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Wedding Wednesday – It’s Not The Size Or Type Of Ring That Matters

My partner (D) and I have been together for almost 5 years and have discussed and come to the conclusion that we’d like to get engaged. Perhaps not a “big romantic surprise”, but it works for us.

Together, we went looking at rings, and found a gorgeous one that I fell in love with…he went back a week later and “secretly” bought it. I’m a full-time, disabled college student, and we’re on a tight budget, so the gems are lab-created and set in silver, and the price was under $100. Not a problem for us, but perhaps for D’s family.

You see, the rest of his family is much more well-off than we are, and they seem to value big, fancy diamonds. His brother recently proposed to his own girlfriend, and at a holiday dinner she showed off the ring to the other women, who in turn passed around their own engagement/wedding rings, while talking about the costs and carats! I was shocked!

My question is, once D officially proposes, how can I politely deflect questions about my ring? I’m not ashamed in any way of it, but find discussing diamond values tacky in the extreme, and want no part of it. Particularly because I suspect the family will unfairly judge D over “his” choice. 0627-18

This is one of those situations when you have to calmly keep your mouth shut while basking in your own happiness with the ring.   The really good laugh you can enjoy with yourself and fiance is that diamonds are not the rarest gems, emeralds, sapphires and rubies are, but clever marketing has created a high priced demand for gems that are actually quite plentiful.   You dodged the bullet of falling victim to the hyped marketing about diamonds and paying thousands of dollars for a diamond ring that can never be resold for what it was purchased for (diamonds suck as investments).

{ 97 comments… add one }
  • Marie August 8, 2018, 2:41 am

    When asked about the price/carats, ignore it or just say: why do you want to know? Do you think that’s important? Whether it’s 1 dollar or 10.000 dollar, I’m marrying him, not the ring.
    Or: He got the me one I told him I wanted, it’s a bit tacky to discuss the price, don’t you think? As if that would play a part in our happyness…

    I have to confess that out of my friends my own engagement ring had the biggest rock en was probably the most expensive. But having said that, I made a point of never mentioning it or asking others about the price of their ring, and at the parties I made sure to not wear my own engagement ring but just my wedding band because I didn’t want to overshadow the new bride to be. I firmly believe in letting everyone have their own moment and not trying to outshine one another.

  • kmn August 8, 2018, 3:04 am

    Where I’m from this is not a thing. But it was quite the shock when I went across the country and someone, at random, asked me if a ring I was wearing was real. Although the bigger shock was probably not just the question, but that it was genuine and others in the group wanted an answer as well. It was clear this was an “appropriate” question to ask. I said “No, but isn’t it convincing!” It was real, but that’s no one’s business but mine. I also wasn’t going to answer what surely came next which would be “so how much was it”.

    My sister will be getting engaged next month. She doesn’t know and was not involved in the ring choice. I know her intended does not have a lot of money, but his love for her is genuine and we’re all very excited for him to ask. Because that’s what should matter. If someone says something unkind, then they’re not worth spending time with. Sadly though, it feels like in this instagram age, size and sparkle mean more than sentiment to far too many.

    • HelenB August 9, 2018, 4:18 pm

      I suppose if asked specifically if the ring were real, a person could say “Yes”. It is in fact a ring and it is real.

  • AS August 8, 2018, 3:45 am

    Focus on *your* story. And let people know that you loved the ring, and fiancé “secretly” bought it afterwards. Others can have their own stories . If anyone is uncouth enough to point out that it is not diamond, or is inexpensive, you can remind them that you like it, and it is special to both of you.

    • MelEtiquette August 8, 2018, 8:09 am

      Yes, this. It’s the sentimental value of the ring that matters, not the monetary value. I would be politely but firmly bean dipping the hell out of any conversation that veered towards discussing the monetary value or quality of the ring.

  • Lkb August 8, 2018, 4:59 am

    It’s only been very recently (after more than 30 years of marriage), that I finally learned the background behind that ” the ring should be worth X times groom’s salary”): Apparently, the ring was meant to be insurance of sorts for the bride if something happened to him. Don’t know if it’s true but it makes sense. Maybe that’s the theory behind the huge diamond rings.
    That said, I’m perfectly content with my simple ring. I love OP’s story of how her beloved got it for her secretly and think she should indeed cherish the ring, the story and her beloved. Remind the naysayers of your beautiful love story, it’s what marriage should be about anyway.

    • Tricia August 8, 2018, 6:59 am

      It was a marketing campaign started by De Beers. Diamonds are all flash – no real substance. It’s a controlled market with the big players holding back lots of diamonds to create an inflated value. The hype is all marketing.

    • Tan August 8, 2018, 7:40 am

      Actually much about diamonds and engagement rings is nonsense marketing by DeBeers from ~1920s onwards. They have a monopoly on diamond mines so greatly control and overvalue diamonds. They have forced people into the engagement ring -> big diamond mentality and invented the ~1 months salary rule amongst other things. A good synthetic diamond and simple band maybe “cheap” but is a wiser choice as it is no different in appearance than an expensive ring.

      • Calli Arcale August 8, 2018, 3:08 pm

        The part about diamonds being ideal and the suggested price is all marketing folderol, but the idea of exchanging rings and gifting jewelry is actually quite ancient. Even a century ago, a woman usually owned practically nothing besides her jewelry; anything else, even if she were an heiress, became her husband’s property upon marriage. While that is no longer the case, some vestiges of the custom survive, and in some cultures, remain extremely important. In India, for instance, it is customary for not just the groom but relatives as well to gift the bride with large amounts of gold jewelry, for her to sell if she becomes widowed.

        BTW, it is not true that diamonds cannot be sold for what they were bought. That’s really only true if you were taken for a ride by the jeweler in the first place. I find that chain stores in particular tend to severely overprice diamond jewelry, sometimes by an order of magnitude, trusting that most people will not know what it’s supposed to cost and will assume that increased price means increased quality. (It doesn’t, of course. Better quality will tend to cost more, but prices can be raised for any reason at all.) And it can be helpful to choose the stone separately from the actual ring and setting. If you can find a reliable source, you will get a much more honest price this way.

