An engagement is that momentous occasion when a man’s proposal for marriage is accepted by his beloved. It is important because it formalizes their commitment to each other and helps bring family and friends into the relationship. It is also the time when an engagement ring comes into the picture. Traditionally, only the woman gets to wear an engagement ring. However, in the last 10 years or so, men started wearing them too. And here’s how it became a fad.
History of Mens Engagement Rings
Do guys wear a ring when they are engaged? Yes! Now that the world is in the age of the Millennials and Gen Z, mens engagement rings have become common. But this was not so a few years back.
Engagement rings are believed to have originated in Ancient Egypt, where symbolism was rife. The circle was thought to symbolize eternity and a heart for love. To cement their relationship. Couples would gift each other a ring to be worn on the left hand – said to have a vein that connects directly to the heart.
Eventually, this practice found its way to Western Europe, where it became a way for a man to pay a dowry for a woman’s hand. Ultimately, it became enshrined in local traditions – one that dictates only a woman can wear an engagement ring. The idea was meant to show a man’s ownership of a woman.
That was before. Now, people’s idea of engagement rings changed at the onset of the mid-20th century. Before this period, engagement rings were public symbols of love, commitment, and a promise of marriage.
Then, the Millennial and Gen-Z generations came of age, redefining relationship dynamics. Yes, engagement rings still represent the loving bond between two people and their desire to spend their lives together – but they need not be worn only by women.
These generations defied gender norms and sought equality between men and women. The need to be at par with each other spilled over to wearing engagement rings.
Another factor that exerted an upward push for the popularity of mens engagement rings was the emergence of LGBT communities in the 1990s. Same-sex marriages created new market opportunities for men, women, and non-gendered couples wanting to celebrate their commitments to each other by exchanging engagement rings. What used to be a niche for women,
is now more bi-sexual and fluid, leading to an increase in choices, styles, and custom designs.
However, wearing men’s engagement rings came late to the U.S. It has been a part of a tradition in countries such as Chile, Brazil, Argentina, and Sweden.
Mens Engagement Ring Meaning
Mens engagement rings represent progressive social norms and a sense of forward-thinking. Whereas women are the traditional recipients of engagement rings, one given to a man represents another step toward empowerment and equality.
Young couples, those in their 20s and 30s, have a broader spectrum of what an engagement is. For them, a ring symbolizes love between two people, rather than the traditional meaning of old.
This trend breaks the norm of a man-to-a-women transaction and ushers in the idea that mens engagement rings, apart from a symbol of love, also promote inclusiveness and equality.
Mens Engagement Rings Tidbits
Mens engagement rings are a new phenomenon. Historically, engagement rings are women’s things. According to historical accounts, the ancient Romans started giving engagement rings to women as a sign of betrothal. It represents something like “taken” or “spoken for” by someone.
Hence, this dearth of information would elicit questions from people who don’t know better. To fill the gap, these tidbits should bring them up to speed.
Who buys a man’s engagement ring?
Traditionally, each person pays for the other person’s ring. Hence, the groom or his family pays for his fiancee’s engagement ring, and the woman or her family pays for the guy’s engagement ring.
But with the current engagement ring perspective, the answer is entirely up to the parties involved. Modern-day couples will discuss who pays for what and to fit it into the budget. At the end of the day, they will do it traditionally – with the total cost to be split and shared down the middle.
How to wear mens engagement rings
Once mens engagement rings on hand, you may ask, “Which finger is for engagement ring for male?”
There is no hard and fast rule regarding the finger to put mens engagement rings on. Traditionally, women wear their engagement ring on the ring finger of the left hand. Nothing is said about men. Some wear it on the ring finger of the right hand, while others on the left.
Following the local customs is entirely up to you to avoid messing things up.
What happens in case of a breakup
About 20% of engagements in the U.S. never reach the wedding stage. In cases like these, the most common question is, “Who gets to own the engagement rings?” There is no specific rule on this. It depends on how you
settle things with your partner. If you want to go legalistic, no universal law governs this matter. It depends on the state you are living in.
Some states consider an engagement ring a gift; once given, the recipient can do with it however they please that an engagement ring is an unconditional gift. If a breakup happens, the woman or the man gets to keep the ring.
Other states consider an engagement ring as an “implied gift.” This means that whoever breaks up the engagement determines the ring’s ownership. If the giver breaks it off, they cannot ask for the ring back. If the receiver breaks it off, he or she can keep it.
Others still, consider an engagement ring as a “conditional gift.” In this case, the ring is given on the condition that the couple will marry. Hence, ownership of the ring is not fully transferred until the wedding ceremony is complete.
