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?