Home Featured Why We Need to Change the Conversation About Engagement Rings

Why We Need to Change the Conversation About Engagement Rings



In the wake of Dwayne Wade proposing to Gabrielle Union, I am sure you all have taken a look at the engagement ring at some point. The rock is huge.  I am happy for Gabrielle and Dwayne. They have great chemistry, but I hope that gentlemen and ladies are not measuring their own commitment by the size of the ring. As consumers of products, television, and the news, there is a constant struggle with identity in us all. Human desires are converted into needs. The effects can be cyclical unless we think critically, in order to feel empowered and empower those around us.

Aren’t relationships about being secure in your own skin and choosing to be with someone who is also secure in theirs? Outside accessories cannot define what lies within a person, so they do not define a union between two people. A pair of Jordan’s doesn’t give you wings, and neither does drinking Red Bull. True Religion jeans don’t bring you much closer to God than watching the Bravo reality show “Thicker Than Water.”

I can envision a couple now discussing what kind of engagement ring is sufficient:

Him: “What cut do you want babe?”
Her: “The cushion cut is definitely me!”
Him: “Sounds good, love. I now have the cut you want, and I have my budget.”
Her: “A budget? What rough estimate are you working with?”
Him: “I have my mind wrapped around $10,000 and nothing more. The wedding is going to be expensive.”
Her: “$10,000! I was thinking at least $20,000.”

I’ll leave that scenario right there. From Kim Kardashian’s 20-carat ring from Kris Humphries, followed by Kanye’s 16-carat ring, and now onto Gabrielle Union’s ring worth $1 Million; it’s getting crazy. Dwayne Wade has the money, so he spent it. That’s his prerogative. Other individuals, on the other hand, who are not necessarily banking millions of dollars every year like Dwayne, need to reconsider. Either the gentleman has a dollar figure in mind and plans on surprising his lady, or the lady has a dollar figure in mind and wants her gentleman to buy exactly that. If there is a clash, the relationship will likely be tested.

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In either case, both partners need to be on the same page. Some ladies do not desire a large, expensive ring, and some gentlemen do not have the desire to spend so much on an engagement ring. The commitment is shown in everything exterior to the diamond and within the connection between the two partners in union. Sneakers and clothing brands don’t define our youth, so why should the size of a ring define the level of commitment to someone else?

I am not advocating a movement of men to tell their soon-to-be-wives that they don’t want to purchase a ring. I enjoy hearing about the unconventional decisions to break away from the common consumer mentality of breaking the bank to buy one. A college friend of mine and her fiancé wear wooden rings, and that is uncommon and very unique. Everyone will not make that decision, but we all have the power of choice. Critical thinking skills are not just for in the classroom. They should be used in our everyday lives. In conclusion, all I am saying is that the conversations need to change, and if there is a price tag on the relationship then maybe it isn’t timeless as any union should be.

What do you think?

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By Alacrity Amir

Amir is a research scientist and community activist, who is also inspired to not only see growth in himself, but in those he comes in contact with.


  1. I think twitter, facebook and instgram gives a small/medium size group of people who don’t have a clue, an area to speak on topics and give opinions that make absolutely no sense.

    I give women in relationships a little more credit than this. I think at least 70% of women who are in relationships leading to marriage know what their man’s income and understand that as a couple they will have more important financial goals to reach (a house, retirement, debt repayment) than spending a crazy amount of money on an engagement ring that neither one of them can afford.

    Now there’s that 30% that fall into the “bridezilla/unrealistic category”. The women who are trying to have Kim K size weddings on a good times budget. Those women will figure it out the hard way.

  2. My boyfriend and I JUST had this conversation. $20k is too much to spend on a ring. I think $1-$5k is a good range is the person has solid employment and income. My thoughts were If you can spend thousands on your car(e.g. sound system, rims, etc). I hope you invest the same in a ring. I make more than my man and can buy mysef whatever I want . I told him I am also willing to be the one to buy the wedding bands and his will have diamonds for sure. I find that some men are cheap with others but will splurge on themselves. I don't liek that. If you really can't afford a ring or my preferred ring, I understand but if you're just being cheap, that's where there is a problem. And no, the ring doesn't define the love or the value of the relationship but I like nice things. Is that wrong?

    1. Let me also say, we're both in our 30's and own our own homes and cars so spending a little extra on a ring is not going to cause a damper on financial goals. I think when both parties are more established, there is more flexibility in this area. Another point that came up in our conversation was the fact that women are now earning more then men and their taste/lifestyle has "changed" resulting in some men not being able to provide the quality of things their lady might like.

