I Don’t Have an Engagement Ring and I’m Not a Loser

Cartier Ring Box

People get worked up about engagement rings. Just last week a coworker announced she was engaged. The first thing other women did? Rush over to scope out the engagement ring. That’s just what people do. Anyway who’s ever contemplated marriage has felt the intense social expectations about “the ring.” So when I tell people I don’t have an engagement ring it wouldn’t surprise me if these thoughts cross their minds:

That my fiance is strapped for cash and couldn’t afford one.
That he doesn’t love or value me enough to spend the money.
That I’m not truly “engaged” without the ring.

Well, I have some news for you: you don’t have to feel sorry for me. Really. All the above thoughts, debunked below:

My fiance could have spent the three month’s salary if we had wanted to.
Even after 3 years, he still waits to hear my footsteps on the stairs so he can greet me at the front door. Every single day.
And we got married last month (surprise!), so I’d say our engagement was legit.

So if it’s not about a lack of money or love, then why did we decide to nix the ring?

To be clear:
This isn’t a moral argument about blood diamonds.
Or about how the DeBeers campaign has tricked us all.
Or about how you could buy something “better,” like a sweet honeymoon or a house down payment.

You’ve heard all that stuff before.

No, our decision was ultimately about values.

But society has this way of making you (at least temporarily) forget your values.

I know this. Because it happened to me, too.

I Went Through the Usual Motions

Late last year my husband and I decided we wanted to get hitched–yay! A natural planner, I quickly moved on to the next “automatic” item on the checklist: the engagement ring.

We agreed on a $3,000 budget, and just like when I’m planning vacations, I flew into research mode. Clad in sweatpants and wedged in my bed, I scoured so many articles about the best way to judge a diamond, I bet I could pass as an amateur gemologist.

Over a month passed. Eight store visits. Still no ring.

It wasn’t for lack of trying. There was no stone left unturned. We trekked over to Williamsburg to try on the best of the indie designer rings, to Barneys for fashion-forward styles, and even threw in a few vintage shops for good measure. At home I went onto the James Allen and Blue Nile sites and played with the different filters to “design” my very own ring. Nothing felt right.

But it was just a matter of time. When I had the right ring, I’d know it, I told myself.

And then there was Tiffany. Can anyone ever talk about engagement rings without mentioning Tiffany?

At work, I’d browse online vintage jewelry stores at lunchtime, and one day came across a truly vintage Tiffany solitaire from the late 1800s. It was exactly what I wanted. It had the history, the glamour, and since I’m practical, could hold its value better than all the other rings I saw.

But I couldn’t pull the trigger. It still seemed too expensive.

But why? If it’s something I’ll wear forever, isn’t $3,000 a bargain? And if it wasn’t Tiffany, then what?

Nothing Gave Me The Feels

All the rings I tried on were beautiful. They all sparkled like crazy. But none of them made me feel anything. What’s up with that?

For the first time in the engagement process, I started to ask myself some questions.

So wait, if something doesn’t make me feel anything, then do I really have to spend thousands of dollars on said thing?

Wait–do I even LIKE jewelry?

And when something feels “too expensive”, maybe it really means that you don’t value it. It’s kind of like how you’d go nuts if I told you I spent $275 on a pair of Helmut Lang jeans*. That’s because you don’t value clothes the same way I do. My values aren’t any better or worse than yours, but just different.
*Yeah, I totally have and I don’t regret it.

I felt cheated by the wedding industry. Nobody told me I could resist or question it. In fact, I didn’t even know that not having an engagement ring was an option.

But the more I questioned myself, the more empowered I felt, and then the path forward suddenly became more clear.

You Don’t Have to Be a “Ring Person” and That’s OK

Every ring I tried on failed to make my heart skip a beat. Because if you’re going to spend thousands of dollars on something, heart skipping should be a requirement. I had to be realistic about who I was: I hardly wear any jewelry, so does it make sense for me to now wear a super-fancy piece every single day, for the rest of my life?

You can be a person who enjoys beautiful things, and doesn’t find meaning or value in rings. If you showed me a Cartier Tank watch or a vintage Rolex there would be maximum heart skippage. Jewelry? Not so much.

I Can’t Be Trusted with Tiny, Expensive Things

I also thought maybe I needed to get used to wearing a ring. As a test, I started wearing a cheap brass ring I found in my jewelry box. At work, I’d take it off and stuff it in my pocket to wash my hands, often forgetting to put it back on. At home, I’d lost track of it twice in a week. No matter where I was, I worried about it constantly: losing it down the bathroom drain, clouding it with soap residue, scraping it on the subway poles. Taking care of the $3000 worth of merchandise on my hand started to feel like it might be a part-time job.

I Focused on What I Did Care About

There’s only one ring you need to signify you’re taken, and that’s the wedding band. We tabled the engagement ring search and started looking for wedding bands.

