I got engaged this month! It’s very exciting and I’m very excited. Full disclosure, though: I’ve been lowkey planning my wedding for a cool four months now. I bought the dress and booked the venue all before holmes dropped to one knee on a bridge on the romantic Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. There are a few reasons I pregamed my own engagement, but just know that most of them involve me being weird.
We could talk about how wedding planning (so far) is equal parts annoying and fun, but what I really want to talk about is …. my engagement ring. Well, engagement rings in general. (Mine is a delight, though. If you’re wondering, it’s a morganite and diamond ring, which means if I punch a brick wall, I could probably break the stone in half, but in the meantime we should be good.)
Over the last several years, as my 20s turned to 30s and I began to fantasize about screaming babies, I’ve spent some time wanting to be married and thinking about what that entailed. I know what it feels like to live with someone: it’s fun, and hard, and there is never enough space. I mostly know how to be there for someone when they need you. I’m still learning what it means to treat someone else how you want to be treated. And I have no idea what unconditional love toward someone who isn’t immediate family looks like. But, to be honest, I may have spent more time thinking about what it would feel like to wear the ring than what it would feel like to be a wife.
If you’ve ever seen the movie The Secret of NIMH, most likely as a kid, you’ll remember the field mouse Mrs. Brisby’s sparkly red amulet. As you’ll recall, it was beautiful — and magic as hell. Like Jeremy, the idiot crow in the cartoon, I’ve always wanted a “sparkly” of my own. Now, I guess I have one.*
This particular sparkly has a lot of expectations riding on it. I’ve expected it to make me feel a lot of things: Loved, chosen, respectable, and powerful, to name a few. I expected it to announce to the world in a way that my graying hair and years of employment haven’t always: I am an adult and should be taken seriously. I expected it to be both a symbol of love and a weapon against haters. Time will tell if I’m asking too much of it, or if I ever needed it at all.
Of course, I know some folks who didn’t or don’t want an engagement ring. They are obviously better than everyone else, and I think they know this already. Me? I’ve deeply wanted that rock on my finger — to delight my friends and blind my enemies. I feel no shame in admitting this and know I’m not alone.
We found the ring at a small, cute shop in Denver called Sarah O. Jewelry. I was nervous, but the process was swift and easy. Leading up to that moment, however, my ring reconnaissance was a long, meandering journey from laid-back ignorance to pathological demands and finally back to basics.
Before I started shopping for an engagement ring, I’d say things like: I’m easy. I don’t know anything about diamonds. As long as it sparkles, I’m good.
Trick, please. It took me 55 seconds to read about cut, clarity, and color and form VERY STRONG opinions and requirements regarding each.
Or: I’m sure I can find something unique and affordable on Etsy.
Well, I soon learned that unless I wanted a ring that looked like it was forged in the fires of Mordor, it was not really going to be much cheaper on Etsy than anywhere else.
Or: Sure, you can buy my ring from Amazon. They have the best deals.
You should maybe buy bulk kitty litter on Amazon. You probably should not buy your wedding ring Amazon, sight unseen. That’s just my opinion.
Months into ring research, I was sending my boyfriend a link to a different beautiful engagement ring per day. I lost track of what I actually liked and wanted. Should it be pear-shaped, princess cut, round with a pretty halo? Should the band be made of platinum, white gold, stainless steel, happy thoughts, wheat berries? My standards also became startlingly high. I began to subtly equate the caliber of the ring with my value as a person – never mind that we are still pretty young and not swimming in cash.
Luckily in between crafting my legal arguments for why I needed a $8,000 ring and trying to determine if I would mind a lab-made diamond (PS, my verdict is that these are cool like SCIENCE and totally viable options), I got back to basics. My jewelry style is not super conventional, so I Googled “unconventional engagement rings” and followed 15 designers on Instagram. My boyfriend found a shop in Denver that most resembled what I was gravitating toward and we went there one afternoon. We found an amazing ring, then ate pizza and had a flight of Cigar City beers to celebrate. It was a pretty perfect day. Almost as perfect as the day I got to take that bad mister home and start wearing it every day. 🙂
Anyway, I have an engagement ring now and I am very fond of it. It is lovely yet imperfect, which is exactly how I’d describe myself on a dating website. What I’ve learned is this: my ring may actually be a ring of power. Some of that power is ascribed by me, and some by others. But, unlike Mrs. Brisby’s fantastic amulet, it’s certainly not magic. If you want respect, you have to demand it. If you want to feel special, you’ll have to do special things and hope someone notices. If you want to feel chosen, there is more than one person in the world who can bestow that feeling (friends, family, yourself?) And if you want to stop your tiny mouse house from sinking in the mud, you’re going to have to hire an excavator. (If you haven’t seen The Secret of NIMH, just rent it).
That being said, if it’s a sparkly you’re seeking, I hope you find it.
*If you want the whole story, I actually already have one beautiful ring of power. My mom gave it to me when I finished college (to replace a previous fantastic ring that I lost). “It’s a sparkly, Ms. B,” she literally said to me. I wear it whenever I have something scary or important to do, or when I need to do a LOT of writing. 🙂