WORD | The Statement of Omission


I wrote a story for Vogue.com that was published yesterday about why a diamond engagement ring isn't for me. I've been married for almost five years, but it took a recent burglary to really think hard about why I never wore my ring. In one regard, it's an aesthetic choice, I lean more minimal and masculine in style. On the other hand, it's a weightier decision that questions the idea of status and politics and feminism. There's so much nuance that surrounds these decisions: tradition, families, politics, culture, and it's all so hugely personal. There's certainly not a wrong or a right way, but if you're interested, here's my story. Would love to know what your take is too.

44 comments:

Kirsten said...

I loved your story, and I totally identify with it! I never, ever thought that I would wear a diamond ring. Diamonds aren't really my style and I can't fathom having someone spend that much (or go into debt!) on an object that is totally irrelevant to our partnership. Yet here I am, recently engaged, and wearing a diamond ring.

My partner and I got engaged without a proposal, and I just assumed we would not wear rings until our marriage. It's funny, when we would tell people we had gotten engaged, they would automatically look, and then look confused, at my empty finger. Like it wasn't real without a ring there.

But, my partner felt like he wanted to give me something to remember the occasion of our engagement by, and my grandmother ended up giving her ring to him to give to me. Even though it's not my style, it is nice to be able to wear a piece of family history that reminds me of my beloved grandma whenever I look at it. I don't know if I'll get a wedding band that matches that ring (likely not), or whether I'll end up wearing it everyday forever, but for me it was a happy medium.

Jessica Kasimatis said...

I love this. I had no interest in a diamond ring for many reasons. Friends and family kept insisting I needed a "real" ring, but I am so happy with the two gold bands I ended up with. Simple and perfect.

Franzi said...

I loved your story! I'm from Germany and here diamond engagement rings are not that common ... and if you get one, than it's either also your later wedding ring or you will also switch it against your new ring and combine it for bigger occasions with your engagement ring. But lately there's a change perceivable toward the "American way" to do it - I know some women who are dreaming about getting an engagement ring as big as in "Breakfast at Tiffany's". Congratulation to your great story!

Anonymous said...

I’ve read your great blog for about a year but never commented before. This really resonates with me.

My boyfriend and I (still can’t bear to call him ‘fiance’) got engaged in November and he proposed to me with a vintage silver ring from my favourite mid-century jewellery designer, Kupittaan Kulpa. He figured I wasn’t a diamond kind of girl and he was right – I never wear blingy jewellery, if I wear anything at all its something quite sculptural. It meant so much to me that he’d put so much thought into it, and spent months scouring to find the right ring. Even he had a bit of a crisis of confidence that he’d got it a bit wrong and that secretly I just wanted a big ole sparkler like in the adverts.

When people look at my hand they either look confused, disappointed, or ask if it is an ‘inbetween’ ring because we haven’t got the proper one yet. I find it quite insulting. And as others have mentioned, I find the idea of displaying (and others assessing) your net worth by what’s on your finger seems vulgar and anachronistic. Once we’re married in September the engagement ring will move over to my right hand and I’ll just wear my wedding ring on my left ring finger. I like the understated simplicity and confidence of a plain band. As you say – that is the ultimate symbol of connection and love and the only one I need.

Wheardo said...

Totally identify with this. I find myself vaguely repulsed by the ostentatious displays of big blingy rocks. It goes along with all the other trappings of a consumer society, big cars, lots of gadgets etc.
I got married three years ago, my husband had my ring made by my favourite jeweller, a local lady with a distinctive style, he designed it, he's not the most creative when it comes to things like that. He was nervous as hell that he'd got it wrong, but he'd hit the nail on the head. It's white gold but without the platinum so appears a little grey, it has a small tube of yellow gold that a very small diamond sits in. It's not remotely traditional and a colleague described it as looking like a washer. When we got engaged, the people that go for the big faceted diamonds always looked slightly perturbed by it. Love it.

Mary Collins said...

I am not a diamond girl, so when my husband proposed, he used a placeholder ring that all his friends had used. It was great. Then we spent the money that we would have on an engagement ring getting matching wedding bands custom designed and made. Almost 20 years later I still get compliments on my wedding band, and so does he!!

Jennifer said...

Thanks for publishing a story on this. So many women getting married think they should have the traditional diamond engagement ring. I was the same and now it sits in my drawer and I've been married for 22 years. I found a ring that fits my personality better and only wear that occasionally. It looks like black metal netting and has little diamonds shaped in an x in the middle. My husband has never worn a ring, because he doesn't like jewelry and it doesn't bother me a bit.

