Monday, October 29, 2012

A Feminist Wedding: My Engagement Ring

Last week, I wrote about how I'm beginning to plan a feminist wedding. But in reality, the planning process began before we were even engaged. It began by thinking about what we wanted to do for an engagement ring.

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! :-) 

40 comments:

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    1. Yes, I think this piece of story is great for everyone who are searching for "unique engagement rings". You mentioned about those memories from school till you got your desire vintage jewelry, that's the ring that a unique Vintage Engagement Rings existed for your very special event. Thanks for the post!

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  3. This is BEAUTIFUL! Such amazing thoughts. I'm nowhere near marriage myself but I'm a wedding planner and have thought a LOT about gender roles in the wedding industry, so I love your spin on this!

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  4. Wedding rings are symbol of commitment, a bond, a promise, it symbolized the end of ones loneliness, when we are talking about the likes of diamond rings and heart shaped wedding rings.

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  5. It’s a good thing that you’re IN LOVE with the engagement ring that you received, Shannon. :) Anyway, giving and receiving an engagement ring should not really be about how much was spent on it, but how much passion and genuine love the ring and the act represent. And I believe your ring has both. :) Congratulations!

    Kimmy  Barnes

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  6. Shannon, I am so proud of you for thinking about all the traditions of a wedding, which so many others take for granted or follow blindly. A wedding ring should not be a display of how much a man will spend (insinuating YOUR worth or his level of success). The diamond industry, like so many others, have brainwashed us into thinking bigger is better; if we really care we'll spend everything we have, or sometimes more by going into debt, to prove our level of love! Money should never equate to love...it can't buy real love, and it certainly can't keep real love. Back in the day, both men AND women wore simple bands....Wonder when it all changed?

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  8. I have also loved the idea of using an old family ring. I love my grandmother Engagement Ring. I like your thoughts about Engagement ring.

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  9. Lucky you. I would love to have one too. The fact that it's vintage, it creates a deeper meaning of love and commitment in your relationship.

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  10. I love your explanation, Shannon. =) For me, vintage rings have a very regal aura; once you see one, you can instantly feel that there’s a lot of history flowing through it. And of course, you have an opportunity to pass it on to the next generation. When you do that, you have this feeling that you have done something to keep your family’s tradition alive.

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  11. I love this! I wish I had known more and thought more about the diamond industry before getting my engagement ring. I wish now that I had gotten a vintage ring from a local jeweler instead of a big chain. Your ring is beautiful and so much more special because of it's meaning. Congratulations!

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  12. I agree with Bridget! ;) If you really want to pass it on to the next generation, you will truly do your best to keep its real beauty and individuality. Well, I’m currently wearing a vintage ring given to me by my grandma, and I would love to pass it to my daughter too. It will live on! ;)

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  13. 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. engagement rings ireland

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  14. I love your gorgeous ring and the reasons behind it! I definitely do not want a new diamond engagement ring when I get engaged. I think a silver or gold band with an infinity symbol (intertwined with the band) for BOTH partners is a great idea because it symbolizes their commitment to be together forever as equals. I absolutely hate that the "traditional" diamond ring must be expensive and dazzling enough to convince the woman to marry the man as if marriage is strictly a relationship between breadwinner and consumer.

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    1. Thanks Julia!

      I love your idea of a band with the infinity symbol.

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  15. A man shouldn't need to prove his worth via engagement rings ireland 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.

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  16. The engagement of Britain's Prince William to his longtime girlfriend, Kate Middleton, has sent many British royal family watchers searching for details about Kate Middleton's engagement ring. Prince William gave Kate his mother's ring in a meaningful tribute to the late Princess Diana and to his future bride. Learn about the exquisite ring made famous by the iconic Princess Diana and now proudly worn by Prince William's future bride. diamond ring settings

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  17. Your right antique or vintage diamond engagement rings is a practical option. I think most women would find it even more romantic, considering that the ring comes with story and family bond. And what I love about vintage is that they have more elaborate and intricate details that are just really unique and lovely. Great blog!

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  18. Diamond Engagement Ring is one of most beautiful wedding gift. Seriously, though, how much you spend on an engagement ring is a very personal decision. Its really nice ring.I also shares the resources of cheap engagement rings.

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  19. At this point I would get a really nice bridal set (ring and earing together) for your wedding day! That way both rings will be very special!
    As far as him not wanting to go shopping for wedding rings that is a problem. Sometimes it takes 6 weeks to get the rings in so if you are going to get the rings in time for the wedding you better get out there!

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  20. wow nice blog to see.Unique diamond Engagement Rings are specially made for the lovebirds to celebrate their love.

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  21. I really enjoy your blog and your way of thinking. I too prefer the vintage rings and am a past customer of Brilliant Earth for all your above mentioned reasons. Fantastic company and option if you don't have a special family heirloom handed down. Keep up the great work.

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  22. What a beautiful ring! I can't help but dream of rings that I want but the prices I've seen are outrageous. I don't know why there isn't more outlets to buy a Pre Owned Engagement Ring these days. It is the perfect way to find something unique.

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  23. Most of the rings, including wedding and engagement rings, found in the market are made of metals such as gold and platinum. Both of these metals are very expensive and may not be within the budget for many people.

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  24. We are making a plan to buy rings for my wife can you suggest me which kind of rings will be good and also suggest me which is best website to buy rings. your blog is really informative and helpful. keep it up good work. I want to buy Tungsten Carbide Ring .

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  25. This is really an beautiful diamond ring. I have found a website were they design engagement rings according to our designs.

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  26. Hey Guys,

    It is the most beautiful engagement diamond ring. I have found a website were they design Proposal Ring rings according to our designs.Thanks for sharing

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  27. Good on you! The money spent on the ring (or its "real-ness") is no substitute for real, sensible love and committment. Also, it is wonderful to have less of a financial burdon to begin your new life stage, big congrats.

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  28. Great post! Been reading a lot about buying the right engagement ring. Thanks for the info here!

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  30. I'm a fan of lab grown diamonds. Got mine online and all these years later, it's sparkles like a star and brings many compliments. I love your ring as well. Unique!!!

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  32. I love all the thing a lot in this blog.It's really very helpful for all of us.if you really want to give a gift to your loved once then diamond ring is really the best option.

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