I’ve been engaged for about six weeks now. I’ve been wearing an engagement ring for one day. And suddenly, I feel weird.

Maybe it’s because I’ve dedicated a whole blog to poo-pooing the wedding industry (not to be confused with poop-pooping on the wedding industry, which is beyond my physical capacity), but something just seems peculiar, and perhaps a bit hypocritical, as I sit here typing away wearing a single solitaire diamond on a white gold band, the big poufy wedding ball gown of rings (and you know how I feel about big poufy ball gowns)…

He gives zero fucks.

He gives zero fucks if it’s not made of ham.

OK, maybe it’s not that bad. Maybe it’s more like an understated A-line made of a nice silk charmeuse. For one, it’s oval, which makes it slightly less ball-gowny. For another, he did not get it at Jared; he got it from a trunk in the living room where I keep all my most valued treasures, including a massive pair of Diane von Furstenberg sunglasses I got at a thrift store once for $5, my 1988 Ronald Reagan collector’s coin I got from my grandpa as a Christmas gift when I was nine (imagine my excitement…) and a tiny box containing a diamond ring my grandma left behind when she died in 2009.

I feel less weird when I start thinking this is the same engagement ring my grandma wore. While it may not be my style, per se, it’s meaningful, which kinda then makes it my style, if that makes any sense. Plus, it just so happened to cost us zero dollars, save for a polishing and a resizing (which is why I haven’t been wearing it since engagement day).

I feel lucky. But according to some people, like “wanttobemrsb,” a regular commenter on The Wedding Bee (I read it, so you don’t have to), I should feel worried:

…I think a guy should pay for an engagement ring. It’s a sign that he’s serious about you enough to spend thousands on you. When my sister got engaged with our other grandmother’s ring, I hemmed and hawed that he didn’t cough up his own money to buy her a new ring.

OMG, girl, WHAT!? My man doesn’t actually love me?! So, like, when he asked me to spend the rest of his life with me, he was really trying to say, “I’m just not that into you”? Or also, when he pointed out that the money he saved from not throwing thousands at a ring could go toward funding a dope honeymoon, where it’d just be me and him spending endless days together, he really meant… he’s not serious about me???

Thanks for clearing that up, girl. You seem very emotionally intelligent…

Sure, while “wanttobemrsb’s” comment seems insane and we can poke fun, this brings up a serious problem. This woman is not the only adult who equates money and love when it comes to engagement baubles. (Tell me I’m not the only one who’s tuned into the Real Housewives…)

But why is this? Um, no doy, it’s because of the fucking wedding industry. And I’m not just intuitively guessing that; this is a bona fide fact. The idea that men should dump a shit-ton of money into a piece of jewelry began only in the 1930s when De Beers, a diamond company, started a very successful marketing campaign saying so. Before that, engagement rings existed, but they came in much cheaper forms, including thimbles, which women would knock out the top of and then wear as a ring. (O.G. DIY!)

Yes, it seems the wedding industry screwed everything up again because, in fact, in non-wedding-industry-marketing-land, the origin of engagement rings, or betrothal rings, as they used to be called, is quite romantic. Before they were viewed as simple displays of wealth (which I’m sure most readers of this blog are smart enough to understand doesn’t equal love), they were meaningful symbols of sentiment. Check this out, from Wikipedia, which is reliable enough for this blog’s standards: “Engagement bands began in Ancient Egypt… [T]he circle was used to symbolize a never ending cycle and the space in it as a gateway.” Look at that! It really was the thought that counted.

And it should still be that way.

Of course, I’m not totally immune to bouts of girlishness and, I guess, maybe the thought is more fun to think about when it’s sparkly…

And because of that, I’ll admit, had this free and super meaningful family heirloom not just been literally sitting around, I’m pretty sure we still would’ve gotten a ring. Most likely, though, it would’ve looked very different because we would’ve avoided diamonds. I’ve got ethical problems with that industry and dang, diamonds are expensive (and also a horrible investment). Remember, your future husband’s ring debt will also be yours, so I’d have probably gone for one of these more economical options instead:

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Instead of a diamond, that rock is made of solid white gold and set in a gold band. Designed by Macha Jewelr for $695.

It's an opal set in 14K gold. Designed by Catbird for $195.

It’s an opal set in 14K gold. Designed by Catbird for $195.

A fresh-water pearl set in sterling silver. Designed by Specimental. $180

How’s about a fresh-water pearl set in sterling silver? Designed by Specimental for $180.

Herkimer diamond (a.k.a. a type of quartz harvested in Herkimer County, NY) in gold. Designed by Lumafina for $325.

Finally, if you want to make a statement get the Herkimer diamond (a.k.a. a type of quartz harvested in Herkimer County, NY) set in a gold band. Designed by Lumafina for $325.

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