Kim Hayes said...

Love it. Thank you.

It is kinda like I never dreamed of "my wedding" or "my wedding dress", I only dream of hearing a man saying, "I love you." and wanting spend the rest of his life with me. : )


Glad you have happy endings to your stories.

yt said...

Great story! Especially because I have very similar thoughts about my own diamond engagement ring languishing in a drawer somewhere at home. We too followed the traditional pathways at first and then one day I just stopped wearing it. I know have two tiny gold rings, one with a tiny little garnet and I feel so much more comfortable than when I wore the big diamond.

It's funny what you said at the end, about a little bit wishing you and your husband had talked about it and maybe saved the money for something else. I joke all the time about selling mine but somehow neither of us can do it. I like to think that it's a reminder of where it all began.

Aja Lake said...

Matching bands are the way to go. And kudos to you on the Vogue piece!

Jana || One Drawing A Day said...

I traded in my inexpensive wedding set for a single small square stone-I love it. Simple and stunning on my small hands!

denby royal said...

Nailed it.

Kristina E said...

Loved this story and also strongly identified with it. I choose my engagement ring from a small independent designer-a very cool design with not a diamond in sight. I'm still wearing it as my wedding ring and constantly get positive comments on it. I also did not want us spending a small fortune on a ring-I asked that we put some money towards a very awesome new mountain bike for me instead!

Jessie said...

For a while I thought I would wear something vintage. But then I discovered Sarah Perlis and her rough diamond rings. So I ended up with a thin gold band and a teeny tiny (maybe 1/4 carat?) rough diamond - uncut and conflict free in recycled gold. I loved how organic and imperfect the style was, sustainably sourced and very dainty and inconspicuous as well as affordable (we were in undergrad at the time). I love it, I love that it doesn't protrude off my finger, there aren't giant prongs to snag on everything, that people don't even notice it. I'm pretty minimal in style so it is usually the only jewelry I wear.

Anonymous said...

When my boyfriend and I decided to move in together our second year of college (1970), we thought it might be more palatable to our parents if we were 'engaged.' To that end, his mother gave him the Tiffany's diamond engagement ring that her father had given to his wife. A very modest diamond solitaire with high prongs holding it up. I had it resized and the prongs reduced. Even so, it had no appeal to me, and in fact was so completely symbolic rather than personal that I only wore it when I was around his family, and then only for about a year. It's still in my jewelry box, impossibly small to get on my finger now. My husband and I have been together for 44 years (we didn't marry for another 10, after the 'engagement').

I have never coveted diamonds in any way, shape, or form. And I've let my husband know that time and time again. But I have a group of friends who all seem to have the most beautiful, fancy diamond rings given to them by their husbands for one reason or another. Sometimes I get a little jealous and wonder if I'm missing something.

Squab said...

You wrote what I have been thinking forever. Done and dusted. U good.

Dani said...

This is great. Congrats on Vogue!

I find the whole idea of marriage proposals to be such a display of male chauvinism and kind of outdated. So many couples live together for a long time before getting married. Personally, I've been with my boyfriend for 5 years - we share a home, a bank account, a car payment, a dog, etc. It'd be kind of redundant to announce an engagement.

And I don't know about everyone else, but I see my relationship as a partnership. We will decide together if or when it's time to get married (something neither of us is very interested in). And when you take away the whole element of surprise and the theatrical display of getting down on one knee, the ring seems unnecessary.

Plus, if my partner spent a fat chunk of money on a ring for me, I'd make him return it and use the money he spent to pay my student loans. There are more important things to spend money on - paying debts, traveling.

And doesn't it bother anyone else that women traditionally wear a symbol of their engagement but men don't?

Christan said...

I love this so much. Giant engagement rings are unnecessary. I also find the sexism of engagement rings bothersome. The idea that the man has to "prove" that he can take care of a woman places unnecessary expectations on a man or that the woman is now "taken" or "spoken for" when a man has no such symbol.
Thanks for your words.

Krista said...

Thank you for writing this, it is a timely piece for me. My relationship with my boyfriend is heading in a forward progression. Lately I've been browsing jewelry sites, and I honestly can't picture myself wearing a big diamond ring. I have small hands, and I like wearing fun costume jewelry, so a big diamond ring would get it all cluttered up!

Della said...

love this story - thank you!