        And it’s worth remembering it doesn’t have to be a diamond specifically. There are a lot of very beautiful stones out there. 😉

      • Adereterial August 10, 2018, 5:15 am

        There is a significant difference in the appearance of a good diamond and a faux gem (be it cubic zirconia or something else). Faux diamonds, especially CZ, will go cloudy over time, regardless of its quality, and they’re more likely to get scratched, too. A genuine diamond will not go cloudy at all.

        • admin August 10, 2018, 2:10 pm

          I wore my grandmother’s engagement ring on my right hand for 20 years. The main diamond had been replaced with a CZ by my mom. Believe me, after 29 years that CZ was scratched and trashed. The CZ was eventually replaced with an estate diamond that was much cheaper than buying “new”.

          • Tan August 13, 2018, 10:35 am

            When I said synthetic diamond I did not mean CZ. I meant a diamond made in the lab. These have the same properties as natural stones i.e won’t scratch or discolour. Manufactured (HPHT) diamonds used to cost ~50-70% of a natural diamond and due to the fact they have little /no resale value weren’t preferred, unless you needed a diamond for industrial cutting purposes. But technology has moved on and lab grown diamonds (CVD) can be made for ~10-15% the cost of a natural stone (although they are still somewhat snubbed by jewellers and harder to attain).

    • Ulla August 8, 2018, 12:24 pm

      Valuables (though not necessary diamonds) as engagement offering do at least somewhat relate to that. And not only if something happened to him, but also, it was kind of collateral if he broke of the engagement. These vary from culture to culture and from time to time (and within culture and time, also depending on the class woman was born into), but there has been long times when marriage was basically woman’s only way to earn proper living, especially if working outside home was forbidden, or owning was forbidden. So, if woman was engaged, and thus will turn down any further proposals, and then something happens to the man, she might be in deep trouble.

      Nowadays, in western societies woman’s position is far more secure without man than it was. 😀 And as admin said, diamonds are bad investment, especially if bought as jewelry. Some diamonds have value, but when you buy jewel, you pay for the design, manufacturing of the jewel, marketing, salesman’s salary and all that jazz in addition to the raw materials. Those make probably majority of the price.

      Be happy of your ring 🙂 I’m sure it’s lovely.

    • mark132 August 8, 2018, 12:39 pm

      As others have said it is just marketing, the other problem with it the fact that diamonds are a horrible investment (except for jewelry store owners). The depreciate enormously as soon as you walk out of the store, and there is this massive stock of diamonds riding around on ring fingers in the US that can re-enter the market at any time, so if the whole economy tanks, the second hand diamond market could easily be flooded.

    • kmn August 8, 2018, 8:04 pm

      There’s truth to it, but it was mostly marketing. Believe it or not, this is what a dowry was for initially. If the bride was forced to leave, or her spouse died, it was something she could keep. It wasn’t really a gift for the husband’s family or some kind of sale price. It’s one of those things. Like, if you treat my daughter badly we want her AND her dowry back. You can’t afford that, treat her better.

      These things still exist actually. My mother took a great deal of crystal and such with her when she married. She was married in the early 80’s here in the US.

  • Marozia August 8, 2018, 5:30 am

    We got my ring from an antique shop. The agent had a collection of rings that were all beautiful. My husband chose a marquise-cut sapphire with 2 diamonds on the sides.
    We love it, and that’s all that matters.

  • essie August 8, 2018, 5:31 am

    As Admin said, keep your mouth shut. When asked about the value of your ring, there are several answers you can give, smilingly:
    (A) “D gave it to me, unexpectedly, and it’s beautiful. I think it’s crass to ask for a receipt when a man says he loves you and wants you to stay with him for the rest of his life, don’t you?”
    (B) “Who cares? It’s the thought that counts, right?”

    There’s a Don Bluth film that has the perfect answer: “It’s not the pebble, it’s the penguin”.

    Best wishes to you and D and your future!

  • lazypuffin August 8, 2018, 5:56 am

    My daughter recently got engaged, and she and her finance chose a ring made by an independent artist that looks like a million dollars, but cost less than a fancy dinner. The price tag attached to the ring means nothing. The ring itself is a symbol – not of how much your fiance is willing to spend, but of your love for one another. It’s the story behind the ring that is the real gem, and you’ve got a good one.
    If anyone is tacky enough to ask how much it costs, look at your finger with a dreamy smile and say “It’s priceless.”

    • Heather August 8, 2018, 2:45 pm

      This! This is the perfect reply.

    • Angie in NM August 9, 2018, 12:14 am

      Yes, the perfect reply.

  • suillyme August 8, 2018, 6:36 am

    Many couples are foregoing diamonds, not because of the cost, but because of the problematic politics and ethics behind the way they are mined and produced. If folks get pushy to the point that being pushy back, just tell them you watched “Blood diamond” and went with the ring you have as your own political statement.

    • LizaJane August 9, 2018, 7:24 pm

      Yes. This right here.

  • Jelly_Rose August 8, 2018, 7:30 am

    If you love the ring, there should no shame to be had. I have had some people scoff at my engagement ring, but more often than not people loved my story behind it. My husband and are are both huge nerds when it comes to comic books and my engagement ring is just plain silver, but was crafted to look like the Violet Lantern ring from the Green Lantern series (Superheros powered by love). I adore my ring and don’t care what the ‘it should be a diamond’ crowd says.

  • Yuchin Robb August 8, 2018, 7:37 am

    Focus on the man. They can keep the stone all day long but you’ve got your gorgeous.

  • Tan August 8, 2018, 7:45 am

    I find a good way to shut up people asking these types of inappropriate questions is to ask some of your own. E.g. “I don’t know what my fiance spent on this ring, never occurred to me to ask. Say how much did you donate to charity last year?” IF they answer press with “don’t you think you can do more, how much do you earn? ” Eventually they should balk and you can say “Oh I’m sorry I thought since you were asking about the value of my property I could ask you anything about your finances too.”

