Tuesday, November 30th, 2010
112

Why The Ads For Christmas Engagement Rings Make Me Uncomfortable

a-duhhhhhIt's not even December, but the "aggravating trends in holiday commercials" list is already filling itself out quite nicely, and right behind the chart-topping scourge of twee that is Pomplamoose has to be the surge in ads for diamond merchants like Jared, Zales, and Kay, all of which have decided that the best way for a man to celebrate the season is to put a sparkly ring on his intended's finger. But all these ads are doing for me, a red-blooded American female, is solidifying my belief that that I never want someone in a relationship with me to feel like they have to "propose."

I can already hear my mother asking me why I don't like nice things. Take a look at this current ad for the mall jeweler Zales, and maybe you'll see what makes me squirm?

Those of you who (like me!) have been engaged and who are straight women have no doubt been asked "how he proposed" by inquiring acquaintances, and those of you who (also like me!) just decided to get married and told inquisitive types that have no doubt been met with a bit of disappointment. Which is why in this montage, the men are all smiling smugly while the women freak out at the sight of the gems proffered them, or even just their boxes. The man acts; the woman reacts. It sets a pattern — and maybe provides some foreshadowing for the wild-eyed craziness that occurs in Bridezilla mode. (Perhaps the element of surprise occasioned by the proposal causes that strand of behavior to hit the ground running?)

Sure, a lot of how one views the decision to get married depends on how one views that old, weather-beaten institution. I have not been married but in my perhaps overly romanticized worldview I see an ideal marriage as a partnership, as a combining of two people who enjoy each other and respect each other and see each other as equals and who want to legally solidify that mutual love and admiration, and perhaps throw a party for a bunch of people they like as a celebration of that fact. But the whole notion of the "proposal" set forth by these ads, and other cultural artifacts celebrating it, is a more civilized/sparkly way of Tarzan forcibly throwing Jane over his shoulder. (Not to mention that in the current moment, the whole idea of the man in the heterosexual relationship being the only one who can afford a gemlike token of the sort offered by these shops is a luxury left to either the financially suicidal or the extremely rich. Although I should probably note that I'm also opposed to gross artifacts like that ring women are supposed to wear on their right hands to indicate that they are "available and happy," because, yuck.)

This is not to say that I'm begrudging the happiness of people who proposed and were proposed to and were happy. Hey, knock yourselves out! But I think that the three months' salary that would go toward a bauble would be put to better use when combined with the partner's income over that same timespan, and put toward something that both people could enjoy — a house, a trip to the south of France, or maybe even the marriage celebration itself. (Oh, how much extra money catering halls charge when you utter the word "wedding" …) And the idea that said treat would be something mutually agreed-upon? Would make it only sweeter.

112 Comments / Post A Comment

Jim Behrle (#3,292)

I'll marry you

Art Yucko (#1,321)

he'll cut you the finest wedding ring, from his rarest issue of Archie.

Nostradumbass (#3,663)

Every kiss begins with Kay (but every blow job begins with Tiffany)

C_Webb (#855)

Sadly, some blow jobs begin with bourbon. (I'm kind of a ho.)

@C_Webb: I don't see where "sadly" comes into it.

Law of diminishing returns (and teeth, sometimes puke).

garge (#736)

Thank you for not posting the video of the storm-at-the-cabin-in-the-woods Kay Jewelers one, which every time disappoints by not turning into a slasher film, because OH MY GOD–!

metoometoo (#230)

I know, right!? It makes me nervous every time. I feel like there's an implicit message there maybe?

goodiesfirst (#3,448)

No! I was looking forward to reading about the slasher commercial the second I saw this headline.

Bittersweet (#765)

Exactly. I would watch the crap out of a jewelry ad that turned into a slasher film. Especially if they featured special "perfect cut" diamonds that actually really cut. Sweet!

I'm so happy other people had the same creepy feeling about that ad.

gumplr (#66)

Nike went the slasher route, but thing's did not turn out so well.

