Valentine’s Day falls on the 14th February every year, and I know what some of you out there are thinking. This is it. It is the time to get serious in your lovey-dovey relationships. Maybe you’ll put a ring on your partner’s finger, or maybe you’ll be the one getting that shiny little symbol of commitment. Well, I’ve written this post to attempt the almost impossible; I want to convince everyone out there to ditch the diamond engagement ring this year.
Before you get ready to type a well thought out and angry response, hear me out at least. I totally get your reasons for loving the short and sweet tradition of getting and giving a ring! For the both of you, it symbolises your love and commitment. For her, it’s a beautiful piece of jewellery, one that she can show off to friends and family. It’s sentimental, it’s tradition, and it’s expected.
If this isn’t quite the Valentine’s Day post you were hoping for, you can find 33 romantic ideas for Valentine’s day here, or 29 Valentine’s ideas for her here, and even 23 Valentine’s ideas for him here. They’re much less cynical than this one.
But what if you found out that diamond engagement rings have only been a tradition for under 100 years, and became a tradition because of a very clever advertising campaign to sell you more diamonds?
- 1 Valentine’s Day: 7 Reasons To Boycott The Diamond Engagement Ring
- 1.1 1/ You’ve Been Brainwashed By Advertising
- 1.2 2/ It’s Not A Great Tradition
- 1.3 3/ Diamonds Are Expensive
- 1.4 4/ You’ve Decreased Your Diamond’s Value Just By Buying It
- 1.5 5/ Are You Getting Married For Love, Or To Show Off?
- 1.6 6/ We Should Be More Advanced
- 1.7 7/ Blood Diamonds
- 1.8 But What If I Really Want A Diamond Engagement Ring This Valentine’s Day?
- 2 SEE MORE: 33 Romantic Valentine’s Day Ideas And Gifts >>
Valentine’s Day: 7 Reasons To Boycott The Diamond Engagement Ring
Before we take an in-depth look at any of these points, here’s a great summary from College Humour. Just… keep in mind it’s NSFW.
1/ You’ve Been Brainwashed By Advertising
Firstly, to understand exactly why diamonds are such a controversial subject, you’ll need to know about their rise to infamy.
In the 1930’s, De Beers owned pretty much all of the diamond mines there were. But they had a problem. Although they had the supply, they didn’t have the demand they needed. People were buying engagement rings already, but not everyone was and hardly any were choosing diamond as their stone of choice. That needed to change.
So in the 1940’s, they came out with a brilliant advertising campaign. They wanted to convince the happy couples of the world of three things:
- They wanted to convince couples that diamond engagement rings were a symbol of unending love. Engagement rings were already thought of as symbols of commitment and romance, but add in a diamond with the now world-renowned saying ‘diamonds are forever’ and you have couples believing a diamond is a symbol of a never ending relationship.
- They wanted to convince girls to believe that the amount of money a guy spent on a diamond engagement ring was proportional to how much they loved her. The more money the guy spent, the more love he had for his girl.
- They wanted to convince guys that a girl would be disappointed if she didn’t receive a diamond engagement ring, that it was expected, and that she’d potentially leave him if she didn’t get one.
This advertising was so successful that the demand for diamonds increased dramatically. The De Beers Group artificially controlled how many diamonds were available for sale, as they owned all the mines, and pushed the price up as demand increased.
Crazily, the diamond engagement ring tradition is less than 100 years old. You can read more about De Beers and their advertising campaign here, if you’re interested, but it says a lot about how successful it was by how many people aren’t aware of it but are convinced buying a diamond engagement ring is an age-old tradition.
2/ It’s Not A Great Tradition
Arguments for engagement rings normally mention that they were around long long before the De Beer’s advertising campaign promoting them, which is true. De Beer’s just promoted the use of diamonds in engagement rings.
Engagement rings can be traced back as far as Roman times, where they literally symbolised possession. That’s right ladies, that’s why men don’t normally wear one. It shows you’re in the process of being passed from your father to your fiancé and is a visual symbol to other men that you’re off the market for them.
As times moved on, girls began to use them as a sort of ‘loan’, in case their man slept with them before their wedding day and then cancelled their marriage. If this happened only a few hundred years ago, the woman would find it extremely difficult to find another fiancé, and she’d cash in the ring to keep her going financially without a man to fund her.
‘BUT IT’S VALENTINE’S DAY, WE DON’T THINK LIKE THAT ANYMORE!’
Oh really? Do you know any guys who wear engagement rings? If you’re already planning ahead, and you both want rings, then good for you! If not, then this is a tradition I’d be happy binning. You’re already both going to get wedding rings, do you really need a third just to show off to friends and family that you’ve been ‘claimed’ or that you’ve taken someone else? Didn’t think so.