Leaving Cartier one day, I told my husband that I’d be OK with no engagement ring. He asked me if I was sure. I nodded. Letting go of the engagement ring had a nifty byproduct: we could go all out on the wedding band. I chose a Cartier Trinity ring–three rings in one. But you know me, I hardly ever buy anything new, so we bought it from Portero for less than $600. It came in perfect condition and no one could ever tell it’s used.

But I’m Not Naive

In a perfect world, no one would ever judge you for not having an engagement ring. But I’m firmly planted in the real world. So I bought a $50 cubic zirconia ring off Etsy to wear to vendor appointments. Because let’s face it: vendors will see your ring or lack thereof and then form an opinion. And then treat you a certain way. Guys, I even upgraded myself to a whole carat, because for $50, why not?

Cubic Zirconia Solitaire Ring from Etsy
My $50 cubic zirconia ring from Etsy.

Final Thoughts

Call me unromantic, call me overly practical, but to me, spending based on your values is always a win-win situation. Some people look at their engagement rings and feel a swell of happiness, and that’s awesome. But some people don’t. So before you pull the trigger, it’s worth a second thought: do I want this ring because I’m supposed to or because I actually value it? Know who you are and spend accordingly. And if the societal pressure gets to be too much, $50 knockoffs will do just fine.

What was your engagement ring experience? With or without one, do you regret it?

Image: The Luxe Strategist

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  • Desirae Odjick

    Yessssss thissssss ALL OF THIS.

    We got a small, low profile, half-eternity band with moissanite stones, for the dual reasons that a) I think all of those cliched things about why I don’t want a diamond, and b) I bonk my hands on literally everything and a raised-stone setting would be ruined / damaged / otherwise harmed within 24 hours. I’m also just not that fussed about jewellery, and would lose it in a heartbeat if it was in anyway A Thing I Should Not Lose, so this amount of ring was the right balance of what I wanted and how much I wanted to spend.

    People still ask to see the ring all. the. time. though.

    • I thought eternity bands were a nice compromise! Like, you said, it’s less intrusive, but you still get a little bling. The only downside is it seems like they’d be hard to resize in case your fingers turned into sausages or whatever.

      I’ve been lucky that no one has really asked me about my ring, but that might be because we never really announced our engagement or anything 🙂

      Also, thanks for stopping by!

  • Congrats on getting married!!!

    I got a 2 mm white gold band when we got married. (My husband has a 5 mm white gold band to match.) We didn’t want to rush the engagement ring decision, so we thought about it for several months. Eventually I realized that the plain band was nice sometimes, but I wanted something that was a little more sparkly and special. I was always staunchly against diamonds until I tried one on…

    I tried on a couple in a store just to see how I felt about the idea and I really liked it as an idea. We then spent a while scoping out Blue Nile and James Allen for actual rings and eventually we found one on James Allen that we both loved. We bought the engagement ring and about a month later (after hassling from both of our mothers about me only wearing one ring and how terrible it was that people would only think we were engaged!), we bought the matching band and I couldn’t be happier. It feels silly, but I absolutely love my rings. I get distracted by them being shiny all the time and just think about this miraculously huge decision we made. I’m really glad we picked it out together, though I probably should have been more patient and let my husband come to terms with it before we bought it, rather than rushing it once we found one we loved. I learned later that he wanted to surprise me with the matching band for Christmas but I bought it too quickly for that 😉 Oops!

    The one thing I absolutely wouldn’t change though? The fact that we didn’t have a Proposal. People are finally starting to die down about asking about that – it really confused people that we just decided to get married. It’s so us to not do things that way.

    • Thanks, miss!

      I’m so glad you love your rings! I also love that you were against diamonds until you actually tried them on. Sometimes you don’t know how you feel about something until you actually start doing it. Not going to lie, that Tiffany ring was insanely pretty. But at the same time, diamonds don’t really go with my casual outfits, lol. But I can see how fun it would be to wear a sparkly thing for special occasions.

      I’m liking the trend of couples looking for rings together. Some ppl say it’s unromantic, but It makes so much sense to me. I mean, if you are wearing it forever, don’t you want a say in it?

      When I was little I always thought I’d have this epic proposal. You know, flash mob, etc., just like in the movies. But as I grew up I realized that the epic proposal doesn’t really mean that your partner loves you more! That was a silly idea. So our “proposal” was pretty chill, too. We talked about it and made sure we were on the same page. And then he officially surprised me one day when we were hanging out at home.

  • I think so much of what we buy is because we think we’re supposed to want it. An engagement ring is just one example of that. My brothers and sisters in law opted for tattoos (in once case) and nothing (in the other). It’s nice to know that if we ever go that route, there won’t be any questions as to where the ring is- they’ve laid the foundation for being different! Congrats on questioning your values and ending up with something you love!