KarenUhOh (#19)

The "three months' salary" rule of thumb seems to me a mere conceit. Why the hell are these companies holding back? Aren't they in business?? SIX months, at least. A year. Hell. How about the contents of your 401k)? Okay, forget that last. Well, but maybe your parents' pension. Shit. No wonder our economy's in sorry shape.

And God help us one of these chicks says No. You want "no"? How about "No Returns."

jaimealyse (#647)

AMEN.

It becomes especially gross with the too-common circumstances of the lady wanting to get married and having to wait for the guy to finally give in to that and propose.

I also don't understand couples that come to some sort of agreement – he'll propose within the next six months, por ejemplo – and then she's like, omg, he proposed! You've been engaged since you guys agreed he'd *at some point* propose. It's dumb.

I feel like a college feminist, but you're not anyone's property to be asked for. You're one of two grownups making a joint decision. And also hopefully boning to seal the deal.

LondonLee (#922)

"You're one of two grownups making a joint decision"

How romantic.

Bittersweet (#765)

Right with you, LondonLee. 18 months of discussing marriage beforehand didn't make the surprise proposal and engagement weekend away (yes, boning) any less awesome.

metoometoo (#230)

My boyfriend won't be my fiance until I can afford to buy him a fancy watch.

I don't actually want to get married, I just think fiance is a pretty word.

MikeBarthel (#1,884)

Oh, I think it is an AWFUL word. I have been going with "betrothed" when I can get away with it.

"Intended"?

lbf (#2,343)

you want it to be a pretty word, spell it right. "fiancé" for him, "fiancée" for her. ALT+whatever ain't hard to get those accents in place, you QWERTies. And if you're not willing to use those properly, get your own dang words.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

#futuremiss
#futuremister

forrealz (#1,530)

I've used "husband-to-be", "signif", even "partner" which also gives me the icks. All to avoid "Fiance"…

lbf (#2,343)

that's #futurema'am to you, #futuremister

Art Yucko (#1,321)

excuse me, bit of a typo: "futuremizz" (Ms.)

David Arnott (#8,811)

Wikipedia caveats apply, but I'm pretty sure it's correct that "Engagement rings didn't become standard in the West until the end of the 19th century, and diamond rings didn't become common until the 1930s."

If you're a particularly suspicious type, you might even say the Western concept of a diamond engagement ring is the result of a remarkably successful marketing effort by the diamond industry.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engagement_ring

metoometoo (#230)

You don't have to be particularly suspicious to say that. It's basically just a known fact. I want a diamond anyway because they're sparkly!

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

The Atlantic famously tackled this issue a long time ago. It doesn't seem that they made much of an impact, though.

Does Don from the Diamond Center still make commercials? Because those were… Well, maybe "entertaining" isn't the right word, they were something though.

migraineheadache (#1,866)

Robbins 8th and Walnut were pretty great too.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKv2Iavy21k

Clare (#516)

Yeeeeeeeeah.

Ian Carey (#7,531)

It was Paul (as in 1-800-969-PAUL), and he's still around.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/parenting/detail?entry_id=23404

goodiesfirst (#3,448)

But if the guy hides the ring at the bottom of a chocolate mousse served in a martini glass it’s adorable, right? I think the only way the hidden ring ruse would give me joy would be if it was buried under a mound of cat litter and I found it while sifting poop.

KarlLaFong (#3,568)

What gets me about these ads is the thrift angle. She gets the ring in its Kay box and tries to hide her disappointment that he's a cheapskate who saw the same ad she did while watching Oprah. Maybe he'll be a good provider! Government cheese!

Which is not to say Go W/ Tiffany; engagement rings are vulgar, period. They make me sad. They are like John Cusack holding up the boom box: "I love you, but seem to lack the wherewithal to win you over, but maybe this shitty/song or slave-trade trinket will con you into believing in me. Think of it as an emotional IOU!"

