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The Ring – Part 2: Ideals, profits and pressure

What is it about the fascination that most women have with wedding… and more to the point – because let’s be honest about the real agenda ladies – why the urgency around the engagement ring? Emerald, princess, pear or round, gold, white gold, rose gold, Tiffany, Cartier, Bulgari…. it’s an industry that has men by their balls and has women falling veil first into the illusion and glamour of weddings.

Jess continues her story….

To my partner’s credit, he was and still is incredibly relaxed around my reflections of my previous relationship and the ring that I continued to wear. However, about a month into the relationship he enquired as to why exactly I wore the ring. It was here that I had to stop and feel what was really going on: the ring symbolised that I was once wanted… that I was almost at the status of being engaged. It was as if it were a badge that disguised my lack of self-worth and kept me feeling somewhat afloat in the feverish rat race in which I and my girlfriends were still caught up.

From this point we as a couple started to expose all the ideals and beliefs that are sold to us around engagements and weddings.

After realising that it was completely weird to wear my once to be engagement ring I put it away and didn’t really let myself think about it too much. A number of months later I decided it was time to do something with it… and thought I may as well sell it; after all it was a top quality diamond. It was at this point that the truth of this industry was exposed and the fantasy and seduction of shiny diamonds and romantic proposals came to a crashing halt. I realised nobody wanted to buy the ring… the diamond was of no interest and I had offers to sell the gold as scrap metal! I could not believe it and thought perhaps selling it online would be the way forward… shockingly I scrolled through a graveyard of engagement rings and wondered about the hundreds of stories behind each ring, feeling the pressure so many men must have felt in producing the right ring and the perfect marriage proposal.

It became so clear to me then that engagement rings are almost always laced with emotion. . . this is what holds the dollar value; once the emotion has gone the ring is worth nothing.

One of the jewellers I spoke with suggested that I melt the ring down and perhaps turn it into something else. I shared my disappointment and disillusion with my partner, realising that what was once the be all and end all was now not far from being worthless. My partner, not one for sympathy and always very practical, suggested that we melt it down and use the materials for a new engagement ring. 'What?? You simply cannot do such a thing' I thought at first, but after discussing the practicalities it made a lot a sense. I remember sharing this idea with a girlfriend who had a strong reaction “better to make a nice pair of earrings” she suggested, convinced that a new ring was the only way forward and that the old ring was now tarnished and augured badly for the potential marriage.

However, further research[1] suggests that the more one spends on an engagement ring the higher the chance of marriage dissolution due to the financial pressure. But wait. . . there is more! Research[2] confirms that up until the 1870s, diamonds were a rare commodity, but one without intensely high demand — until the discovery of diamond mines in South Africa. Investors in the mines wanted to increase the demand for their product by "perpetuating the illusion of scarcity of diamonds." So in the 1940s, De Beers managed to do this with four little words: "A Diamond Is Forever." Prior to this successfully seductive marketing campaign, engagement rings were only occasionally exchanged; it wasn’t a popular notion. Not only is the demand for diamonds a marketing invention, but diamonds aren’t actually that rare. Only by carefully restricting the supply has De Beers kept the price of a diamond high.

Countless numbers of men will no doubt attest that the societal obligation to furnish a diamond engagement ring is both stressful and expensive. But here’s the thing – this obligation only exists because a company created a picture around the diamond ring and the engagement that is to go with it, fuelling the demand and its consequential profits.

Essentially, they willed an entire industry into existence, ultimately at our expense as the glamor that surrounds these diamond rings often overshadows the true purpose, that being one of celebrating a potentially constellated union and the evolution that marriage could offer to both the couple and those around them.

My partner also exposed that the ring is often about ego for a man; the pressure of providing this ring shows that they are worthy of the woman, and if he simply cannot afford such a glamorous con then he is often left with a level of shame. What was once a simple notion of two people’s love and unity has resulted in the ill symbology of “the more I spend the more I love you”.

In 2015, the current average cost of an engagement ring is between $4,770 - $5,580. The idea that a man should spend 2 months salary for an engagement ring originated from De Beers marketing materials.[3]

We unpicked the social norms and unspoken expectations that we each had as a man and a woman. These conversations allowed us to deconstruct a consciousness that had been sold to me since I was a little girl. This couldn’t have been done without my partner’s unforgiving commitment to getting to the truth of a matter. We have been able to free our relationship from many of these constructs and re-imprinted the true meaning of marriage and these rituals. This felt extraordinary and the conversations that we had allowed us to deepen our relationship and express things I’ve never told anyone – these are the kinds of conversations and intimacy I could only wish for every couple to have before they tie the knot. I realised that the level of appreciation and honouring of myself needed some serious attending to so I placed myself on a bit of program where I supported the confirmation of myself and the appreciation of the relationship I was in.

“Intimacy is letting yourself be seen in your fragility and not feeling less.”

Serge Benhayon Esoteric Teachings and Revelations II, p 445

My partner and I attended an overseas wedding of mutual friends. This wedding blew us away as there was no glam, no hype, no white fluffy cakes or long flowing dresses – there was just love, pure and simple. A love for one another, a love for themselves and a love for humanity. The wedding still held many traditional elements: guests arrived dressed beautifully, the groom awaited his bride as she gracefully walked down an aisle, speeches and plenty of delicious food but there was an honesty and truth that was a reflection to us all of the true meaning of marriage.

On our return we decided to enquire about the costs of melting the ring down: we dropped into a jewellers on our way to a gathering one morning and after a brief discussion designed a new ring, had it sized and after 10 simple minutes left to carry on with our weekend. Two weeks later we collected the ring and as we drove off with the ring in (not on) hand, a huge rainbow presented itself and we felt this very much as a confirmation. This whole process somehow felt incredibly honouring and at the same time as everyday as popping into Woollies to buy some broccoli.

There was no emotion and no need – something that felt incredibly foreign in my body regarding this topic – so much so that it took me a little while to feel at ease with the simplicity.

Jess’s story continues in The Ring – Part 3: Wedding Proposal Fantasies

References:

  • [1]

    ‘A Diamond is Forever’ and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2501480

  • [2]

    De Beers myth: Do people spend a month's salary on a diamond engagement ring? http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27371208

  • [3]

    http://www.weddingstats.org/average-cost-of-an-engagement-ring.html

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LoveRomanceRelationshipsMarriage

  • Thumb small jess gamble

    By Jessica Gamble

    Jessica Gamble works as a body orientated psychotherapist working with a variety of presenting issues and with all ages. Jess also enjoys working as artist painting mixed media abstractions. Jess has a small but healthy obsession with her therapy dog Tea.

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    Illustration: Hemma Kearney