    • Thanks! You’re so right about society telling us what we’re supposed to want. But it’s super rampant when it comes to weddings.

      I’m glad the other ppl in your family set the precedent for going against the grain–familial pressure for these things can be a nightmare, so that’s one less thing you’d have to deal with!

  • Omg. This is exactly how I think about engagement rings too! Coming from my family, being engaged is not something that I’m familiar with. When I was young I only knew that if you want to get married then you just plan it and go ahead do it. There’s no need to have an engagement period whatsoever. So engagement ring has no value to me. I would want to wear my wedding band and my wedding band only becaue I’m not a jewelry person. So I told my fiancé to not ever think about an engagement ring because I really don’t need one.

    • Oh wow, are we the same person? I didn’t have any opinion about engagement rings before, but after trying on so many I realized that yeah, I don’t value them enough to actually spend the money. Because the money my husband would have spent would have been my money, too! I forgot to include that in the post, but I think that was part of the decision, as well.

  • Former New Yorker

    Hah, awesome! We originally were not going to do an engagement ring. But now I actually have two engagement rings, as it turns out. So my first plan was no ring, I had assumed we weren’t going to get one since it seemed unnecessary. Then my fiance told me the proposal was HIS arena, and he wanted to do it HIS way. I said fine. Months go by, and I suspected (correctly) that he was going to do a somewhat public proposal. I told him, you can do whatever you want, but if it’s a public proposal, we need to get a ring. I don’t want to deal with all the comments if he gets down on bended knee in front of people without a ring. So I went ring shopping and told him, if the proposal is public, this $300 black diamond ring at catbird is what you should get. Turns out, proposal was at his birthday party in front of all our friends, so my hunch was right. The week after, my MIL offers me three of her rings (a diamond solitaire, a channel set wedding band, and a plain gold band) and of course I said I’d take them. I just had to pay resizing fees. I was a bit annoyed that my husband didn’t check to see if there were rings in the family to be passed down though! Could have saved us the $300 on the original ring.

    I will say that I mostly just wear the plain gold band, but I’ll bust out the e-ring and matching band for going out/special occasions. And though the rings aren’t my style (I can’t justify paying to re-set them at this point in my life), I still love them seeing them on my hand, it makes me feel fancy. That said, if we never did an e-ring and there were no heirlooms, I don’t think I’d miss it? I didn’t grow up dreaming about diamond rings, so it was never an aspiration of mine.

    I do think people will always have some shiz to say about e-rings. People told me my first ring was “dainty” and “cute” and also, “not a real engagement ring.” Then after I wore my MIL’s diamond solitaire, I was lectured about how diamonds are overpriced and my fiance was sucker for spending money. I told that guy that it was an heirloom and he shut up, but seriously, you can’t win with this stuff, so yes, do what you want.

    My husband already lost his wedding band once but luckily we found it. He wears a titanium ring we got for $10 on amazon now, while the gold band sits in the jewelry case. Also, when I was pregnant, my fingers swelled and I also had to get a larger, cheap band two sizes larger. Then my fingers swelled more and I wore no band and people would actually think I was a teenage knocked up high school dropout or something. Super fun. I wish we didn’t have a ring tradition sometimes.

    I LOVE your wedding band! Very unique and yet classic at the same time.

    • The finger swelling is real, even if you aren’t pregnant. I notice in the morning, my ring is kind of tight, hehe, so now I don’t wear it to sleep anymore.

      How lucky to have multiple heirlooms! Sadly, we didn’t have that option, but I would have loved to wear something that’s within the family. But yeah, what’s up with your husband for not investigating that option first???

      I totally feel you on diamonds feeling fancy. When I tried them on, I was like, ooooh, my hand looks so much prettier! And it would be so fun to wear a diamond for fancy nights out, just like you said. For now, all I have is my fake CZ ring that barely shines!

      You bring up a good point about your fiance wanting to take charge of the whole ring process. I’ve definitely read some stories where the fiance actually has gotten upset when the woman doesn’t want a ring. Sometimes, it’s something they really want to do!

  • Sophie

    First, congratulations on getting married! Second, I couldn’t help but nod and nod as I was reading this. I, too went straight for the research and scoured for the “perfect” one at the best price point. I honestly wish I had read this before or even had the thought to question societal expectations. Interestingly enough, I found an engagement ring that I loved (that was half the price as my current one) but my husband felt that it was too expensive so went and did his own research. I often look at my ring and think I could have been happier with something much daintier and subtler. I think what’s lost in this wedding planning experience is feeling like it’s okay to make it your own and deciding what you want vs. what you feel pressured to have. We decided to do everything else in our own way and in the end we had the most authentic (to us) wedding experience. Love reading your posts, btw!

