Engagement rings, history and searching for answers – Part 3 of 3

In Part Three of the Engagement ring series we get into the more recent history of engagement rings and finally get to the part where I figure my shit out.

The Past 150 Years of Engagement Rings

With the discovery of diamonds in South Africa and the founding of DeBeers Mining Company in 1880, it was the beginning of the end. Within a decade DeBeers controlled 90% of the world’s diamond production. And what better way to get those diamonds into the hands of people who didn’t need them and couldn’t afford them than to stick them on engagement rings and start advertising them as a truest symbol of forever, true love and devotion and the ultimate measure of how much your husband-to-be loved you?

Following the Great Depression of 1929, one of the most recognizable slogans of all time, “A diamond is forever” was created and the notion that the value of true love, or sufficient proof of true love, was two months of a fella’s salary – not on the engagement ring, but on THE ROCK. This was a generation of people who were just out of economic hardship that rocked the world as they knew it, but I wonder if that experience with poverty made them primed for fleecing by advertisers. Having been raised or at least lived so long doing without or making do, perhaps people needed to feel flush again, as though the money troubles really were behind them and that the future was going to be all rainbows, free-flowing liquor and pots of gold.

Fast-forward to present day. The diamonds have gotten bigger and the inclusion of multiple diamonds has upped the ‘sparkly factor’ exponentially. Diamonds are now, thanks to some handy-dandy technology, available in numerous colours from pink to black in unlimited quantities (coloured diamonds occur only very rarely in nature). High quality “fake” diamonds, like lab-created moissanite (again, occurring very rarely in nature, but quite prolifically in labs) are gaining in popularity and making even bigger and more ostentatious rings available to the middle-class. Moissanite is touted as “an affordable option” when diamond shopping. Again, the push is on to get the biggest most expensive (looking) engagement ring possible. WHY?

So, after all of this research and thought – do I still covet that left-ring finger sparkler?

Unfortunately, yes, I do (pun unintended), but not for the reasons I thought. But after this journey of discovery, I realize that my desire for that elusive diamond ring does not stem from needing my husband to ‘prove’ that he loves me, he proves that every day when he goes to work and provides for our family. Nor does it stem from having to compete with or prove my worth to strangers. No, my desire for that ostentatious, sparkly diamond ring comes down to this: the feeling, the sight, the experience of wearing beautiful jewelry makes me feel happy. I do not care much about the kind of car that I drive, the clothes that I wear, the handbag that I carry or the restaurants in which I dine; when it comes to those things, I’m basically completely neutral, as long as it runs well, fits without cutting off my circulation, does not weigh a tonne or fall apart within a week, or poison me, I’m good.

Doing these posts has given me some time to think about what makes me feel happy, what I need more of and what I need to do less of to increase my overall satisfaction. I do not believe that life is not about being happy all the time, it is a series of cycles that include happiness as a part of the cycle. I think that we need to identify and embrace those things that make us feel happy, identify and manage those things detract from our happiness, and come up with strategies for those things we just need to do because someone has to do it (and we all have those things!). The latter two can wait until another post, but for now some of the things that make me feel the happiest (in no particular order and not including my family) are: being at home, writing, reading, Pink Lady apples, cooking/baking, chocolate, sleeping, very big sparkly jewelry, flamingos, dragonflies, music, school, travelling to new places, taking pictures, really comfy track pants, office supplies and stationary.

 

P.S. I post more nonsensical blithering and updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s worth ‘Liking’ ‘Following’ or just checking out The Keswick Blog on those sites as well. Because on too many days right now, micro-blogging is all that I can manage to pull off.

Engagement rings, history and searching for answers – Part 2 of 3

Part Two of the Engagement ring trilogy, examining the history of engagement rings and how diamonds got involved in this debacle.

Know her? Dude, I OWN her!

So, it turns out, this whole engagement ring business is pure fuckery. We have been had. Again. All the Jarrod’s, Zales, and Spence advertising is all hooey. But really, it should have come as little surprise that upon researching it, engagement rings originated as a public declaration of ownership. Of a woman. By a man. For fuck sakes.