    • LizaJane August 9, 2018, 7:27 pm

      I like the way you think.

  • JD August 8, 2018, 8:16 am

    I go with Admin’s response, absolutely. You love it, you love him, they don’t need the details of the ring.

  • DGS August 8, 2018, 8:25 am

    For the OP, focus on your story and your fiance’s sweet and thoughtful surprise. Carats, cost and clarity should never be discussed, anymore than how much a car or a house or a sweater or a vase cost; just the sentimental and sweet stories behind them. And congratulations on your engagement to what sounds like a fine and thoughtful man – may you have many happy years together!

    That being said, while bragging about the size of one’s ring is decidedly tacky, as someone with a sizable diamond (a family heirloom that my now-husband had thoughtfully reset in a beautiful, modern setting), I chafe at the notion that those of us with big diamonds are craven, greedy cash-cows or tacky golddiggers or do not know that diamonds are not the rarest of gemstones (I minored in gemology in college. I also really like emeralds and sapphires). I love my ring because of the man who gave it to me, the story behind it, our story and also , because it’s a beautiful ring – I never presume to judge other people with different rings, whether those rings are Kardashian-level sparklers, colored gemstones, simple bands or semi-precious gemstones set to resemble a Tardis (as in the case of one of my Dr. Who-obsessed friends). I think, to each his or her own. I don’t presume to mock them or scoff at their taste or their financial situations (which is really none of my concern). I do, however, dislike when I get implicitly judged (as I felt reading the responses to the OP’s post) for having a big diamond. Just as it’s lovely to have a small ring, it is also lovely to have a big one or none at all. What is loveliest of all, is a happy marriage.

    • CW August 8, 2018, 10:28 am

      I agree. I have an emerald cut diamond in my engagement ring. My birthstone is emerald and it’s an uncommon cut. I LIKE my diamond. I also like emeralds and garnets. I like the simplicity of my ring but I dont feel the need to comment negatively on other styles. As long as it’s something the wearer enjoys, then who cares?!

    • rindlrad August 8, 2018, 11:59 am

      DGS, I reread the OP’s submission and Admin’s response and I didn’t see anything approaching “those of us with big diamonds are craven, greedy cash-cows or tacky golddiggers.” Perhaps you might have more in common with the OP than you think? Nobody is judging you on your big, beautiful diamond. If you love it, enjoy! As for me, I’m a fan of gemstones of all shapes, sizes, and colors.

      • pennypost August 8, 2018, 12:50 pm

        I agree with DGS and CW. Methinks it was the Admin response regarding “dodging a bullet” over clever marketing that grated initially. It came off as judgmental. Not to mention a number of other responses on this thread which are dismissive of diamonds (DeBeers marketing campaigns, not as rare as many believe, and “blood diamonds”). The ring my husband got for me is beautiful, and I love the diamonds in it very much. And I have gotten flak from some people because the center stone is large. We shouldn’t be judging anyone’s engagement ring (or lack thereof) and that includes those of us who have diamonds. OP, best wishes to you and your fiance; how lovely that you’ve found each other and a beautiful ring that represents your love.

        • rindlrad August 9, 2018, 1:34 pm

          You may have chosen to TAKE IT as judgmental, but IMO, I don’t believe it was actually judgmental. It is a fact that the diamond industry has done a fabulous job of marketing diamonds as THE ONLY STONE for engagement rings. Prior to the early 20th century, this was not the case. It is also a fact that diamonds are not as scarce as other gems. More fabulous marketing and ruthless control of the market by the industry. I have an emerald engagement ring because I don’t care to “follow the crowd.” That doesn’t mean I don’t admire the rings of those who do have diamonds or no stones at all. Tastes differ.

    • kmn August 8, 2018, 8:10 pm

      Yeah, I didn’t love the admin’s response as well. I understand she’s just trying to make the OP feel better, but it’s coming at the expense of those of us with bigger or more costly rings. Or basically anyone that’s bought a diamond in general.

      I actually really like diamonds. Do I think it’s fair they’re super common but cost an arm and a leg? No. But people spend money on “foolish” things everyday. I don’t really care if they’re marked up, lots of things are. So long as I’m living within my means I want earrings and I’ll have them!

    • Melissa August 9, 2018, 12:33 pm

      That’s funny, I have a pretty nice diamond ring, and I don’t feel the least bit judged, from the OP, Admin, or comments. I do think Admin was right, but I don’t believe she was attempting to judge anyone who owns a diamond, just pointing out to OP that she should be proud of the choice she and her fiance made, and own that choice. When we’re firm and secure in our decisions, other people’s opinions matter much, much less. ( I do understand that in OP’s situation, this is going to be her family, they are not strangers on the internet or acquaintances she’ll never see again, so I think it was very wise to have some gracious responses ready! and so many great examples have been given)

      As an aside, I have never once had anyone ask about the size or cost of my ring, but I have had many people ask about the cost of my exotic pet!

      • rindlrad August 10, 2018, 3:50 pm

        This!!! So much!!!!

  • Stacey L Frith-Smith August 8, 2018, 8:26 am

    I don’t quite understand- nothing has happened with respect to your ring yet, but you are anticipating that others will be “rude” to you because they tend to discuss carats, value and the particulars of their own rings? You don’t have to discuss anything. But- if you have a faux gem, faux fur, faux leather purse, faux anything, people might assume it’s real and comment accordingly. They can’t tell by looking at it that it’s not real, and are going to be excited for you to have such a beautiful ring. And given the loaded history of romance and jewels generally/ engagement rings in particular, it’s disingenuous to be surprised. It only becomes “rude” if they try to comment on your ring’s provenance without you raising the subject. It isn’t necessary to share whether it’s real or synthetic. Just be yourself and don’t make it a “thing”. If you’re comfortable with it, then it won’t matter what others think. If you’re a little ambivalent, that’s okay too. We’re all nuanced and can be authentically grateful for our partners and our own love stories and STILL not want to deal with explaining faux gems, or our decision to elope, or the alcohol free wedding we’re planning, or the fact that dad won’t be giving the bride away or whatever other variance from tradition is happening. So, “U do U” and don’t anticipate problems that may not occur. Most people don’t think about us in quite the detail that we suppose and it’s possible that this won’t even be remarked on (unless you raise the subject with the whole “oh, it’s a synthetic gem” and follow it up with “and we think that showing off real gems is TACKY!”.

