Would You Ever Consider a Non-Traditional Engagement Ring?
A little muddy-brown diamond or a big, sparkling rock: which would you choose?
Engagement rings are a big deal. We know this after Kate Middleton’s blue hand-me-down stunner (and her fiancé’s recent decision to not wear one at all) made headlines worldwide. Not only is an engagement ring a beautiful piece of jewelry, but it’s also one of the only tangible items that says every day for the rest of a woman’s life, “Sorry, I’m taken… and he really, really loves me.”
So, what does it mean if your engagement ring isn’t a traditional, big sparkling diamond, but a muddy little brown one? This is what Mara Altman ponders in her new Kindle Single, Sparkle (amazon.com). Believe it or not, she was the one who didn’t want a big diamond when her fiancé proposed. Well, why the hell not?
To understand Altman’s unique decision, we asked her to explain it, and her book, in her own words.
What is it about diamond engagement rings that you don’t like? Have you always felt this way, even as a little girl?
“For most of my life, I didn’t pay attention to engagement rings, but once it seeped into my consciousness, it seemed like a very unequal practice. I felt like the ring was a way for the man to mark his territory, a bit like a dog spritzing some land with its scent. Also, I didn’t want to think that a gem’s monetary worth would give my relationship any more or less value. Those thoughts led me, somehow, to further anxiety. Were people going to look at the ring I chose and think they could figure out something about my relationship? Did the size of the diamond mean something about its wearer? Were big diamonds for beautiful women? Did small diamonds mean less love? And if my fiancé got me a gift of eternal commitment, I wondered if I should get him something to balance our bond: a watch, some cufflinks, maybe a goat?”
When you got engaged, did you tell your fiancé you wanted to pick out the ring?
“When we started talking about getting engaged, I told Dave, my soon to be fiancé, that I saw a ring that I liked. I brought him to see it. It was a frog’s pelvis cast in silver and shaped into a ring. He didn’t entirely love the ring. He said it was not engagement-y enough. He wanted something that sparkled. Sparkles, apparently, when placed on the left-hand ring finger, act as penis repellent. He wanted me to wear penis repellent. There was something endearing about that. He wanted to be the only penis in my life.
At the same shop where I picked out the frog pelvis ring, there was a tiny and delicate muddy-brown diamond ring. The diamond is about the size of a watch’s reset button. I liked it because it was small (no sweater snagging) and cheap. Bringing back the dog metaphor, I felt like Dave was taking a mere piss on my finger instead of a gigantic crap. He also liked the ring. It sparkled just enough.”
What are the most common reactions you got when friends and family saw your ring?
“It’s so beautiful. It’s so adorable. It’s so you. It’s so unique. And then there was the hand-covering-mouth-with-simultaneous-deep-inhale-followed-by-threateningly-tight-hug-in-tandem-with-high-pitched-squeal.”