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Put a Ring on It?: 10 Reasons Why Engagement Rings Are Overrated

Nalini combines her love of meaning, analysis, and critical thinking with movies, media, and discussion to bring a different perspective.

So as many of you know, engagement rings are a big deal. They represent the meaningful and committed transition a couple is making into marriage while being normally displaced on a woman's finger, and therefore, more conspicuously representing her transition into marriage.

This is all very well in theory, but there's a lot surrounding engagement rings that make them overrated in many ways. Here's my list of 10 reasons why engagement rings are overrated.

Please Note: this is a not-taking-it-too-seriously but with truths-thrown-in piece. It's not an attack of those that engage in the engagement ring ritual.

#1. Engagement rings are overpriced for what they are.

Engagement rings are expensive. And not they're not just expensive, they're expensive for what they are.

What are engagement rings you ask?

They are carbon. Shiny, shiny, monopolized carbon.

You know what else is made of carbon? You are. Your exhaled breath is. The emissions from your car are.

Carbon, but not as pretty. It's jut not the same thing as a ring, you know?


Blood Diamond=Diamonds that are mined in a war zone and sold to finance an insurgency, an invading army's war efforts, or a warlord's activity.

Reflects negative consequences of diamond trade in certain areas and is often related to human rights abuses.

Also called: conflict diamonds, converted diamonds, hot diamonds, or war diamonds

#2. Engagement rings often come from ethically and morally-compromised sources.

Do you know where the diamonds on those engagement rings came from? Like really came from?

Chances are not because we don't really know where anything comes from; however, diamond rings are a market and very often have black market and blood diamond roots.

One in four diamonds sold are conflict stones and it's not really possible to separate ethically-derived diamonds from unethically-derived ones (source).

#3. Engagement rings are a societal expectation rooted in cultural consciousness for profit.

I don't know how making a profit manages to work it's way into so many aspects of our lives but it does. Everything, even our most intimate and most meaningful moments have been cheapened and socialized for someone else to make a profit.

Nothing says "I'll Love You Forever; Share Your Life With Me" like buying an engagement ring. So do it.

Watch the video below. It explains everything.

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"Why Engagement Rings are a Scam"--College Humor

#4. Engagement rings are a status symbol.

One of the most unlikeable aspects of engagement ring culture is how engagement rings are seen as status symbols. Even though many things have changed in this day and age, engagement rings are still used to non-verbally evaluate a woman's worth.

In social circles it sometimes appears that women who have an engagement ring have reached some milestone and worth that a woman without an engagement ring doesn't have. Once a woman has an engagement ring other women are supposed to fawn and surround themselves around the ring and the woman wearing it. It's something of a strange practice that mixes together goodwill and best wishes with adoration of the engagement ring and its corresponding status.

#5. Engagement rings: size matters.

Following closely after #4, is the fact that the size of the ring matters--when it shouldn't be about size (or status) at all but rather the actual significance of what the couple is committing to.

However, since the engagement ring is a status symbol then the size of the diamond on the ring is also related to the status of both the giver and of the receiver of the ring.

Prevalent through media and pop culture, men and women learn that the size of the diamond ring is significant. Remember the fawning and engagement ring adoration that I referred to in #4? Well that fawning and engagement ring adoration takes on a notably different tone when the diamond ring is small.

The small size of the diamond ring reflects negatively on the giver and it evokes "pity" for the receiver because of the evaluation of the person she is marrying. It's all over the media and people in real life actually do this.

Judgments abound about a relationship that is between two people all because we are so socialized around engagement rings and the evaluations we make based on them.

*This point relates to traditional gender/relationship roles and does not necessarily apply to same-sex couples.

#6. Engagement rings communicate possession.

Another aspect to engagement rings is that they communicate possession, specifically with respect to the woman in the relationship. It conveys that she is "off the market" and is a "possession" of someone else.

First of all, we are human beings and should not be sold or considered to be sellable as for a market. This also furthers the concept of possession in that women were, and in many parts of the world still are, sold into marriage, given into marriage, are a possession, etc. In some ways, engagement rings are a continuation of distinctions made to women indicating their "marketable status."

And if this line of thinking is too archaic, there is a more modern one in that if both the man and the woman in the relationship are making the commitment to their next chapter, why doesn't the man have an engagement ring? Shouldn't they both have an engagement ring or both not have an engagement ring? Why is one non-verbally "off the market" and one still on?

#7. Engagement rings depreciate as soon as you buy them.

Don't you love it when things last? Like your love?

Well the value of that ring is not going to last. Like cars, computers, and college textbooks, that engagement ring is going to depreciate as soon as you buy it.

So look long or long enough at the engagement ring through the window as you contemplate a relationship investment which is a non-investment (socioeconomically speaking).

#8. Engagement rings affect the wearer's non-verbal communication.

There's something weird that happens to an engaged person's hand once an engagement ring is on it. The presence of the engagement ring causes the wearer to make the hand conspicuous in a phenomenon that I will call "Engagement Hand."

