What Price Love?

I was looking for silver rings in my local Cash Converter’s just recently. The ring I had in mind was a Balinese/Nepalese/Indian style ring, with gemstone cabochons and New Agey swirls, curlicues, spirals or raised dots. Like the sort of rings you find on fortune tellers at a Psychic Fair. I didn’t want a fancy, jewel-encrusted ring, just a simple silver one with a pretty (powerful) stone/s set in it.

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These are just a fraction of what the store had to offer. There was an entire section filled with pre-loved yellow and white gold rings, set with diamonds and other precious stones. Most were engagement rings. There were a few dress or cocktail rings in the $50-100 range, but the rest were dear, as you can see in the photos above.

Then it struck me. The irony of what I’ve just said. “Pre-loved”, “precious”, “dear”. The enormity of what all those rings in the display cabinets symbolised. The staggering truth behind the price tags.

Why were there so many engagement rings for sale??? Are there really so many women in my area who have given up on their marriages? This was just in one pawnshop, what about other pawnshops in the country, did they all have a similar story to tell?

Or, does marriage nowadays mean nothing more than an expensive diamond ring that can later be traded in at a pawnshop for cold, hard cash? Divorce can be pretty annihilating financially.

Or, and I’m not sure if this is even more shudderingly coldhearted than the previous reason…have we become so enamoured of material things that we are no longer satisfied with the token of love our husbands and partners used to win our hearts all those years ago, but would rather “trade it in” for something bigger, flashier, classier and much, much more expensive??! Just like how some people change their cars every single year?

The “tradition” of giving engagement rings began as a De Beers advertising campaign. (Sorry to burst your bubble, those of you who believed it to be a time-worn, traditional custom going back thousands of years. It really only goes back to 1938. Yes, really).

So, this myth is just like the story of Santa Claus (look away now, children, and drink your Coca Cola!) and the Easter Bunny (why come back as a rabbit, Jesus? Was it a typo, did you mean a rabbi??!). Sorry, folks. Time to wake up.

I have 3 engagement rings. My 1st was a channel-set yellow gold ring with 7 teeny tiny diamonds. I chose it because I didn’t want a solitaire that stuck out and could get caught in the strings and bow hairs of my viola. I was in my final year of University as a mature student, studying Music then. My then fiance hadn’t even felt the need to buy me a ring. He’s a millionnaire by now, I’m sure.

My 2nd engagement ring I bought with my own money. My partner at that time and I were on holiday in Malaysia and we saw this lovely jade ring surrounded by diamonds. He said he would buy it for me. But his card got declined. So I paid for it. The ring shaft was too large, so when I got back to England I had it resized at a jeweller’s. Luckily we never did get officially engaged or married, he was a total waste of space…an abusive alcoholic.

My 3rd engagement ring again I bought myself. My then fiance wanted to buy me one we both liked, that was of white gold and had two diamond-studded arms surrounding a central solitaire. However, he didn’t have the money to spare as by then we were in the middle of emigrating to Australia from Ireland. So I went to Argos and bought myself a token ring, of silver with a simulated Tanzanite solitaire surrounded by little Cubic Zirconia. It looked similar to Princess Diana’s engagement ring, but I’m pretty sure there’s a difference of several decimal places. Unless hers cost €30.00 too.

So, on a personal level, I guess you could say that I’ve not had much luck with my own engagement rings, or my marriages. But hey, I still have my rings. And I don’t intend to trade them in for anything flashier either. Because:

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