    • Hi, and thank you for the kind words! Glad you could relate. The wedding industry pull is so strong. I consider myself to be modern and nontraditional and it was hard for me to resist, too. But yeah, I was pretty annoyed at myself for wasting time going through the process without even thinking about questioning anything. There are no stories or blog posts that ask the question: “should you get an engagement ring?” It’s just a given. But hopefully this post will help raise awareness that it’s OK to do something different.

      Judging on your wedding post it looks like guys stayed true to who you are, and to me, those are my favorite weddings. Your wedding is basically almost the same as what I did!

  • When I proposed to my wife, I didn’t have an engagement ring for her because she just cared that I would be committed to her for the rest of our lives and an engagement ring did not feel like it represented that. We did look around for wedding bands and we settled for one @ James Allen for over $200 and she really loved it.
    So I know what your saying, for some engagement rings means a lot but for others it’s not.
    Congrats getting married!!

  • From a Guy’s perspective…

    I like to think you marry someone because 1) you are incredibly in love and 2) you are on the same page with the big ticket items (children, religion, finance, lifestyle, and not skipping ahead while watching the Game of Thrones seasons!!!). If you are on the same page, who cares about what expectations or traditions you don’t abide by.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am as old fashion as they come, but some of of society’s expectations are outdated I didn’t get married young, I wait until my 30s? I moved to a new city to better my career and my buddies are still in my home town? My wife and I are not racing to have kids before she turns 30, we have a few other goals to achieve beforehand. We choose to rent and not buy a house.

    These are all things and decisions that WE want. And that is ok. Maybe all of these decisions, and your decisions, are the new norm.

    Drop mic, exit left.

    • Thanks for weighing in! It’s always nice to hear a variety of opinions.

      My husband hates GoT, so we’ve avoided the watching-ahead problem!

  • Serenity he

    Congrats !!!! I love your blog. It’s like I’ve found an older sister to look up to. I’m 32 lol. Anyways, I wished I had your wisdom when I was getting married. I spent way too much cuz I got all caught up in it. I, too, am not a jewelry person. My dad gave me $3000 to get myself a wedding gift(jewelry) but I insisted on having a purse instead. We settle for an lv wallet and a very nice diamond necklace from Costco. The wallet I’ve been using everyday, the necklace sits in a safe deposited box. It was only worn once. I love my engagement ring, I actually had it redesigned, but I’ve not worn it since I got married.

    • Hey, Serenity–thanks so much for the kind words! I’m so glad you find my blog useful. You can’t see me right now, but I’m grinning ear to ear.

      I’m super nontraditional already, and I got caught up in it, too. The societal standards are hard to resist.

      Maybe you can sell the diamond necklace? Or finagle your way into the Oscars so you wear it?

      Good wallets are always worth the $. I’ve had mine for 7 years!

      • Serenity he

        Lol, The oscars 😂. We did the whole wedding thing for our family, he’s the youngest and I’m the oldest. Oh yea, My 4 yr old wallet still looks new. I hope people reading this know that cash is always king when it comes to gift giving.

        • I loved having a wedding to see family. I hadn’t seen my cousin in 10 years! Agree re: cash: give the gift of choice 🙂

  • GYM

    Congratulations on the wedding 🙂 I know what you mean about the engagement ring sleuthing/hunting process. We went to a couple of brick and mortar shops and it felt very weird to be dealing with the sales people. I ended up picking a ring from an online retailer, Adiamor. I love it a lot and it was great to see it sparkle (I guess I’m like a crow) in the elevator under certain lighting. Nowadays my hands are swollen from pregnancy and I can’t even wear the ring haha.

  • Viktoria@The Lifestyle Files

    I like your thinking a lot. For some reason, this article came to my mind http://www.today.com/style/woman-defends-130-engagement-ring-store-employee-called-pathetic-t105616

    It of course tells a different story, but for me the conclusion is quite similar: The pressure that society puts on the size or price of engagement ring is ridiculous. As if it were an indicator of the love behind it. Respect to you for being true to yourself.

    I told my fiancée when we talked about engagement rings that I don’t want a big diamond. It just wouldn’t suit me at all. I would just like something personal. So, now I have a small diamond in a ring he designed himself, and it’s perfect. To each their own.

  • Pia

    For me, it was the ‘proposal’. We didn’t have one, and when we were organising our wedding, all our vendors would asked how he proposed. I would usually avoid the question as I didn’t want to put him on the spot by saying he didn’t. My ring has no diamonds, nor jewels on it. It doesn’t sparkle. His ring is the one with the big gemstone, and it sparkles like crazy. And that’s just how we roll. People do question and I roll my eyes all the time – why exactly does it matter and where does this ring fit into a marriage again?

    • Ha, I love how your husband is the one with the bling! I’m glad you don’t give any f*cks about it.

      Our proposal was pretty chill, so yeah, I had vendors asking about it, too, but it wasn’t too painful. I think there is a trend lately where couples decide to get married together. It’s such a big decision and requires lots of conversations, so that just makes sense to me.