Love is cool though; always was and will be. Keep it real, people!

howsyrface (#3,128)

Probably because I'm a dude, these ads don't bother me as much as the Lexus car-with-a-bow ones. The diamond engagement ads seem tacky; the car as gift ones seem gross.
(why isn't there a scoreboard proposal Zales ad? please?)

If you REALLY want to get exercised about diamond engagement rings 3/month salary, read this 1982 Atlantic Monthly article: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1982/02/have-you-ever-tried-to-sell-a-diamond/4575/
Quote:
In 1951, N. W. Ayer found some resistance to its million-dollar publicity blitz. It noted in its annual strategy review:

The millions of brides and brides-to-be are subjected to at least two important pressures that work against the diamond engagement ring. Among the more prosperous, there is the sophisticated urge to be different as a means of being smart…. the lower-income groups would like to show more for the money than they can find in the diamond they can afford…
To remedy these problems, the advertising agency argued, "It is essential that these pressures be met by the constant publicity to show that only the diamond is everywhere accepted and recognized as the symbol of betrothal."

I'm with you on the holiday car-with-a-bow ads. Eeeeccccch.

But there's a "He Went To Jared" scoreboard proposal ad.

Vicky (#7,168)

Scoreboard proposals are my favorite proposals largely because I have seen exactly one proposal and it happened to be at a football game. Some sponsor or something held a contest where the winner would get a couple minutes of Jumbotron time and this j-hole didn't use that opportunity to moon 80,000 Bills fans, he proposes and DROPS THE RING. This is Buffalo in December, the snow is blowing so hard we could barely see the field, and he drops the ring. A+.

Please, for the love of god, do not get engaged on a scoreboard, because this guy already won that proposal genre.

deepomega (#1,720)

My college roommate went with the straight up classic engagement (ring that was 3 months salary worth of expensive, hiding in a closet in the jewelry store while tricking his then-girlfriend into thinking the ring she liked was already bought by someone else, etc.)

Hearing about it made me want to throw up on him.

katiebakes (#32)

Wait, is the jewelry store thing a thing? Because I heard about that from another person too, and I don't get it, and I have so many questions. So do you have to know what ring she likes in advance? How do you lure her into the jewelry store by herself? Or do you have a friend in cahoots? I don't understaaaaand.

Also, I hope MAH MAN doesn't read this post. Diamonds! Buy me them!

deepomega (#1,720)

Well, so in their case they'd been sort of… casing the jewelry store? For a planned engagement? And she'd picked the ring as her favorite, but he hadn't really confirmed that he'd buy it for her, so it was ambiguous. But they were going and looking at it like. Monthly. And he had a friend of hers ask to see the one she liked most, so the two ladies went in alone while he was hiding in the closet. Agh.

shudder (#5,913)

puke puke puke puke puke

KenWheaton (#401)

Isn't it also poor form to propose during the holidays because it's almost like one of those "I dare you to say no" scenarios, similar to popping the question at a restaurant or a baseball game on the big screen? Double down by doing it during the holidays in front of the family. Though these scenarios do make it so much better when "no" is the answer.

Speaking of annoying holiday ads. How about those Acura spots which show douchey consumers overspending on walnut roasters, real reindeer and personal Santas before we're told we should celebrate with real savings on a Christmas car?! (And the nut roaster is JUST the sort of guy I'd picture springing for an Acura at Christmas)

metoometoo (#230)

I couldn't stop bitching about those to my parents last week, since they keep the TV on allllllll day long at their house. I like that dude's mod gingerbread house, and I'm pretty sure it's way less indulgent than a new car!

hockeymom (#143)

Also poor form…asking the woman to marry you a week after her father dies because she's devastated and likely to agree. This is what happened to my sister. She said yes. Not surprisingly, the marriage didn't last.
Equally bad, your sisters not stepping in and preventing a really stupid thing from happening.
We all dropped the ball. Big Regrets.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

I find public proposals of any sort to be kinda gross. Like, even if there's only one other person around.

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

I'm only upset by the use of a Black Keys song in this shitty commercial.

