A Quick History Of Engagement Rings

From Slate By Megan O’Rourke The retail fantasy known as a "traditional" American wedding comprises many delicious absurdities, ranging from personalized wedding stamps to ring pillows designed for dogs to favors like "Love Mints." Of all these baubles, though, perhaps the most insidious is the engagement ring. Most Americans can say no to the "celebrity garter belt" on offer for a mere $18.95 from Weddings With Class. But more than 80 percent of American brides receive a diamond engagement ring (at an average cost of around $3,200) before they get married. Few stop to think about what, beyond the misty promise of endless love, the ring might actually signify. Why would you, after all? A wedding is supposed to be a celebration. Only the uncharitable would look a sparkly diamond in the eye—never mind a man on his knee—and ask what it means. Tango’s Take This is an interesting journey through the history of the engagement ring. While some portion of its fame is a result of marketing genius, it really got going hundreds of years ago. At any rate, O’Rourke’s real beef with the ring is that no one really questions what it symbolizes. Everyone knows that the wedding ring symbolizes a never-ending bond (blah blah blah). But she goes into detail about what the engagement ring means. Her main reasons are around commitment, peer acceptance and male ownership. She mentions that women in the early part of the 20th century would enter into engagement contracts with men before they had sex with their fiancé and would receive damages if the marriage fell through. As these laws collapsed, some social convention was ‘needed’ to keep men from proposing, hopping in bed and then hopping on the next train. O’Rourke thinks that it is unfair that men (Americans, anyway) don’t have any engagement symbols. She suggested his-and-hers engagement tattoos. How’s that for permanence in a world where 50% of marriages collapse. As we mentioned in the Dish on June 6th, more women are picking out (or helping to pick out) engagement rings these days. So , it looks like an overwhelming majority of people probably do not share Ms. O'Rourke's distaste for the practice. Read More Of The Original Article…

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