  • I loved this post! I also did approximately a thousand hours of research when we were engagement ring shopping. I wasn’t sure if I was on Team Diamond, but my fiance/now husband felt really strongly about getting a diamond ring. I went WAYY under budget for the engagement ring, and I’m glad that I didn’t spend a large sum on it because I’ve already knocked out a small diamond out of the halo.

    PS. I love your Cartier wedding band! If I had to do it all over again, I think I’d probably try to find an engagement ring that worked with the thin Cartier trinity ring. The combination looked really odd when I tried it on in person so I went with a band that worked with the engagement ring.

  • I can 1000% understand the tiny expensive things part. I won a ring (2 of them) and I already lost one…not lost-lost, it’s here somewhere but darn if I know where.

    Just curious what was the Tiffany’s ring you were looking at? I was trying to find one that makes my heart skip too but they’re all meh. I’m a bit scared of the price tag to be honest. You can fake one so easily.

    • Yeah, I always forget to wear my ring, and I’m deathly afraid of losing it. And it’s just a gold band!

      I don’t think the ring is available anymore, but I liked the classic Tiffany solitaires on me, like the first one here:

      The price tags ARE no joke, and some of the vintage places I went to I definitely questioned the prices they were asking. I also live in NYC so prices are inflated anyway. Sometimes they even put on a new setting underneath an antique diamond, which I was not a fan of. It should be all vintage, because I’m a purist 🙂

      • I browsed the entire website and their Instagram makes me want everything. I sorta of one a ring now. I wonder if they offer appraisal guarantees. They are expensive but they’re beautiful!

        I’m a bit of a history buff hehe. I like it if something’s got a story or it’s from an era that I find interesting.

  • Hey Ying, thanks for stopping by! Yeah, I had no opinions about jewelry or diamonds before engagement. I only have one pair of gold earrings, and that’s it. It’s really interesting to me that your fiance was so gung ho about getting you a ring (mine was like, whatever you want to do is cool), but I’m glad you got one that was a good price. And the stone getting knocked out was one of my fears, too! I looked at Cartier eternity rings, but the small stones possibly falling out was one reason why I decided against them.

    I honestly don’t know what e-ring would go with the Trinity! If it’s good enough for Jacques Cousteau it’s good enough for me. If I had both rings, I really liked the look of a classic solitaire with an eternity band. I tried on a lot of fashionable rings, but figured I should go with something that won’t look ridiculous when I’m 80.

    • Haha, I wrote a blog post about it, but I’ll spare you from having to read all of it. In his words- “Diamonds are only formed in two places on Earth: 1) In large meteor impacts, like the one that killed the dinosaurs, but those are TINY, 2) in the upper mantle. The mantle is WAY under ground, so the only way we get THOSE diamonds, is when they’re brought to the surface by magma, through volcanoes. SO, they’re pretty rare on Earth.”

      …Yup, definitely married a huge nerd. *sigh, at least he’s my nerd.

  • A simple gold ring really suits me a lot better. Although a sparkly ring would be fun to wear for special occasions. I feel you on the wanting something personal thing. When I was doing my research there was only one ring that really impressed me. I came across a ring that the guy had designed himself (he was a designer). There was a ladder on it, and then a moon at the top. It was soooo creative and had so much meaning!

    Ugh at that lady who made that judgy comment at the inexpensive ring. The size/cost of the ring is not proportionate to the love between the couple.

  • Hi, and thanks! Wish I didn’t waste a month of my life looking for a ring, because it was all ring, all the time! And hahah, I’ve discovered my fingers turn into sausages in the morning, so I stopped wearing the ring when I sleep.

    Sparkly rings are so much fun, and I’m so glad you love yours. I just didn’t attach a lot of value to it emotionally.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  • Wooah this must be because I’m not married yet, but I simply can’t imagine spending that much money on an engagement ring!! Yours sounds like a real deal in comparison to what I’ve heard from personal acquaintances! But I guess as you say it depends of your values and what you truly want to spend your money on.

    • Haha, are you talking about the $3k? Because that’s considered pretty CHEAP! Especially as men are supposed to spend “3 months salary on it”–we’re now talking about, like 10-12k. Yeah, we’ve got the real deal going on here, and I’m all about spending per your values. I spent a lot on wedding flowers, ooops.

  • I just read your post! Oh, looks like he really did his research. I had no idea that’s how diamonds are made, so thanks Mr. Astrophysicist! I just always heard that diamonds are not rare.

  • Mrs. Farmhouse Finance

    Congratulations! Yay love!! We used my Grandmother’s ring for the engagement ring (and didn’t even have to get it sized!), and had a wedding band made to match it. 90% of the time I just wear my wedding band. When I want to feel fancy, I’ll wear both, but I’ve never been a ring person. I couldn’t imagine spending as much as some people do on engagement rings.

