For many couples, that tradition no longer fits. Couples are getting married later, as established adults who are capable of providing for themselves and buying a pricey gift for a loved one. In gay couples, both partners might want sparkly signs of their intentions. And men aren’t the only ones proposing marriage these days: Women pop the question, too. They might want a ring to go with the ask.
Last month, Tiffany & Co. unveiled a new jewelry line that acknowledges all of these shifts: a men’s diamond engagement ring, of up to 5 carats with a price tag of $15,600 to $278,500. The company says its new collection of men’s rings “honors the jeweler’s long-standing legacy in love and inclusivity, paving the way for new traditions to celebrate our unique love stories and honor our most cherished commitments to one another.”
The iconic jewelry brand has been selling the women’s solitaire diamond engagement ring since 1886. It only took 135 years for men to get their own version, a “man-gagement ring” as some like to call it.
Sure, this could just be an opportunity for Tiffany’s to make more money “and pass it off as inclusivity,” as a recent “Daily Show” sketch posited. But the move also acknowledges that the “man-gagement” ring’s moment has arrived. And guys seem to be into it.
Some men have been wearing engagement rings for years. Pop star Ed Sheeran wore one. Michael Bublé has one. But the style offerings have been scant.
A 2019 wedding trend report from Britain found that Internet searches for men’s engagement rings rose 66 percent from the year prior and proclaimed men’s rings “a new tradition that is set to become even more popular with time.”
“When a super-traditional jewelry brand like Tiffany’s launches something as alternative as men’s engagement rings, it’s saying that couples are moving away from tradition,” says Shelley Brown, the Knot’s senior beauty and fashion editor, adding that the rise in same-sex marriages probably also played a role in the decision.
The jewelry industry tried to make the men’s engagement ring into a trend in the 1920s, but it didn’t catch on. The ring was still seen as a feminine thing. But by the 21st century, as gender roles within marriage became more equal and the legalization of same-sex marriage created new customers, jewelers started giving men’s engagement rings another shot.
Although Stephen Secules, a 35-year-old gay man in Miami, doesn’t like the style of the Tiffany’s ring — saying “it feels a little like it’s imitating my mother’s ring” — he thinks the move is a positive one. “It’s good to just have more options for expressing commitment,” he says, noting that wider acceptance of gay relationships has made his straight friends question some relationship traditions. While a woman wearing an engagement ring signals she’s “promised” to her fiance, Secules ponders: “Wouldn’t it be more equal and symbolic if we’re both promised to each other?”
Chad Caldwell is one of those men who proposed to his longtime girlfriend with a ring — and then wanted one for himself, too. To him, it didn’t feel “fair” that his fiancee, Ashley, would wear a ring and he wouldn’t. So Caldwell, a 33-year-old in Delaware, bought himself a $35 silicon camo-print ring. He works as a mason, so he chose a style that could handle getting dirty. But mostly, he “wanted to feel the excitement of being engaged,” especially after dating for more than 10 years.
Caldwell doesn’t know any other straight men who wear an engagement ring, and the band confused his friends. When they saw it, they thought Caldwell and Ashley, who’s 34, had gotten married already. “This is my engagement ring. It signifies my commitment to her,” he recalls telling them. He says their engagement feels “more real for me when I wake up and put it on.”
Brandon Richards, a 27-year-old man in Washington, wanted an engagement ring when he proposed to his girlfriend, Joslin, in 2018, but he couldn’t find something he liked. Most rings he saw looked too much like a plain men’s wedding band or too dainty. He was looking for something with just a bit of bling.
Richards eventually gave up the search. (Tiffany’s, where were you?) But he had wanted a ring to show that he and his fiancee were “in this engagement together.” He also wanted to get in on the excitement that generally happens for women. “I would be lying if I said I didn’t want people to ask me: ‘Let’s see your ring.’”