What is Engagement Ring Etiquette

Presenting your significant other with a diamond ring has, for decades, been an iconic part of marriage proposal customs. This is a significant moment: a chance to demonstrate your commitment to the person you intend to spend your life with. Getting it right means making it personal and earnest – and following the right etiquette, too.

Let’s take a closer look at this practice, and how to make a success of your engagement ring.

Understanding the Symbolism

It’s worth dwelling on the question of why you’re buying a ring in the first place.

In 1947, a copywriter working on behalf of De Beer’s Consolidated Mines, named Frances Gerety, came up with the slogan ‘a diamond is forever’. This helped to cement the association between diamonds and enduring love. But the truth is that these associations were there to begin with: the diamond is the hardest naturally-occurring material. They’re also forged under intense heat and pressure – like many of the best relationships!

Choosing the Right Ring

You’ll want to choose a ring that matches with the style of the person to whom you’re presenting it. What are their preferences? What kind of personality do they have? If you’re not familiar with jewellery, the answers to these questions might not seem obvious. For this reason, it’s a good idea to go and inspect the jewellery in person.

Think about the metal you’re going to choose, and the style of the ring. Look at the cut, clarity, carat and colour of the stone you’ll be buying – which doesn’t necessarily need to be a diamond.

This is a test, first and foremost, of your observational skills. Look at your partner’s existing jewellery, and listen to her expressed tastes. This may also help you with sizing.

Setting a Budget

In the 1940s, De Beers suggested that a man spend around a month’s salary on the ring. In the 1980s, this number was successfully bumped up to two month’s salary. These are arbitrary figures: you can’t put a value on the proposal. You should therefore spend as much as you’re happy to part with.

You might set aside a special bank account into which you can deposit a portion of your monthly earnings over the course of a year. Or, you might look at financing options. Many jewellers will offer 0% interest loans. Before taking on any debt, however, you’ll want to think seriously about your objectives. If your marriage ends up causing you financial hardship, you might ultimately end up resenting it.

Considering Alternatives

If you want to create a unique impression, then the traditional diamond ring, for all of its classic charm, might not be appropriate. Other stones, like emeralds, rubies, and sapphires, might all hold their own charm. It might also be that there’s a family heirloom that you can present. Rings of this kind have a history that is personal to the couple, and thus, they’re symbolically rich in a way that shop-bought rings can never be!

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