Can a man wear an engagement ring? In your mind’s eye, the very idea may seem out of place. But rest assured, there are men who show their commitment by wearing an engagement ring.
The thing is, there’s no right or wrong way for a male to wear an engagement ring. This is mostly a matter of personal preference. It’s up to you to decide whether to wear an engagement ring or not, and how.
To help you make the right call, this write-up explores the engagement ring history and etiquette.
Brief History of Engagement Rings
As per the American Gem Society, Archduke Maximilian started the trend back in 1477.
The Austrian nobleman wanted to dazzle Mary of Burgundy, his fiance and he commissioned the great-grandpa of all diamond engagement rings. The ritual soon took off and the engagement ring design evolved over the coming centuries.
For example, the Victorian era saw the coming of ornate designs? It included gemstones other than diamonds and some engagement rings even had enamel. This particular style was strong during the Edwardian era and there are some Art Deco pieces that follow in a similar vein.
Flowery, leafy, or lace-like shapes are representative of the given eras. But the coming of Art Deco introduced more straight lines and geometrical shapes. And just after WWII, a clever campaign from De Beers secured the engagement ring’s popularity for the coming decades.
The renowned jeweler coined the slogan, “A Diamond Is Forever,” which triggered a significant spike in diamond and engagement ring sales. From that moment on, diamonds became a symbol of the long-lasting commitment of a woman.
But where do male engagement rings fit in the story? To find the answer, you’ll need to know more about the early history of Macy’s.
Art Deco Advertising at Its Best
The year is 1926 and L. Bamberger & Co., which would later become Macy’s, started a campaign with East Coast newspapers. The ad featured men proudly wearing engagement rings. And the funny thing is, the rings got some truly manly names like the Master or the Stag.
Despite their best efforts, the campaign never really took off. The Stag and the Master ring failed because they didn’t change the male perception of an engagement ring etiquette. For most men, it’s the accessory women wear and they’re reluctant to break away from this tradition.
Men Who Decided to Ditch the Tradition
It took almost ninety years, after the L. Bamberger & Co. campaign for men to feel comfortable wearing engagement rings. And now, some signature jewelers promote engagement rings for men. But still, most of them refrain from calling the rings engagement pieces.
Anyway, hardly anything has the same trend-setting power as celebrity status. And the famous guys who decided to take the plunge and wear an engagement ring are as follows.
In early 2018, the British pop singer made headlines due to his decision to wear an engagement ring.
Sheeran’s fiancee Cherry Seaborn made a ring for Sheeran from silver clay and the singer/songwriter fell for it. To him, the ring stands out as a memento of the commitment he made to Mrs. Seaborn. And he’s not the only one.
Before Sheeran even entertained proposing to his childhood sweetheart, Canadian singer Michael Bublé wore an engagement ring. The artist wanted to honor the tradition of his Argentinian fiance Luisana Lopilato.
But this custom isn’t unique to Argentina. Men and women in Sweden and Chile often exchange engagement rings as a token of their love and dedication.
The more exotic example comes from Northern Kenya. The Samburu warriors wear intricate beads around the neck and some of the colors signal if the warrior is engaged.
It always felt odd to me that men didn’t get engagement rings. Thankfully, my fiancé thought so too ??❤️ pic.twitter.com/OUMM6cPQXt— Skylar Astin (@SkylarAstin) January 22, 2016
The Pitch Perfect 2 star Skyler Astin surprised his Twitter followers with an image of his engagement ring. According to his own account, it’s kind of odd that men don’t have engagement rings. And the simple braided piece he wears hints at the engagement ring style that might do the trick for men.
Why Do Men Decide to Wear an Engagement Ring?
It won’t be wrong to assume that the male engagement ring signals a small social change on a global level. Some men want to promote egalitarian partnership with their future spouse. And there are even examples of women proposing to their partner.
One way or the other, the ring is there to symbolize mutual commitment. The only downsides are the pesky questions or strange looks from friends and family. Nevertheless, this trend is slow to gain traction, but some jewelers aim to change that.
Promise Ring vs Engagement Ring
Some high street jewelers promote both promise rings and engagement rings. And the difference between the two is not only in the name.
Unlike their engagement counterparts, promise rings are usually unisex and may contain diamonds and other gemstones. In a way, a promise ring appears like an amalgam of an engagement ring and a wedding band.
For the most part, it’s usually less blingy than an engagement ring. But there are luxurious variants that feature more than a few diamonds or brilliants. If it’s not only about the face value of the ring itself.
As indicated, many soon-to-be spouses consider the ring exchange as an important ritual. To explain, the key thing is the symbolic value and this is why some couples decide to make the ring themselves.
The added benefit is that the ring doesn’t need to be perceived as an engagement one. At least, not in the eyes of the future husband, so the piece might not attract unwanted attention or seem emasculating.
