May 25, 2004

We Noticed the Ring

BECAUSE WE HERE at The Rant concern ourselves with Important Ethical Issues on a daily basis, we were wondering: should women keep their engagement rings if they decide not to get married to the men who gave them the rings?

Now, obviously, we haven't any experience in purchasing a ring. But as we would not have access to any heirloom gems we could use in lieu of doing that, we shall have to buy a ring somewhere down the line. And we know that buying a decent diamond ring for a lady is no joke.

For long ago, out of curiosity, we did some research into how much a quality ring would cost; and to our great shock, we found that a one-carat diamond ring will run roughly five thousand dollars. But while the diamond cartel's suggestion that spending two months' pay on a ring seems a bit silly to us, our research also suggested that buying anything less than a half-carat these days brands one as a cad, a bad provider and a general ne'er-do-well.

Hence the conundrum. Obviously, a respectable man wants to provide his fiancee with a proper ring; and as it shows his commitment to a lady, he does not want to be cheap about it. We're not experts when it comes to dating or relationships; but even we know that having to say "it looks just like a diamond," "I thought you wouldn't notice," and "but it was on sale" are effective and quick ways to buy one a months-long stay on the Living Room Sofa.

On the other hand, spending five thousand on a ring only to have one's beloved spurn one is not exactly a winning proposition. After all, that's two years of car payments on a reasonable vehicle, or 20 months' worth of contributions to one's Roth IRA; and the loss of such capital would represent quite a blow to a young man's savings account.

True, if one is rich, the economics of it all likely matter much less. Then it becomes mostly a matter of pride. As such, we would submit that when Mr Andrew Firestone found out his television-arranged fiancee was keeping the ring on which he spent many thousands of dollars, his ego may have been rather bruised by the whole affair:

Jen Schefft says she and Andrew Firestone of "The Bachelor" have a bond despite their split and she's got the engagement ring.

"Obviously, it's a beautiful ring and Andrew said that he bought that for me and that it was mine to keep, so I'm gonna keep it," Schefft says on "The Bachelor: After the Final Rose."

Last May, Firestone proposed to Schefft on the season finale of "The Bachelor." Their breakup was announced in December.

Now the above quotes are from an Associated Press article on the matter; and if Mr Firestone has a response, it was not recorded there. However, we do wonder greatly how strong the bonds between the two are if Ms Schefft is crowing on national television about keeping the rock. That was unseemly and gauche. It is enough, we would suggest, to make a man think Mr Firestone may have escaped from the whole ordeal rather lightly.

However, we certainly do not wish to deliver a one-size-fits-all pronouncement on the issue; and we do think there are circumstances in which it is right and proper for a lady to keep the ring which a man has given her.

For instance, if a man does not hold to the commitment which the diamond ring signifies, we think it perfectly reasonable for a woman to keep the ring. In fact, we think women ought do that in such cases. At the very least, don't do anything rash and throw it back at him in anger, or subject it to the garbage disposal, or what not; that gets chalked up as a "win" in a man's mind, and you don't want that to happen if your man turns out to be a louse.

As a quite-pertinent example, we cite the unfortunate case of Ms Ali Landry and her now ex-husband. The gossip sheets say that Ms Landry's ex-husband was quite a cad, and was most unfaithful to her, even in the days leading up to their wedding. This was made even more amazing by the fact that Ms Landry's ex-husband was That Guy Who Played Slater on "Saved by the Bell."

Really, now. We're sorry, but if you're A-C-Freaking-Slater and you, through luck or craft, somehow manage to convince Ali Landry -- the very foxy Doritos girl -- to marry you, you ought act like a man should. And so, given our reasoning stated above, we hope Ms Landry kept his ring, and decided to auction it on eBay at the first possible moment.

However, it might not be a bad idea were she to have it appraised first. We're just saying.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at May 25, 2004 11:13 PM | TrackBack

Michigan law, at least, holds that a gift, such as a ring, given in contemplation of marriage must be returned to the donor should the marriage not end up happening.

Posted by: Geoff Brown at May 26, 2004 09:44 AM

Yes, however SOCIAL law states that you are at risk for female-blacklisting should your soon-to-be ex decide to spread the word that you had the nerve to ask for it back......

I think the lesson is for one to be as certain as humanly possible that the ring is necessary in the first place.....

Posted by: simon from jersey at May 26, 2004 12:29 PM

Both are excellent points, Simon, and I agree completely. On the other hand, if I had given a ring to someone who dumped *ME* (because, really, you can't ever be 100% sure), I would damn well ask for the ring back, and I'd actually welcome the scorn of those women who thought I was wrong for asking for it back, because I could more easily identify them as "golddiggers to avoid."

Now, if *I*, on the other hand, broke it off, I'd pretty much not have the gall to ask for it back.

Posted by: Geoff Brown at May 26, 2004 01:18 PM

That the solons in Lansing decided to actually pass a law binding upon the people of the Great Lakes State suggests that such conduct was at one time widespread, or at the very least, problematic.

While I must say I agree it would be horribly offensive for a man to ask for his ring back if HE broke things off, one would hope that a woman who dumped her prospective groom would not add insult to injury.

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at May 26, 2004 07:47 PM

I would never keep an engagement ring if the engagement itself went way south. Seems kind of ... bad karma or something.

Posted by: red at May 26, 2004 07:50 PM

It's not statute, Ben -- it's part of the common law. The idea is based upon contract principles, I believe, which makes sense given that marriage (in the secular sense, at least) is itself a contractual arrangement.

Posted by: Geoff Brown at May 27, 2004 09:07 AM