Suju said...

Yes! I wear three rings on my left hand. A simple gold wedding band. A funky, many layered "engagement" ring with the tiniest diamond, and a chunky silver and gold ring with a peridot that my husband bought me in Goa. All together tell a story of our relationship without, I hope, ostentation or a need to draw attention. Thanks for your story.

danielle @ this picture book life said...

Well done, LIzzie! Couldn't agree more. While I appreciate the symbolism of a wedding ring, I don't have one at all and instead switch out whatever ring I like at the moment on that finger (never diamonds). :)

Lauren Blass said...

I got engaged with a twist tie when I was packing up after my senior year of college. We were sitting over a laundry pile, and the idea occurred to him spontaneously. Not only would a large engagement ring have been completely out-of-step with our current life situation, it would have been impossible for him to afford one. Eventually the twist tie was replaced with a silver ring with a green "emerald" he purchased at the gift shop under the Space Needle. We had just moved to Seattle and were showing his parents around. I paired that with a very thin silver band, which I for a year until I eventually inherited my great grandmother's tiny diamond ring. I guess my point is that it's okay for your ring to NOT be a statement, traditional or rebellious or otherwise. For us, like you, it's been practical and, frankly, fun reflection of where we are in life.

Tradlands SF said...

Lizzie, I am sorry about your robbery experience and on the other hand CONGRATS on the Vogue article.

This article is great and it resonates with so many women - myself included - because I think there is a quiet shift happening. My engagement ring is a thin gold band and my wedding ring is a 100-year old signet ring that I found for $150. The jeweler it was purchased from told me to think of myself not just as the buyer but also the next caretaker for the ring, which I love. It is my favorite piece of jewelry and I've found myself wearing less and less accessories since I was married last year. The ring is small and unnoticeable to some but it feels like everything I need, for every outfit and occasion.

I overhead two girls chatting at a coffee shop earlier this week. One was telling the other that her boyfriend better give her a viral social media worthy proposal, "You know, like those videos on Facebook." The same day I read an article about a company who will create your perfect engagement ... starting at $5,000. So in the era of Kimye weddings there is still a big market for big engagement rings. But! When Vogue is featuring articles like yours, it makes me feel hopeful for women who are less "Disney princess" and more down to earth. Thanks, Lizzie!

Anonymous said...

loved your article. for the first time, i have heard an opinion on diamonds that matches mine. it seems that all american women are obsessed with diamonds. the shrieking "let me see your ring!" upon announcing an engagement, actually means "let me assess your economic status!". i chose not to partake in this game, and when my husband and i decided to get married 8 years ago, i requested a simple gold band. a lot of people don't get it. oh well.

jade antoine said...

Great article and perspective. I have been married for almost 11 years, and my husband proposed with a custom gold band, which he knew was exactly what I wanted. I didn't want a diamond for practical and aesthetic reasons, but also because I felt (and feel) they are wrapped up in the same package with beliefs about relationship and marriage that don't appeal to me, and aren't what I want for my partnership. Thanks for writing your story, and for giving a platform for like-minded women to share theirs.

Marissa said...

Loved your story as well! I am recently engaged and have a simple ring with a small sapphire instead of diamond. People seem disappointed when they see it and ask if it's my birthstone (it's not). My fiance said he got some push back from the jewelers and even his own mom, who insisted I probably really wanted a diamond. Thankfully he held strong :)

Sasha said...

A great article! I'm sorry to hear that you had to deal with robbery, but it seemed to have triggered a great reflection and story (and it is even better that you kept your cool and got everything back).

When I got married last summer, a friend mentioned that he had missed the engagement. We skipped the ring, the balloon photos and, for us, it felt just right.

I respect that for some women a diamond actually is a good friend, but I resent it when it becomes the standard to which all other women are compared ("What! No ring?! No diamonds?! No proposal?!).

Here is to doing what one wants to do and stylish diamond-less bands that celebrate that.

random article said...

I agree completely. My husband isn't American and had never been to the US when we decided to get married, so I'm not sure he was even aware of the diamond engagement ring thing. It didn't occur to me either because I've never liked diamonds and if we/he had had that much money, we would definitely have spent it on something else.

I've heard women say that they wouldn't marry a man who couldn't "prove" his commitment (her worth?) by giving them a sufficient diamond ring, and I don't understand that at all. To me a diamond engagement ring really only makes sense if the woman loves diamonds and they both find the tradition meaningful (and don't have to go hugely in debt for it).

