Why Your Engagement Ring Matters

(Five years after you've stopped wearing it)

In 2006, after six weeks of dating and six more weeks of hiding our engagement from our parents, my now-husband and I sat down to inform his parents, sisters, and niece of our impending (albeit distant for financial purposes) nuptials. The reactions summarized perfectly both his family’s individual personalities and the placed importance on the engagement ring and feminine identity in marriage.

His mother: “Oh! Is that the ring!”

His older sister: “Oh! Is that the ring!?”

His younger, feminist sister: “Is that the ring? Also—why doesn’t my brother have a ring?”

Niece: “Is that the ring? Can I be the flowergirl?”

His father, an ornithologist, proceeded to read a passage about the eating habits of waterfowl in the northern parts of Ontario. As one does.

The ring. It is an incredibly powerful symbol in the wedding industry (equally so for Lord of the Rings fans, I understand). But I’ve stopped wearing mine entirely. In fact, it’s (irresponsibly) waiting for me to pick it up from a jewellery store, where I was contemplating having it made into something. I’ve since abandoned that idea and it’s been there for a few months.

The ring was, and is, a nice white gold 14K band with three stones—two diamonds on either side of a green emerald, his birthstone. We picked it out together. Ring shopping was, in hindsight, a bonafide nightmare in our city, with invasive salespeople and nothing but chain stores.

The proposal was far from traditional.* So, why did I feel that my ring needed to be? Over the past seven years, I’ve come to learn more about myself, about my partner, and about his and my views on feminism. Frankly, while I would have said then that I was a feminist, it wasn’t until I read The Feminine Mystique about two years ago that I had the words—and the historical data—to explain what that meant and how that affected my views—why my opinions were the way they were (or why his opinions were the way they were, for that matter).

I got engaged at nineteen, six months shy of twenty. I didn’t know a lot of souls who were engaged or married. So, we picked the ring out together, my partner and I, and that was that. The ring glistened, it drew attention, and it was what one might expect such a ring to cost. It was all the things that I thought should matter, and I didn’t think to question what might actually matter.

However, my engagement ring was, first of all, entirely impractical. Frankly, I think there should be a rule that if you don’t know the name of the gem setting, you shouldn’t be allowed to have it. To this day, I don’t remember what it was called, but I know that it exposed the emerald. I also know, now that I’m older and have been informed by many souls who have gotten engaged or married, that emeralds are precious stones and chip easily. I found this out the hard way, working a shift at Starbucks, where brushing (smacking) the stone against the steel counter top caused it to chip.

Similarly, if you are not going to clean your ring, this should probably inform your choice. I remember as a child, my mother soaking her rings—Art Deco opulence at their best—in a smelly, brightly coloured solution and then polishing them away. I owned such a concoction, but the layer of dust that settled on it became quite thick and I became nauseous every time I tried to wash my ring after making pizza dough. Whenever I did clean it, I found the glisten of the diamonds was entirely overshadowed by the cracked emerald.

Slowly but surely, I stopped wearing my ring. I can’t tell you when exactly it happened, but by the time we got married I wasn’t wearing it at all. I wore it for our wedding day, though, because that is what I thought mattered. It came off as soon as I put on my wedding ring. It’s not that I wanted to reject the ring. Its promises were not empty. But, my wedding ring just felt so much more comfortable and strangely, it feels honest and like it’s part of me. A Knottedrush ring from Bario-Neal, my wedding ring is more relaxed in its design. It goes with me everywhere: On to the ultimate field, into the pizza dough, out on the lake. I am never worried about it.

Truth be told, about four months after we got married, I thought I had lost it. I was so sure of it, in fact, that I simply ordered a new one (it was not expensive to replace). The original turned up several months later in a cleaning spree. I don’t mean to sound blasé about replacing a wedding ring—I know a lot of people who have lost rings of incomprehensible financial or personal value. That’s my point, though. My wedding ring isn’t that. It just lives with me, as a reminder. And that’s okay.

After the wedding, my engagement ring has become a reminder of how much weight I have lost in the time since I got engaged. You know how women are supposed to strive to fit into their wedding dress, which is supposed to (for some God-forsaken reason) be two sizes smaller than they are now? My wedding photos are actually my “before” photos. Two years and eighty pounds later, I couldn’t wear my engagement ring if I wanted. It is too large even for my big toe.

