The Lure of the Engagement Ring

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The Lure of the Engagement Ring
Why did diamonds become a girl's best friend in the first place?

Recently my unattached friend Katie told me that she had taken a trip to Tiffany's, solo, to try on diamond engagement rings. I shot her a look. "But they're just so sparkly!" she protested, deeply in lust.

Before another friend's bachelorette party, doing fact-finding for the old "How Well Do You Know Each Other?" game, I asked her groom-to-be what was the best gift he’d ever given her. "The rock, of course," he replied instantly.

Later on, his fiancée's answer lined up neatly: "That’s gotta be my ring!" she shouted to a limo full of hooting, nodding female heads, most of them attached to clapping hands adorned with dazzlers much like her own.

And then there's the hard-charging entrepreneur who, in an enviably ballsy move, spontaneously proposed to her fiancé with a rock that she picked up on a nature hike in Minnesota. He accepted, but her finger is still bare because "we just haven't had time to shop."

"At first, I was thinking we should find something a little more egalitarian," she confided. "But then I thought, 'F--- it. I want a great ring.'"

And that pretty much sums it up, doesn't it? It would be a different story if the culturally mandated token of lifelong commitment was, say, a hood ornament on a chain, or something equally large and obnoxious, like those Pampers-box bathroom passes favored by smart-ass teachers in junior high school. But as things stand, there's no downside: The diamond engagement ring is a perfect confluence of show-stopping sign and deeply emotional signifier.

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