For over 500 years, men have been using bejeweled engagement rings as a request and/or promise of marriage. Rings and bands have been used to signify relationships between men and women for eons. But the meaning of the rings from ages ago would offend our modern sensibilities. They often indicated ownership and binding. It was more like marking territory than a promise of undying love and devotion. We think that men can show their love for a woman with something other than a ring. Jewelry, whether it a ring or not, is a romantic gesture.
Today’s engagement ring is less about a man tagging a woman and binding her to him, and more about a man making a promise of binding himself to her. That is a subtle yet profound difference. And this doesn’t have to be done with a ring.
Over time, the band has become more extravagant to reflect the promises that are being made. The promises made with jewelry from UncommonGoods are more meaningful than the promises of a ring scavenged from a Cracker Jack box.
When a woman is presented with a piece of fine jewelry as an engagement ring, these are the promises that go along with it:
He’s stopped looking
The most immediate promise that comes with an engagement ring is that he has stopped looking for a mate. He has found what he is looking for in you.
It is also a question. He is asking if the same is true for you. If you accept the ring, then you are telling him that it is right for him to stop looking, and that you accept his offer of exclusivity.
He can afford it
As a practical matter, his offer of fine jewelry as an engagement token is that he can afford to offer you the finer things in life. Many broke poets have managed to pull off tear-worthy engagement offerings with a piece of string and a sack lunch. However, as a portent of future solvency, such is usually a bad sign.
An expensive ring not only says that he can afford it, but that he can afford to take you to the kinds of places where such jewelry can be worn and appreciated. No one buys a nice evening gown to take in fast food and a movie rental. That is probably what you can expect from the poet who gives you the string.
You’re worth it
Not only does the ring/jewlery signify the spending power of your admirer, but it also suggests that as far as he is concerned, you’re worth it. When a person lays claim on you and treats you like you were his for the taking, then he is not valuing you, but merely acquiring you. When he gives you a rich gift of affection, he is showing the value he places in you. The more valuable the gift, the more valuable he considers you.
He’s in it for the long haul
Humans are one of the few creatures that mate for life with one exclusive partner. When it comes right down to it, few humans manage the feat. When he gives you an engagement ring, he is declaring that he is one of the few. He is making a promise about the middle and end of your lives together and not just about the present and near future. It is a promise that the two of you will grow old together come what may.
The real beauty of the modern engagement ring is that it is no longer the symbol of obligation for the wearer, but a seal of promise from the giver.