    2. You raised a very good point. It's all about is feasible for the union. The number one cause of divorce are finances, so why go into debt before you even have the ceremony?

      If a man is splurging on himself and not his woman than clearly he needs to reflect and change some of his spending habits. That is not conducive of building something with another individual.

      That's why "communication is key". Where there's no communication assumptions grow like weeds, and cover up the true nature of what any relationship should be.

      1. "That's why "communication is key". Where there's no communication assumptions grow like weeds, and cover up the true nature of what any relationship should be." Strong cosign on all of that.

      1. A good friend of mine noted the new marketing strategy implemented through Debeers, which birthed the slogan "A Diamond Is Forever", the 4 C's, and the whole notion that two-months salary (now three!) was a small price for something that lasts forever.

      2. I think if you are serious about getting engaged and then married 3- 6 months salary is not bad, because you should have already been saving months in advance both to plan your proposal and have a ring.I have heard 1 year worth of his salary is appropriate as well.

        1. snapbacksandabigrack: "I have heard 1 year worth of his salary is appropriate as well."

          No, it most certainly is not. The average salary for a man with a bachelor's degree is about $52,000 a year. Walking around with over $50,000 on your finger is insane, especially when you can get a 5-series BMW right off the assembly line for about the same price.

        2. I'll be realistic. I want a engagement ring, but I do not want it to put us in debt before walking down the money. 3-6 months salary could gladly go somewhere else way more important, like where we lay our head, or putting stuff aside for future children.

          This hoopla over rings and carats just seems too materialistic for my taste. 1 year salary? Helllll no.

        3. Wow, you spoke so well. Engagement shouldn't be something that just comes up because you are happy one evening with your partner. It should be something you must have been planning for. And buying an engagement ring should be part of your plans.
          My recent post How to find love after a breakup

        4. Yes, I do not think women need to be timid about the cost of the engagement ring. Through the course of dating, a man would be able to determine if the woman he plans on marrying only wants him for what he can get her.The proposal and ring should be the biggest symbol of his desire to make her his wife.

  3. Mister told me he was saving up to put a down payment an engagement ring. This perplexed me because we'd had a brief conversation about these things before and I told him I don't like diamonds, I just want a gold band. The conversation was brief so we didn't get into my reasons and other gems that I like, but it was had. A ring is not major, but if I have to repeat myself about this again, Mister should probably not make me his Misses because he cannot pay attention to the words coming out of my mouth and our life together would probably be troubled by poor communication.

  4. Honestly, I just want a ring that I like. My old ring was in the 1-5k range. I was thinking about house/ceremony/necessities. I don't even wear rings like that anyway to be that invested in the ring price. I know some women who do and that's cool, however I know a lot who look at the situation, what they like, and go from there. I say do what works for your lifestyle and budget.
    My recent post What’s On Your Workout Playlist?

  5. At the end of the day, you getting the ring I can afford. If you're gonna set me up to make me buy a ring you know I can't pay for, I don't need to be marrying you lol

  6. This convo always boggles my mind b/c i feel like the ring is one of those things we are NOT supposed to be discussing together. It just seems tacky to me. When I've been proposed to I knew the ring was coming. We had convos that let me know we were both thinking marriage…but we definitely didn't discuss, the 4C's, or price or anything else. I just thnk if it's the man I want to spend the rest of my life with the ring so doesn't matter. Just don't get me something fake…LMAO

    1. I wish I'd seen your comment before I posted mine. It is so tacky! I wouldn't ask him how much he spent on any other gift, why this one?

    1. Im saying though. Why would I pay so much money for a ring if other guys didn't want to… Lets be real most of these women aren't virgins now… Why pay full price for a used car…

  7. LOL!!! Yeah using DWade & Gabby U DEBACLE as yet another excuse why cheap arse Negroes are STILL singing this “black women should just be happy someone asked them to marry, DON’T HAVE ANY EXPECTATIONS ON AN ENGAGEMENT RING!!!”

    It’s 2014, I wish the owners of this site could come up with some new topics because this one is like Gabby U giving relationship advice: TIRED!!!!!!

  8. An engagement ring is a gift and as with all gifts, I don't think the woman should know how much the ring costs. You shouldn't be volunterring that info to her and she shouldn't be asking about it. That's just tacky!

      1. Yea I have helped my brothers and friends shop for engagement rings, and they must have been insane too, because they all bought rings over $20,000.

