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Non Traditional Engagement Ring Alternatives

Updated on August 11, 2010

If you're anything like me, the idea of forcing your future husband prove his devotion and love by shelling out several thousand dollars for a shiny rock that will depreciate by over 50% the moment he purchases it makes you want to throw up in your mouth a little.

Before you go ahead and call me unromantic, I'm far from it. The obsession with diamond rings isn't some ancient tradition of love, its the result of an extended marketing campaign in the 1930's by De Beers and it is one that has managed to corrupt the inherently romantic notion of a man asking for a woman's hand in marriage and turn it into a shallow display of materialistic wealth. By stating 'a diamond is forever', De Beers has actually managed to convince millions of women that the only real way a man can prove his love is by buying shiny rock.

The story of how diamond rings became essential to marriage is an interesting one.

In the 1930s, De Beers set out to establish social status for large diamonds through giving a number of starlets hefty stones, arranging for glamorous photo shoots, and script-doctoring Hollywood movies to include scenes of jewelry shopping. The tradition began to be manipulated more closely in one particular aspect–the act of giving. Those starlets told tales of being surprised by their large stones. Movie scenes featured a hero giving his gal a big rock and watching her eyes grow wide with joy. The diamond began to be injected into relationships between men and women as a reproducible act–a script for life, not just film–and an inseparable part of courtship and marriage. In 1947, De Beers’ ad agency came up with the massively successful slogan "A diamond is forever," which implied that diamonds don’t crack, break, or lose value. (They do.)

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In short, if you're of the belief that an engagement must feature a diamond ring, then you've been successfully manipulated by an advertising campaign from the 1930's. It makes one wonder just how much of what we want is actually because we want it and how much of what we want is because we'll buy into the idea of status and marketing in the desperate drive to feel truly loved.

There are alternatives to diamond engagement rings however, alternatives that won't chew up money that could be used for a deposit on your first home, or a romantic honeymoon you'll treasure forever, or feeding a village of starving kids.

A plain band is, of course, always an option, but if you like stones, there are plenty of gemstones that don't carry the hefty jacked up price of diamonds. If you're really into the romance of ring giving, it is possible to design your own ring, a ring that will have real meaning for you and your significant other. There are many online shops that allow ring designing, however the bulk of these push diamond as the only option (because diamonds have such an incredibly high mark up on them). In order to truly create a unique engagement ring, it may be best for you to look up independent jewelers in your area.

Here are a few place to start looking for independent jewelers who will custom make a ring to your specifications:


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