I have a confession. Until a month ago, I did not know what semi mount diamond rings were. As it turns out, “semi mount” means the ring is preset with accent stones. The center stone is chosen by the buyer. This is relevant because I recently became engaged.
My fiancé has heard me espouse on more than one occasion about the sexist symbolism of engagement rings. Therefore, his proposal, while romantic, came without a ring. I found myself a little disappointed. Could it be that I actually wanted a ring? I decided to analyze some of my preconceived notions about wedding jewelry.
I believed wedding engagement rings were chauvinistic.
True, in many cultures, the family of the groom presents gifts of great value to the family of the bride. Some sociologists suggest there is a connection between this “bride price” and the tradition of offering an engagement ring.
However, there is no way a ring could be considered a payment to my family; my parents are happily living in a retirement community, and the last time they showed any interest in my jewelry choices was when I was in high school and wanted to pierce something other than my ears.
I believed wedding bands were anachronistic.
Like engagement rings, wedding bands have some unpleasant associations with the historical balance of power between husbands and wives. Until relatively recently, many men did not wear wedding rings. A man’s marital status remained a mystery—his to withhold or reveal.
However, wedding bands for women were required. I was ambivalent about wearing something I felt had done much to reinforce gender inequities. My fiancé pointed out that he would, in fact, be wearing a wedding ring. So really, it was my bias about wedding rings that was out of date.
Our engagement melted my cynicism. I realized that rings do not have to bear sociological or historical implications. But now I had a new concern. Even a modest engagement ring is an exorbitant jewelry expense to someone like me. How can I ever relax knowing that I have a diamond on my hand? Everyday activities will require a new level of consciousness and careful decisions.
I will have to be attentive. And that’s when I recognized why I wanted a diamond engagement ring. I want a new level of consciousness. I want to be attentive. I want to be reminded always of my responsibility to care for the precious gift I have been given.