The common view, however, is that it doesn’t matter who did or said what. If the engagement is broken, ownership of the ring belongs to the giver.
How should mens engagement rings look like?
A man’s engagement ring should, first and foremost, reflect the personality of the person wearing it. When choosing a ring, pay attention to the distinctive features of the design, keeping in mind the different aspects that make it more appealing to you. Another consideration is whether the ring will be worn daily or occasionally.
However, note that just because it is intended for a man doesn’t mean it should look manly. But it needs to have “character.”
The Perfect Mens Engagement Rings
Now that you know some of the most important tidbits about mens engagement rings, how would you find one perfect for your man? Read along to learn some expert advice to help you navigate the maze that often characterizes jewelry.
An engagement ring is very personal, and buying one cannot be delegated. It must reflect your personality and distinctively be apart from a wedding band (should there be one in the future). This is the time to be creative and imaginative.
If this is a gargantuan task, surf Google for “what certain elements stand for.” Don’t fall for the “I-don’t-want-my-engagement-ring-to-be-perfect because-I-am-not” mindset. It must be something that strikes your emotional chord. After all, it stands for something very emotional and compassionate.
Know something about metals
The most common metals for engagement rings are gold (yellow, white, and rose gold), silver, platinum, and, in rare cases, titanium. Each has different properties, prices, and meanings to help you choose one that fits your personality.
There are other things to consider, however. For example, if you work with your hands, get a durable metal like platinum, tungsten, or cobalt that is resistant to scratches and corrosion. But if you want an
engagement ring that can be passed on to other family members, there are plenty of gold mens engagement rings to choose from. Silver will just be as good if you don’t have sensitive skin.
Size and shape
Unlike a wedding band worn for as long as the marriage lasts, engagement rings have some leeway. It may only be worn when you say, “Will you marry me?” and say, “I do.” So you can go as wild with its size and design. Or you can go for unique mens engagement rings.
If you intend to wear it with a wedding ring, go for something simple that won’t clash with other rings you wear. If you have a warm skin tone, wear a gold engagement ring. If it is cold, silver is a better match.
Mens engagement rings should be noticeable and masculine but not comically oversized or too dainty. Go for a 6 – 10 mm thick ring to project a masculine look.
The ring profile is the most overlooked feature of a man’s engagement ring. Unknown to most buyers, rings come in various profiles (see chart). This lack of knowledge makes most buyers opt for the classic or flat ring profile.
Here are some tips you may consider to make your buying experience pleasurable.
Flat rings have hard edges and carry a rough aesthetic. They sit very well on the finger as their entire width is in contact with the skin and the surface tension keeps them in place. On the other hand, a thick ring will
give you rashes if you don’t take it off every once in a while to allow your skin to “breathe.” And because of their edges, putting them on and taking them off isn’t as easy as with a court profile.
Rings with court profiles are curved on the inside, making them extremely comfortable to wear, put on, and take off. Since they are curved on the inside, less moisture gets trapped between the ring surface and the skin, making it less likely to cause rashes. However, since less of its surface is in contact with the skin, it will feel loose compared to flat profiles.
For a ring to take into account your lifestyle, pick one that makes you happy and comfortable to wear.
When you go out to shop for a ring, you will immediately notice that men’s gold or platinum engagement rings may be too expensive for your budget. This forces you to look for cheaper alternatives.
The most common is gilded sterling silver – this has sterling silver as base metal, coated with a thin layer of gold.
While it may look like the real deal, it will lose its color over time, and the plating flakes off. The base metal will show if the ring is scratched.
However, a new type of surface race treatment has recently found its way into jewelry manufacture. It is called the PVD (physical vapor deposition) coating process.
This surface treatment process features coating an object with superheated titanium nitride plasma. Since it is done in a high vacuum, high-temperature environment, the gas bonds with the base metal at the molecular level. The result is a scratch-resistant ring that will not tarnish, fade, or flake.
So when you go out shopping for a ring, be sure to inquire from the jeweler about the surface treatment used on the ring that catches your attention. Knowing this may help you save a few bucks.
While women’s engagement rings have all the glitz and sparkle of diamonds and other gemstones, there is nothing in the book that forbids the same garish display of opulence in mens engagement rings.
Yes, they can be made with some sparkle, too. The market is full of mens engagement rings in a variety of styles and aesthetics like those offered by Tiffany’s (shown above). So give your ring some sparkle.
Mens engagement rings as a promise
Though it is the latest fad, mens engagement rings are finding importance in the male section of the equation as it is taken to be a sign of a more egalitarian relationship between two people. The promise ring is another type of ring that conveys a similar message, albeit slightly different in design. Read our post, “Guide to the Perfect Promise Rings for Men.”