Why the Engagement Ring Isn’t as Big a Deal as You Think

By Malia Anderson

This post is a response to a previous post about engagement rings on SBM. I’d like to complement the post with some of my own observations and views as a female. You see, jewelry is really personal to me and a lot of other women. Each piece has a back story, they compliment my outfits and moods, and they play a tiny role in who I present to the world when I walk out the door in the morning. The most personal jewelry a woman can wear is her engagement ring, but proposals aren’t about jewelry, are they?

Jewelry Psychology 101

Grown women like to flash a little sparkle. It compliments our curves. You know what else I like? Spanx. But I don’t define my relationship or my identity by either of those things. The idea that every black woman wants to rock the most expensive rock on their finger is a misconception that places a macabre expectation on the men proposing to them. This expectation subconsciously requires men to reward a loving partner with monetary gain and belittles the importance of reciprocating respect.

I’m about to go there: one of the 5 Love Languages is receiving gifts. It’s true. This only applies to one-fifth of black women, and it doesn’t imply materialism. More importantly, it doesn’t imply cost. If your girlfriend is disappointed that you won’t bankrupt yourself for her, or thinks she deserves to bankrupt you, run. Run in the opposite direction. Every kiss does not begin with Kay, boo.

Financially Fly

Your woman’s ability to radiate is not jeopardized by synthetic rocks. Your credit score, on the other hand, might take a hit if you purchase an engagement ring you can’t afford.

I need to know that you have your life together before I’ll say “yes!” to spending mine with you. Financial security is sexy. Nest eggs are sexy. Moving into a home we bought together after the honeymoon is sexy. Delaying our plans to start a family because we have to pay off a diamond? That is the opposite of fly, not to mention that it’s counter-intuitive.

Even if we’ve paid off our student loans and aren’t living check to check, an extravagant diamond is an unjustifiable expense for most newlyweds. Unless we’re hiring a chauffeur (for the yacht) and agree to stop complaining about gas prices.

Symbolism & Placeholders

An engagement ring is more than a one-sided symbol of your love, it is a symbol of our love. It does not answer the question “How much doe$ he love me?” or “How much i$ my lady worth?” (Don’t hate me for this, but neither is a pre-nup.) Your diamond isn’t the period at the end of the sentence “happily ever after.” This doesn’t mean that the ring won’t be meaningful, of course. Something you cherish about your woman is her ambitiousness and the life goals you have in common, such as marriage, after all. That’s nothing to balk at.

In the act of engagement ring shopping, keep in mind that your future bride has dreamed about her engagement ring dozens more times than you. Unless you’re psychic, you won’t pick out the ring she has in mind. You probably won’t get anywhere close. Temporary “placeholder” rings can be cheaper than a fast food value meal and can carry a lot of symbolism in and of themselves:

  • The notion that you respect her input in large monetary investments.
  • The notion that you respect her own taste and style.
  • The notion that you want to give her what she wants, even if it takes a little saving up.

Placeholder rings ultimately send the message that you want to give the rest of your life to someone. The focus is put on the individual that you adore and love to the extent that you can’t imagine your life without them. You can’t buy that kind of romance.

Cultural Chivalry

I agree with SBM’s words about blood diamonds: that we must break outdated traditions when they become malevolent, no matter how conventional. I would add that a chivalrous man can’t help but question such traditions.

Lets talk about chivalry for a moment. There are a lot of misinterpretations of chivalry – holding a door open for a lady, removing your hat when indoors, speaking with respectful words – this is basic politeness. Real chivalry goes beyond your ability to conduct yourself like a grown man. The concept of chivalry means displaying exceptional or unprecedented valor and backbone. Challenging the status quo because of your convictions shows valiance, gallantry, and all those other words associated with knights in shining armor. I don’t know about you, but I want chivalry in my love-life.