I recently took my engagement ring, as well as a few other pieces of jewellery to a local craft collective. They analysed the gems for me and told me that the emerald was wrecked. They quoted me a new ring, made from the old gold, the stones, and the other pieces. Going through that process, I realized that I don’t want something new. I’m content, aesthetically, with my modest jewellery collection and I wouldn’t wear another fragile piece for the reasons mentioned above. I’m also happy with the idea that my husband and I each have one symbol that commits us to one another. I’m also not going to get rid of it, though. It represents our past – that of my partner and I – and the decisions that we’ve made and the lessons that we learned early on in our relationship and our engagement. It tells a few damn good stories. It’s chipped and it’s not polished, and I should probably pick it up from the jewelry store soon, but it still has the meaning given to it by both our culture and ourselves. Even if it’s not being worn.

*He blurted it out via text one night while he was in Chile and I in Canada. I made him promise that he would propose in-person before accepting, in principle, his request. He did so.

Photo from Kaitlin’s wedding by Sarah Naegels

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  • M.

    Aww, I love this post. We had a revelation recently about our wedding bands, which we’re picking out soon. We are doing so well saving and budgeting for the wedding, while also going after our debt like gangbusters. Just as I was waking up one day last week, I was struck by the thought, “We shouldn’t buy the platinum bands. We should get silver.” He agreed immediately. The rings will still be the rings we used on our wedding day, whether or not we decide to get “nicer” ones down the road – who knows if we will. They will be worn rock climbing and caring for shelter dogs, and I accept the bumps and scratches. Right now, what’s more meaningful for us than getting The Nicest Thing, as we felt we HAD to, is setting ourselves up for a more stable, debt-free future. I was so surprised I felt this way, but in my bones I know it’s right.

    Also, when we called to tell my dad we were engaged, he was watching a sailboat race in WI and began describing all the boats. Fifteen minutes of boats. “As one does…” :)

    • k

      Fellow climber here: I may be misinterpreting what you said, but please don’t wear your rings while you are actually climbing! If you slip or fall and it catches on the rock, you can “deglove” your finger (think how the fingers of a glove can turn inside out when you pull it off). Do a google image search for “degloved finger injury,” ew ew EW. Have fun and stay safe.

      Also, just something to consider, I was totally going to go for silver, but every jeweler I talked to said “mmm…silver is really….mushy,” as in it will get totally bent out of shape with everyday use and any design on it will wear away rapidly. We ended up going for titanium, which was just as inexpensive and much more durable. Do what you will with that information.

      • M.

        Yeah, I know what degloving is. Blech! We climb indoors and I am always wearing at least one silver band on my right hand, one I never take off. I will have to think about it – don’t know if indoors makes a difference…

        • k

          It’s definitely less likely (probably significantly so) indoors, because so many of the holds are more rounded, but for me, I figure it still could happen so I take my ring off. But as in all climbing, you assess the risk and make the decision for yourself.

          Congrats on your upcoming wedding and especially on saving and budgeting so well!

          • M.

            Thank you! I am *incredibly* risk averse and easily freaked out about healthy & safety issues so you have definitely given me something to think about!And I hope not too much notoreity for being “those commentors who brought up degloving.”

      • NB

        I am really glad that APW crowd takes care of its own, but holy cow: I cannot un-know what degloving is. I think I need something a little stiffer in the coffee this morning.

        Whoa. But also…APW: you don’t have to have a ring on your finger, but we prefer to keep your fingers on your hands. Saving wedding sanity and hands since forever.

      • If you do go with silver, I’ve heard that hammered silver can be less mushy.

      • MDBethann

        You have to watch with titanium though – I think it is very, very difficult, if not impossible, to cut off if your finger ever swells & you need to remove your ring but can’t.

        I second getting gold for its durability. We found inexpensive white gold rings (his was $200 or so and I think mine was double that, though there’s less gold in it. Go figure). I wear a lot of silver, and my silver rings are mostly misshapen. The white gold works nicely with the silver.

        • Christina

          RN with ER experience here:

          All jewelry-grade titanium (meaning it’s soft enough to be made into jewelry and therefore it can be reasonably assumed all titanium jewelry) can be cut with the same basic tools all ERs have to cut off rings.

          So enjoy your titanium (and tungsten) rings APWers!

          Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

          • MDBethann

            Thanks for clearing that up! I had been told that they can’t be cut off, so good to know.

            My apologies for the misinformation fellow APWers!

      • Amanda

        I will second with a frisbee-ring story. One of my friends had a gold wedding band, and he got hit in the hand pretty hard by a frisbee while he was trying to catch it. The ring bent into his finger, and he had to get it cut off. Not as gross as de-gloving, but not fun either. I always take off my ring when I play sports. I am afraid that I will lose it, and it also makes my finger throb funny. I usually put it on the carabiner I keep my keys on.

