I Didn’t Want Him to Buy an Engagement Ring

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After a certain point in your relationship, people start asking questions. They ask if wedding bells will be ringing in the near future. They start grabbing your hand every time they see you, hunting for a giant, sparkly rock. They address invitations, thank-you cards, and holiday greetings to “Mr. and Mrs. _____” in an attempt to get a rise out of your male counterpart.

For me, this started about three years ago. His family. My family. Our friends. Everyone kept asking, “When is he going to buy you a ring?” For a long time, I laughed it off, showed them my empty ring finger and shrugged nonchalantly. A few months ago, I started answering with the truth.

I didn’t want a ring.

I didn't want an engagement ring

This is not to say that I didn’t want to get married. I just didn’t want an engagement ring. I love pretty jewelry, but I rarely wear it. In the first couple years of dating, Brian bought me necklaces and earrings that fit my personality perfectly. When I’m wearing these beautiful accessories, I think, oh, this is so nice. Maybe I’ll start wearing jewelry more often. Maybe I’ll be the girl who always wears fine jewelry.

Here’s my actual MO: I’ll wear the jewelry for a few weeks until I forget to put it on in the morning. I leave it sitting on the coffee table when I paint my nails. It gets left in the bathroom after I shower. Eventually, the necklaces, accent rings and earrings retire to my jewelry box, where they sit, collecting dust and waiting for some TLC. When I remember them, I pull them out for special occasions – weddings, special date nights and fancy parties, but then they go back to the jewelry box for another couple of months.

After nearly five years in a relationship, Brian and I have built a life together. We purchased a house and established our own little family of two. We talk about the future, marriage and babies. As a proposal drew closer, I’d begun hinting at not wanting a ring, but I wasn’t convinced he believed me.

We finally had a conversation about engagement rings, and I told him I’ve never had strong feelings about my dream engagement ring. I’ve fantasized about the ceremony, cocktail-hour cheese display, reception, honeymoon, and marriage, but never about the ring. It just wasn’t important to me.

I asked him if it was important to him that he buys me a ring. He wasn’t entirely sure. You know what worried him most? What other people thought. He didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I told him that we were probably going to disappoint a lot of people when we started heading down that path of wedding and marriage bliss. Not everyone will agree with our decisions for the wedding, how we choose to raise babies and God only knows what else.

I realized that his concern was mostly with social conventions, and I started thinking about my heirloom jewelry collection of rings passed down from my parents. I told him, “Just steal my great-grandma’s ring from my jewelry box, and we’ll be cool.”

He didn’t look swayed. We locked eyes and I explained I have a beautiful heirloom ring that belonged to my great-grandmother. I would be honored to wear it and have my family be a part of our wedding.

We considered the financial implications of buying a ring. To fit the industry standard, he was supposed to spend about $4,000, and so we talked about the things we could do with that money. From remodeling the bathroom to finishing the basement, planning a big wedding with our family and friends or paying for the honeymoon of our dreams, it seemed to me that stretching $4K further than a size 8 ring would be a wiser investment. And let’s be honest. A four thousand dollar piece of jewelry that I may wear for a year at most? My soul cries for the amount of cheese I could buy with that kind of money.

Sure, he could buy me an inexpensive ring, but I’m perfectly content with an heirloom piece that represents tradition and family. How cool is that? After I made my case, Brian finally understood and was on board with the plan to use my great-grandmother’s ring to signify our engagement. To hell with what everyone else thinks about buying a fancy new diamond. The ring I wear for however many months we’re engaged will be super pretty. And won’t have cost either of us a dime.

A week before we got engaged, he asked me one more time, “Are you sure you don’t want me to buy you a ring?”

I responded with a very confident “yes.”

I wanted to shift the focus from showing off the ring to sharing the excitement about committing ourselves to each other. And so, when my best friend silently pilfered a ring from my dusty, rarely opened jewelry box and asked me to be his wife, I promised to try and wear that ring every day. But for better or worse, when I forget to put the ring back on after washing the dishes or taking a shower, it can live safely in my jewelry box (I hope) while that four grand remains untouched in our savings account.

How do you feel about engagement rings? Do you have one/want one/not want one? Am I just a weirdo?

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13 Responses

  1. I love this, and agree with your thoughts completely! Giant, sparkly engagement rings are pretty and all but I too couldn’t fathom A) having my now fiance spending that kind of money on a piece of jewelry B) wearing something that cost that much on my finger (I’m a little accident prone). We did something similar, I had a diamond from one of my grandmother’s old rings so he just picked out a simple setting and we called it good. I feel like going that route it holds so much more meaning as well! Thanks for sharing your story!

