I think I choked on my popcorn the first time someone told me that an engagement ring is supposed to cost three times the man’s monthly salary. THREE TIMES. That is a lotta lotta dolla, people. I think this one fact kind of sums up why I hate wedding traditions: they’re just not very well thought through, are they? Who has that kind of cash lying around? And what regular person wants to tote around something of that value on their finger all the time? Maybe it’s everyone except me, but I can’t believe that. Surely that kind of money is better spent on, you know, rent. Or a big holiday. Or the actual wedding, itself, because lord knows they don’t come cheap.
Diamond rings have always been a choice, but in the early 1900s people often chose more inexpensive options for engagement rings. In order to boost their sales, De Beers launched a massively successful advertising campaign which imbued diamonds with romance and social status and it definitely worked. Now it’s pretty much expected to see a substantial rock on the finger of your recently-engaged friends. That said, despite being sparkly and pretty, diamonds are not for everyone. It’s not just the financial cost; there are ethical and environmental costs to consider as well when it comes to diamonds. The thing is, you don’t HAVE to have a diamond engagement ring (in fact, you don’t have to have an engagement ring at all if you don’t want to) – there are plenty of alternatives out there if you want to get a little creative. Here’s a few ideas to get you started…
Antique or Vintage
Antique or vintage rings are not necessarily cheap – although they can be less expensive than a flashy diamond – but they are beautiful. It’s a little bit of effort to search for vintage rings (you can’t just pop to your local high street), but if you like your jewellery to be unique then it’s worth the extra effort. With any luck, there might be a family heirloom somewhere down the line that you can inherit when the time is right, but if not then places like Hatton Garden in London are a good place to start.
Whilst you can get infinity rings that feature gemstones, I actually prefer those that are made purely of metal, so this is a good option if you’re looking for something less sparkly. The infinity symbol represents faithfulness and undying love, which is pretty much perfect for an engagement or wedding ring.
If you still want something sparkly, why not consider a different gemstone? There are tonnes to pick from and each one has a different meaning. I think my personal favourites are opal, which promotes spontaneity, creativity, self-esteem and fidelity in love, and lapis lazuli which is both a gorgeous colour and also promotes openness, truthfulness and confidence. Or you could just choose your favourite colour! Just be careful, because some stones can chip with daily wear so do your research if you want one you can wear forever.
I am biased because this is the engagement ring that I have, but I think that raw, uncut diamonds are totally beautiful. They are a lot more ethical than other kinds of diamonds – conflict-free, y’all – and also a lot cheaper if you’re on a budget. I love that every one is unique – I always get loads of comments and compliments on mine. There are loads to choose from on Etsy, so go wild!
Probably a bit drastic for some (and not for the faint-hearted like me) but I kind of love bad-ass wedding ring tattoos. A tattooed wedding band or a little symbol on your wedding finger is a pretty awesome way to show off your love. Plus, you’ll never lose it or get it stolen. I think I’ll stick to the temporary version for now though…
Do you have any favourite alternative engagement rings?
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