There’s a perception that women are by-and-large obsessed with engagement rings, while men just roll their eyes. Sure, perhaps most guys don't care when it comes to other people's rings. But when the time comes for a man to actually propose—and everything that comes with it—the saving, the deliberating, and maybe even the surrounding secrecy, your engagement ring becomes pretty important to your man, too.
As a card-carrying member of the Once Engaged but Never Married Club™ I can speak from personal experience. But don't just take my word; I also polled a bunch of dudes who have also been there, done that—and lived to tell about it.
What they say might just surprise you.
It defies our sense of reason.
Admittedly, most guys polled had zero opinions about the diamond industry before they decided to go down the rabbit hole of engagement ring shopping. They just knew it was going to be expensive—possibly the most expensive thing they have ever purchased. But a good third of them had some pretty strong feelings about how the engagement ring industry became so proliferate:
“It’s a pretty damn good marketing campaign from De Beers in the late-'30s.” —Rob
"I knew the diamond industry was controlled by a cartel, and that diamonds have essentially no practical use—certainly not commensurate with their value." —Scott
"I thought diamond rings were way too expensive, and that the diamond industry convincing an entire culture that a man has to make this horrible financial decision...to prove he loves his fiancé is unconscionable." —Daniel
"I became almost incensed with how the tradition of diamond rings came about and is perpetuated by society. They aren't worth nearly what men are paying! It's all an illusion!" —Jason
"The tradition of spending a certain amount of your salary regardless of circumstances creates stress and pressure to 'prove' love with money." —Luke
Rest assured, ladies. These may seem like disillusioned, cynical, and maybe aggressive statements. But fortunately for the diamond business, every single one of these guys did, in the end, propose using a ring to seal the deal. In fact, all but one decided that the ring would hold a diamond (the other guy went with another fancy stone). Still, the idea of spending so much money to tell a woman that you're committed is one of those things that kind of defies a certain practical logic that most guys take some serious pride in. Buying an engagement ring, therefore, is a bit of a bend to the ego—but well worth it.
It's a nod to tradition.
When I decided it was time for me to propose, I didn’t know much about rings—or jewelry at all for that matter. Her dad had “a guy downtown" who apparently gave him great deals on jewelry. I was told that I would be going to Downtown Guy for an engagement ring, too, if I knew what was good for me. This was cool, actually, because it represented to me a sort of family tradition that I was passing on.
Turns out, I wasn't the only guy who felt like I was going down a well-trodden path that many-a-man has walked down before. As one guy explains, "Seeking out the perfect ring was definitely seen as a rite of passage." And it can give us the jitters, evoking all kinds of strange feelings, as another guy shares: "It was secretive, and involved some lies. I ... felt odd."
About his ring-buying experience, my friend Noah shares, “It showed I was willing to jump through hoops with her parents, get the thing designed, and keep it all a secret,” which is no small thing, apparently. On a very basic level, offering a ring—especially one of value—conveys the message that you mean business, like a down payment on a promise to marry. Leo explains, "You can still do it [without a ring], but a ring shows that a man is committed. It is a strong symbol.” It’s the ultimate put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is move. And no matter what kind of ring we decide to buy, it's an acceptance of a path that's been drawn before—and it's an acknowledgment of the tradition we're entering, as well.
It was a sacrifice that now instills in him the good kind of pride.
Sure, he might have had to get over his ego (and sticker shock) to pay for the ring, but ultimately, guys who go through with the proposal feel really good about their purchase—yes, even years later—even if it meant a little financial pain on the front end:
"It felt good. I sold my car so that I had money," explains one guy, but he doesn't seem at all saddened by the loss of a vehicle. "She likes it—and I was happy!"
To Scott, one of the guys who was extremely skeptical of the diamond industry, the engagement ring still felt like a good purchase. "It feels like a worthwhile investment because of how happy it makes her. It feels gratifying when I see her look at it," he shares. Ultimately, he says that he was proud he "was able to provide something for her that she will wear every day of her life."
Jason, another diamond-skeptic who took his grandma's old ring and updated it with diamonds, says: "The excitement has worn off, but the pride is still there. It's mixed with a tinge of nostalgia, thinking about my grandmother wearing it and now her wearing it."
For Pete, it's also a reminder of her love for him. "The ring is a part of her and it looks like it has been a part of her forever. Seeing her wearing the ring after all this time says to me she loves me."
So, yeah. As you wear your engagement ring, it can be easy to forget to realize its full value—and I'm not talking about the "Four C’s." To your guy who most likely went through all kinds of steps, mental, financial, and otherwise in procuring it, it may evoke some of the most powerful feelings in the world when he sees your finger sparkle.