    • Hi, and thank you! I sadly did not have an heirloom available to me, but that would have had some meaning for me! So lucky you didn’t have to have yours sized! I do think it would be really fun to have something sparkly on my hand for events and things, but overall I don’t regret my decision at all.

  • Rachel

    I am right there with you. My husband and I talked a lot about engagement rings, but I realized that it wasn’t the right choice for me for the same reasons you described. So we purchased a high quality fake for $150 (which I got TONS of compliments on) and I got a sparkly wedding band ($700) instead. Now I don’t have to feel bad for not wearing the engagement ring, and we freed up that money for travel. Win win!

  • RAnn

    My husband gave me a used ring (his mother’s) and then we used the money to buy a used house.

    • I love heirloom rings! And glad you repurposed the money for something practical!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • natphoru

    I don’t think you can extricate a discussion about diamond engagement rings from a discussion about marketing. It’s like trying to have a discussion about the ocean without talking about water. Diamond engagement rings wouldn’t even be a thing if it weren’t for marketing. I don’t want to drive the conversation to DeBeers being some marketing evil mastermind. What I want to point out is that the thoughts you wouldn’t be surprised to hear:

    That my fiance is strapped for cash and couldn’t afford one.
    That he doesn’t love or value me enough to spend the money.
    That I’m not truly “engaged” without the ring.

    Those are from this massively successful marketing campaign. If you don’t buy a diamond, it’s not true love, or its because your beau thinks you aren’t worth the money, or it’s because you’re poor. The fact that you even have to reject these means the marketing is successful. The fact that you feel compelled to justify yourself, or as you point out “But I’m Not Naive” means that the marketing is successful. The marketing may not have convinced you, but it has changed our culture to such a point that you must justify yourself in our culture.

    As a side note, diamonds aren’t even close to rare, and the whole marketing campaign wouldn’t work if they were rare – if they weren’t readily accessible, why would you bother to market it to the masses? Diamonds are the McDonald’s of “precious” stones. According to the International Gem Society, diamonds are, by far, the most common gem found on earth. That’s why they need marketing, they’re basically garbage gems. Aside from hardness, there is nothing special about them.

    • Hiya,

      Thanks for reading. I didn’t include the stuff about DeBeers and the value of diamonds because honestly, those arguments have been covered hundreds of times. Everybody knows that info, but it doesn’t compel people to actually change their mind.

      My post was meant to encourage people to spend based on their values by sharing my own personal experience.

      And I got the fake ring because I like to live in the real world. Many people still feel like an engagement ring is required. And I don’t mess around when it comes to money. So if I had no ring for vendor appointments I worried they’d be less attentive to me. It’s kind of like how no one would roll up to an important meeting in sweatpants.

  • Josh

    I got used diamond from my grandmother’s earring got it mounted on a cheap $80 ring for a total cost to me of $150. The wedding ring was the same $80 ring and I got a cheap Walmart ring for $20. My wife lost her rings within 2 years and I lost my within 5 years. We never replaced them and our love grows every year together. 15 years, 3 kids, 2 major moves, a career change, and our marriage license was $36 in Texas. Love doesn’t cost a thing because it’s based on experiences together not jewelry.

    • Love the creative thinking of using the heirloom earring as a ring! That’s truly unique. I’m glad you didn’t fall for the marketing scheme that says the size and cost of the ring is proportional to the love!

  • Steveark

    My wife never had an engagement ring. It is pretty early to say if the marriage will last but so far it has made it 39 years. We both just have plain gold bands, and each other.

  • Mao

    We always get this peer pressure or keeping up with the Jones. Diamond is the thing to do and thus everyone is getting. In addition to all the marketing bombardment, that’s where we are today. I am glad my girlfriend values other stuff in life more, such as travel and spending time together rather than a diamond. For her, a moissanite ring and the fact that I propose would mean the world to her. I am a damn lucky guy.

  • LOVE it for flying against conventional wisdom! Engagement rings are ridiculously expensive and I think anything a spouse gives is valuable and should be cherished. Well done! And if you want a fancy rock when you guys have more money, then you can always buy one later.


    • Hey Sam,

      Well, I’ve always been a little punk 🙂

      I don’t think I’ll ever want a rock, but I won’t turn down a Cartier watch…

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Katherine

    I love your attitude! We talked about forgoing the ring, but after some soul searching I realized it was something I really valued. So, I figured out what I wanted: a small, unique diamond ring in a white gold setting. We set a $1,000 budget and stuck to it, and I love wearing it every day even though I don’t consider myself a jewelry person by any means.

    • Hi Katherine,

      Thanks! The “soul searching” you talk about is what I think the wedding industry wants us not to do! So glad you stopped to think about it and came out with something you love.

      Thanks for reading!

  • I’m the exact same way! I got married last year and didn’t want either a ring or a wedding. I used the cash we would have spent on this (even being frugal) to pay down student loan debt. I have NO regrets!

