Do Men Wear Engagement Rings?
Tradition dictates that the man gets down on one knee and, in a grand and romantic fashion, asks the woman he loves to marry him and presents her with a diamond ring. He gets a wedding band at the exchange of vows, but what about the time in between? Do men wear engagement rings, too?
The answer might actually be a bit more complicated than you would think. Examining the history of the engagement ring will show you that it was originally more about the woman than the man. Regardless, things have changed quite a bit in modern times. Taking a look back and examining how things are now can give you a clearer picture of the relationship between men and engagement rings.
An engagement ring is a ring that shows that the wearer is engaged to be married. It is a popular engagement gift in Western Cultures as can be found in the United States. Today, 80% of betrothed women are given engagement rings to mark the occasion. But where did that tradition come from? It actually has its roots in the distant past.
Historically, the use of wedding rings began with the Egyptians. The circular bands represented eternity. Wearing a round band on one's finger symbolized their commitment to being together forever.
There was also the tradition of paying a dowry in exchange for a woman's hand in marriage. By the 2nd century B.C., the ancient Romans began giving “betrothal rings” instead of high-priced gifts and dowries. This was a physical representation that a woman was “taken” and was meant to show ownership. The engagement ring was born.
Fast-forward to the 1880s when diamonds were discovered in South Africa. Purely a commercial campaign, diamonds began to be marketed as an engagement ring necessity. That is how we get to the engagement rings we are familiar with today. Many engagement rings are quite expensive and very ornate, making it easier for some couples to afford them than others.
In the United States, there was a decline in the popularity of diamond engagement rings after World War 1. It is also good to note that the jewelry industry began to make men's engagement rings in the early 21st century.
Do Men Wear Engagement Rings?
The original engagement rings were meant to convey the “ownership” of a woman. They no longer mean this. What they now represent is that a woman has made a free choice to marry her husband-to-be. The engagement ring now symbolizes love and commitment. Whether men wear engagement rings or not is an entirely personal preference. While the vast majority of men don't wear engagement rings in our society, some choose to do so based on what they believe it represents. It is an outward symbol of an emotional commitment they've already made.
Additionally, today traditional gender roles are more fluid. Women may ask men to marry them, or same-sex couples choose to become engaged with the same long-standing traditions of heterosexual couples. In these circumstances, the engagement ring still stands front and center in the act of proposing marriage, and men may be presented with one to wear during the engagement period.