    • flora August 8, 2018, 10:12 am

      That’s true but I can understand the anxiety over anticipating questions you don’t want to answer and the judgement that may come from future family. I come from a judgmental family. Sometimes it helps to have stock answers ready. Also it can help your sanity and peace of mind to know you’re not alone in your feelings.

      • Angie in NM August 9, 2018, 12:20 am

        Yes, this exactly!

      • Leigh August 9, 2018, 8:18 am

        I understand the anxiety. I’ve had people ask me when we are going to “upgrade” my ring. We’re not. I wear the ring my now-husband bought to propose to me. It’s been 22 years, and it’s just as much a symbol now as it was then. It’s priceless. At the time (I was 20, he was 23), we didn’t have a lot of disposable income, and we chose to spend most of our money on buying land and building a house. Some people choose large rings, some people choose smaller rings, and they are just as married either way. People make different choices, but different doesn’t always equal wrong. I dread when people ask me that question (and the thought of it coming up) though, as if somehow my ring isn’t good enough. It is, but I know around some people, I’m going to have to justify myself or “defend” my husband. My go to response now is: “This is the one ring. There’s no replacing it. It’s my precious.” Some people get it, some don’t, but I’m old enough now to not care anymore.

        • Anonymous August 15, 2018, 6:33 am

          That’s a great response. Bonus points if you say it in a Gollum voice.

      • Melissa August 9, 2018, 12:37 pm

        Yes, Flora, this! If OP hadn’t seen this play out already, I may think she’s too paranoid. But she has seen it, and knows what’s coming, and it’s a very smart thing to be ready with some gracious replies, so that she doesn’t sputter out something like “and I think it’s tacky to talk about the cost of gems” out of frustration!

  • Lerah99 August 8, 2018, 8:35 am

    I will never understand the obsession with big diamond engagement rings.

    One of my coworkers married her boyfriend of 3 years.
    They are both adults, had been living together for 2 years, and she has a high school aged son.

    They saved money for a year and a half for the wedding and to take a family vacation in Hawaii for a week after the wedding.

    The wedding itself was a simple ceremony held after church on Sunday with a punch and cake reception in the parish hall.

    She wore a very nice Sunday dress, he wore his nicest suit, the son stood as best man in his nicest suit.

    The bride and her sister made the cupcakes and punch for the reception.

    With all of this, the bride didn’t want an engagement ring. She preferred they save their money for the vacation in Hawaii after the wedding.

    Well, the other women at our work were HORRIBLE about it. They made tons of catty comments about how they’d “never marry a man too cheap to buy an engagement ring” and then they’d go on and on about how many carats the diamond should be and how much the ring should cost.

    I don’t understand why they even cared. It wasn’t their wedding, their marriage, or their ring.

    Those same women also made comments and clicked their tongues over the punch and cake reception. They kept saying variations of “You won’t get any good presents if you aren’t serving a meal. The gifts are supposed to equal the cost of the meal!”

    • Michelle August 8, 2018, 8:52 am

      I will never understand why people who are not part of the couple and not paying for anything think they have a right to tell others what they “should” do or how they “should” have planned something. Your coworkers sound like lovely people (sarcasm intended).

      I got married at the courthouse, had lunch at Burger King, took pictures at Olen Mills, my husband went to work that night and we didn’t go on a honeymoon. I’ve been married 20 years. It’s great if you want/have a engagement ring, nice wedding & reception and proper honeymoon, but there are people who don’t find those things as important, so we should respect what people decide is right for *them* and not worry about it.

      OP, if anyone is rude enough to ask about the ring (carats, cost, etc.) ask them how they like the bean dip (subject change). Or encourage them to talk about their ring. I find that people who put stock in such things often love to talk about themselves.

    • Bea August 8, 2018, 3:25 pm

      I’ll take my soulmate and our choices over carry nobodies any day. My response to these kind of people is to laugh.

      Wealth is awesome but not a character trait. I choose to build my life around love and how others treat me. I make my own money. I pay my own bills. I buy my own nice things.

    • staceyizme August 9, 2018, 8:42 am

      If these women took the opportunity to make catty comments all through a reception, they are just braying asses who should not have been invited. It’s also possible that some prior occurrence set up a negative dynamic between the bride and some of her office mates. They seem to have been implying that the party wasn’t worth their time to attend, and might have been regretful of their generosity in gifting the happy couple if they expected a meal, alcohol and a big “do”. I kind of don’t understand inviting professional connections to an event as deeply personal as a wedding and subsequent reception. It can come off as presumptuous and gift grabby to some. It can also create unpleasant memories for the honorees if these more distant connections feel entitled to misbehave with impunity, as these women did. Those who aren’t connected to the happy couple through a healthy affection shouldn’t be included in the festivities, in my view.

      • Lerah99 August 9, 2018, 9:06 am

        @staceyizme, sorry, I wasn’t clear in my telling of it.

        The women from work were making catty comments about the reception while at work.
        They asked her plans and when she told them. Then they spent the next several weeks gossiping about how stupid she was not to serve a meal at the reception because “everyone knows you gift according to the price of the meal” and it meant she wouldn’t get any “good” gifts.

        Because the wedding was taking place right after church services on a Sunday, she posted and open invitation in the break room. Basically anyone who wanted to come, was told to attend the 10am service and the wedding would happen right after. Then the reception would be in the parish hall. The bride and groom providing cake and punch in lieu of the normal donuts and coffee available after services.

        So we were all welcome to attend, but only two of us from the office went.

