The Engagement Ring Is Dead — Long Live The Engagement Ring

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At a certain point in time in many a young person’s life, they start to look at the one they love and realize – holy shit, I am going to have to spend a crap ton of money on a stupid diamond ring, aren’t I? Such a magical time.

In truth, the history of diamond engagement rings isn’t quite the tale as old as time most people have been led to believe. Actually, it all started with a person who died way back when in the far off time of 1999.

Frances Gerety worked in marketing for N. W. Ayer & Son and in 1947 came up with a brilliant ad campaign for De Beers, “A diamond is forever.” That phrase which Advertising Age magazine named the best advertising slogan of the twentieth century was also named by innumerable men since as the bane of their existence.

If you don’t think this ad campaign was successful then let me inform you that in 2012 De Beers posted revenues of over $6B. That’s billion with a capital B. And if you want to know where that revenue comes from then you only have yourselves to blame, you schmucks. A lot of men pride themselves on their intelligence, yet us captains of industry and masters of our domains all followed blindly when De Beers told us to spend two months salary on an engagement ring. Then, when their profits faltered, they upped the ante to three months salary. Which is completely insane.

According to TheKnot.com and Reuters the average engagement ring in 2011 cost $5,200. And luxury rings came in at a whopping $13,500. You know what else you can get for $13,500? Off the top of my head how about – a moderately priced new car, an epic vacation, a down payment on a house, or a 1964 Chevy Corvair Monza?

I know nothing I’m saying is new, in fact, the New York Times did a great job of articulating exactly what I’m trying to say, albeit in a less humorous but much more professional way. But I like comedy. So you’re gonna get some jokes from me.

For instance, a man goes to the doctor, the doctor says to the man, “I have some bad news, you have cancer and Alzheimer’s.” The man replies, “Well at least I don’t have cancer.” This joke is important. Remember it.

Moving on. So where is the end to our society’s (read: girl’s) fascination and obsession with diamonds? Well, it doesn’t look like there is one. Are they overly useful? No. In fact, Nicky Oppenheimer, former chairman of the De Beers diamond mining company, said, “diamonds are intrinsically worthless, except for the deep psychological need they fill.”

So gentlemen, even the guys selling us these things know they’re crap. But do we have a choice? About as much of a choice as that patient with cancer and Alzheimer’s did. See? I told you to remember it. The truth is, the concept of a diamond engagement ring is so engrained in pop culture that there is no escape. Even if, say, you wanted to get your beloved an engagement Revolutionary War musket there’s no way to go about doing something so radical or different without facing some intense consequences (she’ll say “no”). That intrinsically worthless ring has so much meaning to it now it has a distinct extrinsic value. And to millions upon millions of women out there – that value is priceless.

So while we’re still free to make all the jokes we want, and laugh at how ridiculous the concept would be if the roles were reversed, at the end of the day (or the three months during which you have eat ramen noodles everyday because you have to save up for that ring) you’re still going to be forced to buy one.

But chin up, gents. It’s a small price to pay for the honor and privilege of spending the rest of your life with the person you love, isn’t it? TC mark

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