Kay Steiger thinks engagement rings should go the way of the dowry:
[T]he amount one is supposed to spend on said diamond engagement ring — two month’s salary, supposedly— is a “tradition” that was invented by the diamond industry giant De Beers less than a century ago. (I really recommend reading The Atlantic’s expose on this — it may be from 1982, but the history of the industry hasn’t changed.) But my concerns aren’t just the legal or financial implications of a big rock. In my mind, a diamond ring is simply a terrible prerequisite for evaluating a potential lifelong partner. All it judges is one’s wealth, something that tells you nothing about his ability to be a great partner, husband or father. Spending so much money on something so frivolous should work against a potential partner, not for him.
A commenter who hates the diamond industry nonetheless confesses:
I find it very hard to stop myself from wanting a big honking ROCK on my finger. The status symbol and glamour it represents, and that notion that “he must love you if you get a big ring”. It’s ridiculous, but I’ve been so heavily conditioned that I guess I can’t help hoping for something impressive, even though I know my values are the opposite.
A few others weigh in:
Before my fiance proposed, I never put any thought into what kind of ring I wanted or even cared that much about it. But having one now, I understand why the tradition is so meaningful. … [E]very time I look at my hand now, I am reminded of him, how much we love each other, and of the future we’re going to spend together. [My fiancé has] expressed several times that he wishes men would have an engagement ring too because he wants to have that feeling too. So if rings aren’t for you, that’s great, but don’t bash it ’til you’ve tried it.
The ring, or lack thereof, is about a mutual decision between you and your fiancé. It is about commitment and respect and love. If this means not having a ring then great! If it does mean having a ring, also great! Either way it is personal.
(Photo by Philip Taylor)