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COMMENTARY

Discount Diva: Putting a ring on it? Go ahead and skip the diamond

Samantha Christmann

If the size of a diamond engagement ring is supposed to symbolize how much your husband loves you, then my husband loves me about 97.5 percent less than the average spouse in New York State.

That’s because the average person here spends $8,092 on an engagement ring, while my super awesome hubby spent only about $200.

I hope I don’t have to point out to you how silly that is.

Still, the diamond industry must have a heck of a public relations team because people still believe pledging their eternal love requires lining its pockets.

American consumers spent a whopping $43 billion on diamonds in 2017, according to an annual industry report from De Beers.

That’s $43 billion on rocks that are not even rare and that are often mined so irresponsibly that they are nicknamed “blood diamonds.”

Nothing says “I love you” like child slavery, deforestation and debt, am I right?

When my husband and I got engaged in 2006, it had nothing to do with setting aside two months of his salary and giving it away to someone else because some ad campaign said so.

Maybe we’re rebels and didn’t like being told that the only way to prove our love to the world was to spend a fortune on a piece of rock and then wave it in front of people’s faces.

Maybe we grew up watching infomercials and knew we had been sold a bill of goods by the diamond industry, just as our parents had been targeted by the makers of the Thighmaster and their parents had been pitched by the makers of the Chop-O-Matic.

Or maybe we’re just practical.

We waited for a sale at Kaufmann’s department store, grabbed a coupon and picked out a cute little ring with an aquamarine gemstone.

I wore it until we got married, then replaced it with the simple, $200 white gold wedding band I love so much.

Now, millennials and Generation Z have begun turning their noses up at expensive diamond engagement rings en masse.

Rings are still an ingrained tradition many couples find important. But consider this: In 1939, the average person spent $1,824 in today’s dollars, according to wedding website The Knot. A quarter of engaged couples didn’t buy an engagement ring at all.

Somewhere along the line, something got out of whack.

There are ways to honor that tradition and hang onto the cultural significance without making huge financial sacrifices.

There are vintage rings, silicone rings, lab-created diamonds. You can pick an alternative gemstone, maybe a birthstone or pearl or something else that has a special, personal meaning.

There’s a man-made compound called tungsten carbide that was used to build the space shuttle. Hey, if it’s good enough for NASA, it’s good enough for you.

Heck, if you’re going to go drop 8 grand, you might as well go to Hawaii and get a seashell ring from the gift shop. You won’t have to wear it forever – put it away when you get your wedding band.

If you still want a diamond, you can do that. Just remember, you are not a Kardashian, so don’t be tempted to keep up with them.

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