During the 2nd century B.C., it is believed that the ancient Romans came up with the brilliant idea of giving a betrothal ring in lieu of giving the bride-to-be money or a valuable object (in effect, BUYING her, but with something worth LESS than cold hard cash). According to Pliny the Elder, the groom first gave the bride a gold ring to wear during the betrothal ceremony and at special events (because even back then, people cared what their neighbours thought of them, it would seem), then he would give her an iron ring to wear at home, which served to signify her binding legal agreement to his ownership of her. Well, that’s romantic a.f. Yes?

Enter, the diamond.

So, we trudge through history, wearing our iron bands, until 1477 when the uber-romantic and and completely politically manipulated Maximilian I, soon-to-become-the Holy Roman Emperor, presented the first documented diamond engagement ring to Mary, the daughter of his father’s chief political opponent, the reigning duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold. As the story goes, Duke The Bold, had but one daughter, who was called Mary of Burgundy, and Frederick III (Maximilian’s pop) was hell-bent to secure his son to her through marriage, in order to forestall military conflict.

Honestly. What woman could say no to an offer like that? Well, maybe a lot of women could. Like, I don’t know, just about every single woman? So, to sweeten the pot and Maximilian throws some diamonds in the shape of Mary’s first initial on that band of ownership he was hoping to win her hand with, and yeah, she (or her father) consented to the marriage. Ugh.

Although my purpose in this series is really to look at why I am (and many other people are) so obsessed with having, owning and wearing a sparkly diamond on my (her) left hand, the story of Max and Mary is fascinating, so I am going to continue this trip down memory lane bit longer, in the name of history. And in the name of it’s my blog and I can if I want to *spoiled brat moment exhausted now*.

Okay, so Max and Mary get married, and he gave her the diamond ring that would become the beginning of the end for potential grooms the world over, and then, wouldn’t you know it, they also lock into a pre-nuptual agreement (these fuckers were beyond forward-thinking, yes?) that stipulated that only the children of bride and groom had a right to inherit from each, not the surviving parent. Mary tried to bypass this asinine rule with a promise to transfer territories as a gift in case of her death, but her plans were confounded. After Mary’s death in a “riding accident” on 27 March 1482 (a mere four-a-half-years later), Maximilian turned his aim on securing the inheritance to one of his and Mary’s (dare I say, favourite) children, none other than Phillip the Handsome. I want to leave the story here, but I cannot.  Not before I note that Mary gave birth to three children during her brief marriage to Maximilian, the eldest two survived her. They were Philip the Handsome and Margaret. Yup, that’s it. Just Margaret. Not Margaret the Beautiful or Margaret the Brave, just plain Margaret. But Max and Mary loved their children equally. I mean, of course they did. When Mary died, Handsome inherited a world and two-year-old Margaret was shipped off to France, to marry the Dauphin, in an attempt to please Louis XI not to invade the territories owned by Mary of Burgundy. Because of course she was.

It is interesting to note that Mags outlived Handsome by almost 25 years. She went on to do amazing bad bitch work and helped pave the way for women rulers. She married twice and was widowed twice. Overcome by grief, she threw herself out of a window when her second husband died. One can assume she really loved that second husband quite a bit more than the first. But, as people often do, she survived throwing herself out the window and lived 26 more years, to the ripe age of 50 (Handsome and his devilish ways died at age 28). Magnificent Mags (as I’ve come to think of her), died after a splinter of glass became embedded in her foot which in turn made her foot gangrenous. While awaiting amputation surgery, she was overdosed on opium, which had been administered as a painkiller prior to surgery. Well. It certainly killed her pain, now didn’t it? Fucking narcotics. R.I.P. Magnificent Maggie.

Well, I am emotionally exhausted now, so with luck (and a wee bit of ADHD medication), I should be able to wrap this series up in the next post and maybe, just maybe, gain some insight and closure on my own quest for that elusive ice (which, incidentily is also slang for meth, so to be clear, I am not looking for meth, I just want a big diamond). Fucking narcotics always ruin everything.

P.S. I post more nonsensical blithering and updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s worth ‘Liking’ ‘Following’ or just checking out The Keswick Blog on those sites as well. Because on too many days right now, micro-blogging is all that I can manage to pull off.