    • I do a ton of weightlifting and I got a chain to keep my wedding ring on when I lift. I can’t stand the idea of it not being on my body when I’m not at home. (I take it off to make bread and it lives on the microwave until I’m done kneading dough.) But if I wore it while lifting it would get destroyed.
      We did the opposite of you in terms of choice of metal and why. My husband and I decided to splurge on the rings because we decided that we were going to wear them forever and that was important. We went with white gold, which we both love. Just goes to show that everyone makes the choices that are right for them.

      • Alexis

        I have been wearing a silver ring for 10 years.

        It is no long perfectly circular (thanks, tight grip on a baseball bat handle) but is going strong.

        My wedding band will definitely be silver!!

  • Anonymous

    I really enjoyed this piece; on an emotional level and also as someone who appreciates good writing.

    Over the years I’ve lost several things that meant a lot to me. In fact their loss lingers, even though they were just things. It’s really nice to be able to not place a lot of emotional significance on physical objects and in some facets of my life, I too have been successful at that on occasion. But its a struggle, and I admit that. My wedding band, the ring I didn’t even want but settled for – I would be heartbroken if it was lost or damaged irreparably because of what it now means to me.

    I admire your ability to not become too attached to objects but instead to honor the feelings and memories they represent. I also admire my ability to love so hard, it even extends to cookie cutters. (I still miss you Classic Pooh cookie cutters!)

    • M.

      Aww, the cookie cutters! My mom still talks about her mother’s metal colander that accidentally got taken to Goodwill instead of storage. Of all the things she owns or could have had, that was a really big loss for her. It’s not always what we expect, I think.

      I wear a silver ring on my right hand that I bought at age 17 on a car trip down for my aunt’s memorial service. At the time, it was just jewelry, but I haven’t taken it off for 11 years. It’s a size too big and misshapen, but I’m afraid to get it resized and straightened because if anything happened…..

      • When I was much younger, middle should or high school, my grandmother gave me a gold linked bracelet. I don’t really where bracelets, and this had a clasp which meant I *really* didn’t wear it.

        A few years ago, in a spree of “if I don’t use it I should pass it along” I gave it away at a clothing swap. It went to the mother of a friend of a friend. I didn’t think much of it at the time…until about a month or so later when I deeply regretted it. I really didn’t wear it and I doubt I would ever have started, but the fact that it was a gift made me wish I could get it back. However, since it went to the mother of a friend of a friend, I couldn’t exactly ask for it back.

        My grandmother died last year, and I was once again hit by regret that I didn’t still have that bracelet. At this point, it will probably always be a tiny sadness, even though I never wore it, even though it was just a thing. It’s weird.

        Frankly, I wish I *didn’t* develop attachments to things. My life is too full of things.

  • Amanda L.

    As someone who doesn’t wear her engagement ring every day, this piece really spoke to me. I know now that I denied my true self when I said ‘he can design the ring on his own, he doesn’t need my input, it will be perfect.’ I should have said ‘I’d like you to buy a diamond, not use my grandmother’s’… I should have said ‘I’d like a say in picking it.’

    Instead, I have a gorgeous ring that hurts me to look at, because it just isn’t an ‘everyday me’ ring. I am madly in love with my wedding band, however. And like the writer mentioned, it is my reminder, which I love about it. If only we could go back and tell our pre-engaged selves these things!

    • BR

      Yes! I really had no idea how I would feel about my ring before I saw it and I thought sending my then-boyfriend a bunch of pictures of rings I liked would be enough. When he actually proposed to me, one of my first thoughts was, “oh god, I don’t like this ring.” I’d see it on my hand in the mirror and think, “this is not me.” It was kind of awful because I suck at lying to him and he kind of knew and I felt guilty for not just being grateful for a large and expensive gift. Luckily the company he got it from (Brilliant Earth), let us exchange it for one I liked much better. But, really, I wish we had picked it out together from the start. I never would have chosen one of their rings, probably would have gotten a vintage setting, and never would have picked one that cost nearly as much as what he spent (which wasn’t crazy, but crazier than I would have felt comfortable with if I’d been involved). I don’t think, now, that I even would have needed a diamond.

      Oh hindsight!

  • Kara

    I helped pick out my engagement ring. We went shopping together – I selected my two favorites & he surprised me with which one. I love it, but sadly (/happily?) I lost 30 pounds since getting engaged & as a result my engagement ring no longer fits. I had it sized down once but it doesn’t fit again. I wear it for special events, but my wedding band is all I wear from day to day.