  9. Maybe its just me but I think the 1k + range is already a lot for a ring. I wouldn't say too much bc if that's what he's willing to spend on me then cool, but it is a lot. I want a wedding ring- actually it's a requirement- but I don't care how much it costs. When he puts it on finger, I'm not gonna say, "Wow, how much was this?" just like I won't do with anything else he buys me.

    All I'm saying is if he buys me a 5k ring it better be EXTRAORDINARY!!! What can he find in a 5k ring that he couldn't find in a cheaper one other than maybe a bigger rock? Some people focus too much on the size and not enough on the rest of the ring: the band, the character, the detail, etc. I just want a ring that I like and that's me.

    Honestly, I don't care for Gabby's ring, because its too simple; it's big and that's all. Lol, he probably went into the store and told the jeweler "Gimme the biggest rock in this sh**" and bought it. I feel like a lot of women would love to have her ring, but that's the problem. I was talking to my brother about this the other day when he was casually looking at wedding rings and told him a wedding ring is not one-for-all. The most beautiful ring you found for your first wife may be only mediocre or downright ugly for your second wife. If when my man gives me a ring I can sense that he put thought into my taste and the person that I am, then I am 100% satisfied!

    1. I would also love it if later on (that night or weeks later) he explained to me why he chose that ring. That would make me love it even more!

        1. Thank you. And I must revise that second sentence in my post. I meant…

          "I wouldn't say *it's* too much bc if that's what he's willing to spend *on the ring* then cool, but it is a lot."
          Not *on me* entirely, two different things.

          And 1k-2k is a lot but can be worth it, while 5k is just a lot.

  10. *Shrugs* I've always thought $1-$5k-ish was generally fine for us common folk. Last month I bought a car with a $4k down payment that took maybe 6-7 months to save (I'm a mid-tier media professional). I will also begin saving for a new Mac ($2k) soon, and will be done in time for the back to school rush so I can bother a younger sibling for their college discount. 🙂 Basically, depending on your salary (NOT including savings in this!) and discipline, I believe $1k-$5k is more or less doable for most people.


    Just do you. If anything, any major skid bumps in this kind of conversation is helpful because it will weed out the jerks–both men and women. As someone said above, does a man invest more in other things/people than you? Is your woman demanding a $50k ring and you're a teacher? Now personally, I wouldn't want any marriage conversations to get all that technical in the first place. As said above, I think it's tacky.

  11. Honestly, I think the online honeys concerned with rings are just on the internet. Kind of like the twittermen with their rediculous "preferences". Empty barrels make the most noise. I find it hard to believe more than 12 women exist that would answer a marriage proposal with "with THAT ring?"

    HOWEVER, if you are purchasing something that I will be wearing for the rest of my life I would hope you would at least consider my taste and not purchase the first thing out there. For example, I'm not a fan of yellow gold…or diamonds in general. I MAY pout a tad if you get me a yellow gold solitaire. It's just basic consideration.
    My recent post Misadventures of a Single Black Latina-An Open letter to the Bitter Brians

  12. since all i can afford is ringpop status…

    methinks i'll be doing the bachelor life for quite a while.

    God Bless y'all women that get rings that are equivalent to 3-6-12 months salary. y'all are winning *salute*

  13. My wife and I discussed and thought that the engagement ring was a waste of money? We really analyzed why we would want it. If you know the history of the engagement ring you know it was essentially an insurance policy. It’s from a bygone era. Does an engagement ring make your relationship stronger? And regardless it is you and your partners first MUTUAL investment. Why waste on something like that? Put it towards a down payment on a home.

  14. What if he/she breaks the engagement? Does she give the ring back?

    If I save long enough to buy a ring that is worth half my annual salary and the situation doesn't work out, I am DEFINITELY going to want my "ish" back (and I am a woman) or there will be consequences!

    1. LOL why so many doubts? I think woman should give the ring back though if an engagement does not pan out.My sister gave hers back, but probably because it was ugly (and it cost $7,000 I went with her ex fiance). The displeasing aesthetic had nothing to do with size of the diamond, the design was just horrid, but he would not listen to me.

  15. Someone mentioned a wooden ring. Thanks for the idea. I going to discuss this with my fiance. What about a chocolate diamond engagement ring? Think that’s tacky? I want that instead.

  16. Diamonds are a very very very common stone… what is diamond made of, Carbon – we have there is a whole lot of carbon on earth… That is the big secret DeBeers has had all this time. The moment you walk out of the store the diamond is worth about the same as industrial diamonds (glass cutting, tool sharpening) -you lose about 2/3 of the price by buying it.

    1. what is diamond made of, Carbon – we have there is a whole lot of carbon on earth…

      maaaane!…..I'm trying to tell em.

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