A ring on the occasion of an engagement is a woman’s preserve… or is it anymore?
Tradition insists that it’s the man who proposes to the woman with an engagement ring . . . but tradition also says that couple must be made up of a man and a women, an idea that’s flying out the window in the 20-plus countries that now recognise same-sex marriage. And if two blokes are tying the knot, who’s wearing the engagement ring? Enter the brave new world of ‘management’ rings.
The jewellery industry estimates only five per cent of engaged men are wearing engagement rings — a slender minority, but a growing niche industry nonetheless. And it’s not only gay couples — there’s also a growing trend towards matching engagement rings for heterosexual couples who want to see each other on equal footing in their relationship.
Mangagement rings are already common in some countries — for example, in Brazil and Argentina, both men and women wear plain bands during engagement before swapping them onto the other hand upon marriage — and despite Michael Buble being spotted with one (his now-wife is Argentine), the trend has been slower to catch on in Australia, North America and Europe.
Few jewellery brands boast dedicated lines of mangagement rings. American department store Macy’s tried to blaze the trail in 1926 by marketing rings with hyper masculine names like ‘The Stag’, ‘The Pilot’ and ‘The Master’, but the perception of engagement rings as too feminine proved too hard to shake. Even the idea of men wearing wedding bands only took off after World War Two.
British jeweller H.Samuel dipped its toe in the water in 2009 with the Tioro (below), a mass-market 5mm titanium ring embedded with two small diamonds. But the small commercial market for mangagement rings has stifled the growth of the product, especially with few established standards about what exactly a men’s engagement ring should look like. Gold, titanium, or platinum? With or without precious stones? If you go with diamonds, which cut should you choose? How wide should the band be?
Platinum — durable, comfortable, and luxe — is the most popular material for mangagement rings, occasionally etched with simple lines or embedded with a single centrally located diamond, but rarely showing off designs as elaborate as the world of women’s engagement rings to choose from. Men opting for this piece of jewellery are demanding a clean, modern, simple aesthetic, a standard width of 5-7mm, and a low profile on the finger.
While blue riband brands like Tiffany’s and Cartier are yet to jump on the bandwagon, boutique jewellers continue to cater to this slowly emerging market. The question is, when it’s time for you to tie the knot, will you be spotted with a mangagement ring on your finger?