Engagement: Two Months’ Salary for the Ring Is Not Much, Really


Valentine’s Day brings diamonds and dissent

Two months’ salary can be pretty pricey for the ice

But think of everything you buy over a lifetime that doesn’t even last. A video game — plus electric power to it, a subscription to a magazine, one coffee to go per week, the price of decades of tipping the staff — all these things cost much more than a ring over a lifetime.

For example, the average cost of playing video games over a lifetime is $60,000. I can count the number of times I have seen a $60,000 engagement ring — not on my own hand, certainly — but on no woman’s (or man’s hand) that I have ever seen.

Most would say that half of that, $30,000, is too much to spend on a ring. Yet compared to the value of games, this is something you use over an entire life and only pay for one time.

If things cost more over a few decades than an engagement ring, and yet, you are paying more than that for your beloved’s bling bling, then I would say that you make too much salary.

If your salary is $50,000 — $70,000 per year you should be paying about $5,000 for the ring. If you make $500,000 or up, per annum, then you should think of a reasonable cap on the cost of your partner’s ring and give the rest to a charity that means much more to both of you than showing off does.

You can buy a truly spectacular ring, or a modest but lovely one, for less than $8,000 even if you are able to afford more.

Your engagement ring should last a lifetime and so should the memory of the proposal. In some ways, the setting and proposal are the bigger investment, the ring is just a daily reminder to reinforce that love.

Adored of the rings

An engagement ring is the most adored of all jewels but many people hate them.

Objections vary from dislike of exploitative mining processes to disliking the idea of marriage itself. But there is also some foundational sexism.

Here are just a few objections you may hear:

A person (especially a woman) expecting someone to pay that much is money-grubbing, and gold-digging.
A couple could save that money to buy a house!
A man should not be locked into social expectations.
A woman should not be locked into social expectations.
A couple could have a nice honeymoon for that cost.
‘Diamonds are forever’ is a scam marketing ploy.
Mining is terrible for people and the planet
Retail diamonds hold no investment value.
Feminist allies should stop this “transactional” exchange.
Most people on Earth don’t have enough to eat.

Let’s examine these arguments one at a time.

Money grubbing is extremely personal. It’s weird that we only judge people as money-grubbing especially when it’s about a gift, and not a sports car, over-priced suit, golf membership, or spending on bars, or porn, or anything else, really.

We can’t even afford a house!
A couple that cannot afford a place to live and a ring is in big trouble already. Add pregnancy and it’s a disaster. People buy many, many things they cannot afford, ($60,000 for gaming, etc.) Overall, no one should carry debt or buy into the debt indentured servitude it costs.

If you think gaming, or wearing clothes, is expensive, you’ll be shocked how much interest — more than doubling the initial cost of a loan— that you pay for lenders.

Social expectations need to die
The concept of a “gold-digger” supposes that one’s youth, beauty, and adoration of another are not worth as much as a man’s wealth, or social position. It supposes that someone who marries for security is greedy rather than practical for education, healthcare, safe housing, and more.

Historically, a ring was about a promise and an obligation. Gifting the woman often sealed an alliance among elites, and required that she be chaste, (and sexy!) loyal, keep a home, and make babies.

Some expectations are definitely due for a change. However, the tradition of a ring is now also entangled with romance, family history, valued memories, caring, and more.

We need to end the intolerance of cis-normative narratives and expand the meaning of love itself to be more inclusive.

The same facts are true when objections to feminism are raised. Never forget that true feminism is always about choice, not expectation.

A nice honeymoon is better
Air travel is awful, and even road travel is fraught with everything from the price of fuel to the carbon footprint. And, again, paying that much is a personal choice. Don’t judge. If the couple gets real joy from having a ring, it’s a win for them.

With proper planning, a modest ring and a modest trip should both be possible, or even have one delayed to anticipate later.

Marketing ploys of jewelers and exploitation
It’s true. De Beers’ et al., marketing and the more recent social costs of blood diamonds were, and are, exploitative ventures. Mining for gold and diamonds can be very destructive. Yet, gold and diamonds are rare in that unlike most materials, they do last thousands of lifetimes.

Never pay retail. Buy used; only a fool would pay retail for something that is already a billion to three billion years old if it came from the real throat of a real volcano.

And who wants ice without fire?

What about holding value, an investment?
There are at least two stories in my family of origin. In one, a grandmother’s diamond ring was exchanged for a car that allowed the family employment and income. In another, stock bought with the proceeds of less than $5,000 (an average ring cost) after divorce, was invested and shot up more than $700,000 dollars.

That was, until the tech bubble crashed, but even then, just try exchanging your old videos for seed money and see how much you earn from it.

People are starving all over the world
This one is also true. Even as some starve, others justify extreme wealth. Others justify extreme power and influence. Rings, however, are something of real value that hold power, romance, joy, memory, and even genuine value for some people.

Ask Frodo!

And, in an extreme predicament — as all lives reach eventually — they can be used to barter for goods.

Let’s not judge people for their choice

As in all other tests of one’s values, engagement rings are very personal.

It’s fine to decide for one’s self that we are better off giving everything to the poor, but we don’t. By the way, a ring is a small thing to carry with you when you travel. Unlike a McMansion or a fancy car, it’s easy to give away when you see someone who needs it more than you.

The choice of whether to invest in an engagement right should be left up to the two people to whom it matters most. If they disagree, it’s best for the two of them to come up with something to invest in that they both very much value. Then, buy, (or don’t) a very modest, but cherished jewel.

This post was previously published on medium.com.


The post Engagement: Two Months’ Salary for the Ring Is Not Much, Really appeared first on The Good Men Project.

Older Post Newer Post