I can't really fathom being surprised by a marriage proposal (nb: I am married. We decided it was the practical thing to do. Also now no one can make him testify against me ahahahahaha). You really had NO IDEA he might want to spend the rest of his life with you until that Kay's box came out, eh? That kind of obliviousness to your partner's emotions is a TERRIBLE foundation for a marriage.

fabulousrobots (#4,880)

I hate that these ads perpetuate the idea that being proposed to is somehow romantic and magical. In real life it is awkward and weird, not to mention the awfulness of being trailed by museum guards who don't like the way you're carrying your camera.
I also wore my engagement ring on the wrong hand for several hours. No one tells you what to do!

Jessica Grose (#766)

I wore mine on the wrong hand, too!

Harry Cheadle (#6,316)

I'm an unmarried man, and I went on a drunken rant against these ads at Thanksgiving. The message behind them is regressive in the extreme (men as the sole providers of income, women as materialistic bitches who love shiny things), the industry they support is one of the most ethically suspect, blah blah blah. If a woman needs a diamond engagement or wedding ring to be my wife, then guess what? I'm not marrying her.

Yawn (#4,506)

*call me!

atipofthehat (#797)

1. "This has always brought me luck?"

2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtPkxzHKLpk&feature=player_embedded Ladies, never leave the mascot at a loss!

barnhouse (#1,326)

Everything is commodified in this grotesque way, for sure–children playing, deciding to share your life with someone, spending time with friends etc. are all turned into something to buy on the TV and get all giddy over as if you'd found the meaning of life under your seat at an Oprah taping. It makes one feel like a bit of a spoilsport to say so, though … anyway, I very much agree with this post. p.s. am married, love being married, but would never support creepy diamond industry for any reason.

BadUncle (#153)

Say with a sack of blood-red conflict rubies.

cherrispryte (#444)

Washed with the tears of Burmese child soldiers!

petejayhawk (#1,249)

My parents were always very proud of the fact that their engagement featured no rings and no fancy/dramatic proposal. Seeing how girlfriends react to this the first time I bring it up is always a good barometer of whether the relationship is going to go anywhere.

City_Dater (#2,500)

Nothing says "Merry Christmas! I love you!" like cheap ugly mall store jewelry. There's a Kay commercial in which the woman ends up wearing a necklace that looks like gold-plated, diamond-chip encrusted vomit.

Bittersweet (#765)

No shit. Every time that crappy porcelain-looking bracelet comes on my TV screen, I turn to my husband and say, "No."

jackannapolis (#8,813)

Look, no one is saying these bullshit ads are great, and they don't tell you the other side of proposal engagements, like when the girl says no, or when the girl won't say yes until she has a sufficiently expensive ring, but do we really have to dismantle a culture because we don't like/understand it? It's a symbol of people committing to each other– get over it– many people like the ring and the proposal because of the tradition. You can be anti-tradition all you want, but on the face of it, it's just as meaningless or meaningful as being for tradition. All this bitching and whining about these diamond commercials makes you all seem like petulant fucks who complain over the slightest idiocy. If that's all you have to contend with, count yourselves fortunate. The whole act of marriage is an act of possession and property, whether on equal or unequal exchange, but to clinicize it in this way because you don't like blood diamonds or medium tier jewelry stores ad campaigns is just plain stupid. A ring is a pledge of faithfulness and of long term commitment from both the proposer and the one who accepts. And the most asinine contention, that it should rather be spent on booze and dancing instead on concentrating those three months of sacrifice into a solid and permanent representation of your feelings for someone is stupid, stupid, stupid.

"when the girl won't say yes until she has a sufficiently expensive ring"

Uh, that's gross too. Sorry if that happened to you, because yuck.

And it's not the "medium tier jewelry stores ad campaigns" that I don't like. It's the idea (in het relationships) that the man has to be the one making the decisions, that the woman has to sit idly by and wait becase the "decision" isn't hers to make.

barnhouse (#1,326)

How about if she decides to say "no", though? Not that they ever do, in the commercial.

jaimealyse (#647)

@barnhouse That's why proposals are bad! I mean, among other reasons. It's not a yes/no surprise question. It's a discussion.

