Why Women Wear Engagement Rings and Men Don’t Wear Them

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In a noteworthy departure from tradition, the landscape of engagement rings is undergoing a transformation, particularly for men in Western cultures. Long-standing norms have dictated that men forgo wearing engagement rings, leaving the spotlight solely on women’s dazzling diamonds.

We all know the deal when it comes to women’s engagement rings—hello, Elizabeth Taylor and her legendary 33.19-carat diamond.

Women’s engagement rings have long enjoyed the spotlight. And women are certainly not complaining about wearing these dazzling symbols of love. But amidst the joy they bring, you might start to wonder—why should you be the only one wearing an engagement ring, while your fiancé remains ring-less in the meantime?

Why should you have all the fun sparkling away with your bling, while your better halves roam around ring-less?

Why Don’t Men Typically Wear Engagement Rings? 

While there’s no definitive answer to this, we can understand the historical context behind this tradition, as well as the traditional roles in marriage proposals.

Usually, men are the ones asking for a woman’s hand in marriage, and it’s expected that they will present a beautiful ring. Since they are doing the asking, nobody really thinks about what token the man gets in return.

Today, we see engagement rings as symbol of love and beauty, a sparkly promise from a future husband to his beloved. But did you know this tradition began in the early 20th century when DeBeers, a diamond company, launched an ad campaign targeting men planning to propose? They coined the famous slogan, “A Diamond is Forever,” and soon diamond engagement rings became the ultimate symbol of romance and commitment.

Back in the 1940s, there was a “Breach of Promise to Marry” law, which allowed women to sue men who backed out of engagements. This law was scrapped, so women turned to engagement rings for security. 

And so the diamond ring sales skyrocketed the same time these laws were being phased out. Why? you ask. Because, in those days, if a woman’s engagement was broken off, she had no legal protection. So, a sparkling diamond ring became a form of “temporary insurance” for her. It was a way to ensure she wouldn’t be left high and dry before the wedding day.

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Especially when society placed a high value on women’s virginity.

If the man broke off the engagement before marriage, it was the woman who faced social consequences, and she might have trouble finding another partner. The ring, in a way, served as a form of “insurance” to protect her value in the marriage market. 

The Tale of Rings Through History

According to this paper by Gemological Institute of America, during the time of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs, who used rings to represent eternity because of their circular shape. When Alexander the Great conquered Egypt, the Greeks adopted this tradition and continued wearing rings. Later, the Romans followed suit, carrying on the legacy of rings.

But wait, the diamond engagement ring didn’t make its grand entrance until much later! In the 15th century, Archduke Maximillian of Austria gave a diamond engagement ring to Mary of Burgundy1477, marking the beginning of this special tradition. However, it wasn’t an instant hit.

Fast forward to the Victorian era, where Queen Victoria’s fondness for diamonds helped boost their popularity. Yet, it still took some time for diamond engagement rings to become as widely adored as they are now.

Now, We See Men Wearing Engagement Rings

Although women have traditionally worn rings, A fresh perspective is emerging, the notion of men adorning pre-wedding bands is gaining traction. 

We’re no longer confined to when engagement rings were solely reserved for women in Western cultures. A refreshing shift is taking place, and celebs like the iconic Ed Sheeran are proudly sporting pre-wedding bands before they say “I do.” 

And even though it’s still not as common for men to wear engagement rings, it’s becoming a bit more common. That’s not to say we won’t see more in the future.

As we witness love taking center stage in modern marriages, we can’t help but wonder about the potential for other changes.

Should men also begin to wear engagement rings? 

In the end, there’s no definitive answer to this question, and each couple will chart their own path. It boils down to personal preference—if he desires it, why not present your man with a simple band to signify his commitment in the months leading up to the grand occasion?

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