        Surprise surprise, all the women who had so much to say about the lack of engagement ring, the simple service, the cake and punch reception, the fact the “Honeymoon” was actually going to be a family vacation so the bride’s 14 year old son didn’t get left behind, etc… all had other plans and didn’t bother to show up.

        It seems they were far more interested in criticizing the bride’s choices than actually witnessing the happy occasion.

        • ALM August 10, 2018, 10:52 am

          “Surprise surprise, all the women who had so much to say about the lack of engagement ring, the simple service, the cake and punch reception, the fact the “Honeymoon” was actually going to be a family vacation so the bride’s 14 year old son didn’t get left behind, etc… all had other plans and didn’t bother to show up. ”

          The catty comments are rude. However, you should not expect a huge showing when you ‘invite’ people to your wedding by posting a flyer in the break room inviting casual acquaintances to sit through your church service so they then can then attend your wedding. That’s not an invite, that’s a gift grab.

          • Lerah99 August 13, 2018, 10:05 am

            “That’s not an invite, that’s a gift grab.”

            Wow, and I thought my coworkers were the catty ones.

            My surprise is that women who were invested enough in the affair to spend a few months saying nasty, hurtful, and condescending things about it then couldn’t be bothered to spend an hour of their day seeing the event in person. It seems that maybe their investment wasn’t genuine but simply an excuse to try to peck a woman to death with their words.

            @ALM, she posted a flyer in the break room because she wasn’t sending out formal invitations at all.

            Mostly she expected the only people who would come would be some close family members and some church members who were willing to attend the 10 minute ceremony after the church service.

            That’s also why she didn’t have a set start time for the wedding. So she invited anyone interested in attending to come to the service.

            At the end of the normal service, the preacher invited anyone who wanted to witness the wedding to stay, otherwise he dismissed the service. Oh, he did mention there would be cake and punch in the parish hall as soon as the wedding was complete.

            The wedding itself was very simple. He read the vows he wrote. She read the vows she wrote. They exchanged wedding bands. The preacher gave a blessing / prayer and declared them married. I’m not kidding that the whole thing was done in under 10 minutes.

            All in all, I don’t think she really expected gifts at all.
            Anymore than someone causally getting married at the court house would expect gifts. It was a really informal but lovely affair.

    • noodle August 12, 2018, 1:20 am

      I became engaged while in college and my now-former husband was from a culture that didn’t traditionally “do” engagement rings, although it was just starting to take hold. Still, it was uncommon. I was okay with not having one but some of the other women in my classes were downright catty about it. My major? Social work. Yes, a profession that supposedly celebrates diversity and other cultures.

      They did love the stories about my wedding itself, though, because my ex’s culture also believed in being pretty lavish. But the “It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that ring” mindset is pretty disturbing to be honest.

  • BeachMum August 8, 2018, 8:36 am

    It doesn’t change as one gets older either.

    At a recent family gathering, I sat with a group of DH’s relatives. They all were discussing their replacement rings. At some point, each of them decided that they had been married long enough that their husband ‘owed’ them a larger diamond and more diamonds on their rings. They traded in their original rings for these showier ones.

    I found a reason to step away. I always thought that the ring was a symbol. I have other jewelry that’s lovely, but DH gave me this ring way back when and I’m not trading it in for any reason…even if we can afford a larger stone or a more extravagant ring. I don’t get it.

    If you like the ring, gush about it, which will, at the very least, confuse everyone for long enough that you can change the subject to something more interesting.

    • Liz August 8, 2018, 2:38 pm

      When my parents got engaged, my dad was newly discharged from the Navy, and had little money. So my mom’s ring is a i think maybe a quarter carat solitaire in a simple yellow gold band. They would have been married for 57 years this month! She still wears it, even though he’s been gone for 10 years, and never once wanted a “replacement” of a larger, fancier ring.

    • Yasuragi August 9, 2018, 4:25 am

      My sister has a very cute, gem-less gold ring. She loves it.
      Our cousin is a very nice girl but often puts her foot in her mouth. She has a big rock on her ring and she gushed when she was newly engaged and showing it to everyone. She then told my sister it’s ok that her ring doesn’t have a diamond since “they can trade up and buy a replacement with diamonds next time!”
      My sister smiled and nodded but on the inside, goodness. She loves that ring. The thought of melting it or changing it or setting it to the side in favor of another ring is just anathema.

    • Kate August 10, 2018, 6:17 am

      I was genuinely weirded out when I first heard of the concept of “upgrades” or “replacement rings”. For me, unless your ring gets lost or damaged, the rings you got married with are your forever rings because they carry the sentimental value. I wouldn’t turn down another ring to celebrate a special occasion (for example, my mother never had an engagement ring and my dad bought her a diamond band for her 50th birthday) but it could never replace my wedding and engagement rings.

  • ladyv21454 August 8, 2018, 9:12 am

    Despite being in his late 30s when we got together, my ex-husband was clueless when it came to finances. So, when we started talking about marriage, I knew I would have to be proactive and dissuade him from spending a ridiculous amount of money for a ring – especially since we wanted to move to a larger house. I told him (truthfully) that I was not a big fan of diamonds and would prefer a sapphire – and that he shouldn’t go over $500-600. I ended up with a gorgeous blue and white sapphire ring that cost less than a quarter of what he wanted to spend on a diamond, and that I received numerous compliments on. Sadly, I gave it back to him when we got divorced – and I missed the ring much more than I ever missed him.

  • Rattus August 8, 2018, 9:14 am

    My ring cost $400 and I love it. The diamond is small, but the setting is what I love about it – very reminiscent of classic art deco jewellery. I had some passive-aggressive comments about its size. My response was three-fold: I love the setting and a large stone would have obscured it; I would rather spend money on either a down payment for a house or a fantastic vacation of which I would have memories for a lifetime; and I don’t really care for having large rings on my hands – they tend to get caught in things and I don’t find them comfortable. These reasons for my preference are actually true and in no way a means of justifying the ring I got. If you love your ring, don’t show any signs of weakness or indicate that you are justifying your choice. Remain firm, smile, and they will go away. They did for me, and honestly I ended up having people justify their choice in spending thousands of dollars for a bit of jewellery.

