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Engagement Rings

With thanks to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.

Especially in Western cultures, an engagement ring is a ring indicating the that the person wearing it is engaged to be married. In the United Kingdom, and North America, engagement rings are traditionally worn only by women and rings can feature gemstones. In other cultures men and women usually wear matching rings, which can be plain. In some cultures, engagement rings are also used as wedding rings.

engagement ring and wedding ring set

Conventionally, the woman's ring is presented as a betrothal gift by a man to his prospective spouse while he proposes marriage or directly after she accepts his marriage proposal. It represents a formal agreement to future marriage. Rings can be bought by the man, the couple together, or by each partner for the other.

In North America and the United Kingdom, it is worn on the left hand ring finger, while in Poland and Ukraine, it is customary for the ring to be worn on the right hand. In Germany, the ring is worn on the left hand while engaged, but moved to the right hand when married. Similar traditions purportedly date to classical times, dating back from an early usage reportedly referring to the fourth finger of the left hand as containing the vena amoris or "vein of love".

Before agreeing to marry, a couple may choose to buy and wear pre-engagement rings, also called promise rings. After marrying, the couple may wear both engagement rings and wedding rings, or just their wedding rings, as they prefer.

History

Betrothal rings were used during Roman times, but weren't generally revived in the Western world until the 13th century.[1] The first well-documented use of a diamond ring to signify engagement was by the Archduke Maximilian of Austria in imperial court of Vienna in 1477, upon his betrothal to Mary of Burgundy.[1]

Before the 20th century, other types of betrothal gifts were common. Before the end of the 19th century, the bride-to-be frequently received a sewing thimble rather than a engagement ring.[1] This practice was particularly common among religious groups that shunned jewelry. 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.[1] Now, 80% of American women are offered a diamond ring to signify engagement.[1]

diamond engagement ring and diamond wedding ring set

Purchase

In the 20th century, if he could afford it, the typical Western groom privately selected and purchased an engagement ring, which he then presented to his desired bride when he proposed marriage. More recently, couples frequently select an engagement ring together. In countries where both partners wear engagement rings, matching rings may be selected and purchased together.[2] In the United States and Canada, where only women commonly wear engagement rings, women sometimes present their partners with an engagement ring.[3]

Like all jewelry, the price for an engagement ring can vary considerably depending on the materials used, the design of the ring, whether it includes a gemstone, the value of any gemstone, and the seller. The idea that a man should spend two to three months' personal wages for an engagement ring originated from De Beers marketing materials in the early 20th century, in an effort to increase the sale of diamonds.[1] In 2007, the average cost of an engagement ring in USA as reported by the industry was US$2,100.[4]

The price of the gemstones, if any, in the ring depends on the type and quality of the gem. Diamonds have a standardized description that values them according to their carat weight, color, clarity and cut. Other gemstones, such as sapphires, rubies, moissanite, emeralds, have different systems. These may be chosen to honor a family tradition, to use family heirlooms, to be unique, to be socially responsible, to fit the individual's stylistic preferences, or to manage cost. Synthetic stones and diamond substitutes such as cubic zirconias are also popular choices that reduce cost while maintaining the desired appearance.

Legal ownership

In some states of the United States, engagement rings are considered "conditional gifts" under the legal rules of property. This is an exception to the general rule that gifts cannot be revoked once properly given. See, for example, the case of Meyer v. Mitnick, 625 N.W.2d 136 (Michigan, 2001), whose ruling found the following reasoning persuasive: "the so-called 'modern trend' holds that because an engagement ring is an inherently conditional gift, once the engagement has been broken, the ring should be returned to the donor. Thus, the question of who broke the engagement and why, or who was 'at fault,' is irrelevant. This is the no-fault line of cases."

