It’s coming up on 25 years since I first went on a date with your dad, and it’s been 21 years since he gave me a diamond engagement ring. I still have it, but I don’t wear it all the time, now that my knuckles swell past its size. And that’s the thing: it’s just a symbol, something that’s beautiful but not necessary for a long-lived and happy marriage. I was reminded of this recently when I read Free to Pursue’s post about shamelessly having a fake diamond wedding ring.
Did you know that diamonds are not rare nor particularly valuable? At the time Daddy gave my ring to me, I didn’t know this. He knew, but I insisted… I wanted a Real diamond ring, a big glaring light blasting from my hand, saying, “I’m taken, I’m taken care of, and he’s awesome. Just look how much money he spent on me.” I had seen them popping out of the ad pages in the fashion magazines, and I wanted that fairy tale.
Your dad, a true pragmatist and frugalist, had no savings (being deep in the throes of engineering school with no income). How unromantic: why not just buy the ring like a car and make the payments later? Isn’t it worth it? He knew it wasn’t. At the time, we were rock climbing together every week on the granite of Mt Lemmon in Tucson, and we noticed that the guidebook to the area desperately needed updating. Ever the entrepreneur, he took it upon himself to author and self-publish a staple-bound, hand-drawn, updated guide.
He shopped the book around to the local gear stores in town and made some cash. He then used it all to buy my ring! The emerald-cut stone is of high clarity, but it’s not a big diamond. He had it set in simple white gold, just like my mother’s was and her mother’s before that.
I love that ring, even though it was not nearly as big and blingy as the ones in the magazines. Now when I see a woman with a huge, shiny diamond dripping off her ring finger, I wonder what sacrifices were made to buy it. Who is still working hard to pay for it (or other unnecessary items)? And I wonder how it fits into her life, between cleaning and working and exercising and raising children. Not very practically, I’m sure.
So one day when you fall in love and accept a marriage proposal, remember that the fanciness of your ring has absolutely nothing to do with the depth of love you share with your fiance. If anything, and if you turn out to have any of the same values your dad and I have adopted, there might be more of an inverse relationship. I’ll even give you mine if you want it. Free and priceless at the same time.