Rise of the “Man-gagement Ring”
It’s already been over half a century since it’s become standard for both men and women to wear wedding bands. (The trend was started when young men heading off to war during World War Two wanted to wear something to remember their brides left back at home.) So is the world ready for the “mangagement ring”—a ring that is worn by the groom from the time of the proposal until the wedding, much like a diamond engagement ring traditionally worn by the bride?
Although this trend is still relatively new in the US and Europe, it does seem to be gaining in popularity. A recent poll by TheKnot.com and Men’s Health revealed that only 17% of American men said they would be interested in wearing a men’s engagement ring. But more and more, forward-thinking couples are coming to the decision that the male half of the couple should display the same obvious sign of being “taken” as the woman—and that the man engagement ring is a beautiful, meaningful way to do that. Amanda Gizzi from the Jewelry Information Center recently told GalTime.com, “The idea that the man will also wear an engagement ring gives relationships a new sense of equality. It is a pre-commitment, commitment from both the man and the woman.”
In fact, the idea of wearing a man-gagement ring is not completely unheard of in some cultures. In South America, both men and women traditionally wear a simple ring on the right hand before the wedding, and then switch the ring to the left hand after marriage. Popular singer Michael Bublé wore a men’s engagement ring all through 2010 before his wedding to Argentinean Luisana Loreley Lopilato de la Torre. And of course, the legalization of same-sex marriage in several major American states recently—including California and New York—means that people are becoming more accustomed to see men wearing rings to celebrate their commitment to their significant others.
But for traditional, American heterosexual couples, choosing a ring for the man to wear before the wedding can still seem strange. After all, isn’t the guy supposed to choose the diamond engagement ring for the girl in secret, and then surprise her with the proposal? Actually, although the myth of the surprise engagement ring still pervades romantic comedies, more than 60% of couples now choose to shop for the engagement ring together. So if they wanted to choose an equal display of commitment, it would be easy for them to choose a matching set of his-and-hers engagement rings. Of course, they would probably have to explain their choice to more conservative family members who would take the sight of a ring on the guy’s finger as a sign that the wedding had already taken place! But opting for both members of the newly engaged couple to broadcast their status via a ring is a beautiful tradition that expresses equality and a commitment to a relationship between two equals.
What would a male engagement ring look like? Since this tradition has not been firmly established in American culture, the exact style of the ring is completely up to you. You probably want to steer clear of anything that looks too much like a wedding band, unless you plan to switch the ring to your other hand after the wedding in the South American tradition. You probably don’t want a larger version of the traditional feminine diamond engagement ring, either. Be creative! Experiment with unusual metals and finishes like brushed steel and braided titanium, or set traditional gold and platinum with interesting stones (keep them small to avoid looking too girly). Inscribe the inside or outside of the ring with a sentimental message or with your names. Be creative—this is about celebrating you and your significant other taking a major step together—and if that’s not worthy of commemorating with a ring, what is?