  • April

    Haha – I, on the other hand, am going to have a difficult time swapping out my “engagement ring” for my wedding ring. I use quotes, because my fiance didn’t propose with a ring. A couple of weeks after he proposed, then moved half way across the country from me, I bought myself a ring that – at $70 – was a little more expensive than I would normally allow myself. It doesn’t look at all like an engagement ring. It’s a tear-drop shaped citrine stones, bezel set in some sort of metal that I doubt is anything too precious. But I love it – in part because I started wearing it at an important but sort of sad time in our relationship when we knew we would be apart for two years but were committing to marrying each other at the end of it. I just hope that I can build that sort of emotional connection to my wedding ring …

    • M.


    • Mezzanine

      My fiance proposed to me and then left for five months on the other side of the world.

      My engagement ring is SO important to me, because that whole time that he was away, it was the one thing I had left to cling to – my reminder that he was really coming back.

      My wedding ring doesn’t mean as much to me yet, but it’ll get there…

  • Jackie Dioszegi

    I always thought I wanted a great big shiny diamond ring. I got a small shiny diamond ring. I wear it everyday, but it has a super high setting and pointy prongs and it pokes, scratches and catches on things. I haven’t been able to cross my arms for 9 months. lol.

    I do love it but I’m kind of excited to be able to wear just my wedding band (1.5 mm white gold with no stones).

    • I know what you mean. I got a nice, small aquamarine ring from my parents for my HS graduation in lieu of a class ring. I wore it everyday for about three years and ruined a few hand towels because the prongs stick out a bit far. Now I save it for special occasions.

      This is a small part of the reason I’ve decided against an engagement ring at all (along with feminist and financial reasons). Despite my love for bling, I think a plain band with just a bit of subtle character is a lot truer to our relationship.

  • Dom

    I absolutely love my engagement ring – and it is nothing I would’ve ever picked up for myself. I love it because of its history, and because of how it represents me being accepted into his family more.

    The largest diamond is from his mothers engagement ring and the smaller diamonds on the band are from his grandmothers wedding ring. These two rings were the only ones out of a handful that didn’t get stolen when my future mother-in-law’s house was broken into, where she lost her wedding ring. The fact that she would give him two of her most precious jewelry to create a new ring for me is really touching.

    So I wear it, and love it.

  • I love this piece so much, as it speaks to a huge part of me. My ring had to be reset. The stone I picked is a bit more included than I originally thought it was. But I love both the setting and the stone just the same. I chose them together with my now-husband, who, when it came in from being sized, looked at it on my hand and said “I love that I bought that for you.” Which sounds, in writing, so odd, but in reality was very sweet, as the expression on his face was pure joy and smitten-ness.

  • Interestingly, my engagement ring is my wedding ring. It’s a relatively simple band with rubies and diamonds channel set into it, so it’s nearly flat against my finger. It was really perfect for what I wanted – a simple thing I can wear everyday and not worry about hitting against anything – and I just didn’t see the point of buying some other piece of jewelry to do the same thing because “that’s what you’re supposed to do.” I’m not a jewelry person (except dangly earrings, love those, can’t get enough), so we declared the engagement ring to be the wedding ring, and after the ceremony that was that. Aside from a few folks wanting to “see the wedding ring” and coming away a bit disappointed (pfft) nobody noticed or cared, and I get to enjoy the ring I love rather than another that I think I should have.

    • Paige

      I love this. My mom’s engagement ring is also her wedding ring, a simple band with diamonds set in it. It’s beautiful and understated. It reminds me of my parent’s humble beginnings and that it’s okay to be satisfied (and even happy, or elated!) with simplicity.

      • A friend of mine’s engagement ring is also her wedding ring. She chose it for those purposes and it’s really lovely.

    • Pdizzle

      We did the same. My (now) husband worked with a local jeweler to design a ring which is both my engagement ring and wedding band (also channel set). I did take it off for a month or two before our wedding so that the ring would be fun and new again during our ceremony.

      I love the effort my husband put into designing a ring for me, and I am often enchanted by how sparkly it is (!), but in the end I’m not much of a jewelry person. I know some folks never take their rings off, but I leave my ring at home as much as I wear it. It works for us.

    • Anonymous

      This might sound like the opposite, but maybe you can see the similarities. I wanted 2 engagement rings. Yeah, I know how that sounds, but hear me out. I wanted a gemstone engagement ring. I didn’t want to spend too much on it, because I would worry about breaking it or losing it and the fact I don’t care for diamonds, made getting an engagement ring at a much lower price than most of my other friends engagement rings, easy. I wear costumey jewelry already so I chose a chunky aquamarine ring. But I also chose an engagement ring I knew I didn’t want to wear every day. So for my wedding ring, I wanted something similar to my engagement ring, just less gaudy and cocktaily than my engagement ring.

