My friend asked me once – Do men wear engagement rings or what should I do? For a few weeks he had been getting ready for a very meaningful step in his relationship – he had been planning a marriage proposal for his significant other.
My friend had planned everything down to the smallest detail: he chose a place and a date, prepared and memorized a touching speech, and even decided what shirt he would wear on that day. The only thing left was to deal with one essential detail – it was necessary to find and buy ‘the one’, the perfect ring. The groom-to-be was optimistic and rushed to find a gift. However, to his great disappointment, he did not succeed to achieve this goal quickly.
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Here are just a small fraction of the questions that arose immediately after he decided to start the search.
- Ring sets. What are the different types of sets, and which one is right for you?
- Diamond rings. Should they have one diamond, three stones, or none at all?
- Why seemingly identical gemstones may differ up to 30% in price. What does one need to know about the diamond pricing systems? 4C assessment system, and more.
- The most popular precious metals. How do they differ apart from color, which one to prefer?
- Where did the tradition of ring exchange derive from, and when was the first marriage between men?
Moreover, judging by these questions, the main issue complicating the selection process was that my friend, as probably many of those reading this story now, did not have the slightest idea what the men’s engagement ring should look like.
Trips to jewelry stores, along with searches on the Internet, did not really help; instead, they led to many new questions and confused my friend even more. The mission seemed impossible.
Hence, when another attempt to find answers to his questions failed, he concluded that the best solution in such a situation would be to seek advice from a person he trusts. He knew for a fact that due to my line of work I had been interested in jewelry for quite some time; besides, he also knew how much time and attention our team and I paid to details when creating the next piece of jewelry, and how important we find the quality and comfort of the finished product. Therefore, having decided that this is exactly what he needs, he barely waited until dawn to dial my number.
By the time the above-mentioned conversation happened, I was sincerely convinced that I knew nearly everything about jewelry (spoiler alert: in fact, I do not, but you will learn more about this at the very end of my story), so without any hesitation, I agreed to tell him everything I know. At that point, I could never imagine where an attempt to help a friend in love would take me.
Nevertheless, perhaps I shall approach it one step at a time.
I am certain that you would not have read this far unless you had encountered the same problem as my friend had; and if so, I sincerely hope that this article will be useful to you, guide you among all the nuances, and help you find the answers to your questions.
There are three main options for ring sets.
The first and most common option is the classic engagement ring with one or more gemstones. Only one of the future spouses wears this ring. After the wedding ceremony, another one joins it – a wedding ring. In this case, the other spouse wears a wedding band. In total, we have three rings.
The second option, growing increasingly popular among the sweethearts lately, is a set that includes couples’ engagement rings. In my opinion, this brilliant solution allows both partners not only to confirm the sincerity of their intentions towards each other but also to inform others about their new status.
Besides, this engagement ring set can later serve as wedding rings. I believe that this option is also the most convenient one in terms of everyday wear.
The third option and the one my friend favored and Cristiano Ronaldo followed him after that 🙂 is a four-piece ring set. This set includes two engagement rings and two rings for the wedding ceremony.
In all of the above options, the rings can be executed in several versions, making it possible to select jewelry that meets the requirements of each of the future spouses.
For instance, if both you and your partner favor inlay jewelry, a set of rings with one or more stones is a great solution for you.
By the way, Sir Elton John and David Furnish opted for rings like this for their wedding.
The custom-made matching platinum rings with diamonds differ only in the names of spouses engraved on the inside.
The approximate cost of a pair of rings is1M.
Unlike the couple above, Ricky Martin and his boyfriend Jwan Yosef decided on simple and elegant rings without stones.
Lately, Ricky switched his to the diamond one and Jwan kept the same.
However, what should you do when you and your partner’s tastes do not match? After all, perhaps you may like austere and concise rings without gemstones, and your significant other may prefer dazzling pieces with precious stones. In this case, you should look out for the sets where both options are available. Such rings are usually designed using the same style and may differ in, for example, the presence of inlay in one of the pieces, or in width. Generally, this would be a custom order.
Your choice is limited merely by your imagination and, possibly, your budget.
Where to begin? Do you choose a diamond or a precious metal first?
