The Male Engagement Ring: Discuss

Over at Details, writer Ian Daly has a piece up about the trend of male engagement rings. (No, I had never heard of the trend before either.)

More men are opting to wear rings prior to getting married, he says, for reasons ranging from the uptick in women proposing to the genuine desire of some men to announce their relationship status via an appendage decoration. Either way, statistics, such as they are, seem to be on Daly’s side:

Two years ago, Britain’s largest jeweler, H. Samuel, introduced the Tioro—a titanium ring embedded with a tiny diamond—billed specifically as a men’s engagement band. And recently American jewelers have been following suit. “We get maybe 20 to 25 inquiries a week from women who want to propose,” says John Cordova, an expert at California-based Robbins Brothers, which calls itself the “world’s biggest engagement ring store.”

So male engagement rings are all good, right? Because your engagement should look however you want it to look: everyone wears a ring, no one wears a ring, one person wears a ring, only the cat wears a ring. Whatevs.

Of course, any social trend in which women swap roles with men wouldn’t be complete without a dash of frat-boy gender-role panic, and Daly briefly explores that too. Quoting Chris Easter, who runs an online registry for grooms, he writes:

“I don’t think we’ve reached the point where we’ll be seeing a man showing off his shiny new engagement ring to his buddies.”

Fine. Not cool, but not that unexpected.

Anyway, if the article had ended there, it would have been lovely. Instead, it goes down the following, unfortunate, women-want-to-keep-you-down-bro road:

But if anything can lend this phenomenon more staying power than the ill-fated mandal, it’s that women are beginning to protest at being the only ones identified as off the market. And strictly speaking, they have a point. “Otherwise, you’re the only one marked,” says Natalie Wigg-Stevenson (now happily married to Tyler). “I mean, if I can’t be sneaky, neither can he.”

Now, look. I get where this chick is coming from. I too have gazed down at my own bejeweled ring finger and wondered why I’m the only one in the relationship who’s expected to publicly announce my unavailability. There isn’t really any question as to whether engagement rings are a double standard.

But I don’t think that the problem with being the “only one marked” is that he can go around cheating and you can’t. Real life is not like “Lord of the Rings,” in which jewelry wields magical powers over its wearer. If someone’s going to cheat, it’s unlikely that the presence of a small band of silver or gold will change that.

Besides, I’m probably not alone when I say that I’m a lot more excited about jewelry than my fiance, anyway. So in theory, sure, we should all have to brand ourselves off the market or none of us should. But it’s not like I’m suffering over here, wearing this ring that I love and letting people know that I’m unavailable. Because, you know, I am unavailable. (And let me tell you, otherwise I would be fending them off with sticks.)

At any rate, I think the bottom line is, more power to couples who want to introduce a male engagement ring to the equation for happy, healthy reasons. But if you want your SO to wear a ring solely because you’re pissed that you have to, or to keep them from dipping their “toes” in other “waters,” you have problems that no piece of jewelry is going to fix.

What do you think about the trend?

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    • Eileen

      I agree with you 100%, Jessica.

    • Nessy

      I don’t know, but I just can’t seem to get on board with this male engagement ring thing. #1. It seems like it’s raining on my parade, you know? #1. The sparkles are mine, so step off!
      #2. If he’s going to cheat, he’s going to cheat. What’s going to stop the man from taking the ring off, engagement or wedding? Some men are pigs. If he cheats you have bigger problems than rings.
      #3. I’ve always felt the exchanging of dual rings is a beautiful part of the marriage ceremony and a visual representation of commitment. Although my husband doesn’t wear his because he works in a bakery and apparently “jewelry surprises” aren’t welcome.

      • Nessy

        pardon the multiple #1′s. I apparently suck at commenting.

    • kinz

      Wait… so does this mean that he will then wear a wedding band AND an engagement ring after the wedding, as most women do? Or will it be the same ring? Or will he toss the engagement ring and switch to a wedding band? The logistics and ass-pains of having to shop for 4-freaking-rings is just… ugh. Also, does he then buy the woman an engagement ring if she proposed? “Will you marry me? Sweet, here’s a ring. Now your turn!” And is it the 2 month salary rule for both rings? so the couple will be scarping together rent money because both parties have spent all their money?

    • Patricia

      Here in Brazil when people get engaged they (the guy and the woman) wear the wedding band on the right finger and after the wedding, they wear on the left.
      Problem solved.

    • Shae

      As the person who proposed in my relationship, I loved being able to offer a ring. (Also, he was delighted to get one.) There’s just a certain amount of thoughtfulness involved. I wear a ring now and so does he. However, if the man (or the woman, for that matter!) doesn’t like to wear a ring, what should stop you from getting him some other token of your love when proposing? Men wear watches and necklaces, right?

    • Hannah Beth

      You’re so right about this. The decision should be based on what you want, not what you want to avoid. For me, I think when I get engaged, I’ll want people to know that I’m engaged to my fiance. There’s something romantic and fresh about it. Then, when I marry the man, and he wears a wedding band, then people will know we’re a married couple. They both signify something different, and it’s about what other people see in this case.

      Also “appendage decoration.” HAHA

    • JohannaofDoom

      When we got engaged future Mr. ofDoom wanted to get a ring, too. He felt that the world should know that, like me, he was “betrothed” or spoken for. We picked out a simple $20 band from a local shop, I got on one knee and “proposed,” and he wore it until we got married when he swapped it out for his wedding band. He’s kept the engagement band and it still means a great deal to him. He’ll even wear it instead of his wedding ring if he’s doing something messy.