Saturday, January 30, 2010

The ring's the thing: Part 4

This is the fourth part in a series on engagement rings.
Picture of the Rockefeller Sapphire from website.

Alright, so after all this mumbo-jumbo on engagement rings, what about mine? Well, I’m not engaged (yet). But the ring’s been purchased. (Side note: YIPPEE!)

I was leaning towards a colored stone for my e-ring, though I have no moral qualms against diamonds and would happily accept one. And being the somewhat anal person that I am, I did lots of research and decided that I would love a light blue sapphire or spinel. Sapphire was particularly high on the list. For one thing, it’s the hardest natural stone next to diamonds, so it would wear well in a 24/7 ring. Secondly, it’s my birthstone. But thirdly, its gemological meaning is awesome. From, “Through history, sapphire symbolizes truth, sincerity, and faithfulness in relationships, and to bring peace, joy and wisdom to the wearer and owner.” Who doesn’t want that in their engagement ring?

I actually had to do a little convincing of my boyfriend to do the sapphire rather than a diamond, because he was like, “Isn’t a diamond traditional?” I explained that the sapphire has a far longer e-ring history than diamonds. But basically, he just wanted to make me happy, so a sapphire it was.

Anyway, I had given my boyfriend a document with information about my ring size as well as my likes and dislikes. And pricing started at $14 and went up, with the original idea that he would then go off on his own and choose a ring that was in keeping with some of my wishes. Well, it didn’t turn out that way.

My boyfriend’s not a shopper. And I am. And I’m rather picky (ahem). So once I pretty much figured out what I wanted we went to the jewelry store, told the sales associate how we wanted it customized, gave him the sapphire (a story for another day), and then I browsed the store while my boyfriend did the financial stuff. And I know I’m going to get a ring that I LOVE, my boyfriend’s happy because he’s giving me a ring that I will love, and he didn’t have to get annoyed with his perceived hassles of shopping. Win-win!

I was planning on this being the last post on engagement rings, but it will just be the last until somebody asks me a certain question. Then you’ll see what we’ve created.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The ring's the thing: Part 3

This is the third part in a series on engagement rings.

This post discuses the engagement ring, and what it actually means.

There are the traditionalists who say that an engagement ring represents a man’s commitment to his future bride. He wants her to be his life partner and is willing to outlay a significant sum of money to show that. In this paradigm the large amount spent on the ring also signifies the type of life he can provide for her.

Then there are those who view the ring as a symbol of his commitment, but don’t believe in the financial implications of it. A $10 sterling silver band or a ring pop, with the appropriate question and intent behind it, serves as the sign of the man’s commitment and desire to marry the woman.

At the opposite end of the spectrum you have the anti-ring people. They may believe that it is some form of bride price with which the man is “purchasing” himself a bride. Or that it’s a sign of brainwashing by the commercial world and that any nod to tradition reflects a mindless follower. (I am not including those who are against the mining of gold or precious gems because of the treatment of many of the workers as these people are against the procurement practices, not against the ring itself.)

Lastly, you have the people who don’t think it has any particular significance, but like having a beautiful piece of jewelry and feel that the engagement is an excellent occasion to get one. These are probably the same people who will upgrade their rings as time goes on, either to get more expensive pieces of jewelry, or just to keep up with fashion trends.

Myself, I fall somewhere in the middle of camp two, with a little bit of either camp one or four mixed in. To me, when a guy asks you to marry him, anything that accompanies that is wonderful. When I gave my boyfriend a list of rings & styles I was interested in, I included a $14 ring from to make sure that all budgets were included. At the same time though, I told him that if I was getting a ring that was less than $50 that I would consider it a placeholder (for however long it would need be) until I got a more expensive ring. I don’t know why I feel as though a $14 ring would not suffice for life for me. After all, I totally believe the sentiment in giving the ring is what counts. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that I like the idea of a certain amount of financial sacrifice involved, or if it’s just that I like jewelry and want something pretty on my hand given to me by the man I love.

So, what camp do you fall in? Or do you think there are other camps that I haven’t included here?

P.S. Picture is of the ring that I showed my boyfriend as a possible temporary e-ring.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The ring's the thing: Part 2

This is the second part in a series on engagement rings.

In the last post I wrote about how the jewelry industry has tried to convince everyone to pay big bucks for their engagement jewelry. This one reflects on how so many people have bought that premise hook, line, and sinker.

The proposal scene from Sweet Home Alabama

The subtitle for that clip on the Youtube page is “Every woman’s fantasy.” Unfortunately, lots of brides-to-be are making a big grab at the fantasy. Being somewhat interested in jewelry I’ve found a forum that includes a whole discussion board for “ladies-in-waiting.” And far too often for my tastes there will be some college student posting about how she wants a $15,000 e-ring, plus a $30,000 wedding, plus money for a down payment for a house, but that her boyfriend just can’t pull it all together. Umm, you’re in college! He’s in college! And neither one of you are trust fund babies!!

And should one of these “ladies-in-waiting” decide to be satisfied with whatever ring is given her the first go around, there is a huge number of people in this entire forum who believes in upgrades. Upgrade your ring on your first anniversary, fifth anniversary, or whenever you just feel the itch. Some people don’t even get to the wedding before they have one or two “upgrades.” Is an extra millimeter or two on your diamond really that important?

Though many guys do everything within their power to accommodate their girlfriends, not everyone does. I was speaking with a friend recently who broke up with his girlfriend of more than three years. They were on the marriage-track, but one of the things that broke them up was the engagement ring. She wanted one that cost at least $20,000; he didn’t want to spend more than $10,000.

