By Tonya Rapley
The bling... The universally approved signal that he "liked it " so he "put a ring on it".
The most frequently asked question after announcing my engagement was, "Let me see the ring".
Wait, that's not even a question, it's a request, and a rather rude one at that. It's almost like the person is saying, "C'mon, let me see how much your significant other thinks you are worth." Because that is what the ring has become, right? Perhaps even more symbolic than the union itself, expensive rings and elaborate weddings have become the norms and accepted indicators of love.
No matter how grand or demure, your wedding day marks the start of a new life with your better half and the beginning of a new adventure. Buying engagement/marriage rings has become a very crucial task, and understandably so, because for many it will be the most important piece of jewelry that your better half will wear for a lifetime! But it doesn't have to break the bank.
The diamond industry spends tens of millions every year trying to make us equate the cost of a ring to our love. The ring has become a status symbol rather than a stability indicator. Understanding the prevalence and value assigned to the "appearance of wealth" that plagues our society, companies have made it easy for individuals to purchase rings they can't afford on credit, lay-away and other options, to make an otherwise unaffordable ring affordable.
Once I realized that my then boyfriend, now fiancé, was considering proposing, I released him from the pressure of purchasing a jaw dropping diamond ring and informed him that I did not want a wedding ring set that cost over $1,500. I wish I could say that it was "Humanitarian Tonya" speaking and that my request came from a refusal to support the incredibly corrupt diamond industry, but it was "Budget conscious Tonya".
I chose to forego an expensive wedding ring because I preferred that we use the money for something that would make an actual difference in our quality of life. We anticipate leaving New York City, so we purchased a car in cash.
Another reason I requested an inexpensive engagement ring is because I wanted a ring that suited me. Not to say that I, the individual that is Tonya, am cheap, but instead of buying the biggest ring he could afford, my fiancé bought the ring that best represented my personality.
I feel that in many cases buying the biggest ring your money (or credit) can buy is not an indicator of love, but a potential signal of underlying issues. Marriage is a huge decision and an even bigger commitment. Financial matters are the second leading cause of divorce in the United States. If you are ring shopping, I urge you to make conscious effort to be less concerned about "appearance" and more concerned with strengthening the important aspects of marriage that will hopefully lead to a long-lasting union filled with understanding, effort and love.
Now, let me see the ring :)