      I never could find what I wanted and my husband told me he’d buy me whatever ring I wanted, whenever I wanted it, so we had gold bands made from a family ring he had. I wanted more than a plain gold band. I still want more than a plain gold band. But this plain gold band that I wear everyday – I can’t imagine taking it off to wear a new ring. So I’ve turned my ring based thoughts to camera equipment. Because at this point, I’ll get an awful lot more out of a new camera lens, than I will a pretty ring.

    • Erin E

      Yep! Same on the wedding/engagement combo ring. I went with channel set for similar practical reasons, but I also love my ring from a design aesthetic standpoint… it’s like the simplest, cleanest way to infuse the ideas of “rocks and bands” together into one beautiful piece. People seem disappointed with my choice, but that’s kind of another thing I love about it – it’s definitely unique and me!

    • My engagement ring and wedding ring are the same too, because the ring has so much meaning for me. My ring belonged to my grandmother (my best friend growing up), and is one of the few things we still have of hers because her house was robbed during the funeral. It’s a giant amethyst and such an odd shape that wearing a wedding ring with it just won’t work, and I love wearing her ring so much that I wasn’t going to trade it out for a new one just because we’re married and not engaged.

    • Aubry

      I also have a combo engagement/wedding band. I picked my engagement ring knowing I wanted it as a wedding band as well. I neglected to inform my FH of this, and he was a little surprised, but is fine with it now. My ring is a very styled tension set sapphire, and no band would look good with it in the same finger. I’ve contemplated moving it to the right hand and getting a wedding ring, it would fit better over there anyway, as it is a little too big. But, I feel like that would reduce the significance of it. Maybe because it already looks more like a right-hand ring than and “engagement ring”? I am also a little daunted by finding another ring I want to wear every day. It took me more than a year (with at least 4 months of actual dedicated time) to find this one. I am very picky about jewellery, I don’t wear much on my hands/wrists usually, and I don’t like much traditional wedding-y styles. Either way I love my ring, and I am very happy with it!

  • Jessica B

    My dude proposed to me with a ring he made himself out of olive wood. The labor of love and frustration he took to create this ring will probably forever be a part of our story–he ended up having to delay proposing because he wanted to get it right, and then had to wait 3 months for us to have a planned out date instead of a “hey, I have tonight off, want to go out?” date. The ring fits me perfectly and I wore it for a few months until my Brent & Jess ring came in (which is a great everyday engagement ring). I will be wearing the wood ring for our wedding on Saturday, and on special occasions. I just don’t want it to break!

    Our bands our titanium with a wood inlay, so it’s a nice nod to his efforts =)

  • My husband proposed in the middle of an eight hour hike, so the bottom of the ring was scratched from my hiking stick by the end of the day. My husband seemed a little bit upset about it, but I liked it. It’s a reminder and it made the ring feel more like us. Because on its own, it’s so fancy. I mean, it’s a simple square solitaire in a simple flat band, but so shiny and sparkly. I love it, mostly because I know buying it was a sacrifice my husband made for me. Not that he couldn’t afford it or that I demanded or even asked for a ring that cost what he spent. He had a figure in mind based on what his friends had spent. But serious commitment phobia means he has a hard time making big purchases and also that he was really freaked out about proposing. So it was doubly difficult for him, but he did it for me. That’s what I see when I look at it, what that man will do for me.

  • Rebecca

    My fiancé and I went ring shopping together the day after he proposed. I was a little annoyed when some sales staff assumed that we weren’t engaged yet because we didn’t have a ring, but that seems to be a common WIC assumption. We ended up buying both my engagement ring and wedding band at the same time because they came as a set. Now, a year later, we have finally found his band and I am a little sad that my diamond pave wedding band will look so out of place next to his white and rose gold hammered band. I also noticed a flaw in the main diamond of my engagement ring about a month after we bought it. For a good while I couldn’t stop looking at it and it made me feel bad. I so wish that these THINGS didn’t hold such sway over my emotions.

    On the weight loss front, good for you! I hope to be in a similar position with ” before” wedding photos. I hadn’t considered how easy or difficult it might be to resize my rings, though.

