Ever since college, I've known that I wanted a vintage engagement ring. This is primarily due to the fact that I don't want to support the diamond trade or buy conflict diamonds. I can't stand the thought of funding rebel groups such as The Revolutionary United Front, who have a well-known history of violence (especially of violence against women and girls). To me, it seems too difficult and expensive to distinguish between conflict diamonds and "legitimate" diamonds, and the entire diamond trade - even the "legitimate" one - still seems to intersect with issues of colonialism and exploitation in ways that make me uncomfortable.
Which brings me to my second reason for wanting a vintage engagement ring: I don't need or want my engagement to be marked by an exaggerated display of consumerism. It seems like there is something inherently wrong with the idea that making life-long promises to a partner you love MUST be marked by spending thousands on a diamond, and I detest the way consumerism has become inextricably tied to the decision to spend your life with someone else. To make matters worse, this consumerism is also intrinsically gendered. The idea that the man must save up thousands of dollars (in 2011, the average engagement ring cost $5,200) in order to buy a ring that will dazzle the woman into saying "yes" seems a little too similar to a bride price (the amount of money or property that a man and/or his family pay to the parents of a bride). I don't need to be bought, thank you. A man shouldn't need to prove his worth via the size of a diamond. And the decision to get engaged should have nothing to do with how big of a diamond you put on your finger.
Of course, one could eschew the entire tradition of the engagement ring entirely. There is no real need for it, after all. If any of you have done so - Bravo! But, if you still want a little something sparkly without all of the baggage and expenses that comes with a diamond ring, I think a vintage engagement ring is the perfect way to go. There are really two options: you could buy a vintage engagement ring (Brilliant Earth and BHLDN both have some gorgeous ones) or you could use an old family ring (or convert something like an earring into a ring). Both reuse materials and don't support the diamond trade, and buying a vintage engagement ring often costs significantly less than buying a new ring. If you use an old family ring, you're not buying anything!
I have always loved the idea of using an old family ring because of the history it embodies, the eco-friendly nature of it, the ethical aspect, and the fact that it is FREE. So after remarking to my mom that I wanted something like a ring she wore (a gift to her from my grandmother), she said I was more than welcome to have it! And sneakily, this past June when we all got together to see a Red Sox game, she gave the ring to Brett who hid it until the proposal. I am absolutely in love with it. I love that it is unique, and beautiful, and old. I love that it was a gift from my grandmother to my mother, and then my mother to me, and one day will be a gift to my daughter, granddaughter, or great-granddaughter. I love that the ring is a symbol of love and family - both of my old family and our new one, my heritage and my future.
|My ring! :-)|