3/ Diamonds Are Expensive
Diamond engagement rings are mad expensive. In fact, thanks to the De Beers advertising campaign, guys are generally expected to pay 2-3 months salary on one (and apparently the more you spend, the more you love your girl, so you can’t be stingy!).
Isn’t that a really shaky way to start a marriage? If you have the money to blow and the person you’re marrying wants nothing more than a ring in life, then go right ahead. But if you’ve both been hoping for a fantastic honeymoon, or saving for something like a down-payment on a house together, wouldn’t the money be much better spent going towards those aims?
As well as that, the guy’s expected to buy the ring all by his lonesome! The idea being that he exchanges the ring for his partner’s hand in marriage. A wedding’s expensive for the both of you, and I’m sure no partner wants to think their guy’s struggling to keep up with payments elsewhere in his life just because he’s paid for a ring. Or worse than that, that you’re starting a life together with debt hanging over your heads just to have a ring on someone’s finger.
I mean, look at that advert. Of course, guys feel like they have to buy the biggest and best ring when they’re faced with that!
If getting an engagement ring really does mean a lot to the both of you, no one can tell you that’s not a good thing to spend your money on this Valentine’s Day, even if you want it ‘just because’. But it shouldn’t be a reason for either of you to get into debt; plan for it, save for it, buy it responsibly.
4/ You’ve Decreased Your Diamond’s Value Just By Buying It
Not only are diamond engagement rings expensive, they’re also terrible value for money. Why? Because they start decreasing in value the second you buy them. Remember that line ‘diamonds are forever’? That was created by an advertising agency to stop anyone from selling their diamonds. Because if they did, they’d realise just how badly they’d been duped.
If your heart’s set on an engagement ring this Valentine’s Day, but you want something that’ll hold up its value, go for a different precious stone. Shop around, do your research, and find something that your partner will love which won’t break the bank and won’t lose it’s value as soon as you take it away from the shop.
5/ Are You Getting Married For Love, Or To Show Off?
Over the Christmas holidays, my social media feeds lit up with pictures of rings on fingers and engagement announcements. I get that you’re proud and happy about getting married, but if that’s your primary reason for wanting a ring then you should really take a step back and think for a second.
You want to get married because you love your partner more than anyone or anything else in the world. Do either of you really need a ring with a great big rock on it to show that to everyone else? No, you don’t. Just be happy with each other, and you can show off your loved one to friends, family and co-workers this Valentine’s Day 2015 rather than an inanimate object.
6/ We Should Be More Advanced
Unfortunately, we live in a world where guys can be teased by their mates and family if they don’t buy their girl a ring, and are made to feel like they’re somehow ‘less of a man’ (see above advert…). Equally, girls are made to feel like they should be disappointed in their guy for not buying one. I’ve even witnessed a couple being criticised for buying the ring together, and putting in equal money because that’s not traditional.
Surely in the last 100 years, we’ve moved on a bit. It’s Valentine’s Day; engagements don’t just happen between men and women anymore. Not all women are obsessed with shiny diamonds and sparkly jewellery. And we’re certainly not giving women as property to men. So why are we still stuck with some of these outdated ‘traditions’?
Some traditions are difficult to break, especially with sentimental family stories involved. If you’re the kind of person who’s dreamt about having, or giving, an engagement ring, then you shouldn’t feel bad for wanting that still. But maybe consider getting an engagement ring for both of you. Or, if you only want the one, consider jointly paying for it.
7/ Blood Diamonds
This is a whole other argument that’s difficult to get into, but it’s known now that the diamond trade has been a shady business. ‘Conflict diamonds’ have been acquired through horrible methods including extreme abuse, and were used to fund wars and gang violence in poor countries.
Although every reputable seller of diamonds now has to be certified as selling conflict-free diamonds, and must provide documents to show where exactly your diamond is from, some people argue that just by buying a diamond you’re fuelling the industry and creating a demand for these blood diamonds.
But What If I Really Want A Diamond Engagement Ring This Valentine’s Day?
I think what you need to take away from this is that times are changing. You should always be able to do what you, as an individual, want, and it’s becoming even easier to do that with less judgement. No one should have to prove their love by giving or having a ring. The best thing you can do is decide, as a couple, what you both want. And if you both decide you want a ring, then that’s fine too as long as you go for one that’s ethically made.
There are people who are getting custom-made rings or rings with more unusual and cheaper stones. You can follow their lead, or even ditch the ring altogether and stick to wedding bands. Just don’t be duped into believing clever advertising, and don’t go for something just because it’s a ‘tradition’.