Being engaged for the second time at 41 is very different than the first time in my 20's. At 25 I wanted a traditional engagement and wedding, following the path laid before me by dozens of friends. As a mature woman, I want what suits my man and me. We haven't yet had a meet the parents pow-wow, friends haven't dropped off dozens of bridal magazines, and I am not going to be taking my mans name. I did settle on a monogram to the appease a girlfriend who recently decided she needs everything to be personalized.
When my boyfriend and I started to seriously consider marriage, we seriously considered the how and more importantly the whys of our marrying. Certain of the serious we moved to the frivolous and discussed an engagement ring. It proved to be a less than frivolous discussion that had us stumped and stalled for months.
The first time I was married I was given my aunts ring. I loved her and enjoyed wearing her beautiful stone, but it never felt like it was from my ex. I thought that I still wanted a man to give me a classic engagement ring and told my man the task was his. For fun we went to "Tiffany." Fun turned real when, with the same clarity of the diamond that was on my hand, I recalled for most of my 10-year marriage, I didn't wear my engagement ring. I wore it on occasion but everyday I wore a simple wedding band. I was unexpectedly uncertain that I wanted the engagement ring I dreamed of decades earlier.
My mind buzzed. Do I need a ring the second time around? Where does this tradition come from? Is a solitaire diamond engagement ring the equivalent of a dozen roses on Valentine's Day? Something we're programmed to think we want, something costly and pretty but that really holds little meaning? I've said no to roses on February 14th, should I say no to the ring? Time for research.
I've learned that cavemen tied cords of braided grass around a chosen mate's wrists, ankles, and waist, to bring her spirit under his control. No thank you. My man has to let my freak flag fly, no squashing of spirit here.
In 2nd Century BC grooms gave their brides a gold ring to wear during the ceremony and an iron ring to wear at home, signifying ownership of her. Ownership? Not happening.
In 1477 Archduke Maximilian of Austria notably proposes to Mary of Burgundy with a ring that is set with thin, flat pieces of diamonds in the shape of an "M." Hmmm, personal. Nice.
Since most people could'nt afford an expense like the Archduke, poesy rings with inscribed messages of love were popular in Eastern Europe from the 15th through 17th centuries. That sounds lovely.
In 1873, Cecil Rhodes arrived in South Africa and created the DeBeers Mining Company with other investors. Within the decade, they would control 90 percent of the world's diamond production. In 1947 DeBeers changes the industry with its marketing campaign, "A Diamond is Forever. " It's estimated that 80% of modern brides now wear a diamond engagement ring.
There's a lot to consider and we wonder if discussing a ring together is going to suck the romance out of it. We both know life is not a fairytale so romance sucking or not, it's time to speak our minds. And on this topic, our two minds are one. He does not want me to go sans ring, he wants to gift me something that will sparkle on my finger, that both of us will love and feel good about. But, as diamonds don't grow on trees, whatever he gifts me will be sacrifice of sorts. He needs me to be sure that what I say I want is what I will actually want to wear. "I don't want to get you a ring that's going to sit in a drawer. Whatever I get you, I want you to wear everyday." Fair enough. I do want an outward representation of our commitment, especially when we are apart, which is often. I want something special and since we feel sparkly when together, I agree that sparkle is a must.
Over several months we look online, meet with a jeweler, visit different stores, change our minds and go back to the stores again. We look outside the standard velvet box. Remembering my young traditional self, I surprised us both when I firmly decided I did not want a typical engagement ring.
On January 14, 2016 Andrew knelt on one knee in our home, asked me to marry him and offered me a stunning gift. This gift suits both of us and only came from clear, honest, loving and mature discussion. It is not a solitary diamond engagement ring, it does not fall in line with 80% of modern society. It does hold great meaning and I am honored that Andrew's time, energy and hard work funneled into the ring that he placed on my finger. And of our concern of possible romance suckage? The extension and acceptance of Andrew's proposal and the beautiful symbol on my finger that signifies our commitment, joy and love are rich with romance. Our cup runneth over.