And yes, I think that's romantic. Because it requires you to be thoughtful, and not just do what you've learned to do from TV and movies, for no other reason than "that's what you do."

jackannapolis (#8,813)

No doubt there is something dangerous in the forcing of someone to make a life changing decision on the spot, but frankly, the risk is the to proposer in this scenario, not to the "oh, no, I've got the vapors, please don't force me to marry you" helpless female in this situation. The fact that the diamond sellers make the woman out to be this sort of weird mindless animal that wets herself at the mere sight of a jewelry box is evil, but that is not the point of the proposal or engagement ring at all. I wouldn't have dared 'spring' the proposal on my then girlfriend for a couple of good reasons — one, I didn't have the cash, and two, my dear wife would have certainly categorized it more along the lines of assault rather than romance. But I also see value in grand and bold gestures demonstrating your love, infatuation, or willingness to commit. That someone is so in love and so willing to put themselves on the line for the potential mortification of a "no" or even a long pause before a yes says a lot about that sort of person. Not all interactions between man and woman have to be seen in an either a totally equal social or sexual transaction, or violence.

BadUncle (#153)

You know what's also a commitment? Your word. You don't a commodity fetish tarted with the word "tradition." Jim Crowe laws were also a "tradition." These ads may be – at best – saccharin camp. But you can keep the heteronormative property rituals, thanks.

jackannapolis (#8,813)

@BadUncle — This is a fucking insane comment. You're conflating Jim Crow laws with some one *asking* someone else to marry them? You know what also is a tradition? Voting. Burying or cremating our dead. Because Jim Crow was also a tradition, we should definitely get rid of all traditions, right? You say tradition and ritual as if they are dirty words. I guarantee that you probably go through a dozen or more traditions or rituals per day.

jaimealyse (#647)

@jackannapolis The point is that there are good traditions, and bad traditions. We shouldn't follow them blindly, for tradition's sake, but thoughtfully and mindfully, so that they're meaningful to us, rather than blind or ignorant repetitions.

barnhouse (#1,326)

Well put, though I don't think the post was meant as a takedown of tradition per se. Maybe more like a takedown of the cheapening of tradition (something that goes on in a shop)?

cherrispryte (#444)

To be fair, some of us happily ARE pentulant fucks who complain over the slightest idiocy.

The whole act of marriage is an act of possession and property

Look, I may only be 2 years into my marriage, but something tells me you're doing it wrong.

jackannapolis (#8,813)

There is no doubt that I am doing it wrong. I don't pretend to know everything about marriage. But I guarantee you that I if went out whoring, or even openly flirting with another woman that my missus would certainly get possessive, and rightly so. I don't feel like a slave for that, but I am hers, body and soul. That act of submission is the only meaningful thing that I can offer her, because essentially, my being is the only thing that I have to offer. Is anything else meaningful enough to ask someone else to tolerate you for life? No, that commitment of self for life is definitely one of possession. And unless you have a prenup, your marriage obligates you to share your past, current and future earnings. You and your spouse did not only agree to have sex exclusively, you also bound yourselves together financially. So yes, the whole act of marriage is an act of possession and property.

BadUncle (#153)

@jackannapolis: you're not a very careful reader. I was merely indicting gratuitous, slavish, unquestioning submission to "tradition" – particularly those that make gender a subset of property. The insanity is your inference.

beatrixkiddo1 (#2,988)

I keep begging my boyfriend not to buy me a ring (plane tickets seem a better use of a couple grand if you're gonna spend it, thank you very much) but he won't listen to me and insists i'm getting one. I suspect its because he doesn't want people to think he's cheap but he says hes been dreaming of proposing with a ring since he was a kid. It's like I'm getting engaged to the male Carrie Bradshaw all of a sudden.

jaimealyse (#647)

Maybe I've been listening to too much Dan Savage lately, but this would concern me.