    • Nice job staying true to your values! Even after being married now, I still don’t regret the choice I made.

      Thank you for stopping by!

  • I’d say 39 years is a pretty good indicator it will last! Glad you went against the grain and proved that the ring/size of the rock doesn’t have anything to do with the love between the couple.

  • Oh man, your fake is probably better than mine! Mine barely sparkles, so I’m a little bummed about that, but it’s served its purpose for being worn a handful of times. I honestly look at my coworkers rings and think they look fake, even though, they’re not. Who can really tell? But yeah, I’m totally with you. I would have rather put more money into the band itself or use the money on a honeymoon!

    Thank you for reading!

  • alwaysconservative

    When I got married 40+ years ago I had a carved gold band which is exactly what I wanted. We spent the money we saved from not having a big wedding on a house. However, a few years ago I got a nice 3.25 carat solitaire “engagement” ring with a diamond infinity band. Each ring was exactly what I wanted for the stage of life we were in at the time.

    • Sounds like you did everything right for yourself. And I’m glad you got your diamond ring, but on your own timeline–after 40 years no one could ever say it’s an impulse buy! And wow, over 3 carats!

  • TheLadyintheBlack

    I do find the whole thing a crazy tradition. And the poor guys? Having to shell out so much money…it really is kind of silly. Love is the best thing in the world and it is free. Getting engaged to be married should be, too. I congratulate you on your wedding and your point of view. Great post!

    • Hi LITB,

      Yeah, I guess when you think hard about most anything, it can seem kind of outdated. I would have flipped out if my husband went behind my back and bought some super expensive ring. It’s my money, too!

      100% agree that love doesn’t cost a thing. Wait, isn’t that a J-Lo song???

      Thank you for hanging out over here!

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  • Kelly

    I was in a similar boat when we got engaged – I’ve always known I didn’t want a diamond. I just don’t really like them, especially as a center stone – they don’t really suit my personality or style. But once I decided that, that basically knocked 95% of engagement rings off the table. Add in that I was “meh” about sapphires too (the go-to non-diamond for rings), and that left very few traditional engagement ring options.

    So I opted out of traditional engagement rings altogether and got a meteorite. It’s set like a traditional solitaire, but it’s a non-sparkly lump of iron from SPACE. So much cooler and more “me” than a diamond (I’m a professional astronomer – it really does suit me!). Bonus was that it was fairly inexpensive: the engagement ring and matching wedding band, both in high quality white gold and from an independent jeweler, were only $800 for the set.

    • Hi Kelly,

      Kick-ass job, and even more kick-ass ring! I love that yours has meaning behind it and suits your personality. And inexpensive to boot! One of my favorites rings I saw was designed by the woman’s fiance. It had a ladder and then the moon as a stone at the very top. It was so unique and very meaningful.

      Thanks for reading!

    • Jordan Ashley

      Please share where you got this! *-*

  • Your Average Dough

    A little late to the game with this post (I blame Italy and getting sick), but congratulations on your marriage!

    I think it is absolutely awesome that you didn’t let society pressure you into an engagement ring or how you handled the entire marriage process in general. Everyone is different in their desires, dreams, and opinions. You owe nothing to anyone and the main focus is on you and your fiance (now husband!).

    I am a hopeless romantic and my husband caters to that. He went all out on my engagement ring and the proposal. It was perfect for me.

    • Hi hi!

      Awww, thanks! And don’t worry about the late reply. Even being off Twitter for a day I feel all bug a boo.

      I’m so glad your husband catered to what you wanted! As long as that happens, it’s all good. In writing this post, I discovered that I should count my lucky stars that my husband didn’t fuss about getting me anything. Apparently, some people’s husband INSIST on doing the ring their way, instead of what the fiancee wants. To me, that’s a problem, and I’m glad I didn’t have to deal with that.

  • Nice. Mrs. actually asked me on top of a mountain a few years back. Took be off guard, that’s for sure! But she did not get me a engagement ring, so after I (jokingly) complaining about it she got me a massive (plastic) ring with a huge (plastic) diamond on it. Life is good (and funny).

    • Funny proposals are the best! I love the plastic ring story. And I like it when they’re a surprise, too. My husband and I talked about getting married beforehand, but I told him to indulge my childhood fantasy of a surprise proposal.

  • Kate

    I’ve been married for almost 5 years. I never wanted a ring or any of the other industry standards. My guy knew that I did not want a big engagement and I hated diamonds…I clearly expressed that early on. Spending thousands on a wedding and having a long list of people flock to all watch you be the center of the universe for a day was never for me. My wedding ring was picked out and paid for by me two weeks prior to eloping. The jeweler told me my simple white gold band was classic and understated – I liked that. One of the best decisions we ever made and I can’t tell you how many women tell me they wish they could have eloped. The money we saved went to buying a house.

