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We all have a similar vision of a traditional engagement. Your boyfriend gets down on his left knee in the place you first met or went on your first date. He opens a box with a diamond ring in it and asks if you'll make him the happiest man in the world. On your wedding day, you'll each get a gold ring. But, in the meantime, do men wear engagement rings?
Do Men Wear Engagement Ring?
So, do men wear engagement rings? In short, the answer is yes, they can, but not all men wear engagement rings. Men who do wear engagement rings don't all wear them the same way.
Some men have no problem wearing an engagement ring on their left index finger. However, other men feel more comfortable wearing an engagement ring on a chain as a necklace. Regardless of if or how a man chooses to wear an engagement ring, the history and psychology of wearing rings is quite fascinating.
The History of Engagement Rings
Today, 80% of women engaged to be married are given engagement rings. This tradition goes all the way back to the Egyptians. To the ancient Egyptians, the circular wedding bands represented eternity. Wearing this band around your finger symbolized your commitment to being with your partner forever. There was also a tradition of paying a dowry in order to receive a woman's hand in marriage.
By the second century B.C.E., ancient Romans started the tradition of giving "betrothal" or engagement rings in place of dowries and expensive gifts. A betrothal ring was the physical representation of a woman being "taken". It was the physical representation of ownership. This wa the birth of engagement rings.
In the 1880s, diamonds were discovered in South Africa. As part of a brilliant marketing campaign, the word was spread that diamonds were a "must" for an engagement ring. In the late 1940s, the De Beers Consolidated Mines Company of South Africa, better known as the De Beers Company, changed the diamond industry forever with four little words. Their slogan became "A Diamond Is Forever".
With this slogan, the modern engagement ring was born. The company instilled in people the idea that a diamond symbolized never-ending love. It also instilled the belief that a diamond would never lose its value. Over 70 years later, this slogan has been translated into over 28 languages and advertised across the world. The modern engagement ring is the marriage of two symbols. The first is a circular band that symbolizes eternal partnership and the other is a valuable rock that symbolizes everlasting love.
The History of Male Engagement Rings
In recent years, high-profile men have started wearing engagement rings. Famous examples include singers Ed Sheeran and Michael Buble. But the history of companies selling male engagement rings dates back to 1926. In that year, L. Bamburger & Co., the company that is now known as Macy's, placed ads for engagement rings for men with masculine-sounding names like the Master and the Stag. The advertisements didn't gain very much traction because so much of the population thought engagement rings were a female-only accessory. Today, only about 5% of American men wear engagement rings.
Why Do Men Wear Engagement Rings?
We have come a long way since the ancient Romans who believed that women were property transferred from father to husband. Today, women wear engagement rings as a symbol of commitment to a partner for life. So why do men wear engagement rings?
Men in heterosexual relationships wear engagement rings because they believe in what the ring represents today. It is a constant outward expression of an emotional commitment they made. It's also a statement that an engagement ring is no longer a sign of ownership. Rather, the relationship is one of equality and everlasting love and equality.
Today, gender roles are fluid. A heterosexual man may choose to wear an engagement ring because his girlfriend proposed to him. Similarly, one or both men in a homosexual relationship will choose to wear an engagement ring.
In some relationships, women earn significantly more money than their boyfriends. Some men are unemployed. Some men are unemployed. It makes sense that the bread winner be the one to make the significant financial purchases.
Why Do Some Men Not Wear Engagement Rings?
There are many reasons why a man may choose to not wear an engagement ring. The most obvious reason is they believe in tradition. To them, men don't wear a ring to symbolize their relationship until their wedding day. In fact, some men dislike wearing rings so much that, once married, they will wear their wedding band around their neck.
Men are more likely to be in a career that gets them physically messy. From waste collection specialists and plumbers to construction workers, there are many jobs that can lead to dirty hands and endanger a valuable ring. Moreover, it's dangerous for welders and certain other professionals to wear rings at all. Taking the engagement ring on and off isn't an ideal solution, either. The more often you take off the ring, the more likely you are to lose it. Even if you put it in the same place every time you take it off, it could still go missing.
Types of Engagement Rings for Men
Just like the choice to wear an engagement ring or not, the style of a male engagement ring comes down to personal preference. Companies like De Beers sell unisex diamond "promise" rings that men often wear as engagement rings.
Contrastingly, some men choose to wear an engagement ring that resembles a wedding band. For some couples, this means a matching set of plain, tungsten bands. These bands look enough like a wedding ring that nobody questions why a man is wearing an engagement ring. Like diamonds, tungsten is known for its durability and resistance to corrosion.
It is becoming increasingly more common for men to wear a rubber ring around their left index finger. First, rubber rings are a lot safer to wear for men in certain professions. Second, rubber rings are far more affordable and durable than traditional sterling silver. Many couples prioritize spending money on their honeymoon, buying a home or having a child over their engagement and wedding.
How Much Should a Man's Engagement
Are you wondering how much a man's engagement ring should cost? You're not alone. Many people are only familiar with the traditional rules regarding how much a wedding ring should cost.
The Salary Rule
The "2 months' salary" rule states you should divide your gross annual income by six. This is the amount that "should" be spent on an engagement ring. Other common "salary rules" include spending one month's salary or three months' salary on an engagement ring.
Many people get engaged in their early- to late-twenties. They're just getting started in their careers, earning a lot less than they will in a couple decades. Many are saddled with student loans and other debt. So, how do they manage to purchase a ring worth two or three months' gross pay? They take out a loan they can't afford. If you can't afford an engagement ring, talk to your partner about taking out a loan if you will have joint finances once you're married.
Your Partner's Wishes
Making sure you can afford an engagement ring, whether you pay with cash or make a monthly payment to pay it off, is important. Equally important, however, is your partner's wishes. For the most part, men don't dream of the cut and color of their engagement ring from childhood. They' won't be bombarded by questions from friends, family members and fraternity brothers. As a result, you may not need to spend thousands of dollars on an engagement ring.
Take your partner to a jeweler, have his ring finger sized if he wants to wear his engagement ring on his finger and ask him to tell you what types of rings he likes. An engagement ring is meant to be an outward representation of a commitment to everlasting love. It doesn't have to break the bank to do that.
The Bottom Line
Some men wear engagement rings just like some women do not wear engagement rings. Why do men wear engagement rings? Put simply, it's because they want to. They believe in the emotional commitment they've made and want to display that commitment to the world. It all comes down to personal choice.
The style of male engagement ring also comes down to personal preference. Some men prefer to wear an engagement ring around their neck. Others prefer a simple band made of rubber around their left ring finger. Men's engagement rings can be a stainless steel, sterling silver, gold or platinum band with a diamond setting. These rings can feature other types of metal and minerals, too. Just remember, don't spend too much on a ring just because that's what tradition dictates. Keep in mind how much you can actually afford to spend and how much you value an engagement ring over other life milestones.
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