One of my first cultural shocks experience happened before I even set feet on American soil. My then girlfriend, now wife, called me and told me I needed to bring the “bling bling” with me from my country (since it is cheaper). I was amazed, confused, but deeply in love, so I bought the diamond ring and flew thousands of miles to be with my beloved.
One custom that developed countries has that sets it apart from developing ones is that of the diamond engagement ring. For those who don’t know what it is, (although it might sound ridiculous that someone does not know what an engagement ring is) is a ring given to a woman whenever a man asks her to marry him.
However, only if and when the woman specifies that she doesn’t want it to be a diamond, can the man give her something else. The majority of girls in developed countries expect that they will own a diamond ring the day a man ask her to marry him. Some even require a certain size "carat", cut and type of gold. Some say that the cost of the ring has to be equivalent of one, two or three months of wages depending on the country.
After this diamond ring is given then she is no longer his girlfriend, now she becomes his fiancée, and he becomes her fiancé (Make sure you call her that because she will get offended if you don’t, the guy on the other hand is more lenient about it).
The history of the engagement ring is not clear, having roots in Egypt, and The Roman Empire. However, the “vena amoris”, vein of love, was a Greek idea. Supposedly was a vein that had a direct connection to the heart. This vein was located in the fourth finger on the left hand, now called the ring ringer.
Pope Nicholas I, support the idea of engagement rings by making a gold ring a betrothal requirement so the groom could demonstrate his financial capability of taking care of the future wife. (Canon 1062 of the new Code states) (1). In 1215, Pope Innocent III made a similar declaration though the rings could consist of different metals, including silver and iron, and the rings were meant to be worn during a longer engagement period.
Gems were added to the rings to give a measure of distinction and beauty. Birth stones were use to exemplify couples parents or themselves. The first recorded diamond engagement ring was given to Mary of Burgundy by her betrothed, Archduke Maximillian of Austria, in 1477.
Up till 1940’s diamonds rings were only for the bourgeois. Nevertheless, the DeBeer’s “A Diamond Is Forever” campaign took diamonds to a different level.
But DeBeers (and their ad agency N.W. Ayer & Son) pounded it into the head of every American that: a) When getting engaged, the woman should receive a diamond engagement ring, and b) when purchasing a ring, it should be worth at least two months’ salary for the man.
Today, most women in America expect to get a diamond ring when they get engaged, and most men know that they cannot get engaged unless they fulfill that expectation. DeBeers created the expectation out of thin air, and in the process created a huge market for its diamonds (Marshal Brain) (2)
What is more amazing to me is that the guy gives the woman a huge rock but he gets nothing in return. He doesn’t get a diamond ring, or a cool car, or a __________. You can fill in the blank, but you are still not going to get your item you just filled in the blank. And if some girl out there is thinking, “yes but he will get to, as the bible say, know me.” I will say then it’s no longer love but prostitution. Now, let's turn this around and make it fair. Let the women give the man a gift in exchange for his love for her. This gift must be equivalent to two months of her salary. Ladies think for a second if this was guy’s requirements, how would that make you feel? It would be better if you invest that money in something that will generate more money for you; and hopefully it is invested in things that do not compromise the life or welfare of others.
Diamonds are trouble. Just so you know, some of the diamonds that ladies flash around are stained with African blood. Many of you readers have seen the movie “Blood Diamond” and know what I am talking about. If you have not seen the movie, I recommend you watch it. It will make you think twice before being so selfish and heartless desiring a diamond. However, I have some videos of the real blood diamond. If you are interested the links are below.
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