Customer Watch: A Changing Attitude About Engagement Rings?

The engagement ring certainly has been getting its share of disrespect lately.


I was more than surprised to read in the December 2007 issue of Glamour magazine that, in a poll of readers at the magazine’s web site,, as to whether “skipping the engagement ring” is a DO or a DON’T, 37 percent (yes, thirty-seven percent) of the respondents said that skipping the engagement ring is a DO.


This is a trend that this trend watcher is unable to explain. Is there any moment in life as romantic as a proposal with the presentation of an engagement ring? Are there many moments in life as fun and full of effervescence for a young woman as being able to extend one’s left hand to family or friends – heck, even to virtual strangers – to share the excitement: Look, he proposed! We’re getting married!


Certainly, celebrities are into their symbolic bling of betrothal, even when they’ve been living together for months or years in advance of a wedding, and even when baby is already on the way. I cannot recall a publicized case of any headliner in the news skipping an engagement ring. This trend is not celebrity-driven. Significantly, weddings remain solidly a multi-billion dollar industry.


The wearing of a solitaire diamond on the left hand is traditionally so clear an indication of a woman’s status as “spoken for” that, should she lose her spouse to death or divorce, she will likely stop wearing the engagement ring on her left finger if and when she is once again ready to date. The popularity of right-hand diamond rings isn’t likely to flag.


Is the Glamour poll result a reflection of today’s economy? Does it reflect a reluctance to put money into a diamond when there are so many other expenses in contemplation of marriage? Are young women today more practical, less romantic?


And, on a side note, is there a shift in the lexicon occurring? In the 2005 movie The Family Stone, which has been airing on cable television this season, an heirloom engagement ring with a nice-sized diamond plays a prominent role. When the ring gets stuck on Claire Danes’ finger, she and Sarah Jessica Parker, who plays her sister, refer to the ring as a “wedding ring.” It’s not, of course. It’s the ring that was to be presented to the sister when her boyfriend proposed – a classic engagement ring.


How did a script with this error get past such fashionistas as Ms. Danes and Ms. Parker, not to mention everyone else associated with the film?


Has something happened to the concept and significance of the engagement ring? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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