Early engagement epidemic throws ring shoppers for a loop

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February 13, 2007

8:51 AM

I have recently become terribly aware that a single concept has clouded my mind as I turn to topics of interest on campus. Something like a fog has settled in the very recesses of my thoughts, turning neurons to mush and producing a distinct ache in the ring finger of my left hand.

p. It seems to me that this epidemic is spreading rapidly through my peer group and affecting male and female students alike. The only cure is acute scrutiny of feminist texts, family law and tabloid breakups.

p. I, like many among me, am held in utter fear and terror of the looming prospect of commitment — not just any old promise of chastity, either. I can only imagine the shock and horror that grips you, dear reader, as you examine your own relationship or distinct lack thereof. How on Earth is it possible that I find it relative and, in stronger words, pressing that this outrageous outbreak of proposals be exposed?

p. My suitemate is engaged so I figured I’d take advantage and ask her some questions. When did you get engaged?

p. “Well, I’ve actually been engaged since the fall of my freshman year.”

p. Seriously? I had no idea. I feel terrible for not knowing.

p. “I didn’t get a ring until fall of sophomore year.” Relieved.

p. Why didn’t you tell anyone that you were engaged?

p. “I don’t know. I didn’t tell my parents and that just sort of spread to my close friends, because I was 18 and it was kind of weird.”

p. Fair enough.

p. “I guess you can include the military aspect of it,” she added, “because he’s in a military college; his roommate is married right now, but I mean, he’s going to Afghanistan.”

p. So now I just feel like a douche for being down on marriage. Nothing trumps a soldier off to war. I’m still not quite sure how whether being engaged or not changes anything about the fundamentals of a relationship.

p. Military aside, it all seems a little too trite — Valentine’s Day, sales at Zales in the mall, visions of the Christopher Wren Building in April. I am also a bit of a hypocrite. There is nothing I want more for my wedding than to be married in the Wren Chapel. This, of course, is a huge limiting factor to my future husband pool as only couples of two alumni can marry there. A terrible thought process ensues.

p. With so many young Americans getting engaged, wouldn’t you think there would be some better low-cost ring options? I’m not saying people need Pave settings or the newest Tiffany cut (the “brilliant,” I believe), but if this is an outward symbol of inward love, I think I want a little more than a high-set chip. There seems to be a chasm between a “nothing ring,” as my mother would say, and a ring that requires a down payment (“a much better use of the money,” according to my father).

p. Why on Earth does an engagement require a ring anyway? Women get tricked into being marked as “off the market” with distractingly beautiful diamonds while men can waltz away with … well, you see the discrepancy.

p. And about that standard stone, how boring! If, as I believe is the case, everyone is marching to the altar in a matter of months, wouldn’t you want your ring (if you happen to get one) to be unique? Diamonds aren’t any more rare than other stones; in fact, the ruby is much harder to come across in nature. De Beers just happens to have a monopoly on the diamond market. But whatever the reason — the politics of gender or, perhaps, of mines — rings make a lot of people uncomfortable.

p. Why not take away some of the pressure for the rest of us and nix the engagement rings for a while? You can get engaged without proclaiming it ostentatiously to everyone else. Plus, by eliminating the engagement ring bought in budget-conscious and style-stunted youth, there will be fewer awkward moments of somewhat insincere admiration, such as “oh wow, what a flawless (if somewhat diminutive) diamond!”

p. I know that winter is long, and the return of spring promises the return of love, lust and romance, but save us all some anxiety and you can save yourself some money, too. Chances are you’ll need it with all these pending nuptials.

__Charlotte Savino is a Confusion Corner columnist for The Flat Hat. She doesn’t need the Tiffany cut, but she wouldn’t turn it down either.__

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