    • My husband’s band doesn’t match mine either (his is titanium, mine is white gold with diamonds and sapphires), but I think it’s fun to embrace the difference. After all, we’re not the same person. We have different likes/dislikes and different styles. Quite frankly, I don’t think we could have found “matching” rings without one of us compromising… so it just wouldn’t have made sense.

      And, funnily enough, my main diamond has a little flaw too, a tiny black speck off to one side. At first it bothered me… but now I’ve come to weirdly love it, because it makes me ring unique (and, honestly, no one would ever notice it other than me unless they were creepily close to my ring).

  • Tania

    I love my engagement ring. I wear it every day (easy for me to say, having been engaged less than a year). I love it because it was chosen for me. Because in the middle of the night my fiance crept out of bed, took one of my other rings and traced the outline of it onto paper and carried the piece of paper around London trying to find a ring that he liked, within his budget, that fitted perfectly. He didn’t want it resized – he wanted it to be perfect first time. I love the ring because I know how stressed he gets about things like this and how much it would have taken for him to go shopping for THE ring. I love that the act of doing all this is a way of showing me how much he loves me. The ring fits perfectly. It’s really really pretty. He did a very good job!

    • Can I just say how ADORABLE that story is!

    • BR

      Love that! My husband bought me a ring when we first started dating (not an engagement ring or anything) while he was on a trip to Turkey and at some point I found a piece of paper in his wallet with an outline of one of my other rings, haha. Sneaky dudes.

  • I didn’t realize how much the engagement ring matters to people. I never planned on having one, and three months into the engagement, still don’t. I just wanted one ring, the one I put on the moment I’m married. I don’t need to show that I’m a wife-in-waiting.

    But I’m starting to thing about getting one, just to end the questions. And I know that’s not a very good reason, I’m just tired of having to justify my decisions to the WIC and apparently everyone I know.

    • If you’re looking for a stand-in to avoid public scrutiny, maybe you could find a suitable piece of costume jewelry, or a very simple ring that isn’t a major purchase? It can be SO tiring to constantly explain yourself, so I hope one way or another you can escape the scrutiny.

    • k

      FWIW, I had no engagement ring, never thought about it, and not one single person ever asked me about it either. If I didn’t read APW, I would never have even known that people put a premium on engagement rings.

      Several couples I know have been married for years and *still* don’t have wedding rings, much less engagement rings, because they just didn’t find anything they particularly liked and then after the wedding it unsurprisingly fell off the list of things to do.

      • Man, I wish that was my experience! People tend to alternate between “when is the wedding?” and “let me see your ring!”

        And in planning my wedding (while moving across the country), the ring thing just doesn’t get to the top of my priority list.

        Glad I’m not alone. ;)

    • 39bride

      I never wanted one, either (never wore jewelry), and the idea of spending so much money on one horrified me, considering each of our financial situations. But it was extremely important for my partner that he present one to me. We compromised by talking and realizing that what really mattered to us was the symbolism and message of it, so we went for a simple, traditional solitaire with a fake diamond. I was somewhat uncomfortable about it in the beginning (even though I loved it and what it meant), but over time I realized that it was the first big compromise me had made and that gave it special meaning. After a year of marriage, I don’t wear it regularly (never got entirely used to it in 4.5 months of engagement), but when I do it makes me smile because it reminds me of our compromise and that wonderful engagement period of our lives.

    • Jessica

      I, too, didn’t want an engagement ring. I was very vocal about it, despite my husband’s friends and family telling him that I was “just saying that so she doesn’t look greedy.” No, really. I didn’t want one. I did get a lot of grief over it from many of his friends and family and, strangely, my own mom, who thinks every woman wants a diamond, when I really don’t like them at all. (The only diamonds I own are the diamond earrings my mother gave me for my 16th birthday, and I rarely wear them.) One of my friend’s husbands said that if my friend hadn’t taken an engagement ring from him, he wouldn’t have married her. (No one asked my husband where his was, although I did say that if he bought me one, I’d either just say “no,” because he obviously didn’t know me well enough to marry me OR I would make him buy the same ring for himself and wear it, too.)

      I finally asked one of my husband’s female friends why I should make him spend/waste money on a ring I will never wear, ever — not before we were married and certainly not after. She said that it’s tradition, and sometimes you just have to do things for traditional reasons. I’m not exactly a traditional kind of person, so this really rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t think we have done much of anything the traditional way, but I also don’t think that engagement rings are as much of a tradition as people think. And one culture’s tradition isn’t another culture’s tradition, so you have to pick and choose what’s important to you. A ring that would cost too much to sit in a drawer (even $1 is too much for something someone doesn’t want) isn’t important to me.

