More and more frequently, we are asked, “Can men wear engagement rings?” The very simple answer is of course, yes! Men can and do wear engagement rings. There have been some really fascinating developments in this space over the last few years, and it’s a hot topic. So, just what are people talking about?
Over the last few years, increasingly men around the globe have chosen to wear engagement rings for various reasons. It is a phenomenon which is currently trending massively, but it is not altogether a new thing. In some cultures, it is traditional for men to wear engagement rings, for instance in some South American countries. In those places the custom goes back for many generations. In certain European lands it is also a time-honoured practice. This is not the case in the English-speaking world; it’s a pretty new sensation with us, but one which is gaining momentum at speed.
IN THE 2020s
As tastes in fashion change with the times – for example: clothing, hairstyles and jewellery – the ‘trends’ which emerge change behaviour, social patterns and norms. Currently, the much-loved story: man presents woman with diamond engagement ring when proposing marriage – is being re-written. The evolving trends install new customs and traditions as they become more popular. And the market reacts accordingly. So that now, there are plenty of fantastic engagement rings available – being designed specifically for men.
Men are wearing engagement rings first and foremost as a symbol of commitment to marriage obviously. But whereas the way in which women customarily wear a diamond engagement ring is reasonably straight forward, this is not the scenario for guys.
Men may opt to wear an engagement ring from the time of the proposal, or they might slip on a ring on their wedding day, which they might wear ceremoniously or all the time. They might wear an engagement ring to their wedding and swap it for a wedding band, or they could decide to wear two rings, like most married women do. An engagement ring could be worn as a symbol of an accord between a man and a woman or two men. Men may choose to wear an engagement ring on a finger other than the traditional ‘ring’ finger on the left hand, or on a chain around their neck. The possibilities are many. In fact, you could argue that guys actually seem to have a lot more choices than most girls do – about how, why and when they’ll wear an engagement ring.
POPPING THE QUESTION
Our hitherto common perception of the act of proposing marriage has changed significantly in recent times. It used to be a scene of a man on bended knee, asking for his sweetheart’s hand in wedlock – she says ‘yes’ – on goes the dazzling diamond ring, and planning for the big day begins in earnest. This sketch has increasingly become viewed as rather old fashioned and not necessarily in keeping with contemporary values and philosophy. Which isn’t to say there’s anything wrong at all with traditional proposals (we love them), but couples these days certainly don’t see themselves as restricted to the old ways of doing things. Many more young couples these days are sharing the joy and the agency of a marriage proposal; it’s far more of a two-way activity, a mutual deal. Thus, we are more and more often seeing young couples exchanging engagement rings at the time they decide to express the commitment.
WHEN AND WHERE TO WEAR IT
Following such an exchange, some men may continue to wear the ring daily, some may not. It may be impractical for certain men to wear rings, if they work with their hands. Others may feel that the engagement ring is a ceremonial symbol to be treasured but not worn every day. As mentioned above, it’s also not uncommon for guys with engagement rings to wear them on a necklace.
GET IN ON THE ACTION
We’ve heard men remark that they want a piece of the engagement action too. Why should the woman be the only one to get to wear a spectacular piece of jewellery? Why should she be the only one saying loud and proud, “Look everyone, I’m committed to marrying the person I love.” Men want to get amongst these things, enjoy the trappings of being engaged, be spoilt with the gift of a handsome engagement ring. They also wish to show with the act of wearing a ring that they are ‘off the market’, as a woman does. This seems only fair, logical and seems more equitable.
BRING THE BLING
These days with a young couple it’s just as likely to be the case that the woman earns more than the man. This reality has contributed to the changes in the erstwhile code of courtship. It also means that it might be that the woman partly or even fully finances the purchase of engagement effects; be it a fabulous getaway holiday, a sumptuous and romantic dinner, gorgeous flowers, gifts. In this plot, it would seem to make sense that jewellery items are traded both ways, surely.
SYMBOLS OF A UNIQUE UNION
Couples know that their love and the bond between them is beautiful, special and unique. A wonderful way to represent their exclusivity is for both to wear matching or complementary jewellery. What a romantic statement, a show of strength and also largesse.
WHAT ABOUT SAME-SEX MARRIAGE?
The tradition of tying the knot has changed most notably not so long ago in that we now welcome same-sex marriage. It was legalised in Australia in 2017. This has meant a whole new ball game around men’s engagement rings. As noted earlier, jewellery designers are creating entire ranges of engagement rings specifically for men. There are men’s rings fashioned with same sex partners in mind. The styles of rings gay men select are often the same or similar to the ones being proffered in hetero engagements, but there seems to be a tendency to more open-minded attitudes amongst same-sex fiances – when it comes to elaborate jewellery; diamond rings, coloured gemstones and the like. It is typical for two men in a same sex marriage to both wear a ring, although it’s not the rule. It’s common that they’ll choose matching items, but this is not set in stone (pun intended!).
TIPS FOR CHOOSING MEN’S ENGAGEMENT RINGS
This advice is almost the same as the recommendations for selecting engagement rings for ladies. Decide on a budget and stick to it, consider the wearer’s personality; the ring should be emblematic of his humanity and character. Take into account the man’s lifestyle. The engagement ring should fit in with the way he rolls. The most important element is selecting a ring which sings of love and devotion, which best symbolises both the individual and the couple’s close connection.