engagement rings

Jewelry Bender: Engagement Rings for Men?

In today's edition of “the patriarchy hurts us all,” let's look at how one-sided wedding jewelry has been since the middle ages. Did you know men didn't even regularly wear wedding bands until the 20th century? But now in century 21, thanks to the rising spread of equality and the slowly-being-chipped-away wall of traditional gender roles, we've arrived at a really simple, really basic concept about wedding and engagement rings: if you want to wear them, you should, and if you don't want to, you shouldn't. Moment of silence for how long it took us to reach this conclusion. One of the last bastions of “this is only for ladies” in weddingland is engagement rings, and it's high time we stopped indulging that fantasy. In an effort to be part of the solution and not the problem, let’s look at engagement rings for men.

Do men wear engagement rings? 

According to a 2014 survey by The Knot, about 5% of men wear engagement rings. (Please note this article calls them “man-gagement” rings, because heaven forbid we break down a small gender barrier without creating another, but that's a feminist lecture for another day.) I can't find a more recent survey, but given the legalization of same-sex marriage across the country and a push toward creating more equal, loving wedding ceremonies overall, I would be surprised if that number hasn't grown.But if you're reading this and the real thing you're wondering is “Can I wear an engagement ring? Can my partner?” then the answer is yes.

Why don't more men wear rings? 

As we mentioned in an article we wrote about wedding bands vs engagement rings, De Beers is the big reason we have diamond engagement rings at all. They ran a very convincing ad campaign in the late 1930s. These were heteronormative years where men were expected to be the active partner (buy the diamond! Propose!) and women were expected to be the passive party (wait for a diamond! Hope he proposes!). Women wear engagement rings because women have historically been the people being proposed to. That’s the big secret. And I bet you already knew it.

Isn’t this a double standard, you might be wondering? Yes, I would say. Yes, it is.

What kind of engagement rings do men wear? 

Because this is still relatively new territory, let’s break down some options here. But the bottom line is you can wear whatever kind of ring you want. Glide that puppy down your left ring finger and bam! Engaged.

Men's engagement rings with stones. 

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14k-white-gold-ring-with-white-sapphire-and-diamond

This beauty from Gemvara showcases a popular style for men looking for a ring with a stone. Many men’s engagement rings have stones set into the band instead of above it. However, the styles of inset stones are many and varied. You can have one in the center, ten all the way around, a cluster of six or seven -- there are more possibilities than you can probably imagine.

Men's engagement rings without stones. 

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If you’re not into the look of stones, you can get a plain band. Note this looks similar to a traditional wedding band, so explore some possibilities. You can wear your engagement ring as a wedding ring if you love it, or even have it engraved before the wedding day to mark the change. You can also consider getting an engagement ring and a wedding band that interlock with each other.

Rose gold, copper and even wood make for stunning men's engagement rings. 

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Get creative! You’re not limited to silver and gold. “Engagement ring” shouldn’t be a term that means “only diamonds and only for women.” There’s a whole wide world of materials and stones to craft a ring to mark this huge life transition. If it’s an occasion you want to mark with a physical symbol like a ring, then by all means, do it. And maybe send us a picture (like one of our faves, Skylar Astin). 

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Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 2.43.50 PM

Sara Kendall lives in Redwood City with her husband and dog. Her main hobbies are coffee, books, and musicals.

Ring Lingo: Everything You Need to Know About Engagement Rings and Wedding Bands

Before we get into the history of the rings, let’s just say this up front: getting married doesn’t actually require fancy jewelry. If you want rings, great. If you want bracelets, great. If you want nothing, great. If you want to celebrate your commitment to each other by going skydiving and then signing some papers at the end, GREAT (ps: if you did this, can we watch your wedding video? That sounds amazing). But for everyone curious about the difference between a wedding band and an engagement ring, this post is for you. In a traditional western wedding, you’re looking at an engagement ring (for one or both spouses) and a wedding ring (usually for both spouses). But...why?

The Not-So-Hidden Secrets of Why We Buy Engagement Rings

Today, we buy engagement rings to signify to ourselves and to the world, “Hey, I intend to marry that person” (and subconsciously at bars, “I’m taken, back off” — sometimes). Engagement rings are worn roughly between the period of deciding to get married and actually getting married, though many people go right on wearing them after the wedding too (they’re so pretty! Why not?), with the wedding band typically worn beneath the engagement ring.

Are Engagement Rings Always Sporting Diamonds?

In 2013, The New York Times reported that 75% of women wear diamond engagement rings. But the tradition stems from marketing of all places. Back in 1938,  De Beers hired the New York ad agency N.W. Ayer to give a boost to diamond sales, and those guys did some Mad Men style magic on those particular gems. The Atlantic reports that it wasn’t the first time anyone would buy a diamond engagement ring — the practice was unevenly gaining some ground even then — but people weren’t spending a lot of money on the diamonds, opting for lower-quality, smaller stones. Ayer set out to convince us all that the money you spent on a diamond was directly proportional to the love you felt, and we super believed them.

But here’s the fun news: not all engagement rings have to have a diamond. You could have literally any stone you wanted, or no stone at all. Things to keep in mind while you’re considering a stone choice if you decide you want an engagement ring: pick something that won’t easily dent, chip, or discolor. If you think you’ll wear your ring every day, you want something that will stand up to the wear and tear of washing dishes, eating popcorn while binge-watching Making a Murderer, and gesturing wildly while talking about Making a Murderer and hitting your hand into stuff.

And With This Second Ring, I Thee Wed: Why We Buy Wedding Bands

Wedding rings are typically exchanged during the wedding ceremony, and signify, “Hey, I married that person!” As opposed to engagement rings, which might only be worn for the period of the engagement, wedding bands are worn for the whole marriage. Yes, even when you’re fighting.

Gold, Silver, Platinum, Rose Gold: Help? The Color Spectrum of Wedding Bands

Both men’s and women’s wedding bands come in (most popularly) gold, white gold, or platinum, though you can find them in a wide variety of metals. Basically, the periodic table is your oyster when it comes to what mental you prefer, so long as you take a few things into consideration, like: do you want the color of your rings to match? (Meaning, are you okay having a gold ring while your partner has a platinum one?) How often do you see yourself getting your ring cleaned? Would you be willing to have it re-dipped if you choose white gold and it starts to wear off eventually? All of these questions can help you figure out which high- or low-maintenance band would be best for you.

Pro tips:

Higher-maintenance = white gold, which will need the plating re-applied when the yellow gold beneath starts to show through.

Lower maintenance = platinum, which may outlast the apocalypse in perfect condition, though keep in mind it’s pretty heavy .

The Million Dollar Question: Should You Buy an Engagement Ring or Wedding Bands?

Honestly, the better question is, why do you think you want one? For me, that physical symbol of “I love you today and I’m going to love you all the other days too” was really meaningful. I like being able to see it; I like the reminder of it on my hand. One of my best friends could not care less about rings. Her long-term partner has expressed an interest in having wedding bracelets someday, and that’s about as much as they feel comfortable doing. They’d rather spend that money somewhere else, and they don’t feel like they’d miss having rings.

The best answer is this: You and your partner will have to make that decision together. Yay communication!

Love your engagement ring? Love NOT having an engagement ring? Tell us all about it in the comments!

Sara Kendall lives in Redwood City with her husband and dog. Her main hobbies are coffee, books, and musicals.