I don't care what someone's ring costs so long as they can afford it (which is not the same thing as putting it on a monthly payment plan) and they love the person who is giving it to them more than the sparkly ring.
My main issues with the jewelry and wedding industry is that they often use snobby, very high pressure sales techniques, to push people into having more than they can really afford--especially under the guise that if they do not do so, they must not really LOVE the person or each other. Spending a huge amount of money on jewelry or what amounts to a one day party is foolish if someone is already in debt with a lot of student loans, consumer debt, or simply cannot afford to do so--especially when you consider that money and infidelity are tied for the number one cause of divorce.
Eh, just because it's on a payment plan doesn't mean they can't afford it. I'm personally not big on expensive jewelry, so I'd probably never even consider a piece of jewelry that would be eligible for a payment plan for myself. But I have other non-essentials on payment plans that I can absolutely afford, but chose to put on payment because the interest rates were lower than what I make on my investments. So I'm actually making money off of the payment plan.
Choosing to live outside your means, whether you are spending it on a house, a ring or a one day party, is absolutely foolish and arguably rude. But having debt doesn't necessarily mean you are living outside your means as long as you've budgeted for the debt. That said, I agree that the sales tactics used to push personal debt can be despicable - and not just in the wedding industry. You don't love your wife enough if you don't buy the super expensive ring. No one will ever want to come to your house if you don't buy the 60" tv. Everyone will gossip about you if you choose to serve only a champagne toast instead of paying for an open bar. But as long as people fall for it, I doubt that things will change.
That's probably why there are so many stories in this thread of horrible salespeople. While it didn't work for the individual posters, I'm sure those kinds of tactics shame certain people into spending more than they intended. I know I have a friend who let the sales person talk him into a more expensive diamond so that people wouldn't think he was cheap. He regretted it almost the second he walked out the door, and doesn't have particularly warm feelings about the jewelry store. But the salesperson still got the higher commission. And while the company may care about client retention, to the type of sales person that uses this tactic, the immediate sale is more important.