real life

"Engagement ring judgement is the only reason I'd be getting a nice thing".

You’re engaged!” we squeal collectively, as if we’re teenage girls again (instead of adult women with jobs, mortgages and insurance plans).

Then, sure as night follows day, the procession of hugging and chorus of “I’m so happy for you” quickly subsides as we get the to real point of this exercise: “Show us the ROCK!” someone cries.

And thus, the ring judgement begins…

Ring judgement is a tradition that dates back to the very first time a caveman rolled a giant boulder home and lovingly presented it to his cave lady, in the hope he’d get lucky on the wooly mammoth skin covered floor. It occurs in the two months immediately after a woman becomes engaged and essentially involves everyone she meets inspecting her ring finger with the sort of precision normally reserved for someone in CSI Miami.

There are oh so many questions to be answered. How big is the stone? What kinds of stone is it? Is the band 18 or 24k gold? Is it new or an antique? How much would it have cost? Is it Tiffanys? How many diamonds are there? How clear is the diamond? How many carats?

The list goes on but the point doesn’t. All these questions are mentally asked and answered in the pursuit of a single fact:

How much does he love her?

No matter how much we all protest and deny that’s the case, no matter how much we insist that love cannot be measured by a dollar figure or the number of carats – that’s what we’re doing when we check out a ring. Judging. We’re making an assessment of the strength of two people’s relationship and the scale of the guy’s devotion based on a blingy rock.

And the reason I’m so sure this is the true meaning of ring judgement? I’ve done it to others and I’m deadset terrified of going through it myself.

As a 30-something, I am surrounded by people getting hitched and by ring judgement. So I’m becoming increasingly nervous that when the time comes I will do ‘getting engaged’ wrong.

Because I don’t wear rings. Ever.

This is partly because I like fun costume stuff more than fancy expensive jewellery.  It’s partly because I don’t like my hands and don’t particularly want to draw attention to them. And it’s partly because rings are really, really annoying and make it hard to do important stuff, like type on a computer and playing that super addictive Facebook farm game on my phone.

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I don’t like rings.

And so I have never bothered to learn about solitaires, princesses, carats and whatever the hell else. I don’t even know my ring size beyond ‘short and stumpy with more than a few unsightly hairs’. It was only last year that I learned silver wasn’t the colour of my friends’ rings but rather ‘white gold’.

Yet I know that if I get engaged – I want a ring. And it has got to be a good one.

Before you call me vain and shallow, hear me out.

I personally don’t think a ring in any way reflects how much my partner loves me. A ring would reflect how much cash he happened to have at the time aaaaaaand that’s about it.

But to other people? I know it would reflect more. A whole lot more…

I can already hear myself trotting out all my excuses about “saving money for what’s important to us, the honeymoon” and how “I don’t wear rings anyway.” And even though all those things are absolutely 100% true, they someone feel hollow, desperate, like I’m trying to prove the validity of a love that doesn’t exist.

So, that’s why I care. I’m not proud of it. I’m not defending it. I’m simply admitting to it. And secretly I think that’s why all of us (bar the small percentage of women who genuinely, deeply care about the quality of a precious stone) care.

Because a ring has become more than a symbol that you are loved by someone, and somehow morphed into a representation of how much they must love you. Making it pretty natural for us all to want the ring to be ‘a lot’.

The result is that we get caught up in the trimmings and the outward manifestations of love and marriage. The quality of the ring, the size of the wedding, and the opulence of the honeymoon – while forgetting about what really matters and what kicked all this hoo-haa off:

The love itself.

Have you been engaged and dealt with this weird phenomenon? Is ring judgement something that’s happened in your social circle? Did you or do you care about engagement rings?

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