Men’s engagement rings are, at last, a thing.
Why are men’s engagement rings a rarity?
Engagement rings date back to ancient times and traditionally have been only ever been worn by women. An engagement ring is a clear sign that a woman is spoken for, a reserved item, but they also represented a financial transaction. They were a small financial insurance policy for many women. With a reduced likelihood of finding another man to marry her, because she was seen as ‘damaged goods’ (oh, the hypocrisy!) the jilted fiancée could keep the ring as compensation.
When the man breaks the engagement, the woman would be expected to keep the ring – something to fall back on, as it were, a buffer against the embarrassment and sudden loss of her planned future. Of course, should the woman call it off – back goes the ring, with thanks (but no thanks.) This is another tradition that still holds true today, even though the basis for it is no longer relevant.
An engagement ring was not ubiquitous for engaged women before the twentieth century, and one set with precious gems was very much a luxury item restricted to the wealthy classes. In 1948, when de Beers launched their marvellous advertising campaign, Say it with diamonds, this all changed quite dramatically. Suddenly, it was possible, if not positively a requirement, that a man go down on bended knee and present a diamond-set ring to his beloved. This was the era when ‘men were men’ (say this in a deep, masculine voice) and were the main breadwinner, while women stayed at home. Real men most certainly didn’t wear diamonds.
Today of course, when women can make their own way in the world, there’s no need for a financial safety net. An engagement ring is now quite simply a traditional symbol of commitment, a marriage about to happen. And real men do wear diamonds. In which case, it makes as much sense for a man to wear one as a woman.
Which brings us to our next point. Design.
What should men’s engagement rings look like?
As you would expect, on the whole men’s engagement rings do look different to a woman’s engagement ring. Men tend to go for designs that complement their fiancée’s ring, rather than copy it. A wider band is usual – men’s fingers tend to be larger, so a wider band has more impact. It is the inclusion of precious gems that lifts this from ‘wedding band worn early’ to engagement ring however. Diamonds are just as desirable in a man’s engagement ring as a woman’s, but how about thinking a bit laterally here – a black or smoke grey diamond for example. Men also prefer the brushed over setting, where the stone is set into the ring, rather than proud of the band. Not only is this more practical, but it gives a more solid, masculine feel to the whole piece.
Really, however, the design is entirely up to you. Choose the same gem as your fiancée, in the same precious metal and then play with the design until you get exactly what makes you (both) happy. That’s the joy of working with an imaginative and skilled jewellery designer and goldsmith like Christopher Evans!