      To someone else? Maybe that ring is super important, and that’s fine for them. But my feeling was that I didn’t like others pushing their opinions on me, so I still don’t comment on anyone else’s ring (or lack of ring) or anything else about it. Do what feels right to you and let others do what feels right to them. It’s their finger, after all. :)

  • Anne

    This post came at the perfect time! We’ve been actively planning our wedding since last spring but my bf really wanted to propose for real. He just did on Sunday with my grandma’s ring from the 40s. It’s so beautiful and I love it so much for a lot of reasons. Walking around in a shiny ring while he wears nothing does rile up my inner feminist a little, makes me think I’m letting down the sisterhood. But as my equally feminist mom says, it’s ok to embrace some traditions when they make you happy. Being engaged was never something I was anxiously waiting for so it’s just all new and strange. Oh well, my ring is so shiny and pretty and vintage and I love it, haha

    • MK

      I wanted to give my fiance a ring, too, and he wasn’t opposed to it so much as..it wasn’t important to him and it represented extra money we would have to spend on a bauble rather than our wedding. But you’ve reminded me that I need to hunt down a new watch band for him; maybe the watch I gave him can serve the same purpose, in a way (and he *does* love it so…)

      • Alyssa

        My guy felt the same, but in the end decided that egalitarianism was important enough to him that he had to prioritize it in his decision. Since we knew it was likely to just be replaced by the wedding band, we settled on a simple $20 brushed titanium ring, which to this day is still always on his person somehow. There seem to be a lot of cheaper options right now (titanium, tungsten carbide etc) that may be worth looking into.

        • MK

          That’s a good idea. I may need to bring it up with him again.

    • kaystar

      My fiance very much wanted an engagement ring of his own. He doesn’t think it’s fair I got jewelry and he didn’t (or that I have a symbol I’m “off the market” and he doesn’t). We bought his while we were on vacation a few weeks ago and the metalsmith said he’s sold several engagement rings for men recently. My fiance plans to move his to his right hand after the wedding and will have a nicer wedding band while my wedding band will be thin and plain since my engagement ring is the main show. I would just stick with my engagement ring and not even get a wedding ring, but it has some fragile stones in it and I want to leave it behind when I go to the beach or play sports.

  • MK

    I’m sort of sad to see so many people don’t wear their engagement rings. I didn’t pick mine out (nor did I want to–too much to pick from!), and I’m not sure it’s exactly what I would have chosen myself, but I love it–not just because it meant he (a poor student) had to save up for something he thought I’d like, not just because it’s sparkly, but because, to me, it is as if my fiance is there saying “I love you” every time I see it. It’s a beautiful reminder of his feelings as well as being a beautiful piece of jewelry.

    • I love my engagement ring! I wear it every day… but I think that’s because I was very realistic about myself and my needs/wants going into it. My husband picked it out on his own with just a few very specific instructions from me: “I like colored stones” and “on the smaller side, please.” I was never a ring-wearer before I got engaged–and I don’t do lots of jewelry/accessories in general–so I knew anything big or flashy would feel super awkward on me. He got me an awesome, small-ish diamond with sapphires on the band. I can wear it every day without it getting caught on stuff or getting in my way. Love.

      I can understand someone not continuing to wear the ring if it’s not really their style or totally a mismatch for their lifestyle, though. That’s why I think establishing reasonable expectations in advance (even if you want the ring itself to be a surprise) is important.

  • My husband and I picked out my engagement ring together, too, and I also stopped wearing mine shortly after our wedding. For me, I ended up preferring a solid band with nothing sticking up from it (yeah, I kept denting my face every time I leaned on my left fist at work), and since I’m not much of a jewellery person (I don’t even have my ears pierced) the thought of wearing TWO rings after the wedding made me stabby.

    I have it tucked away in a safe place- it’s a sweet little ring with a small sapphire, and I’ll probably end up giving it to a daughter/niece/special girl in my life someday

    • I’m very very similar, even down to the no ears pierced, except that I am wearing both still! Objectively, I would have preferred it if the engagement ring were flat instead of a solitaire, but the boy picked it out and surprised me. Now if I were going for a solitaire, I couldn’t have picked out a better one (it is, as solitaires go, discreet). But even though it’s a little inconvenient, it likes to rotate, gloves are a pain etc etc, he is so strongly attached to it, that it has made me become strongly attached to it. So now it’s just one of those life things to deal with, like why do women’s trousers have tiny pockets that you can’t even put a cardholder in??