  • vermin8 August 8, 2018, 9:15 am

    When I got engaged, I, too, said no engagement ring.
    I informed an immediate family member about my engagement via phone and their spouse got on the line and said “so you got a big ring on your finger?”

    I wasn’t sure how to reply so I went with the truth “No. I got engaged.”

    I don’t understand why a ring is considered mandatory by some for an engagement.

    • mark132 August 8, 2018, 12:43 pm

      There really is a one word answer to the ring thing and it’s “DeBeers”. You can google it and be both shocked and nauseated. (It really is)

      • vermin8 August 9, 2018, 5:40 am

        And once the pressure is on, that’s it. How many women said “I saw on TV that you need to spend this much!”
        Remember the commercials from ~20 years ago where the commercial would start with an expensive item then say “how much is this worth to you…” then the voice would tell you how much it would be worth if you had invested instead?

        Those are the commercials that appealed to me.

    • Avalon Angel August 8, 2018, 5:27 pm

      I also have no engagement ring. Never wanted one. We celebrated our 20th anniversary last December.

      • Vermin8 August 9, 2018, 5:41 am

        10 years and still happy…and not broke either!

    • barb August 9, 2018, 7:08 pm

      I not only got NO engagement ring, I had to buy my own wedding band ($35). We were married 34 wonderful years. He passed over 3 years ago. I am still wearing my wedding ring.

  • Dyan August 8, 2018, 9:55 am

    First off it is none of anyone’s bees wax about your ring…if you love it, that is all that matters…

  • bap August 8, 2018, 9:58 am

    As a young girl I developed the idea that when I married, all I wanted was for my husband and I to wear matching plain gold bands. When I then got engaged while in college my (then) fiancé / (now) husband was fine with the “plain gold band”, but determined that his wife would have an engagement ring. He put his foot down on that point and so I told him that was fine, but I would like a very simple single diamond on a plain, thin band to wear along with our matching bands. I will give him credit – that is exactly what he bought. I loved it and wore it with pride.

    Moving on to wedding preparations and we are shopping for our bands. He falls in love with – yes – matching bands, but NOT plain gold. There is a design/pattern/chip in them that make them very lovely, but not plain gold. Fortunately they are not terribly expensive, either.

    The wedding goes as planned and we begin life together. About one month into our marriage he loses his band. For Christmas that year I replace it with – a plain gold band. See where we are now? Nothing matches. I am slightly perturbed, but nothing to cause a rukus over. And no, we do not even discuss getting new rings because, quite frankly, we couldn’t afford it.

    Several years go past and we are in the midst of a construction project on our house. My engagement ring goes missing. Now I have no diamond and our bands don’t match. Guess what? No one – not even family – even notices or mentions it 🙂

    Now, 37 years down the road we are finally wearing matching bands. I purchased them from Amazon for very little and they are stainless steel. Again – no one even notices or comments. I’m no different than a lot of women, sometimes I would like to have a pretty showpiece ring, but honestly, these bands work for us and our lifestyle and reflect the meaning of the wedding rings.

    I’m not at all disrespecting big rings – my own sister has a whopper of a showstopper – but recognizing they are not necessary for a fulfilling marriage.

    • Rattus August 8, 2018, 1:47 pm

      Heh! Same. We’re on our…I wanna say fifth ring each at this point? And I often take my wedding and engagement ring off when I’m painting or making meatloaf or something of that nature. They’ve been off my finger now for a solid two months because I keep forgetting to put them back on, and yet my marriage continues uninterrupted.

      • bap August 9, 2018, 8:04 am

        Seriously?!? You’re still married?!? Without rings to show everyone ?!? How does that even work ?!? ***sarcasm fully intended***

    • Avalon Angel August 8, 2018, 5:26 pm

      My husband is very, very hard on jewelry. He scratched/cracked/broke every ring he had, until about a decade ago, we tried tungsten. Works like a charm. Not a scratch or ding on it.

    • kmn August 8, 2018, 8:15 pm

      My BIL and SIL have “real” wedding bands. But for the most part they seem to wear those new silicone bands they make for people who work with their hands a lot or that do sports. They’re happy, so the rings seem kind of secondary. I have somewhat blingy wedding and engagement rings, but I can’t help but say. I want one of those rainbow glittery silicone ones too!

    • Melissa August 9, 2018, 12:46 pm

      I love how you can get so many cool rings for a pretty low price on Amazon! Especially for those of us with husbands who would probably lose the finger if it wasn’t permanently attached 🙂

  • Sarah August 8, 2018, 10:29 am

    Best wishes for a very happy marriage.

  • Julie August 8, 2018, 12:22 pm

    I grew up in a time/culture where diamond rings or jewelry were kind of rare. Nobody I knew had them, at least no one in my family. So when I was getting engaged, I didn’t really care if I got a ring or a diamond. My fiance insisted and we agreed on a small one. I know women who like to show off big diamond rings. All I know is that while big rocks look nice, but can get caught on clothing. It’s not always the most practical thing to wear all the time…

  • mark132 August 8, 2018, 12:47 pm

    If you want to have “fun” you can start a shocked discussion on blood diamonds and the evil that is DeBeers and how you could never support such evil. Actually I’m only partially kidding, it really is an awful thing. I wish more people were aware of how awful the diamond/jewelry industry is.

  • BMS2000 August 8, 2018, 2:50 pm

    My husband and I picked out engagement ring and wedding bands at the same time. My criteria was unique, not gaudy, and with a diamond that was small and flush with the setting. I work in labs and always have to put gloves on. I either need to keep taking off rings constantly or wear rings that don’t tear gloves. I love my rings, although I have no idea how many carats the diamond is, and both wedding rings and the engagement ring combined cost less than $1500 (as far as I recall. Seriously, it was 23 years ago now). They are simple, beautiful, and sort of old-fashioned looking. I’ve had multiple people ask if they were estate pieces, to which I usually respond “Not yet…” The story that goes with the ring is much more important than the cost and the carats.