Some Interesting Stats
Professional Jeweller, the renowned industry association in Britain, reveals a compelling study. The stats show that more than 50% of UK residents are in favor of men wearing an engagement ring.
The curious thing is that more than 30% of men would agree to wear the ring. But that’s not all. Upwards of 40% of women think both parties should get down on the knee and propose.
It would be interesting to conduct a similar survey in the US and compare the results. But judging by what the jewelers’ offer and some men choose to wear, the response would probably be similar.
Regardless of the stats, the shifting natural trends attest to the social changes that were previously discussed. And you shouldn’t be surprised if more men decide to sport the promise or engagement ring.
Engagement Rings Fit for Men
You could spot a traditional ring from a mile away. The solitaire diamond, platinum band, and embellishments make the piece all the more recognizable. But what makes the engagement ring men wouldn’t shy away from?
There is no etiquette or rules here and again the ring’s appearance depends on personal preferences. But one thing is for certain, men and women want the rings to be individualized. Not that this doesn’t apply to women.
Be that as it may, most male engagement rings resemble wedding bands. However, they often take a bold departure from traditional design and materials. You’ve learned from Sheeran’s example that custom sliver clay ring can be a perfect match.
In other cases, some men may wear promise/engagement rings made of wood or even plastic. And there are women who present their men with an 18-karat gold Punisher ring replica.
When all is said and done, the ring is supposed to represent both the wearer’s masculinity and his dedication to the significant other.
Business Opportunity That’s Hard to Miss
Some jewelers are eager to capitalize on the rising trend of male engagement rings. The unisex promise bands are probably the best example. And you always have the option to have the rings custom-made.
However, it remains to be seen if a jewelry designer comes up with a male take on the solitaire diamond + precious metal band for men. At this point, you can only get intricate rings for him and her that more resemble wedding bands than engagement rings.
How to Choose Engagement Ring for Men
Should a man decide to bite the bullet and wear an engagement ring, there are a few things to consider. The following sections offer some tips and tricks on how to stay committed and be a manly man at the same time.
Design and Style
First, you need to zero in on the design that reflects your overall style so the ring doesn’t feel odd. And this is one of the reasons simple bands are popular.
They are stealthy and provide enough room for simple embellishments that can make the ring your own. For example, ornate etchings are a great way to turn a basic band into a show-stopper. And with male engagement rings, you can also play with color.
There are cool two-tone rings that combine white gold or platinum and black color or enamel. In addition, there are colored gemstones that don’t look out of place on a male hand.
This write-up mentions wood, plastic, and silver clay male engagement rings. All of which works great if the materials hold value for the couple or the future bride makes the ring herself.
But for all intentions and purposes, it’s best to get a precious metal ring. After all, you’re supposed to get a long-lasting symbol of your eternal love and dedication, not something that will chip or break.
That being said, there’s no reason to go above and beyond. Metals like silver or even surgical steel can be a great choice for a promise ring. They can take some beating, it’s easy to customize them, and one doesn’t need to spend a small fortune.
Should you decide to go for precious metals and gemstones make sure the ring comes from a reputable jeweler. And the gemstones should have certain certificates.
But then, the ring needs to look the part and you need to feel good wearing it.
This brings you back to the style or design and the materials. For example, white gold isn’t that expensive. And you can make some extra savings if you remain in the 14 to 18 karats range.
Filigree gives depth to the ring that can make it look really stunning. But these bands are expensive due to the craftsmanship that goes into making them.
As a rule, if you don’t feel comfortable with the price don’t force it. Lack of etiquette gives you a lot of wiggle room and nobody would actually judge a male engagement ring by its price.
Why Do Some Men Refuse to Wear Rings?
The quick answer is just because they don’t like to. For most men, a good watch is the correct measure of bling and they feel strange otherwise.
Accessories such as engagement ring, wedding bands, bracelets, and whatnot seem odd on their hands. They may impede their daily activities – albeit it’s quite easy to get used a ring on one’s finger after a few weeks.
But then, the skin can get irritated under the ring and form quite painful blisters. This might be common in the summer months and wet climates. The quick fix is to move the ring to the other hand/finger.
Finally, there are those who, for some reason, believe the ring takes away a part of their freedom. Of course, this is highly subjective and defies the purpose of getting married in the first place.
Engagement Rings vs Men
Engagement rings for men are not that popular, but they seem to be here to stay. Since men and women are equal, why not follow a similar, if not the same, nuptial etiquette?
The reasons men don’t wear engagement rings lie in the centuries of male-centric culture, rituals, and proprietary rights. Yes, in the old days the engagement ring meant a man owns a woman.
Luckily, contemporary society has evolved past gender inequalities. So you’re bound to see more and more men wearing engagement rings in the future. And they may call it a promise ring, but it’s basically the same thing.