On the other hand, my guy insists marriage is evil and is never gonna happen. THANKS THREE DIVORCES!

KenWheaton (#401)

Yeah, don't overlook the shame factor here. Guys who spend more than they afford because they too are influenced by the commercials. Actually, they're much more influenced by listening to girlfriends or female coworkers totally trash other people's chintzy engagement rings, "Like can you BELIEVE that .5 carat THING he got her? As if!?!"
Either way, that's part of the brilliant positioning–you not only create a need (or desire) in the woman, you turn it into the sort of competitive consumer behavior that has the potential to shame both of parties. GENIUS!

Bittersweet (#765)

YES, Ken. I have several girlfriends who in the past declared that they'd accept nothing smaller than 2 carats. (Sometimes wondered why I was friends with them, but that's another story.) It's terrible the way many have bought into the myth of going into hock for the giant, "perfect" diamond.

Yes, Ken and Bittersweet. I have a wonderful guy and think he maybe could be some one I want to keep around until I'm dead?(Cue the awwwww)
But I think were I to get a fancy sparkly thing from this fella someday, that middle ground Ken's right to say that men fear should just be eliminated. We're both in grad school (read: broke), so he/we (I'm cool with fronting part of the bill for a piece of jewelry I wear every day forever) may not be able to afford a whole lot. IF that ends up being the case, I'd rather just have a simple, pretty band than a gawdy cheap piece of shit from one of these mall stores. If we can afford something nice that is not shitty and cheap and all that, great! But I think the in between (i.e. Kay) is just a psychotic waste of your future money. I do not want to wear anything resembling that Jane Seymour thing that looks like T&A every day til I'm dead. But I think the pressure on the man is wacky, and Maura's aforementioned issue with us ladies just having to twiddle our thumbs til our men deem us worthy is also silly. Like, buy what you like that's at your budget? Or nothing at all if sparkly stuff isn't your thing? I just hate all the pressure around this whole industry, and that it all takes the focus off of the actual verbiage of the commitment you're making. But that's probably because I've been to 22 weddings in the last 5 years (for serious).

Bittersweet (#765)

@Hey: totally agree that the relationship and the commitment should be much more to the fore than the hardware in a decision to get married. My (now) husband and I planned for months before we actually got engaged and we were both OK with it.

That said, a little surprise and romance is nice. My husband surprised me with a proposal and a weekend away. Now the diamond was small (he was also in grad school at the time) and the weekend away was in Mystic, CT and not Grand Cayman, but it didn't matter. When my two-carat friends asked me why I didn't "trade up" my engagement ring once we had money, I told them that my husband had saved for a year, living on PB&J and salad, to buy that ring and it was the symbol that was important, not the carat size.

(Guess I'm not so great at the whole materialist thing, huh.)

Don't worry, I totally awwwwww'd at the PB&J portion of your story. I'd like some element of surprise, too, but also to generally know it's coming, like you did! Basically, I would like to inadvertently copy you.
Also I have a bunch of those two carat friends, too, so I think we'd get along just fine.

Baboleen (#1,430)

If I am to get married again, I would prefer a guy who is actually concerned with HAVING money than one who needs to spend money on an expensive ring in order to LOOK like he has money. Just a simple band will do, thank you.

violettefay (#4,039)

I wish I could find a better picture of it, but this is hands down my favorite (the worst) engagement ring ad ever. You can see it's a woman "tastefully" covering up her ladybits, and the text says, "Tell him, 'First things first.'"

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_GQES-ova0Yw/TBlKm29A3RI/AAAAAAAAAUM/_-TggoPb4Dw/s1600/billboard.jpg

It's a local store, but they have these up all over the state.