  • Annie August 8, 2018, 3:19 pm

    It always amazes me that people ask those tacky questions about the ring. It’s the thought that counts, not the size of ring.

    For me, I didn’t care what my ring looked like. I love all kinds of stones. My now-husband got me a diamond ring. The diamond is a good size; it’s a really pretty stone. The band is gorgeous. It screams my name. (Not literally…it’s just my style. He did an amazing job picking it out.) He put a lot of thought into the ring, which touched me. (And speaking of touched….at our rehearsal dinner, I was stung above my engagement ring and almost had to cut the ring off! I texted my husband the morning of the wedding to give him the “FYI…you’re going to have to put the ring on my right hand” message. Our event manager from the facility was insistent that it be put on my left hand, even after I showed her my hand. Ummm…my finger is the size of my thigh. We’re not getting ANYTHING on it – not today, not tomorrow, and probably not for awhile.)

    For our bands, I have his grandmother’s ring from 1939, and he blended his grandfathers’ rings (and added gold to make it larger) for his. They don’t match, but I don’t care. Actually, for his, the jeweler said that he may not be able to blend them because the result could be speckled and really weird. But it worked!

    Shortly after we were married, we went to my brother-in-law’s house. My husband’s brother’s wife’s father and mother were there. We had met “Dave” and “Ella” before. Ella asked about our wedding; we told her about it, and I mentioned where we got the bands, and it was nice to have his grandparents’ rings. Dave, who was acting like a boar before this (accusing my husband of “hitting heavy” when he had one beer, saying that my 3 year old niece’s chair broke because my husband sat on it, etc., etc.), proclaimed that we didn’t buy our own rings because we didn’t want to spend money on them. Although I was tempted to say, “Actually, it cost a bit of money to blend the rings together…”, I ignored him, but thought, “Who says that?” Rude, rude, rude.

  • Princess Buttercup August 8, 2018, 3:30 pm

    Some options:
    How many carats is it? = It’s not a carrot, it’s a ring. Carrots are for bunnies. (Aka, play dumb, deflect with commedy, move on.)
    It’s so small! = Plenty big enough for me. I live it! (Don’t let them get you down.)
    Are you disappointed? = Why would I be disappointed to be planning my wedding to the person I love?!
    How much did it cost? = Isn’t that like asking someone their dress size? A rather inappropriate question. (Or) I’ll forgive you for asking such a question if you’ll forgive me for not answering.

    And of course the general “I don’t need a big Rick on my finger to know he loves me or feel happy in my relationship.” “It costs plenty/is big enough for me.” Or even, “eh, who wants to just talk about a ring, let me tell you about the wedding plans!”

    • Princess Buttercup August 8, 2018, 3:32 pm

      Ugh autocorrect!
      Plenty big enough for me. I _love_ it.
      I don’t need a big _rock_ on my finger.

      • at work August 12, 2018, 6:01 pm

        Too late, I will forever have a big rick on my finger

  • Gumby August 8, 2018, 4:17 pm

    Wedding ring rather than engagement but: My BIL wears a silicone ring which costs… maybe $25. Because he’s a firefighter. It seems sort of cool to me.

  • MzLiz August 8, 2018, 5:05 pm

    Obviously you know your FI’s family better than I would but I kinda agree with a previous poster that suggested you may be worrying for nothing. Some families are just really open about stuff like that. Were your future in-laws judgmental with each other when they were comparing rings? Someone’s rock had to be the ‘least valuable’ – Did they make sarcastic or mean comments to that person? If not, you’re probably just a wee bit anxious. It can be intimidating joining a family that’s more well-off than your own but, unless they’re actively trying to make you feel inferior, that’s more of a ‘You Problem’ really. Which is great actually, since getting over that is entirely within your control.

    If they do ask what it’s worth, you can tell them “it’s priceless, just like D!” If they don’t “awww” & drop the subject, then they might be lizard-people wrapped in human skin, in which case you’ve got bigger problems… 😉

    • Queen of the Weezils August 10, 2018, 9:21 am

      Love the “priceless” comment!

  • Avalon Angel August 8, 2018, 5:23 pm

    Also: lab-created diamonds are the only ones you can absolutely guarantee are not blood diamonds. You literally will not have blood on your hands.

  • AFS August 8, 2018, 6:04 pm

    Diamonds mined in Botswana, Canada, and Namibia are more likely than not to be ethically sourced: http://time.com/4013735/how-to-buy-an-ethical-diamond/

  • Bea August 8, 2018, 7:49 pm

    I don’t even like that women are now picking out their own rings, let alone the idea of some inflated cost that’s associated with engagement rings! The whole point is that a person so loves another and wants to marry them, they go out and find their token of love to offer their chosen one and present it appropriately. This isn’t saying I don’t believe in talking about getting married and discussing the logistics involved, I’ve spoke with my partner about the fact that yes, I’d very much like to take it to that level one of these days. If you join lives, there’s a lot of planning. But the affection attached to a ring someone choosing the engagement ring, rather it’s out of a case or personally designed that is important to me on a deeply personal level.

    I’m hopelessly romantic though and I know that I’m ridiculous about things like this. But the idea of comparing diamonds as if it means X husband is better than Y husband makes my skin crawl. Maybe it’s not rude or against etiquette standards but it feels tacky. Thankfully I got rid of the only person who fancied material objects more than people.

  • AJ August 8, 2018, 8:58 pm

    You look at it and say “It’s perfect!”. Because it is perfect.

    The size of a diamond is no indicator of love, just as the size of a wedding is not an indicator of a long and happy marriage.

    Your soon-to-be-fiancé will be giving you your perfect ring. And if someone doesn’t like that, you’ve shortened your guest list by one!

    And early congratulations!

  • Catherine St. Clair August 8, 2018, 9:40 pm

    I have a friend who also constantly brags about what something cost and how much money he has. I would simply say, “I never discuss costs with anyone other than my fiancé.” If I go over my “Downton Abbey” series, I can probably come up with a zinger from the Dowager Countess that will put such folks as you describe in their rightful place.