Though there are some truly wealthy people in the U.S., the majority don’t have the financial resources to pay for the big honking e-rings that many women are clamoring for. Whatever happened to the ring as a symbol that the man you love wants to spend the rest of his life with you? Haven’t they heard about living beyond their means and how that’s helped to bring our country into the recession it’s currently in? And why does it have to turn into some pissing contest to see who can get (or give) the most expensive ring?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The ring's the thing: Part 1

This is the first part in a series on engagement rings. This section is my reaction to the jewelry industry’s attempt to tell us how much to pay.

Once it became clear that an engagement was becoming increasingly likely for me, I got more interested in engagement rings. As someone who reads up and researches before any major purchase it was inevitable that I would do so with this one. And boy has it been interesting.

First was my surprise about the cost of a ring, and also about the expectations of how much a ring should cost. Though I knew of the “recommendation” that a guy spend two months’ salary, I never actually thought about how much money that actually was. Doing the math based on my salary I thought, gosh, I could do some really amazing trips with that money!

And while I was at a jeweler, the sales associate gushed about what a beautiful ring combo I was looking at (stone and setting) and how my boyfriend would be so lucky that he’d get away with paying only $5000. And had she not used that only word I probably wouldn’t have been so irked. But my boyfriend and I are both teachers. And to me spending $5000 on something that’s not a car or a house is a lot of money. And each of us earns far above the median income for a family of four. So imagine she makes that comment to someone one of the numerous people who makes far less than us. I’m still going, “Dang!” to myself about that.

Of course, these are expectations created by the jewelry industry. They want you to think that you need to spend a huge chunk of money to be respectable. They want you to think that $5,0000 is mere chump change. And it kind of makes sense because businesses generally want you to spend as much as you possibly can. But why should the rest of us follow their mandates?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Why isn't this obvious?

Most people agree that the marriage is far more important than the wedding. But why doesn't it seem that way? Run just about any search on weddings or marriage and you'll get overloaded with soft images of flowers, or retro-styled pictures of funky couples, or mouth-watering photos of food that deserves to grace the cover of Bon Appetit.

Photo from

I guess it explains my whole focus on the honorable estate bit (just replace honorable estate with marriage if that works better for ya). The marriage is supposed to last a lifetime. It's supposed to be the relationship that will evolve with you for decades to come. The relationship that may eventually produce children. In a way this will become your legacy, the way you live your life with this person. So why aren't more people talking about it? Why is it such a hush-hush situation?

Yes, yes, the media have perpetrated a grave injustice on grown women everywhere by filling us with the fairy tale fantasies and movies that all end with the wedding. But you would think that now that we're well into the 21st century there would have been more efforts to shed light on this phase that will [probably] last the majority of our lives, rather than on the small window of when we were single. Of course, I'm just as guilty as the rest of modern America, as I've had thoughts about my wedding ever since middle school and never gave a tremendous amount of thought to marriage life until marriage actually appeared on the horizon. Or have I been so self-absorbed that I've completely missed the cultural products detailing and suggesting improvements for married life? (Which is also a definite possibility.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Thank you, techie bloggers!

With this being a new blog, I'm still playing around with the format and layout. And I kept wondering, how are other people getting three column layouts and the only ones I see on blogger are two columns? Well, a quick internet search later, and with the help of techie bloggers, I now have three columns!

I started off at the aptly named blog Three Column Blogger where I had a bit of difficulty with their directions (but the advice on where to find the right place in the HTML was a godsend that wasn't in the second source I used).

But thanks to the commenter, E, I found my way to the Compender whose directions were a bit clearer and actually got my layout doing the right thing. So a big THANK YOU!!!

Getting ready to enter a new phase

We’re still in the first week of 2010 and people all over the blogosphere are talking about their resolutions for the new year. I’m usually not much of a resolutions person, but this year something feels different. Perhaps since I know that I will be entering a new phase of life (marriage…or 30, your choice) I want my life to be as together as possible.

I don’t want to be one of those people who thinks that if I just find the right person and get married then I will live happily ever after. I believe in making your own happiness, and doing what you need to be happy NOW, not depending on someone else for your happiness. When none of my friends or family could travel with me, I decided to start voyaging solo. I bought a house that I may well end up dying in, without waiting for the right man to be by my side (though, incidentally, he had recently entered the picture).

So, what areas of my life do I find need improving? Well, like most Americans I need to exercise more. I want to spend less time on the internet. I want to read more. (And when I say read, I mean read real books, not magazines or stuff online, etc.). I want to work at maintaining and improving my friendships, and making new ones. I’d like to get back into gardening, and actually start my own vegetable garden. I want to learn how to sew. And I’ve decided to start this blog. A way for me to become a creator on the internet rather than just a consumer.

I’m already happy with my life as it is. But if I’m able to accomplish all of my resolutions (or even most, or possibly half) my life is going to be completely amazing. Definitely the way I’d like to enter my 30s, and my marriage.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

An Honorable Estate: Where did that come from?

There are many writers who have written about marriage with great eloquence. But the passage that speaks to me the most, the one that plays over, and over, (and over) in my mind is this one.

(Forward to 1:20 if you’re not as big of a
Pride and Prejudice fan as I am, and if you’re really not a P&P fan you can end at 2:46.)

It is also the inspiration for the title of this blog. Later posts will expound on this theme, but I wanted this blog to encompass not just the preparations for a wedding, but to delve into the ideas relating to marriage and living a life that is as full and blessed as God intended it to be.

Any thoughts, recommendations, questions, or advice is welcome. I look forward to hearing from you!

P.S. Just to clarify, the words spoken by the vicar are not the creation of Jane Austen.  They come from the Book of Common Prayer.