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A Lifetime Choice

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The reasons for this are numerous; perhaps the fiancé is not as financially stable as she is. Maybe he can’t afford a rock the size she desires, or it could be that they have an overall egalitarian relationship and this extends to major purchases such as wedding and engagement rings.

In a Today Show poll, 46 percent of respondents said that they would be willing to split the cost of an engagement ring. An article in The Cut explained that because more American women are the primary breadwinner in their families, “helping to foot the bill for a fancy rock seems only fair.”

Some women remain appalled that a woman would pay for her own ring, thinking it subverts the symbolism of a man pledging something valuable to his beloved. Some even questioned whether in that case it was still an engagement ring. Other women applaud the trend, saying that such things as bachelorette parties and engagement rings are passé, as many couples cohabit before marriage. One commenter on a story in the Daily Mail explained that in Victorian times, an engagement ring was an insurance policy of sorts; if the woman became intimate with her betrothed during this time, he would not desert her after he had made such a significant investment.

The traditional scenario of the surprise engagement with the man popping the question on one knee, ring at the ready, still occurs regularly. However, according to many sources and much discussion, more women are breaking with tradition. They may want to shop with their husband–to-be to ensure the selection of the perfect ring, or as part of the bonding experience.

Millennial women are at the forefront of the trend for rings that they may select themselves, pitch in for or not. Members of the generation that eats vegan, drinks craft beer and prizes clean living often aren’t as wed to the traditional notions of what engagement rings and wedding bands should be. Couples sometimes recycle vintage rings, redesign and upscale rings from family members, or incorporate a treasured family stone, not necessarily a diamond, into a new setting, according to The New York Times.

One woman commenting on an article in MadameNoire said that although she was not engaged or about to be, she had already purchased her dream wedding set to have at the ready when she met Mr. Right. A commenter on the Daily Mail website said she had selected a ring herself, a simple, unique vintage ring for $244; her comment continued, “I will never see anybody else wearing the same ring and I love that; it makes my ring so much more personal.”

I noticed the trend when shopping for my own wedding band recently. My husband had bought me a beautiful 1930 Art Deco diamond engagement ring. He had earlier purchased a gold wedding band that I traded in to get one that matched my silver Art Deco ring. However, when we finally married several years later, I decided I wanted something new, so I had no problem purchasing my Marquis wedding band myself.

As I searched online during that period, I noted that more and more women were posting reviews for engagement and wedding rings that they had purchased themselves. Some women were replacing lost or damaged rings or were upgrading. Since they were already married, they had no problem making the purchases themselves.

The engagement ring and wedding band may be the first large investment a bride and her fiancé will make together. It may seem that the surprise factor is eliminated, but on the other hand, it’s an opportunity to understand the marital dynamics of cooperation, compromise and making joint decisions. It’s also the perfect time to discuss the financial commitment, and since money can be a touchy subject for many people, this is one more step toward working out a future budget. It can also assure the future groom that his bride will be happy and proud of their choice. And he can still create the romantic setting in which he presents it to his love.

The bottom line? It’s a personal decision based on your relationship, your finances and your values. The good news is, if for whatever reason you choose to buy your own engagement and/or wedding band, you are not alone; in fact, you are part of a growing trend. You can either be up front about it or keep how you got your ring on the down low. That’s what having freedom to live your own values is all about.

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