Sisterhood Blog

Deluded by Diamonds

By Elissa Strauss

  • Print
  • Share Share

I agree with Conor Friedersdorf, who in The Atlantic wrote that women should rebel against engagement rings. Friedersdorf argues:

Why should women want to end diamond engagement rings? Well first of all, it’s your money too, presuming the wedding eventually occurs, and more than that, you’re the ones who are silently judged by status conscious people every time they look at the size of your rock — in other words, either you’ve got reason to feel bad about what other people think of you, or else you’re complicit in a system that makes people with less wealthy fiancés feel bad about themselves.

A male friend recently told me a story about how a buddy of his was instructed by his fiancé to not buy her engagement ring. She wanted one, but knew that her fiancé could not afford a rock that she would feel proud wearing next to the less modest versions worn by the other women at her law firm. This did not make her fiancé feel very good about himself, and that’s not a good way to start a marriage.

And then there are the close female friends and relatives of mine — good, mindful people — who discuss diamond budgets with their potential fiancés that push the old two-month salary requirement to four months because they wouldn’t dare be seen in something only two months salary can afford. Male friends are complicit too. I can think of more than a few examples when men splurged on the ring not only to make their future brides happy, but also to broadcast (sometimes, dishonestly) their own success.

But in a way I can’t blame them. Engagement rings are all over the place. There have been recent stories about how married women are eagerly trading up to bigger rings, as they become more financially comfortable. Celebrity tabloids keep as close an eye on the size of star’s rocks, as to whether they are wearing them. And The New York Times recently wrote about how unmarried women are getting themselves diamond “singles” rings. Also, it seems to me that advertising for engagement rings in women’s magazines has skyrocketed over the last few years — thus lifting the veil off the fact that men don’t buy these tokens of love on their own anymore.

I hated the part of being engaged that involved people grabbing my hand to look at my ring. It felt crass. I hate even more the expectation to ooh and aah other people’s rings. I like jewelry, but have never been particularly moved by diamond rings. Now that I am married, my ring spends much more time in my jewelry box than on my finger, and I take great pride in the fact that a simple, thin white gold band represents my vows. (I imagine if my ring was purchased for me, rather than inherited, I would feel a lot more guilty about not wearing it. But then again, I am not sure I would have pushed for a diamond ring to begin with.)

There is something about engagement ring culture that seems so anachronistic and off-putting. Men and women I know that are otherwise quite conscious about their consumer habits seem so at ease to toss those concerns aside, whether it is the issue of blood diamonds (written about here in this week’s Forward) or wearing something everyday that can cost upwards of $10,000.

These are people who are usually discreet, or even uncomfortable, about broadcasting their wealth. And then there is the fact that only women get a ring, written about in Slate here, which you’d think would make my feminists friends more uncomfortable, but doesn’t seem to.

It isn’t as though I hate jewelry, or even expensive things. But there is something about the universality of diamond engagement rings that gets people to act in ways they usually wouldn’t, to want things they can’t afford, and to feel uncomfortable about what they can.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Marriage, Engagement Rings, Diamonds

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.