First, who said it should be a diamond? After all, these days there are no strict rules to limit your choice down to a specific gemstone or metal to form a piece of jewelry. I believe it is wonderful that we have no need to meet any standards: you can move away from the classics, create a unique design, combining materials, textures, and colors. Hence, now it does not have to be the usual white or yellow gold ring, you can choose a combined version of two, three or even four shades of gold, or to abandon gold altogether in favor of platinum or other metal.
In terms of gemstones, our designers’ imagination here is truly limitless. They offer an immense variety of options for stylish jewelry not only with diamonds, but also with rubies, sapphires, emeralds, amethysts, and even entire ensembles composed of various stones. Moreover, despite most people associating engagement rings with classic white diamonds, products decorated with gemstones of various shades are gaining increasing recognition. (It may be quite a challenge for a customer to make sense of the variety of gemstones available. Therefore, quite often my clients send pictures of the stones they like, accompanying their email with a phrase “I want this kind of stone, but I have no idea what it is.” No worries, I am always ready to help and answer your questions.)
Fashion has a cyclical nature, the engagement rings with two or three different stones were popular back in the Victorian era. In those days, a similar design had a special meaning – a ring with two stones was called “You and Me”, while three stones symbolized past, present and future.
Nonetheless, regardless of whether you decide on the classics or your preferences lie with the modern designer jewelry, whether you are choosing among finished products, or you want to buy something unique and exclusive, created only for you – in any case, I am convinced the information that follows will be useful. Because before a purchase, one should clearly understand what factors might substantially affect the appearance and total price of the product.
The first thing you have to decide on is the color and, therefore, the metal to form your jewelry. Eight metals are considered precious: silver, gold, platinum, and five platinum family metals (platinoids): palladium, rhodium, iridium, ruthenium and osmium.
The first three of them are cornerstone for use in the jewelry industry.
One more factor affecting the price of an item is gemstones used in the design of jewelry. There are a few main criteria that may significantly alter the cost of the stone. Jewelers tend to follow the so-called “four C’s” rule when assessing a gemstone:
color – perhaps, the main feature of the stone, besides being the major factor affecting its value. Ultimately, the attractiveness of gemstones depends predominantly on their color. Therefore, the brighter and more vibrant is the color – the higher is the cost of the stone.
clarity – implies presence of various imperfections in a stone (cracks or natural inclusions, as well as their quantity), and the ability of the mineral to transmit and scatter light. These are particularly important when choosing diamonds.
cut – an essential appraisal criterion for a gemstone. Fundamentally, any gem looks completely unattractive in the beginning, and cut is what makes the stones radiant and glittering in the rays of light.
carat weight – an internationally adopted metric system used to determine the weight of gemstones around the world. The unit of mass equals 0.2 grams and is called ‘carat’. Gemstones are weighed on special electronic scales of high accuracy, with precision increments of 1/100 and sometimes 1/1000 of a carat. (Worthy of consideration: the larger the stone, the higher the cost per carat.) Likewise, please remember that when a stone transitions into a full-number weight, it becomes significantly more expensive. Therefore, 1.95 carats will be significantly cheaper than 2.0 carats, but visually they are virtually indistinguishable from each other. Frankly, completely indistinguishable.
See for yourself:
History of gay engagement rings.
This part will not help you with choosing a ring. Nonetheless, I could not help collecting all the historical facts and putting them here, even if in brief. Of course, you may skip this, but I will be genuinely hurt.
Various sources describe the development of a ring exchange tradition in different ways. Some believe the ritual originated in ancient Greece, while others suggest it all began in ancient Egypt. However, the opponents agree that the origin of the tradition of rings exchange goes a long way back.
Sadly, I could not find a description of the rings of Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum. Presumably, those were platinum rings, favored by the rich people of Egypt at the time. This union is considered the first officially recognized marriage between two men around 2500 BC.
Braided rings of hemp and reeds served as a prototype of modern wedding rings. According to the researchers, the engagement rings appeared later, in ancient Rome. According to the tradition at the time, the groom would give a metal ring to the bride’s parents during the engagement ceremony. This gift symbolized the seriousness of the groom’s intentions, and, in effect, was a material evidence confirming the agreement on the forthcoming marriage, concluded between the future relatives.
