To ring or not to ring?

Four of The New Paper on Sunday team give a Mars v Venus take on the world of engagement rings



The Ring. Not just any diamond ring, but the one (almost) every woman dreams of getting since she was a little girl.

The one that is almost as important as The Dress.

A woman’s preoccupation with that piece of bling may just be a result of a successful De Beers campaign launched some 60 over years ago, and the incessant comparison that happens between engaged females.

But if I am honest enough with myself, how much he is willing to spend on it does, to some extent, indicate how much I am worth in his eyes.

I know, I know. The logic behind it is a little twisted. But come on. It is that one object that will be tied to asking for my hand in marriage. 

And if I say yes, that is a lifetime of putting up with snoring, a protruding belly, and expectations to cook, clean, and pull my weight when it comes to household expenses.

Don’t even get me started on childbirth and kid-rearing. So all things considered, my expectations are hardly over the top. All a ring needs to do to become the “ideal” one is quite simple, really. First, it needs to reflect my personal taste, but still be classic enough to last through the years.

Solitaire rings – which have one single diamond, are a dime a dozen these days. I’d love for mine to be that, but with a small difference in the band design, perhaps. A few more shiny stones on the side, maybe? A girl just likes to feel that hers isn’t run of the mill.

But I recoiled in surprise as my colleague told me that some were thrilled over a Harry Potter or Lord Of The Rings ring. Even if I were a fan of the series (which I’m not), I doubt it’s going to be something I want on my finger in 20 years’ time.

And yes, I am the sort who intends to wear the wedding band (and engagement ring) 24/7, for as long as they fit my finger. Next, the ring needs to be expensive enough for him to feel the pinch, but not break the bank.

If the boyfriend’s an investment banker, for example, I may not bat an eyelid asking for one which costs a five-figure sum.

But considering that he isn’t, I have prepared myself to have realistic expectations. After all, we still need ka-ching for the house, the wedding and The Dress. Importantly, I want no surprises.

I have told the boyfriend to feel free to ambush me when it comes to the proposal, but I would like to pick out the ring itself before he gets down on one knee. I am, after all, a really bad liar, and what if I hate the one he chooses?



When I told my colleagues that I would be thrilled with a Harry Potter engagement ring, they cringed in shock and horror.

That would be a pretty big deviation from the classic diamonds that have been a girl’s best friend since Marilyn Monroe’s little tune in 1953. But to me, the ring has to be, above all, a personal emblem of identity and a symbol of unique love that goes beyond conventional diamonds.

After all, surprising me with something that I will love for the rest of my life is infinitely more difficult than buying me diamonds. And to carefully craft an intricate ring that encapsulates who I am will show the depth of his understanding of me.

Yes, a snitch may seem like an ancient Greek artefact to my kids when I attempt to pass the Harry Potter-themed ring to them 50 years later.

I can even hear their cries announcing my insanity for wearing the symbol of a fad that ceased to be many decades ago.

Yet, if the ring symbolises my childhood, my maturation (or lack thereof) and the relationships I share with another who understands me, I will proudly wear it for the rest of my life. And since the snitch “opens at the close” as quoted in Harry Potter, I am sure that it will become even more precious over time, as I slowly understand the symbolism of my snitch ring.

When I am in my rocking chair and peer over my glasses at the odd snitch ring on my finger, I will laugh and cry at my 20-year-old decision in choosing Harry Potter over diamonds.

And the folly or wisdom of that snitch will still be a treasured memory for me.




I don’t believe diamond rings are necessary.

The notion that a man has to spend two months’ salary to prove his love to his bride-to-be is absurd. Wait, it’s three months now? I guess love isn’t immune to inflation either. Call me a cynic, but it’s just a stone. It’s not even the rarest of gemstones, just the hardest.

But unless you’re planning to use your engagement ring as a drill bit, that’s kind of irrelevant. Sure, you can say it’s symbolic of your love and all that. A diamond is forever, right?

Well, do you know whose bright idea that was? A diamond-trading cartel. That’s right. All those starry-eyed girls and their hapless lovers are victims of a clever ad campaign. And I’m not alone on this.

My girlfriend has matter-of-factly told me that she doesn’t like diamond rings. “They’re a waste of money,” she says.

She used to shoot wedding videos for countless couples, and I’ll bet she has seen plenty of those baubles. So don’t tell me it’s a “woman thing” and I wouldn’t understand. If I were a girl, I wouldn’t want an expensive diamond ring either. There are so many other nice things you could do with that money.

I’m not against the idea of splurging on your lover. The wedding day, the honeymoon, even the wedding band if you really like shiny things.

But I don’t see anything wrong with having a bit of fun with the engagement ring.

If you’re young and passionate about something in pop culture, wouldn’t it be nice to look back and remember that in 20 years, even if it’s embarrassing by then?

When I told her that local men have proposed with Harry Potter and Game of Thrones rings, my girlfriend thought it was a cool idea.

But I myself wouldn’t propose with those, though. It would have to be a StarCraft ring. My Zerg queen loves her StarCraft.



Don’t do it. Don’t buy that engagement ring and rush to get hitched. 

I’m not saying don’t ever, but don’t fall for all the mythical tripe about how you have to use 'x' months’ pay to buy it, as if spending less is a curse on your relationship. 

And guys, if your intended insists on a ring that HAS to be so many carats, and HAS to be a particular type of gold – get out. Save yourself.

In fact, any woman who picks out her engagement ring and then sets up the date to be “surprised” by the proposal, is killing the idea of romance. What a memory that would be... “Remember the time you pre-arranged the date and location for my spontaneous declaration of love?”

A female colleague didn’t see the problem with this. But then where is the spontaneity?

Okay, I'm sure some blokes' version of spontaneity is to burst in on her in the bathroom to go on bended knee, possibly with a nut fastener for a ring. And I would not be surprised if some women have been left in a quandary, of wanting to accept the proposal but not with the ostentatious​ ring he picked that's as sparkling and elaborate as a Disney castle. (Hint to the chaps: Get clues before you buy.). A proposal needs some planning, just not together.

The engagement ring has got to mean something to both parties. And while he would be looking to please her, it should display more than “Look how much I spent”.

I guess, as much as it irks me, I’m a romantic at heart. The smaller gestures can mean as much as the grand.

Last week, social media seemed deluged with images of cute hipster weddings. For some, the pictures warm the cockles of their heart. For others, they expel the contents of their the stomach.

Yes, these weddings were based on pop-culture. Whether it’s purely Harry Potter, Hunger Games or just a mash-up of everything from Star Wars to Potter to Walking Dead to Buffy. And yes, the rings were based on these properties, too.

You could say this cheapens the tradition of marriage. But why not have fun? If you both find joy in creativity, a story that has moved and inspired both of you – brilliant. It’s something to hand down to your children. Something hopefully unique.

Why be beholden to the hell of ballrooms, 10-course dinners and laborious four-hour functions? (A quick message to friends’ weddings that I have attended: I don’t mean your weddings, they were all delightful. I mean those other weddings.)

That said, maybe think again if you plan on getting a ring based on McDonald’s golden arches or a pair of Mickey Mouse ears. Imagine trying to explain that to the grandkids.