  2. When I got married, my wife made it clear that she didn’t want a diamond. The ring has a diamond but it’s incredibly small and is not the center stone. I think that if I ever got married again (just to be clear I’m still happily married and have no plans for that to ever change) I might consider something not jewelry related to be a symbol of our love. Not sure what that would be, but probably not a ring.

  3. I love this. I wear jewelry regularly but I can’t get behind spending that amount of money on any piece of jewlery. Like you, I imagine all the other things I could do with that money. If anything my ideal engagement ring wouldn’t be a diamond but a colored gem (either Sapphire or Aquamarine because yay blue and Aquamarine is my birthstone and I love it). Significantly cheaper and more fitting with my personality.

  4. I wanted a ring and I wanted to pick it out, it’s just who I am. I love my engagement ring (a mostly simple solitaire) and I have worn it every day for 8+ years. I opted for a super plain wedding band, but then decided at our 5 year wedding anniversary that I wanted a little more sparkle with an added anniversary band on top. Yes, all three of those rings cost money. But I love them. Also, although my husband initially took out the loan for my engagement ring, we BOTH paid for it. So, to each their own as long as your happy it doesn’t really matter whether you have a new expensive piece of jewelry or not!

  5. Didn’t want one, had the same talk as you and Brian, and, now, 16 years later, I’m still grateful not to have one.

    Plus, a whole bunch of my friends who spent that required $4,000 on a ring have since gotten divorced, thus proving the ring is not some magical guarantee of happiness.

  6. Having an engagement ring was important to me (more so than I like to admit, actually). BUT, had an heirloom ring been in either of our families, I would likely have opted for that, or a reworked version of it. (Yours is gorgeous, no reworking needed.) I really like the added sentimentality of heirloom jewelry. I wear my rings every single day, though, they’re often the only jewelry I end up wearing. All my fancy necklaces and such tend to land in the jewelry box, too!

  7. I wanted a ring, but though diamonds last forever, marriages don’t. It was beautiful but impractical and I hardly ever wore it because of work. It sat, forlorn, for too long, as we didn’t have dates or fancy parties to wear it for.

    In the end I sold both rings for about 25% of what was paid for them, and bought perfume, which I LOVE, and wear every day. Keep the money. Wear your grandma’s beautiful ring, and spend on something you will BOTH enjoy, which strengthens your relationship 🙂

  8. I don’t even wear my engagement ring anymore. Sure, it was beautiful and yes, I loved it for a long time, but after a while I realized I’m just not an every day jewelry girl (short of gold earrings sometimes). It saddens me that my ring sits in a box, but I’m not going to just start wearing it again to please other people. I commend you for sticking to your guns on this Chrissy. If you don’t want to do something, don’t!

  9. I go through phases with my engagement ring & wedding band… I have been wearing them daily for quite some time now, but there have been stretches of months at a time where I’d have taken them off to shower and just never bothered to put them back on for whatever reason. Since my husband has pretty much never worn his wedding band for job safety reasons, it’s never been important to him if I don’t wear mine 24/7 and so it was less important to me to wear them over time. My best friend is a massage therapist and also rarely wears her engagement ring/wedding band either, but we both agree that even though we can go long stretches without wearing our rings, it’s nice to have them for special occasions like you mentioned (anniversary dinners, family gatherings, weddings, etc).

  10. I don’t really care about it either and when I tell my girlfriends that, they think i’m a wacko. Anyways, I told my bf to get me a handmade one on etsy if he must that wall I’ll at least feel good about supporting an artistan.

  11. I love this article! I had a similar situation but for me it was the wedding. I had never dreamed of a wedding but I always dreamed about being married. So after my husband proposed and we started planning a traditional wedding I started to cry a lot from the stress and anxiety ( I don’t do well with a lot of attention on myself). So after two months of being miserable I cancelled everything and planned a very small ceremony and dinner. We didn’t have a wedding party, just our sweet dog standing by us and my best friend got ordained online to marry us. I’ve realized that you don’t have to do anything by the book, it’s just what you both want that matters.

  12. I 100% want an engagement ring and I do plan to wear it. I completely understand the sentiment of not wanting one, it’s becoming increasingly common as women are financially independent and don’t “need” a diamond as an insurance policy. But I know I’ve always wanted a nice ring – not an absurd one, nothing that would cause a guy to go into debt. My hope is that my ring will one day be worn or somehow re-purposed by a granddaughter, great-niece, etc.

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