I actually loved the comment by the woman in the article about how much she likes her beat-up wedding ring. I couldn't tell from the context whether it was already old when she got it, or whether the wear had happened since she'd gotten it; but I know that I love the scratches and wear on mine because it's a reminder of how worth it being married is even though you both acquire some scars and wear over the years.

annie said...

I thought your Vogue piece was smart, honest, and well-written. I'm not a big fan of large rings and what they've come to signify for some: social status and materialism. I also don't get the obsession over diamonds, especially when it comes to crazy talk about "upgrading" the diamond down the line. Bigger, bigger, bigger.

But, you know, I love my engagement ring, with its smallish diamond. It was a gift from my now-husband, and though it may be traditional, it's still a frequent reminder of our love for and commitment to each other. My wedding band also has diamonds, which sounds blingy but is actually pretty subtle. Both are from Satomi Kawakita, whose organic and subdued style is tops.

These little rings make me happy, which I didn't expect — I've never really been into jewelry. But I've always been into the man who's now my husband, and so I smile when I look down at my finger. Having a smaller diamond makes me smile, because we have a big love — we're just not showing it off through jewels.


michelleski said...

Thank you for this post, Lizzie! Here I thought I was some lone weirdo having squirreled my ring away a year or so ago. I didn't want a diamond to begin with, and though I haven't a clue what its monetary value might be I found wearing it becoming more and more burdensome and just not me. Here's to knowing what feels right to you regardless of what anyone else says, thinks or does!

cat said...

I really liked your story on diamond rings, especially because I´m from Buenos Aires =)I´m not engaged but I couldn`t imagine my boyfriend buying me a diamond ring, even if he could afford it. I have several engaged friends: two did not want a ring, one wears a lovely and simple white gold band with very tiny diamonds and the other one wears a ring her boyfriend bought in Turkey. My mom wore a plain gold band before she lost her wedding ring, my sister does as well. The Kardashian sized rings are incredibly tacky in my opinion. I actually like saphires more than diamonds, and they are not my birth stone either.

Anonymous said...

To be honest, If I were to ever get married. I doubt I'd wear a wedding ring or engagement ring at all. I know of many people who are happily married, yet choose not to don their fingers with rings, traditional or otherwise.

It is however refreshing to hear so many other women state that they'd prefer not to wear traditional rings. I don't like what a traditional ring has come to represent in our society. It's yet another thing, we are judged by. Also I can't help but agree with freelance writer, Christine Lennon when she said that she didn't want to be claimed or bought. This deeply resonated with me.

Second Floor Flat said...

Oh thank you for writing this! I wear a solid gold wedding band. I actually do have a diamond engagement ring that I don't wear – my husband is totally fine with this because he knows my taste, style, and personal opinions, and also is aware how I feel about him. I get questions constantly from people who don't know me (and some who do) regarding my lack of engagement ring.

Two good friends of mine got married last weekend and the man is not wearing his wedding ring on a daily basis. He's not the jewelry type, very simple guy, and his wife is totally fine with that but of course everyone else has an opinion.

It's bizarre. People for some reason feel like they can interject their opinions on you, particularly when it comes to things like that. Thanks for writing about this in such a public forum!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this in Vogue, as when I was younger (engaged at 20, now 29 and hopefully more confident) I bought my own engagement ring for $50 at a neighborhood knick knack store. It has a black stone and it was perfect for me as a reminder of my soon to be husband as we lived in different states. I received a lot of unpleasant looks and talking behind my back, which I could have done without. But we were young and poor and I never expected or wanted a diamond ring. In fact, it would have been a silly thing to do.
Since we've married, I replaced my ring for a gold band with sapphires made from a ring my husband's father gave to him before his death. I love this ring. I also love my black engagement ring, which sits in my jewelry box. It's unworn, but I hope I can use it as an example to my own daughter someday that despite what their friends might say, you don't need a diamond to marry the manor your dreams.

Mamavalveeta03 said...

When my husband and I got engaged, 33 years ago, we were broke college students, about to graduate and without a dime between us. So his mother generously gave us my then fiance's grandmother's engagement ring from 1917, with a perfect 1 carat Tiffany set diamond. It was certainly the most expensive item of jewelry I had ever owned...or ever expect to, for that matter. When our middle daughter was an infant, I accidentally banged my hand into a grocery cart (long, boring story), and discovered, upon it's repair, that the diamond had actually chipped. Yikes! And his mom didn't especially like me to begin with!
So, fast forward a couple of decades, and I break my back, and I'm laid-up for a long period, gaining a lot of wait, and find that my rings no longer fit my finger. In truth, I hadn't been wearing it for the exact reasons you detailed in your essay, Lizzie. So, I've taken to wearing my husband's grandmother's simple gold wedding band, with engraving on the inside, reminding me of how love goes on through time. And it's perfect for the minimalist me.