Guest author Malia Anderson is a financial content expert from Greensboro, NC. While her dream is to sport a chocolate diamond from Peled Diamonds, she wouldn’t turn down the right man if he proposed with a chocolate cupcake.

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  • Smilez_920

    I don’t want my man going bankrupt trying to buy me an engagement ring. I would like him to put some thought into, but it doesn’t have to be a million dollar ring just something special . I rather have him walk me into our ( surprise) brand new house after our honeymoon vs him getting a ring that ran his pockets to the ground . Plus we have yrs of anniversaries, birthday and holidays for us to trade gifts and diamonds . I also wouldn’t mind going ring shoppig with him, if that’s what he wants. I mean couples shop for the wedding bands together anyway , so if he feels like he needs my opinion on the engagement ring before hand , I’ll work with him.

    Also ladies don’t let other ppl talk you out of loving your engagement ring. Don’t let friends and family hit you with the ” girl that ring is cute , but that’s all he got you, I though he had a good job” smh.

    Sidenote: we were talking about this at work a few days ago. Most of the ppl said women are aware their mans finances , so if he’s making 50k a yr they don’t expect a 100,000 ring. But if he’s making 200,000k + a yr money then he could throw an extra diamond on there just for kicks)

  • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan.

    My father went broke getting my mothers ring. He was my around age when he did, and for the first few years of their marriage they went back and forth between their army base and my grandmothers house #butshehadthatrocktho.

    Eventually they realized it wasn't worth it, hawked it and put down for a house. A much smarter investment to go broke over (though a family earloom could probably save me some money if i ever get engaged….just saying)

    If i propose it will be with the most reasonable ring I can afford. It depends on how much I'm making, and whether or not the father of the bride breaking bread for the weddng, then i can add to the ring budget. I will go broke for school, go broke for a house (maybe not, i'm straight with renting a fly ass loft), or a business I'm passionate about but an engagement ring never that.
    My recent post Today’s Word is… PLATONIC

    • niksmit

      Tristan, I’ma correct you because I can’t let you be this off again. The word you wanted is spelled “heirloom” as in something for the heirs.

  • Mr. SD

    Technically I don’t even believe in engagements…damn all of that..lets just go and get married on a island someplace?! My sister told me there isn’t a woman alive that’s gonna take that deal..lol

    • 2cool4school

      Hold up that's my ultimate dream!!! When I watch Bridezilla and all the other wedding shows I get a headache. I hated art and could give a damn about flowers and colors but take me to Sandals ill call my parents and lets get it over with

      • Mr. SD

        Exactly! I say get married, return home as husband and wife, throw a big azz reception/celebration party and call it a day.

      • KitKatCuty84

        There's a middle ground between Bridezilla and eloping.

        • Mr. SD

          Perhaps there is. I say put all that $$ and energy into the marriage. Its not an easy task and it takes work.

          The one good thing I can say about weddings is its the very first big/meaningful project (barring kids) a couple can work on together. Its a great time to observe how your partner handles stress.

    • bellatrice1

      I would! I think it's romantic…When Julia Roberts and Richard Gere got married in Runaway Bride on a hillside alone (just him her and the minister), it took my breath away. Just me and my boo! Then everyone else can join us once we've said our vows or I would have a reception at a later date (maybe).
      My recent post SBF Seeks Long Term Living Arrangement

      • Mr. SD

        That's what what I'm talking bout. Romantic and cost effective!..lol

    • UmmYeahOK

      Shiiiiiiit! You can have the engagement. If my guy wanted to elope, I'm all for it. Weddings are for show…I'd rather keep that money in our pockets. We can have an amazing party afterward, but I don't need a bunch of people present for my nuptials. My dream wedding would be just like JFK Jr. and Caroline Bessett's. They got married on a tiny island in North Carolina at a teeny tiny church with only 3 or 4 people present.

