My Big, Fat, Fake Engagement Ring

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It was given to me with noble intentions from a man who makes me feel financially secure — to me, that is romantic. I fail to see the romance in a 2-carat princess-cut diamond. 

My fiancé proposed with a cubic zirconia or as some people might say, ‘a fake diamond.’  I said yes and let him slide the $500, 2.5 carat extravaganza on my hand.

It was a balmy summer evening and the sky was washed in pink as the sun set over the coast. We nestled up on the beach, newly engaged, and shared our dreams of one day living in this very coastal suburb.

Over the next week I couldn’t stop looking at my ring. The perfect cushion-cut diamond and antique setting with a great, big, dirty rock. I wore it swimming, during an oil painting class, and I happily flung it off while I did the dishes. It represented a promise and our love, nothing more — you don’t need money to get my honey.

I would watch in amusement as shop assistants stopped to look at my hand — all 2.5 carats glistening back at them. I felt a pang of anxiety as I showed off my ring to each of my friends.  Did this cubic zirconia look like a diamond to the naked eye? They all commented on how stunning it was and congratulated me.

Nobody seemed to notice — maybe out of sheer excitement or politeness. This was a real engagement based on five years of trials, tribulations, and the sort of love that defies it all. I wanted people to celebrate our love and be part of my happiness — not question my choice of engagement ring.

My Future Mother-in-Law inspected my engagement ring and looked up at my fiancé over her reading glasses, “You bought it from a jewellery store, yes?” she quipped. My fiancé carefully delivered a response he’d prepared earlier, “Yes, I bought it on a low interest credit card.” “Fair enough” responded future Mother in Law. My own mother stared knowingly at my gleaming CZ and we both gave each other a little smirk. She knew our financial plan and my views on engagement rings, no explanations were required.

Not long after we got engaged, I decided to hit the jewellery shops looking for a matching wedding band. “What a gorgeous, stunning, stunning ring” professed the jeweller. Within 20 seconds of sitting down, she grabbed my hand and held a jeweller’s microscope to my ring. “Yes, it’s not real” she said matter–of-factly, “I’m a gemologist but I can only tell it’s not real by looking at it closely. Your fiancé’ should really get you a proper diamond though. When you get married there will be mortgages and children and you won’t get nice jewellery. When you are young and getting married, everything should be perfect. Have you heard about the language of love? Gifts are important.”

I thought seriously about this jeweller’s unsolicited advice — I wasn’t offended but I was interested. “Well, we don’t have a mortgage. We paid cash for our house — I put all of my money in and my fiancé’ put all his cash in — in fact the house is in my name. He bought me a reliable car for Valentine’s Day and we just got back from a beautiful holiday in New Zealand. We are saving for a trip to Europe — something we can both enjoy. I can’t justify $25,000 on my dream ring or even $3,000 on a ring that isn’t my dream ring.”

She responded, “If I was your mother, I wouldn’t allow this.” I told the jeweller that I would take her advice on board, I politely left the store and threw her advice back over board feeling ridiculous for offering a stranger an explanation.

I thought back to that evening in the park where we got engaged, in the beautiful beachside town where we wanted to live — great schools, white sandy beach and 15 minutes to the city.

My fiancé was working hard on a property development and I was starting my own business. If everything went to plan we would live in our dream home and area in two years.

Over the next two years we would travel Europe, get married in France and work towards our shared dream. In 2015 we’d try for a baby and raise him or her in a happy, friendly, safe, beachside enclave.

I’d still have my engagement ring but by then it would be replaced by a simple gold wedding band. In the grand scheme of things, would the knowledge that my beautiful ring was fake make me feel less about myself or my relationship? Would I be less happy?

In time, after the buzz died down, all of my friends knew about my big, fat, fake diamond (I can’t keep secrets to myself).

“That’s fine. We would have never known,” they chorused. Although their acceptance was also peppered with advice, “Don’t tell people and definitely don’t tell anyone we went to (a private all girl’s) school with — they’re way too superficial to understand your choice,” and, “You will make sure your wedding band is at least real though, won’t you?”

My favourite response though? “This is like a Nancy Drew stunt. Are you serious? Why not just get an antique or a gem?” I curtly replied, “I don’t want acquaintances to look at a humble, albeit ‘real’ ring and start calculating my fiancé’s actual salary — maybe I’m proud or private or both?” There are some people out there who are judgmental and materialistic and I’ve only met one who keeps a jeweller’s loop in her pocket. A big, fat, fake ring protects me from judgment from big, fat, fake people.

This was my dream engagement ring. The cushion-cut diamond and pear side stones enveloped my finger perfectly — it was vintage perfection, something out of a 1950s movie.

It was given to me with noble intentions from a man who makes me feel financially secure — to me, that is romantic. I fail to see the romance in a 2-carat princess-cut diamond. All I see is a 200% retail markup and arguments over money when the dream turns into mortgage belt, school-fee reality.

Nobody ever tells you about the time they had to line up in Cash Converters to pawn their $10,000 wedding dress and $20,000 Tiffany’s ring to pay their divorce legal fees. Maybe we don’t hear those stories because they don’t quite have the same ring to them as, “My boyfriend proposed in front of fireworks on a yacht off the coast of Capri and then we drank Bollinger and made love 20 times.”

In two months we are getting married in Paris and like with any wedding there are always obstacles and dramas. As I type this and stare at my big, fake, fake engagement ring, a message has popped up on my phone.

It is from my fiancé and it says, “Don’t be stressed about wedding plans. It will all work out because you’ll pull it off like you always do. You have many talents, not least of all is being the most loved and adorable.”

… Perhaps my disinterest in owning a rare piece of the earth is because I already have a rare piece of mankind.

This story also appeared on Mamamia. Take a look at other related articles on Mamamia or follow us on Twitter or Facebook

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