Casey Creates said...

Well-written and stated once again. Your article really says it all in a way I have never been able to share with my peers. Concise, interesting, and latent with your personal story- I really appreciate your opinions in style, but this particularly hit home with me.

KGMB Educator said...

115I loved this! My sentiment exactly when my husband and I decided (yes, mutually) to get married 4 years ago. I didn't want an engagement ring, only a simple wedding band, so I chose a custom made matte rose gold band with a hammered finish and a tiny flush set diamond.

I hated the idea of wearing a ring to tell everyone you're planning a wedding. Some people understood and felt like to reflected who I was, while others kind of balked at the idea and always followed up with something like " well you could always get a diamond eternity band for an anniversary to stack with it some day," as if my minimal amount of bling and overly simple wedding band wasn't enough.

It's about the marriage people, not the ring! The band is the commitment symbol and if you can't get something that truly suits you without feeling societal pressures, how can you be your true self in a relationship?

amiechristo said...

04While I'm not planning on getting engaged anytime soon, it is something I've thought about from time to time. When my sisters and I turned 13, my parents gave each of us rings. Mine is a very, very simple gold band with a small, rectangular diamond in the middle. If/When I were to get engaged, I've always thought that I want something like that: simple and understated, yet with its own elegance.

I get my love of simple from my parents, yet my mom has one of the most elaborate engagement/wedding rings I think I've ever seen. The ring is actually three different parts that my dad has bought over the years and I don't know if I've just always associated it with my mother or what, but she and it just go together so well. It's quite stunning and while I don't know if it's something I could pull off, my very down to earth, very not a diamond kind of woman mother manages to do so.

amiechristo said...

While I'm not planning on getting engaged anytime soon, it is something I've thought about from time to time. When my sisters and I turned 13, my parents gave each of us rings. Mine is a very, very simple gold band with a small, rectangular diamond in the middle. If/When I were to get engaged, I've always thought that I want something like that: simple and understated, yet with its own elegance.

I get my love of simple from my parents, yet my mom has one of the most elaborate engagement/wedding rings I think I've ever seen. The ring is actually three different parts that my dad has bought over the years and I don't know if I've just always associated it with my mother or what, but she and it just go together so well. It's quite stunning and while I don't know if it's something I could pull off, my very down to earth, very not a diamond kind of woman mother manages to do so.

Nicki Clark said...

I am 1000% with you on that article (beside the balloons -- I love oversized balloons). My husband insisted on getting me a diamond engagement ring, but all I've worn since my wedding day is my simple gold wedding band. It's so much more functional, and I don't feel like I have to prove anything to anyone while wearing it; it just stands on its own as a symbol of my commitment and love for my husband. Plus, I'm never afraid of losing it or scratching someone with it. And so chic all on its own. Yay for simple bands. I plan to add small bands for different milestones we reach in our lives together.

Vern said...

I loved your Vogue piece. I'm still single but in the stage of my life where all my friends are married or on their way down the aisle. It has always felt unnatural to me to fawn over a rock on someones hand. And it bothers me when someone gets engaged that people seem more interested in staring at their hand and analyzing a rock, then talking about the people involved.
The "need" for a diamond is a line that's been fed to and gobbled up by a consumer driven culture.
Thanks for sharing your story!

mbick said...

Hate that you were robbed. LOVE that you helped catch the thief and that your article appeared in Vogue.
My wife and I started out with matching, rolling tri-color hollow gold bands. Both bands showed terrific dents and dings. She has since lost a lot of weight and found simpler rings that she likes. I shopped Amazon for a stainless steel comfort fit band that I love.

mb said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on engagement rings. When wedding time seemed to be heading my way, I ran into a British woman at a farmers market who had a small band of tiny diamonds (like a typical American wedding band) and then a solid silver ring paired with it. The tiny diamond band was her engagement ring. I immediately knew that this was for me. No engagement talk about karats or comparisons to other brides-to-be. But I was the most excited about being able to easily slip my hand into the pocket of my jeans!