  • Larry

    I admit, I'm thee LAST one to be appointed Grammar McNazi around these parts, but figured I saw something 3 times in the first 10 lines and drop a lifeline:
    http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/compliment-v

    Moving on…wow, a response to a 3 year old article. It's crazy there are archived posts that old. Definitely a testament to the good work going on around these parts. Ultimately I agree with the post. Get what you can afford and upgrade down the line as you both see fit. Good post.

    • Slim Jackson

      I ain't even mad at your nazi effort. Already corrected. And yeah, there are archived posts going back to 2007. Pretty crazy.
      My recent post slimjackson: @Ladidahdi hahaha

  • makeda

    I would love a white sapphire engagement ring. Guaranteed conflict free,considerably less expensive and less maintenance yet just as beautiful as diamonds. I think as women we should be realistic about our engagement ring expectations and not be shy to drop some hints about it to your significant other, granted you have had the marriage conversation.

  • KitKatCuty84

    When I was dating a guy that I'm so glad I didn't come even CLOSE to marrying, I looked at engagement rings a lot online. I wanted to know what I might GET. I fantasized about my PERFECT ring, and wondered if he was smart enough to check my search history for a hint, or if I should drop clues or whatever. But he was NOT the one.

    Now that I'm with someone that might be the one, I think about what kind of ring it would be, but prefer it to be a surprise. I don't want more than $1500 spent on my ring. I think about gemstones. I think about silver instead of gold. I think about how he'll do it and if I'll cry and why hasn't he done it yet. And I think if it's the RING that's holding him up, I'd rather nothing because the MARRIAGE is what I want.

    So, in my case, being uber hung up on the ring was a warning sign about the relationship.

    • http://inanimatethoughts.blogspot.com Animate

      This is what I think you should do. If you guys have discussed marriage go look at rings together. Try them on and all that. Why? To see what works best with your hand. Just because you may like it, it doesn't mean it will look right on you

      Good outlook focusing on marriage and not the engagement and wedding. You can get a good amount of ring for 1500 if you go to the right places.
      My recent post Murci, Murci Me

  • http://www.biggestdiamond.com cheap diamond ring

    That's a sufficient question that Why the Engagement Ring Isn’t as Big a Deal as we Think indeed. You've shared some important and effective shots about the engagement rings as well. Your post has impressed me as well. That's all. have a nice day dude……

  • http://www.carolbarrettjewelry.com/collections.php Smith

    What a thoughtful allocation you did here with very clear description and its my fortune that through visiting this wonderful allocation I've come to know about all the reasons of engagement ring Isn’t as Big adeal as we think indeed. I'm highly agree with you and also your provided all the reason on this issue.

  • http://www.annabellagio.com/ Bridal Jewelry

    What a Deep thinking allocation you did it here about Diamond and its all the side as well as a symbol of love to everyone. I think that Diamond is really a pretty unique symbol of love but there are some people whose are frequently misuses it. They are think if they gifts Diamond items to their beloved so then their beloved will able to understand how much he love her or how deep he love her. But they are in wrong platform. I can describe this issue more clearly. Supposed you gifted your girl friend a red rose. SO then this can be show to her that how much you love her. But rose is not very expensive like diamond. So it is only the matter of thinking and depends to the person who will get the gift. If that person think that rose is a well and very sweet symbol of love so it can be, or if that person think that rose is a symbol of deep love so it also can be. This case is same on Diamond. But in a straight view both of them (Diamond and rose) are a symbol of true love. Rose is a sweet symbol of love and diamond is a unique symbol of love. Just need to think in a different way. Please not measure your love according to value of the gits. Thanks for giving me a chance to share my thought here.
    My recent post Click one of the post titles above to include it at the end of your comment

  • Saara

    Hi… This is a very interesting article about engagement rings. Engagement is the starting of the most beautiful journey of our life and engagement ring is a very important part of it. It is the symbol of lifetime commitment. But sometimes we feel too tired to find best engagement rings. Your article handles this topic very well. I really loved reading it.