's just higher & larger than i would've picked (i LOVE dainty, delicate jewelry that also doesn't get in the way). so my ring envy is for people who either picked out or received exactly what they wanted– smaller, larger, whatever!

  41. I agree with everyone above who said that envy is a natural response. I could never deny that I have had fleeting moments of ring envy. I don't have the ring yet (it's still waiting to be made due to finances – he has it designed and will not settle for less than his perfect idea) I do however have an amazing memory of the day he proposed and a brass chain that hangs on his picture on my desk at work. For you see, he held my hand on "our bridge" and wrapped that chain around our joined hands while he said " Just as this humble bridge spans the gap between the banks, let this simple brass chain link our separate pasts to our shared future. I ask if you will do me the honor of consenting to walk by my side and explore eternity with me." So every time someone says we aren't really engaged since I don't have a rock on my finger or I get a twinge of the diamond eyed monster. I just ask them how their man proposed – oh with your ring in a glass of champagne – how boring.

  42. Without fail, the non-diamond ring posts always have the most comments!!

    I think the thing that makes people want to comment so much is that we have STORIES about our rings (both diamond and non-diamond rings), and many people who just buy something because they "should" don't get that story to treasure and share.

  43. I love that most people here have said they haven't had any ring envy and I'm the same.

    When my husband was looking for rings he borrowed several rings from an antique shop run by a family friend and wandered around his house all week wearing the various rings.
    He kept going back to an art deco diamond ring with three concentric circles of small diamonds, but his mother tried to convince him that it wasn't really an engagement ring as it didn't have the one big sparkler in the middle.

    Luckily my thoughtful man knew how my brain works and went with the unique deco ring. I have no idea how much it cost or what carat it is and I wouldn't swap it for the Burton-Taylor diamond if it were offered.

    When I was looking for wedding bands to fit around the circular ring a sales assistant in a very expensive jewellers said 'oh but of course you won't be wearing that ring every day, it's a cocktail ring'. Excuse me? Some people have such limited ideas of what constitutes an engagement ring, and I salute all you girls (and guys) bucking tradition.

  44. "all the time, i was thinking, i really hate how i have to twist this thing around just to get dressed"

    Yes, THIS! I'm not engaged, but I often wear a beautiful birthstone ring my grandfather gave me. I love it, but sometimes notice it getting in the way. Like when my hands are cold so I'll put them under my legs, and then the stone cuts into my finger or thigh. I went to a football game a few weeks ago and the woman in front of us had her finger encrusted in stones; I couldn't help thinking how uncomfortable those huge rings must be!

    • Or if you're a nurse or any kind of person who has to pull on gloves regularly… gotta twist it in or it pops through the glove and then you have ALL kinds of grossness going on.

      • Truth! I'm a burn trauma nurse, you can imagine the nasty I touch each shift. He gave me a flat black onyx with a love knot style band, super easy to clean, very much us….Then he installed an in-ground pool for us. I laugh when people look sniffy about my ring and watch their faces fall when I mention the 40k backyard of my dreams that he also gave me <3

  45. I've never really been into the whole big rock thing — the competition over it does strike me as being basically dick-swinging for ladies. My partner proposed with an amber bracelet and I actually told him not to get me a ring because I've never been a ring person, and I find the competition over rocks so off-putting. He did push, though — gently, but it was a part of getting engaged that mattered to him — so we went ring-shopping together and ended up getting a 1920s ring with tiny diamonds from an antique jewellery shop.

    I kind of wonder whether I should have stood my ground sometimes, but I do like my ring, and it still touches me that he wanted to get it for me.

  46. Yes! My fiance' bought my engagement ring from a medieval store at his home in the Netherlands. It's a little gold ring (not real gold, of course) with an awesome design imprinted on the front. I've worn it for 2 years with pride, and I can't believe how many people have given me the 'look' when I show it to them. At the worst they've said, "THAT'S not an engagement ring!" and sometimes the more polite, "Well, that's different!" … but I love it, and I'll treasure it forever!

  47. I'm engaged, but I don't have my engagement ring yet. I proposed to my partner, as we agreed on quite some time ago. We went to get mine the next day, but I wanted a black diamond. The making of my ring is going to take 5-7 weeks.

    It's frustrating to wait, but even more frustrating when people get upset that I don't have "bling" to show them.

    He has an engagement ring, so I always just grab his hand and show them his!

  48. When my parents got engaged they didn't have a farthing to their name (much less a penny), so they got lovely, simple rings they could afford. Fast-forward 30 years, and for their anniversary my dad got her the diamond ring that she always quietly coveted. It was a meaningful and exciting gesture tracking how their relationship and lives have developed and changed together over the years.

    …and I have to admit, she really, REALLY loves that ring!

  49. Yeah….the dress envy is my thing. I went with a secondhand, simple ivory dress, because it was what we could afford. Whereas…if I could have had what I wanted, it would be custom-made and purple silk. It's funny when you realize you've internalized all the "your wedding dress should make you feel like a princess" language…and yet, it still makes me sad that my dress was just "okay" and that I will likely never have another opportunity to wear a truly fabulous dress (we're not fancy people, and hey, we're poor!)

  50. This has bitten me several times. I didn't get an engagement ring because I have both of my grandmothers' rings…which are sets from the 1940s and 50s. I love them. I love what they symbolize (one set of grandparents were absolutely devoted to each other and couldn't stand to be away from each other, even 54 years after they married; the others went through really, really rough times that most folks would have walked away from but they choose to stay and work through it).

    Everyone wanted to see the ring, though, and when I said I didn't have one, I could feel them judging my fiance. Even after I told them why I don't have a ring, I could feel the judgement and disappointment.

    After we got engaged, several of our friends have gotten engaged, each one outdoing each other with the rings. I keep reminding myself that it's not about the ring. It's about the relationship.

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