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?

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