One case in New South Wales, Australia ended in the man suing his former fiance'e because she threw the ring in the trash after he told her she could keep it, despite the marriage proposal failing. The Supreme Court of New South Wales held that despite what the man said, the ring remained a conditional gift (partly because his saying that she could keep it was partly due to his desire to salvage the relationship) and she was ordered to pay him its AUD$15,250 cost.[5]

Tradition generally holds that if the betrothal fails because the man himself breaks off the engagement, the woman is not obliged to return the ring. Legally, this condition can be subject to either a modified or a strict fault rule. Under the former, the fiance' can demand the return of the ring unless he breaks the engagement. Under the latter, the fiance' is entitled to the return unless his actions caused the breakup of the relationship, the same as the traditional approach. However, a no-fault rule is being advanced in some jurisdictions, under which the fiance' is always entitled to the return of the ring. The ring only becomes the property of the woman when marriage occurs. An unconditional gift approach is another possibility, wherein the ring is always treated as a gift, to be kept by the fiance'e whether or not the relationship progresses to marriage. Recent court rulings have determined that the date in which the ring was offered can determine the condition of the gift. e.g. Valentine's Day and Christmas are nationally recognized as gift giving holidays. A ring offered in the form of a Christmas present will likely remain the personal property of the recipient in the event of a breakup.[6]

In the United Kingdom, the gift of an engagement ring is presumed to be an absolute gift to the fiance'e. This presumption may be rebutted however by proving that the ring was given on condition (express or implied) that it must be returned if the marriage did not take place, for whatever reason. This was decided in the case Jacobs v Davis [1917] 2 KB 532.

engagement ring

Styles

Engagement rings, like any other kind of jewelry, come in many different styles.

In the United States, where engagement rings have been traditionally worn only by women, diamonds have widely featured in engagement rings since the middle of the 20th century.[7] Solitaire rings have one single diamond.[8] These traditional engagement rings may have different prong settings and bands.[9] Another major category is engagement rings with side stones.[10]. Rings with a larger diamond set in the middle and smaller diamonds on the side fit under this category. Three-stone diamond engagement rings, sometimes called trinity rings or trilogy rings, are rings with three matching diamonds set horizontally in a row with the bigger stone in the center. The three diamonds on the ring are typically said to represent the couple's past, present, and future, but other people give religious significance to the arrangement.[11][12][13][14]

A wedding set, or bridal set, includes an engagement ring and a wedding band that match as a set. In some cases, the engagement ring looks "incomplete"; it is only when the two halves are assembled that the ring looks whole. In other cases, a wedding set consists of two rings that match stylistically and are worn stacked, although either piece would look appropriate as a separate ring. Although the wedding band is not to be worn until the wedding day, the two rings are usually sold together as a wedding set. After the wedding, the bride may choose to have the two pieces welded together, to increase convenience and reduce the likelihood of losing one ring. A trio ring set includes a ladies engagement ring, ladies wedding band and a men's wedding band. These sets often have matching rings and are lower in price.

In Nordic countries, engagement rings are worn by both men and women. Traditionally they are plain gold bands, although more ornate designs and other materials are gaining popularity. The engagement rings resemble the wedding bands sold in the United States, whereas womens wedding rings often resemble US engagement rings.

For men

In some countries (but not most of the Western world), both men and women wear engagement rings. The rings are often in the form of a plain band of a precious metal. Sometimes, the engagement ring eventually serves as the wedding ring for the man. In Brazil, for example, the groom- and bride-to-be wear a plain wedding band on the right hand while engaged. After the wedding the band moves to the left hand.

References

  1. "Diamonds Are a Girl's Worst Friend: The trouble with engagement rings." by Meghan O'Rourke at Slate.com on June 11, 2007
  2. Dolan, J. (February 12, 2007). Shopping for your own engagement ring: many local women say 'I do'. La Crosse Tribune (WI)
  3. Put a ring on it, RedEye, 2009-04-04
  4. People Magazine: "It's a Wedding, Wedding World!". Jul 13 2007.
  5. "Who gets the engagement ring when the wedding is off".
  6. TheAtlantic.com
  7. Solitaire Engagement Rings - Diamond Room
  8. Diamond Solitaire Engagement Rings
  9. Engagement Rings with Side Stones
  10. http://www.serendipitydiamonds.co.uk/default.asp/p=130
  11. http://www.thediamondstore.co.uk/fanatic/2008/03/symbolise-your-love-with-trilogy-ring.html
  12. http://www.diamondinformer.com
  13. http://www.overabillion.com/Articles/what-is-three-stone-diamond-ring-2/