The edgy advertising campaign debuted a year ago with a billboard showing a close-up of a woman's bare legs with her hands strategically placed and the tag line, "Tell him, First Things First." In July, Naser Diamonds rolled out the second billboard in the campaign showing a woman with her arm extended, flipping people her … ring finger, accompanied by the tag line, "Put a ring on it."

iantenna (#5,160)

though it's equally questionable on the gender politics front and adds a weird family politics element, i was pretty stoked to find out from my wife – long after we had decided to get married – that in her family (mexican-american) the tradition is for the groom's father to ask the bride's father for permission. so, i just had to sit there at dinner and watch my dad be as uncomfortable as i've ever seen him. also, i think all told, between engagement and wedding bands, we spent a grand total of like 300 bucks between us.

MaryHaines (#3,666)

As a married, I have to say I'm even more annoyed/unconvinced by the ads encouraging husbands to shock their wives with expensive jewelry. Oh, honey, you made a major financial decision without consulting me! Swoon!

City_Dater (#2,500)

In my mind, those ads end with the wife saying "you spend our vacation fund on this monstrosity? Sweetie, whyyyyyy?"

sox (#652)

But in my fantasy, I'll be with a rock star millionaire artist who also does yoga and gardening…so he can buy me all the delicious lovely baubles he wants and I'll buy him equally expensive and indulgent things. Like plane tickets to Japan and/or $400 bottles of whiskey.
But also in my real life I have been puzzling for ages over why that particular moment of some other person deciding you are 'good enough' to propose to is supposed to be the happiest moment of your life. Why not just be happy, period? Especially since I come from divorced parents, who both remarried and also redivorced.

Aimee Buller (#6,073)

I've been w/ my boyfriend for 5 years now and every year someone asks me if this will finally be the year he proposes! Well Nosy Nellie, I don't plan on it because I think getting married RIGHT NOW isn't a very good idea and spending a huge amount of money on a ring is pointless. My parents were married for 35+ years before my mom died and she didn't have a huge ring but she did have a pretty happy marriage. I think if I girl wants a huge ring that should be a red flag…and the red flag should read "You're a great starter husband and this ring should appraise out pretty well for me so I can get breast implants to meet a even better guy and get a bigger ring"

MollyculeTheory (#4,519)

I have my great grandmother's engagement ring, which is great because it was cheap & isn't a great prongy beast of a thing. I didn't *require* one but we both rather liked the ritual aspect of it, and even though we'd planned on it together, the 'day he proposed' turned into a great story totally by accident! This adds no substantive value to the conversation sorry!

lbf (#2,343)

I tried building up on this twice and TWICe was foiled by the fact that tab-enter does not SUBMIT your post but DESTROYS it. Aaaaaaaaargh

Bitch (#961)

I hate the one where the daughter, who lives at home, excitedly reveals to her dad that she got engaged the night before and he smugly replies that her boyfriend had asked his permission weeks before…

LondonLee (#922)

I'm convinced that ad is set in the 1950s.

My friend (actual friend, not me) did in fact ask his girlfriend's father for permission, but then before he proposed, she cheated on him.

They broke up.

Jaydubs (#8,838)

It's a Folgers ad and I HATE IT.

MikeBarthel (#1,884)

Since we're talking about jewelry stores, can I just mention how much I hate the ads for the Jewelry Exchange ("in Hackensack")? Specifically how at the end everyone is waving BUT NOT IN UNISON. It drives me NUTS.

"Surprise, I've finally decided to purchase you."

omitofo (#4,921)

oh man, forget diamonds, I'd be happy if a man took me out for a nice dinner AFTER we had sex.

Jamie Peck (#2,018)

I don't have any personal experience with this, as marriage is a long way off for me, but my oldest friend (since 4th grade) just got engaged, with a ring and everything, and she and her fiance seemed to sidestep all the negative associations I/we have around the concept. She's an uber-smart scientist currently finishing up her phd at Yale, and has never been the type to get excited about girly stuff like weddings. Her fiance is, likewise, an uber-smart and logical mathematician. They've been together for over six years and it's been sort of understood for a while that they're going to get married and start a family together eventually, and both of their families are fairly traditional so they need to have a wedding. But it was still nice for him to give her a ring, because it's nice when people you love do nice things for you, and she is excited to put on a nice dress and marry him, and they're both looking forward to saying their vows, etc. I guess what I'm trying to say is, "getting proposed to" can be exciting without being hysterical like in the commercials. Even if you've been discussing future plans for a while.

garge (#736)

Along these lines, this was also a great moment.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

I'd like to point out not one of you have taken any additional swipes at the insipid, manipulative, cloying crap that is Pomplamoose. I am totally disappointed in you people, it's like you weren't even READING Maura's piece.