Still, the history of diamond rings as we know them begins, according to experts, in 1477. That is when enamored Maximilian I, archduke of Austria proposed to Mary of Burgundy; and, as a gesture of his love and devotion, he sent a gift to his loved one: a ring of gold with the letter “M” lined with diamonds to signify their names. They say it was this act that finally convinced Mary to give her hand in marriage to the Archduke.
A lot of time has elapsed since then, dozens of generations passed, but the tradition of accompanying engagement with a ring as a gift was firmly established.
Nevertheless, the concept of engagement and wedding rings for men emerged in popular culture quite recently. It is no wonder, considering how the “institution of marriage” itself had plenty of dissimilarities at various times in different societies. In literature, one may often find mentions that a marriage could be a de facto, ecclesiastical, temporary, and even a posthumous union, while the existence of same-sex unions in history were rather kept silent by the authors. This strategy could not help but be ‘fruitful’: a large fraction of the modern society firmly believes that the idea of same-sexmarriage appeared relatively recently. I followed a similar paradigm and, to be honest, I never tried to find neither confirmation nor refutation. Still, it just so happened that while gathering information for my friend, I repeatedly visited the library. During one of these visits, I accidentally discovered historical information of great interested to me. The information that, I hope, will interest you too.
It is known that same-sex relationships were present in cultures around the world. There were also various kinds of same-sex unions – both informal and temporary, and deeply ceremonial – in essence constituting marriage. Remarks on gay unions are found at certain times in ancient European history. Moreover, similar unions existed in Ancient Greece, Rome, Mesopotamia, and in some regions of China (e.g. Fujian province). For instance, Nero was the first Roman emperor who married men (indeed, he married two different men at different times). Actually, thirteen out of the fourteen Roman emperors are considered bi- or homosexual, and at least two of them entered into legal marriage with their male loved ones. One of the most famous examples of an egalitarian domestic partnership in China is recorded in the story of Pan Zhang & Wang Zhongxian. Although a religious rite did not bind the couple, their relationship was approved by the public at the time, and equated to a heterosexual marriage.
Just to name a few from a long list, Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum, Alexander the Great, Sergius and Bacchus, Oscar Wilde are historical figures that were acknowledged to have had homosexual relationships.
Regardless of the abovementioned, a broad public discussion regarding the recognition of same-sex marriages commenced in the Western society only in the second half of the 20th century. Some scholars researching the history of the family institute spoke out on the same-sex marriages having been recognized in Europe from the 8th to the 16th centuries. For instance, a Yale University professor, John Bosuel, claimed upon examining the manuscripts of that period that both Western and Eastern Christian churches had rituals for same-sex unions to be sanctified by marriage in the early Middle Ages. Bosuel specified that the ritual sanctified the “definitely voluntary and sensual union of two persons,” and likely resembled a wedding. The ceremony involved tying and laying on of hands on a Gospel Book, reading a prayer, communion, with kisses, and circling around the altar.
Other historians throughout Europe have encountered mentions of similar rituals. For example, they practiced “enbrotherment” in late medieval France. Such a union entailed the commitment between two unrelated men to live together, sharing “one bread, one wine, and one purse.” Consequently, the couple had common property, which, in the event of the demise of one of them, was automatically inherited by the remaining partner. The romantic nature of relationships in such marriages was not discussed by society.
As for women, I found a lot more examples in history. Historians confirm the existence of the so-called “female husbands” practice in Europe. In these unions, two women resided as husband and wife, often making their marriage official. However, one of the women in such couples had to wear men’s clothes. The first mentions refer to the 16th century. On the other hand, the idea of a “romantic female friendship” emerged in the west only at the end of the 18th century, and from then on close relationships between female companions were perceived as acceptable. Already then, women made attempts to formalize their relationship and get married. Thus, in 1834 two aristocrats from England, Ann Walker and Anne Lister, succeeded in getting secretly married with a church blessing, which became known only many decades later after decoding of Anne’s diaries. In the 19th century England, women pursuing financial independence and wishing to build a career practiced an akin institution of “Boston marriage”, which often happened to be a love affair.