"Engagement Hand" is where a hand that previously did not have an engagement ring on it starts to display and move in a way which highlights the ring. This includes the 90-Degree Limp Fish, the Princess Outward Flip, and the Flip-Swish.

It's a strange occurrence and I don't think it's entirely deliberate, but it's noticeable...and distracting.

#9. Engagement rings are non-functional.

Engagement rings don't actually do anything. I know that's an obvious statement, but they don't.

They don't help a person and their significant other prepare for their new life together. They don't contribute to a mortgage or a shared savings account. They don't make moments or honeymoons.

They mean something, but outside of the act of making a lifelong commitment to one's significant other, they don't do anything to support the actual lifelong commitment.

#10. Engagement rings are a liability.

Even though engagement rings depreciate as soon as you buy them, they're still an expensive item to wear and in so, a liability.

You can lose them, forget them, or outgrow them. They are an attention-grabbing item and are attractive to steal. Go anywhere outside of your comfort zone, and they become more of a hazard than not. Accidentally throw your hand back and you can scratch somebody's face and get sued.

They're a liability I tell you.

"Put a Ring on It"

© 2015 Nalini Marquez


Nalini Marquez (author) on October 12, 2019:

Hi Jennifer,

Thank you for your message and for taking the time to read my article/analysis! Engagement rings symbolizing commitment and affection is one of the positive aspects of the ring; it's just also tied to other symbols and messages that are at times more salient and/or that at times overshadow or compete with that aspect but the commitment and affection that it symbolizes is a good aspect of it. Thanks again!



Jennifer Dalton from Franklin Park on September 11, 2019:


Thank you for such a deep analysis, yes engagement rings are overrated but it think this is fine because they're a symbol of commitment and affection. So, price doesn't matters

Nalini Marquez (author) on September 10, 2019:

Hi Doris,

Thank you for your message and for taking the time to read my analysis! I agree with you that an engagement ring also symbolizes “look at the value he’s placed on me” or “look at what I’m worth to him” but to me that falls under “#4. Engagement rings are a status symbol” and is related some to “#5. Engagement rings: size matters.” I didn’t include that as part of the description for #4 and I don’t think I had thought about those specific messages when I wrote this, but having others look at the value that a man has placed on a woman/what a woman is worth to a man through an engagement ring or based on the size of the engagement ring is a non-verbal evaluation of a woman’s worth and these are messages inherent in the ring and the ritual. Thank you for catching/adding that! Those messages were “right on the money.”

I really enjoyed reading your thoughts and story in relation to the rings and what it meant for you in the process. Your story reflects the understanding of society’s messages and our expectations with respect to engagement rings, the recognition of what’s important about marriage and the rings, and appreciation for the gesture and the meaning of the ring from your second husband, as well as the reality of the liability of having the ring. You also raise a good question: should we show our commitments?

Humans do and should find ways to incorporate and honor things that have meaning and significance in their lives, especially things that require a true and continuous commitment because it requires just that: commitment. And work and action. Commitments are made in moments but need to be paired to and followed with action throughout our lives. And actions speak louder than words and what commitments entail is often forgotten. But your question also raises others. How do we show our commitments in a way that is meaningful and truly about what it is about? To whom should these commitments be shown to? How much should be shown or symbolized and/or how much of that should be seen? And at what point is that meaning and authenticity lost by being so demonstrated? These questions relate to everything from engagement rings to social media to pretty much anything in our lives, but engagement rings and the engagement ring ritual are examples. Enjoyed reading and thinking about this; thank you!



Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on September 06, 2019:

I enjoyed your analysis of the engagement ring. I do think that in this day and time, they've come to symbolize just the opposite. Today a big sparkler on the ring finger symbolizes "look at the value he's placed on me" or "look what I'm worth to him". I'm an older woman, but they meant that even in the 1960s when I married the first time. We couldn't afford an engagement ring and I was sorely disappointed. After three years, his mother gave me a family ring which we had made into a wedding set, and I was so proud. We were divorced after 10 years of marriage.

I didn't put much stock into rings when I married the second time so again I got a simple, but stylish band. After 13 years of marriage, one day my husband called me and said he found something he wanted to buy me. It was a 1.1 carat flawless diamond. I wear it proudly. Recently he was upset when he found out that I'd dropped the insurance on the ring after a couple of years. We've been married 35 years now, and I told him that we could have bought two of them for the price of the insurance these last 22 years. I won't wear it when I'm out by myself. Yes, they are a liability, and I think we could find other ways to show our commitments, like a red dot on our forehead. Or why should we show it at all?

Nalini Marquez (author) on October 02, 2015:

There are definitely other ways for modern society to symbolize commitment to a loved one! :-) It just comes down to the individuals (which is what it normally should come down to). Thanks for reading and commenting.

thegecko on September 24, 2015:

I totally agree! Capitalistic, superficial, and an overall bad investment. Surely modern society can focus on better ways to symbolize commitment to a loved one :)

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