Every time I'm about to make a comment about one of the terrible commercials Maura mentions, IT COMES ON MY TEEVEE! Is this because I have Google Latitude?
Anyway, I keep trying to explain to my boyfriend what twee is. I think I'll just tell him to watch a few Pomplamoose youtube clips.

carpetblogger (#306)

I heart my Taliban emerald.

Matthew Lawrence (#4,252)

I'd appreciate it if more Awl pieces used the "if you like it then you should maybe talk to it instead of putting a ring on it" tag, because that just made me snarf my coffee.

Aatom (#74)

Well, I had to suffer through a very long weekend of relatives and family friends offer the well-meaning "So how is your FRIEND?" when asking about my boyfriend of four years. So you'll forgive me when I buy him a shiny bauble to flash in their faces someday and bring my HUSBAND home for the holidays.

I was going to propose to you this Christmas, Maura. I still might…

Anupa (#4,164)

Here's what Canadian girls have to deal with:
http://twitpic.com/3bqyen

I was stressing about picking out an engagement ring and then my wife called me at work and told me she had been walking through the diamond district and found an antique ring that she liked. $650. (Several years later she said to me, "Did you know engagement rings were meant as socioeconomic markers?")

I made our wedding bands while taking goldsmithing classes.

YFND (#8,829)

"…all these ads are doing for me, a red-blooded American female, is…" making me think, 'cheapskate'! Lazy, cheapskate, actually.
I mean, come on, you want to propose, you got the 'surprise' ring, so you think, 'Sweet, I'm off the hook for THIS holiday, and she'll be SO grateful!' Throw a stuffed bear into the mix, and I think my blood pressure actually goes up. Same goes for birthdays and Valentine's day.
I picked out my ring with my (now) husband, and was relieved he wasn't the kind of guy who'd want to blindly pick out a piece of jewelry I'll wear for the next forever.

Flaneur (#998)

My wife and I had sort of a hybrid experience. We were living together and decided entirely mutually one night that we were engaged, though the wedding would be a few years off while we waited for her to finish business school (part-time). We went shopping together for rings but also planned to put off buying them. I went back to the store and bought her engagement ring as a surprise, and gave it to her during a nice walk on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. So we were able to be equitable grownups making a joint decision and still have a semitraditional romantic moment. That's been the pattern in our 10 years of marriage as well.

All of that said, I totally agree that those commercials are creepy and dreadful.

cinetrix (#47)

Got engaged on our apartment's back porch on a Monday night after a homemade dinner (delayed because because I'd been a raging bitch shopping for a dress for another wedding two days before, on Bloomsday). I was an editorial freelancer; he, a grad student. The ring was his WASPy Beacon Hill-dwelling grandmother's.
But! When we went shopping for a band at Shreve Crump & Low [non-Bostonians, replace with "Tiffany's"], saleswoman "Cheryl" dropped the ball on cooing over a tasteful rose-gold vintage piece with family associations and instead shrieked about how I'd need to go upstairs IMMEDIATELY and get that antique cleaned and repaired STAT.
Needless to say, my band [also rose gold] was purchased instead at a costume jewelry antique store on Charles St. that had one case of 14k jewelry. His was purchased in the jewelry district on Washington St. by Downtown Crossing. Cost of each? Sixty bux. Done and done. Which is to say, fuck the wedding-industrial complex. In the eye.

Kumara (#241,096)

Oh man, I would have loved to see those rings that show happy available women, maybe then I would know how to finally pick something normal. I hope they look less like purity rings and more like what I saw on http://quadrumgallery.com/category/. A woman should have at least a bit of class.

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