    • Hi Kate,

      I’m glad your guy respected your wishes. Some get really bent out of shape about it and feel they NEED to spend a lot on a ring.

      We thought long and hard about eloping/a city hall wedding, but at the end of the day, doing the vows in front of our loved ones won out. We’re super private, but celebrating our relationship just this one day seemed right.

      I also don’t like to be the center of attention, but we did a lot of things our own way, so I’m happy about staying true to ourselves.

  • Kate

    A good read is “The Heartless Stone” which goes into detail about the De Beers marketing campaign. It’s incredible how they have transformed the engagement and wedding culture in countries like China and Japan, who for centuries practiced their own traditions.

    • I just read the blurb of that book on Amazon and it sounds so interesting! I’ll definitely have to check it out. I’m definitely familiar with the De Beers campaign, but thought it only applied to the US and not other countries. Wow, that is even more mind-blowing!

  • Aleksandra

    I don’t like wearing rings, and always felt that engagement rings all look the same. My husband proposed to me with a vintage rolex and I couldn’t be happier. I love it and wear it every day.

    • I was the same way. I never ooohed or aaahed over anyone’s rings before, and thought jewelry was pretty fussy. A vintage Rolex is my dream! I’m glad you weren’t afraid to think outside the box and got something that suits you way better.

      Thank you for stopping by!

  • I bought myself my engagement ring the first time around (yes, you read the “I” part and “first time around” part correctly). Fortunately, I pulled the plug before I said “I Do”.

    The second time around, I already had a ring that I didn’t wear and not because of the sentimentality behind it (my husband wouldn’t have cared and I’m not sentimental) but because given my lifestyle, it was always getting caught on things. And then there was the time I took it off at a friends house to do the dishes (I couldn’t even do the dishes with it on) and it fell down the drain.

    So, for my marriage, my husband and I got matching wedding bands (that he designed) and they are so much more practical. Since we saved on the engagement ring, we bought platinum and for the past 13 years haven’t regretted our investment.

    Wishing you a lifetime of happiness.

    • Hey there!

      Thanks for your comment! I’m glad you didn’t go through the first wedding, and a ring down the drain is my worst nightmare! Even with my very simple band, I worry it all the time! I can’t be trusted with diamonds…

      Love the idea of spending a little more on the band since the engagement ring wasn’t necessary. That’s what I did, too!

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  • the Budget Epicurean

    Fantastic article and AMEN! Life should be all about living according to YOUR values, no one else’s. Good for you, sticking to your guns and not bowing to societal pressures. I also would probably not have cared for an engagement ring as I’m not a jewelry person either, but since we got it for free (a family heirloom my mother in law kindly passed on), it was both completely unique and sentimental, and it’s my most cherished possession now. Rock on girl, and best of luck on this journey of married life!

  • I would have loved an heirloom, but sadly, there wasn’t one…Months after the wedding, I have no regrets about no ring. I wish more people didn’t feel so much pressure to spend thousands on something that doesn’t truly make them happy.

    And thanks for the well wishes!

  • Glaciergal

    My fiance’s culture doesn’t do engagement rings, they have a single ring that starts on the right hand and moves to the left at the wedding. Which was perfect for me, I’ve never liked traditional looking engagement rings! I’ve settled on a £200 silver ring with a wood inlay, with a chunkier one for him. I’ve had a few people give me sympathy that my fiance couldn’t be “bothered” to get me a “proper” ring, so these days I just preempt it by saying “isn’t it beautiful, I’m so glad he remembered I don’t like gemstones!” when people ask to see it.

    • I’m glad your ring is perfect for you, and didn’t have to cost much at all. Also, good for you for taking questions on the ring in stride. Not one person has asked me about a missing engagement right, so that further validates my choice. It really doesn’t have to matter that much if you don’t want it to.

  • Alexia

    I absolutely love this article. My fiance and I got matching finger tats (I’ve always wanted that!) And I bought (yes I) a cheap CZ ring that I rarely wear. I love my tattoo ring and look at it and smile all day everyday. We have matching bands he bought that are so beautiful , I am so antsy to be able to wear for the rest of my life! It’s sad how obsessed people are with the wrong things. Focus on the ring and wedding and neglect building a foundation for a healthy, life long lasting marriage!!

    • Hi Alexia,

      Glad you liked this article! I feel like lots of articles talk about buying rings for cheaper, but not very many talk about skipping the ring altogether. I want people to feel like it’s a perfectly viable option, and doesn’t mean your relationship is less valid, etc. Anyway, I’m so glad you get it! I bought my own CZ ring, too, and I’ve only worn it a few times. I love the unique finger tattoos you and your fiance got, and that you weren’t afraid to buck the norms. I also wish people wouldn’t focus on the things that don’t really matter much when it comes to marriage, but hopefully, the more we write about it, the more society’s attitudes will change.