  • DianeRN August 9, 2018, 8:42 am

    My favorite things about my ring are that he was able to pay cash for it and he picked it out himself based on a few things that I had said about not wanting “flashy”. It is simple, the diamond is small, and I think it is perfect. All you have to say is “It is my ring and it is perfect for me” unless you prefer to just give the person an icy glare.

  • Wild Irish Rose August 9, 2018, 9:22 am

    When DH and I were ring shopping, a jewelry salesman told him to his face that he was cheap. I told this jackass that we had a budget and if he couldn’t respect that, we would go elsewhere and p.s. we would tell all our friends what a jerk he was and to avoid that place like the plague. And we left. And got the rings somewhere else. As did all our friends who were ring shopping. You have to stand up for yourself and your decisions to anyone who presumes to tell you what you should do, especially when it comes to spending a lot of money on a big-ticket item like wedding rings.

  • Lara August 9, 2018, 12:48 pm

    I think lab-created gems are great. They are *exactly* the same as the ones dug from the earth, but way more affordable.

    My engagement ring was a sterling silver pearl ring. It was super pretty, and I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of my fiancee spending thousands of dollars on a ring. I no longer wear it daily, since pearls are delicate and mine was starting to get battered from daily use, so I just wear my wedding band, sterling silver with entwined strands. That’s not my actual wedding band either. My husband and I both lost/broke our original bands, and so bought new ones that are similar in style but not identical (the original style wasn’t available any more). I’m a little sad I don’t have the sentimental value of knowing this is the band he put on my hand on that day, but it’s what it represents that’s important. I have particularly large hands for a woman (always have), and so I don’t wear a lot of jewelry on my hands. I think it just looks really gaudy. The silver wedding band is perfect for my needs, and it suits my skin tone. 🙂 I don’t think I’ve ever had a single person say a single word about it, either.

  • Nina J. Hodgson August 9, 2018, 1:13 pm

    Do what I do when asked an obtrusive question about money (income, what a possession cost—that sort of thing.) Just say “over one-hundred dollars.” That’s it. An alternative is “I beg your pardon.”

  • Anon August 9, 2018, 1:35 pm

    When I got engaged (a decade ago now), my husband (then fiance) bought me a beautiful solitaire. I was shocked at the number of people (greater than zero) who asked me how many carats it was and how much it cost. I knew the answers to both, but I just feigned ignorance, and said “I really don’t know…but I love the ring! And I’m so excited to marry him!”

    I don’t think that basking in your own happiness requires one to denigrate the choices of others (in your head or outwardly). Life is a rich tapestry, as Danny Ortberg says, and making one choice does not mean that others are wrong.

  • Dawn Pillsbury August 9, 2018, 4:29 pm

    We married with $2 hematite rings (since upgraded to titanium bands because of breakage). We just celebrated our 12th anniversary.

    People who focus on the marital goods miss out on what’s really good.

  • Anonymous August 9, 2018, 5:12 pm

    I’d just say, “D got me just the ring I wanted.” Lather, rinse, and repeat.

  • Kate August 10, 2018, 6:10 am

    Raise an eyebrow if you are asked about cost and say “I was raised to believe it’s tacky to discuss the value of gifts”.

  • Rebecca M August 10, 2018, 9:00 am

    Yes, I agree with that response, except make sure you’re not as smug and holier-than-thou as the response is to people who really do like diamonds.

  • Queen of the Weezils August 10, 2018, 9:19 am

    I’ve run into this before, as my engagement ring also has a small stone. I actually suggested we not buy a ring at all because I knew our financial situation was tight (college students), but he really wanted to and sold some possessions and worked overtime to buy it. Generally, I prefer small jewelry as I’m not a particularly flashy dresser and I feel like big pieces (regardless of price) overwhelm my small bone structure.

    So, years later, I take the ring into get fixed – one of the prongs had bent and I wanted to see if the band could be stretched up one size. The jewelry tried to talk me into getting a new ring, as this one was “obviously too small”. A customer, looking at engagement rings, agreed. I said “It’s perfect for me. Can you fix the prong?”

    How did size/clarity of diamond become a yardstick of worthiness of groom? I don’t understand it. I also don’t understand the diss against lab-grown diamonds. Does it sparkle any less? And with issues of exploitation and conflict, buying something from a lab ensures that you aren’t accidentally funding a warlord.

    I would address this the same way I would address any other topic that I feel should be off the table. I would bean dip. “Isn’t this a little small?” “No, it’s perfect. So, how are the kids? Ready to go back to school?” (Feel free to leave off the “no” part and just give a brief, stony silence.) Once you start to defend something, it becomes a subject for debate. And I’ve noticed that asking a question about them gives them an opening to talk about themselves, and that’s an opening that most people are going to take.

  • daria August 10, 2018, 9:16 pm

    Miss Manners had a rejoinder to issues like this in one of her first couple of books.

    The gist was to wax poetic about the sentiment behind the ring and then ask the commenter/questioner “Wow, you seem really attuned to the market value of things! Were you ever a professional jeweler or pawn broker or anything like that?”

  • Tanz August 13, 2018, 7:55 pm

    Honestly, I think the best strategy is to just not play the game. Answer honestly, and be proud of your feelings and your husband to be.
    “How much did it cost?” “Under $100! I couldn’t believe we found such a beautiful ring for such an amazing price!”
    “How many carats is it?” “Oh! Don’t know, don’t care. I’m just so glad to be marrying (name).”

    When my family-in-law (or some members of it, anyway) start this sort of questioning I just start pretending that they, and every sane person, feels the same way I do (in this case, that the cost and size of the ring are immaterial). Their reactions can be priceless!

  • Callalily Montez August 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

    I’ll never understand the appeal of diamonds.
    Yes, they flash nicely, but so does plain old crystal.
    My engagement ring is blue topaz and sterling silver, for which we paid a big $250 or so.
    I love it.

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