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In Western tradition, an engagement ring is a ring worn by a person indicating his or her engagement to be married. Conventionally, the ring is presented as a betrothal gift by a man or woman to his or her prospective spouse while he or she proposes marriage or directly after he or she accepts his marriage proposal. It represents a formal agreement to future marriage.

In some countries, such as the United Statesmarker and the United Kingdommarker, it is worn on the left-hand ring finger, while in other countries, such as Polandmarker and Ukrainemarker, it is customary for the ring to be worn on the right-hand. Similar traditions purportedly date to classical times, dating back from an early usage reportedly referring to the fourth finger of the left hand as containing the vena amoris or "vein of love".

In the United States and Canada today it is becoming more common, but still rare, that a woman will also buy her partner an engagement ring at the time of the engagement. These may be called male engagement rings or man-gagement rings, which is a portmanteau of "man" and "engagement ring". This practice is more common in other countries.

Before agreeing to marry, a couple may choose to buy and wear pre-engagement rings, also called promise rings. After marrying, the couple may wear both engagement rings and wedding rings, or just their wedding rings, as they prefer.

Purchase

The tradition in many cultures has been that the future groom privately select and purchase a ring, to be presented to his desired bride when he proposes. More recently, some couples have chosen to select an engagement ring together. In countries where both partners wear engagement rings, the matching rings may be selected and purchased together.

The price for an engagement ring can vary considerably depending on the materials used, the design of the ring, whether it includes a gemstone, the value of any gemstone, and the seller. The idea that a man should spend two to three months' personal wages for an engagement ring originated from De Beers marketing materials in the early 20th century, in an effort to increase the sale of diamonds.

When shopping for a ring with a gemstone such as a diamond, the price can depend significantly on the quality of the gem. Diamonds have a standardized description that values them according to their carat weight, color, clarity and cut. Other gemstones, such as sapphires, rubies, moissanite, emeralds, are less common choices. These may be chosen to honor a family tradition, to use family heirlooms, to be unique, to be socially responsible, to fit the individual's stylistic preferences, or to manage cost. Synthetic stones and diamond substitutes such as cubic zirconias are also popular choices that reduce cost while maintaining the desired appearance.

Legal ownership

In some states of the United States, engagement rings are considered "conditional gifts" under the legal rules of property. This is an exception to the general rule that gifts cannot be revoked once properly given. See, for example, the case of Meyer v. Mitnick, 625 N.W.2d 136 (Michigan, 2001), whose ruling found the following reasoning persuasive: "the so-called 'modern trend' holds that because an engagement ring is an inherently conditional gift, once the engagement has been broken, the ring should be returned to the donor. Thus, the question of who broke the engagement and why, or who was 'at fault,' is irrelevant. This is the no-fault line of cases."

One case in New South Walesmarker, Australia ended in the man suing his former fiancée because she threw the ring in the trash after he told her she could keep it, despite the marriage proposal failing. The Supreme Court of New South Wales held that despite what the man said, the ring remained a conditional gift (partly because his saying that she could keep it was partly due to his desire to salvage the relationship) and she was ordered to pay him its AUD$15,250 cost.

Tradition generally holds that if the betrothal fails because the man himself breaks off the engagement, the woman is not obliged to return the ring. Legally, this condition can be subject to either a modified or a strict fault rule. Under the former, the fiancé can demand the return of the ring unless he breaks the engagement. Under the latter, the fiancé is entitled to the return unless his actions caused the breakup of the relationship, the same as the traditional approach. However, a no-fault rule is being advanced in some jurisdictions, under which the fiancé is always entitled to the return of the ring. The ring only becomes the property of the woman when marriage occurs. An unconditional gift approach is another possibility, wherein the ring is always treated as a gift, to be kept by the fiancée whether or not the relationship progresses to marriage. Recent court rulings have determined that the date in which the ring was offered can determine the condition of the gift. e.g. Valentine's Day and Christmas are nationally recognized as gift giving holidays. A ring offered in the form of a Christmas present will likely remain the personal property of the recipient in the event of a breakup.

In the United Kingdom, the gift of an engagement ring is presumed to be an absolute gift to the fiancée. This presumption may be rebutted however by proving that the ring was given on condition (express or implied) that it must be returned if the marriage did not take place, for whatever reason. This was decided in the case Jacobs v Davis [1917] 2 KB 532.

Styles

This wedding set contains two separate rings, either of which could be worn separately. This wedding set contains two separate rings that look incomplete separately.


Most engagement rings, like any other kind of jewelry, can be classified according to their style. Since the middle of the 20th century, diamonds have widely featured in engagement rings. Solitaire rings have one single diamond. These traditional engagement rings may have different prong settings and bands. Another major category is engagement rings with side stones. Rings with a larger diamond set in the middle and smaller diamonds on the side fit under this category. Three-stone diamond engagement rings, sometimes called trinity rings or trilogy rings, are rings with three matching diamonds set horizontally in a row with the bigger stone in the center. The three diamonds on the ring are typically said to represent the couple's past, present, and future, but other people give religious significance to the arrangement.

A wedding set, or bridal set, includes an engagement ring and a wedding band that match as a set. In some cases, the engagement ring looks "incomplete"; it is only when the two halves are assembled that the ring looks whole. In other cases, a wedding set consists of two rings that match stylistically and are worn stacked, although either piece would look appropriate as a separate ring. Although the wedding band is not to be worn until the wedding day, the two rings are usually sold together as a wedding set. After the wedding, the bride may choose to have the two pieces welded together, to increase convenience and reduce the likelihood of losing one ring. A trio ring set includes a ladies engagement ring, ladies wedding band and a men's wedding band. These sets often have matching rings and are lower in price.

For men

In some countries (but not most of the Western world), both men and women wear engagement rings. Both rings are often in the form of a plain band of a precious metal, however, modern "Alternative Metals" such as Stainless Steel, Tungsten Carbide, and Titanium are now being widely used. Often, the engagement ring eventually serves as the wedding ring for the man. In other cultures, the future bride may prefer to buy a wristwatch for her future husband as an engagement present. This is more common if she proposed marriage to him.

See also



References

  1. Put a ring on it, RedEye, 2009-04-04
  2. Weakonomics
  3. Dolan, J. (February 12, 2007). Shopping for your own engagement ring: many local women say 'I do'. La Crosse Tribune (WI)
  4. The History of the Engagement Ring
  5. Engagement rings are men's property | NEWS.com.au
  6. TheAtlantic.com
  7. Diamond Solitaire Engagement Rings
  8. http://www.serendipitydiamonds.co.uk/default.asp/p=130
  9. http://www.thediamondstore.co.uk/fanatic/2008/03/symbolise-your-love-with-trilogy-ring.html
  10. http://www.overabillion.com/Articles/what-is-three-stone-diamond-ring-2/



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