  • Jacky

    I love my simple engagement ring. Not just because it’s pretty, but because my fiance put such care into picking out a ring that suited my/our lifestyle. It’s not too big or flashy, because that wouldn’t fit anything in my wardrobe. The setting is relatively low and the diamond center stone and amethyst accent stones are unlikely to chip, because I use my hands a lot and am kind of clumsy when it comes to things like banging my jewelry against counters. I know the thing it symbolizes is more important than the ring itself, but I’d still be heartbroken if I lost it because of how much thought went into choosing it just for me.

  • AMR

    We adopted an engagement puppy instead :-) An act of love we could share, just like our engagement itself.

    • Kate

      My parents had an engagement cat. His name was Einstein :)

      Unfortunately right after the wedding they got pregnant with me, and with pregnancy my mom became allergic to … cats! Einstein went to live out the rest of his days with my grandma, and my mom is still allergic to cats.

  • I find the idea that the two rings are so easily seperated interesting. I specifically picked my rings out to be worn as a set. I find each ring beautiful on its own, but together they make my heart sing. Also, the wedding band is shaped to fit next to the engagement ring, so it looks a bit funny if I wear it alone. The wedding band visually enhances the engagement ring, which symbolized the shift in relationship upon marriage to me.

    I totally thought I would be a simple, understated gold wedding bandperson, and then I find myself with a large ring with lots of little sparkles. Life is weird like that.

  • Random thought, but… could you turn the engagement ring into something else entirely? You don’t want another ring that won’t fit your lifestyle… but what about a pendant for a necklace? Or earrings? Or a holiday ornament? There’s no reason that it would have to become another ring. Just a thought, if you ever wanted to do something to keep the ring around without wearing it. :-)

  • Itsy Bitsy

    Totally superficial and not the point if this (really great) post, but I totally laughed out loud at the LoTR reference. Win.

  • Dads’ reactions are the best. When I told my dad I was engaged, we were standing in the lobby of a Chinese restaurant, and our conversation went like this:

    Me: “Dad, [Fiance] proposed. We’re engaged.”
    Dad: “Did you take the grocery bags out of your mum’s car?”
    Me: “What? No… did you not hear me? I just said I’m engaged.”
    Dad: “Well do you have any idea where the bags went?”

    As. You. Do. :)

  • I love this post!
    About a month after getting married, I ditched my engagement ring. My wedding band alone just feels more authentic. It probably also speaks to our personalities that we never picked out a “matching set” to begin with.

  • Maureen

    My fiance and I were long distance for a year. He came home for his spring break and we picked out a ring. It was such a fun and romantic experience to spend his visit “getting engaged” and my ring makes me remember that. We paid for our own wedding and didn’t have a lot to spend. I really didn’t feel ready to part with my engagement ring or to make it compete for space on my left hand with another ring (size 4 finger here so there isn’t much room). Instead I proposed that I just keep wearing it and call it my wedding ring. He thought it was a great idea. Because I couldn’t imagine finding a ring I loved as much as this one this decision has worked out great so far. I also remember the funny chaotic moment before the wedding when the best-man’s wife came up to take my engagement ring from me, only to be replaced on my finger a few minutes later during the ceremony by my now husband.

  • Erica

    My husband and I both play ultimate, too! Love frisbee marriages! :)

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  • Shan Rose

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  • LGMich

    I want a different engagement/wedding ring after 3 years of marriage. My husband and I picked out my ring together. At the time, he was encouraging me to stay within a price range that he could pay cash for. Not a problem. We got the classic engagement ring/wedding ring combo. I have found that what I prefer is wearing a band with diamonds because the engagement ring gets snagged, cuts my finger, etc. My mother recently gave me a diamond band ring that works fine for me. My dilemma is this: How do I ask my husband if it’s okay with him to wear it as my wedding ring without offending him? I won’t be getting rid of my engagement/wedding rings.

  • DavidJennifer

    Great post. I loved it. I have a friend whose boyfriend proposed her and along with an emerald ring, he also gave her a puppy. My friend is scared of dogs, but to celebrate the love in beautiful manner, she accepted it and they both still have that dof.

  • Dimend Scaasi

    Why Your Engagement Ring Matters? This question is not so difficult but it answer is difficult to express in words.. Engagement Rings Chicago

  • Because it tells to your love for your lover…

  • Tungsten Bands

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  • AjFett

    My boyfriend and me have talked about engagement a lot and I’ve told him not to spend much money as I’m not really bothered about expensive material things, especially jewellery. He’s like no no I can’t buy you a cheap ring but I feel like it’s just taking my wishes off the table. I think maybe he just thinks I’m saying that to not seem over optimistic or high expectations.

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