Today’s marriages are based more on intimacy, a deeper connection, and a solemn commitment. In the past, engagement rings represented a promise or commitment, but for different reasons. Here’s how the ritual of gifting engagement rings has evolved over the years.
Is It Love or Economics?
It may seem quaint to today’s couples, but up until the 1930s there was a law known as the “Breach of Promise to Marry.” The law was put into effect to benefit engaged women who were later “jilted” by their intended husbands. Why a law? Back in the day, it was expected that woman remain virgins until marriage. An expectation that often did not reflect reality. If the man backed out before the wedding took place, and it was known that the couple engaged in premarital sex it “lowered” the woman’s value and harmed her chances of finding another man to marry her. A diamond engagement ring was used as a form of collateral – compensation to a betrayed bride-to-be if her betrothed left her high and dry at the altar.
Times Have Changed
Elimination of the Breach of Promise to Marry law was actually the most significant factor in the rise of diamond engagement rings. While most women today no longer worry about their reputations if an engagement is called off, up to 75% of brides wear a diamond engagement ring. The average cost of those rings – about $4,000 – is a big investment for couples. Billions of dollars are spent each year on diamond engagement rings, proof the ritual is more firmly rooted in the culture than ever.
From an economic point of view, the big question today appears to be whether a woman should return her ring if the engagement is called off. While many people think the answer is yes, others say it depends on who ends the engagement. There seems to be a consensus that if the woman calls off the wedding she should return the ring. But if the man ends it, the woman should retain the ring as a “consolation” gift. Whichever side of the debate you fall on, it’s nice to know that a broken engagement doesn’t mean financial disaster for a woman like it did in the past.
The Future of Diamond Engagement Rings
Diamond engagement rings are still the most popular visible sign of love between two people. Even today, nothing else more beautifully represents a couple’s willingness to commit to a lifetime together. A diamond ring may no longer be a woman’s financial guarantee, but it’s still a meaningful investment in a relationship’s future. At The Diamond Reserve, we believe your engagement should be a joyous time. Contact us today to let one of our diamond experts show you how.