In spite of this, the idea of the possibility of a romantic union between two people of the same sex was first publicly announced by the German lawyer Karl Heinrich Ulrichs around 1865. Later, in the 1870s, he suggested the term “Uranianism” to refer to male homosexuality (in Plato’s dialogues, Aphrodite Urania (“heavenly”), daughter of the Greek god Uranus, was considered the patron goddess of men who love other men). Ulrichs, among other things, authored the first scientific theory exploring homosexuality, and he is rightfully considered the founding father of campaigning for gay rights. Karl Heinrich himself was homosexual and believed that Uranianism is an innate human trait, and therefore gays ought not to be held criminally liable for their orientation. Ulrichs treated homosexuality as a variation of norm, and his views differed drastically from those of his contemporaries, who called attraction to a person of his own sex a pathology.
Nevertheless, profound social transformation regarding the attitudes towards the LGBT community followed only in the 1960s. The laws prosecuting gay people were repealed, homosexuality was no longer called pathological, and the establishment of the first LGBT rights communities began.
The subsequent wave of social movement to recognize gay marriages began in the late 1980s. Denmark became the first country in the world to introduce the practice of registering “civil partnerships” in 1989. Residents of the Netherlands received the right to enter into same-sex marriages in 2001. In the United States, Massachusetts launched the relay in 2004 by legitimizing same-sex marriages. Thereafter, same-sex couples in more than 25 countries received an opportunity to formalize their relationship. A number of other countries introduced an alternative institution of “civil partnership”.
There are many celebrities among the large number of gay couples who formalized their relationship.
For instance, Darren Hayes and Richard Cullen entered into a civil partnership in London in 2006; the news that Darren hastened to announce via his official website. At that same time, John Barrowman and Scott Gill formalized their civil partnership; the couple’s wedding took place in California later, in 2013, after John and Scott had entered into an official marriage.
Scottish actor Alan Cumming and his partner Grant Shaffer legalized their partnership in the UK in 2007; in 2012, they got married and held a wedding in Manhattan. Cheyenne Jackson and Jason Landau were also determined to formalize their relationship, and got married in 2014. Ricky Martin and Jwan Yosef, whom I mentioned before, married in January 2018, and just recently, the couple had a daughter, who became their first child together.
These are just some of the examples of partners who decided to form a family, and every year a growing number of couples add to this list. And I am genuinely delighted that the theme of marriage equality has gained support and advancement in the society.
Even though the acknowledgement of such unions by our society is crucial and gives the gay families legitimacy, many couples view registration of marriage as a symbolic gesture marking a new stage of their relationship. That is the reason for many to adhere to the traditions in everything that concerns such an important step as a marriage proposal and the subsequent wedding.
Write in the comments if you honestly read this whole section.
Setting the price, or How much the ring should cost.
The question of finances is one of the considerable ones arising at the preparation stage of an engagement or wedding.
Arranging a romantic setting seems more or less clear: the cost will depend solely on the place you choose to ask your loved one the main question. You may choose to organize a romantic trip together, or you may plan a dinner at a restaurant (but be careful about putting rings in desserts :)), or even propose in the morning over a cup of coffee (yes, it happens). In any case, it is preferable to have the ring with you (they say it can substantially increase your chances of getting a “Yes” ;))
How much should a man engagement ring cost?
Finally, here is when another question, tormenting more than one generation of lovers, comes up: how much should an engagement ring cost?
There are two unspoken rules in the United States and some of the European countries.
The first one says that the engagement ring should be more expensive than the wedding ring, and the second one – that the jewelry price should amount to two or three of the groom’s salaries.
Indeed, some people give the rings worth three times their salary, ranging on average from $7,000 to $20,000, while others find something in the lower price range.
But, in the meantime, statistics for the past few years indicates that he majority of buyers are willing to invest approximately 8-10% of their annual income in the engagement ring.
We may therefore assume that the majority of potential grooms prefer to choose the engagement gift drawing on their own preferences and capabilities.
Likely enough, after reading all this, you will have even more questions. Write them down in the comments or send them via email – and we will make sure to answer them for you.
We serve our clients following the 4-step principle.
- We provide a comprehensive consultation. Each client is unique and requires a Personal approach, with a capital “P”.
- We assist you with choosing the design. If you want it to be a surprise, we are happy to offer recommendations and walk you through to choosing the perfect option. If you are opting for a custom ring, we will guide you from the sketch to the final product.
- Delivery of rings with certificates. We can even help arrange your proposal. We have plenty of ideas and connections in this regard.
Staying friends! In case you need to clean the rings, or if you have new questions – we are always there for you and ready to help.