Are Wedding Rings Something That Should Be Upgraded?
Updated: Apr 22, 2019
Perhaps you’ve heard of Rachel Pederson. She’s a woman from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, whose story went viral after she posted a public retort to all those people who kept asking her when she was going to “upgrade” her engagement ring.
“Yes, I know that my wedding ring is small,” she said before recounting the pressures from friends and family to have it upgraded.
Rachel Pederson is a social media mogul, who probably very well could afford a different ring than the one she continues to wear.
“Since when did the size of someone’s ring become an indication of success?” she asked in her post.
Rachel’s story, like every love story, is unique.
She and her husband met, fell in love, and eloped all within their first 13 days of knowing one another. On that whirlwind timeframe, and on their then-modest budgets, her small ring came as a huge surprise. Her husband had emptied his savings account to procure that small symbol of his very big love.
It seems like her ring is a symbol of not only love, but of where it all began for them: the first of many right choices, the moment when against all odds, they chose each other.
But we started out by saying that every love story is unique. While Rachel’s choice to shun the “upgrade” is absolutely right for her, does that automatically mean that there is something wrong with upgrading?
A lot of couples do decide, after years of marriage and increased financial stability, to swap their original stone for something larger, more indicative of the success they’ve achieved, and perhaps, more likely to become their family’s next heirloom. They go from a ring they’ve loved, to a ring they never would have dreamed possible back when they were first falling in love.
So our question is, if you look down at your ring, and find yourself wondering what a different stone or mounting would look like in its place, is this something you should feel guilty about?
It’s impossible to have this conversation without rousing passions on both sides.
"Vain, materialistic, that’s not what love’s about!" are the kind of statements hurled at women who choose to upgrade, while those who keep their smaller rings are called stubborn, or are accused of refusing to acknowledge their own success! Too often, when the subject comes up it’s a lose-lose, and for the record, we don’t think it’s cool that women take the brunt of these judgments.
The question of whether or not to upgrade has, in some circles, become a way of questioning a woman’s personal character. It’s often the pressure over how she’ll be perceived that leads her to make one decision or the other.
To understand how ironic this pressure is, it helps to have a little context of how diamonds ended up on women’s fingers in the first place.
What if I told you that all wedding rings used to be bands, and that diamonds are a relatively new addition to the world of weddings? You might shake your head. “No, no,” you’d say, “a diamond is forever.”
And you’d be right.
A long time ago, following The Great Depression, De Beers found themselves sitting on stockpiles of unsold diamonds. The stone, which had long been a symbol of luxury, had no home in post-depression America, that is, until it was rebranded.
Their marketing strategy was simple: make women feel that they should have a diamond on their finger instead of a plain gold band, because a diamond (like their love) is forever.
I don’t have to tell you the slogan worked. Diamonds are the standard engagement ring stone, and as a symbol, they’ve penetrated every part of pop culture from the Beatles to Beyonce.
But all of it began with a brilliant marketing campaign that told couples how to think about rings.
Gold isn’t good enough, the advertisement suggested, she deserves a diamond.
There are a lot of things that we do now that have been driven by social pressure and marketing agendas. Those high-waisted jeans you swore you’d never wear, you bought a pair last spring because everyone around you was already wearing them. You don’t want another social media to keep up with, but then your mom joins Snapchat, and you aren’t about to be left in her dust.
Studies even show that if all your friends get 1 carat diamond rings, you probably will too. No bigger. No smaller.
The fact is, it’s in our nature to do things as a group, and diamond rings are no exception.
So let’s get back to the question of whether or not to “upgrade.”
There are a million reasons a couple may want to upgrade her ring: perhaps it’s the perfect token with which to renew their vows. Maybe a relative has passed on, and so it's the right time to incorporate an heirloom stone into her bridal set. Maybe they succumbed to a trend the first time around, and that gold nugget with the diamond pressed into the middle just doesn’t thrill her the way a cleaner, more modern design would.
Is there anything wrong with a couple wanting the symbol of their love to carry some of the same thrill as their actual love?
Maybe, like Rachel, you and your husband have a story, and you find yourselves wanting a symbol, not of where it all started, but of how far you’ve come.
The point is, there is no right or wrong, one-size-fits-all answer for whether or not to upgrade.
It’s a personal choice, and no matter what decision you make, that ring is going to symbolize the longest commitment you’ll ever make to another person. It will symbolize hard-earned dollars (this is true no matter the price point), that were spent selflessly.
It will symbolize the moment someone cared so profusely as to get down on one knee, and for that instant, make you feel like you were the only two people in the universe, or to put it another way, the two who mattered most to one other.
And you still are.
Which is why the question of whether or not you should upgrade your ring, (or whether you want to have a diamond in your ring at all), is one that only you two can answer. You should be able to make this choice free from societal (or family) judgment, because only the two of you knows what a symbol of your love, and your journey, should look like.
It is uncool for anyone, from salespeople at a local jewelry store to your own mother, to weigh in on the subject, as though the rock on your finger is nothing more than a rock. Whatever their position or their reasons for thinking that you should or should not do it, 9 times out of 10, they will be wrong. And you should tell them, just like Rachel did.
Because size DOESN’T matter, and it never will. But knowing what’s right for your partner and you: that is the real cornerstone of a good marriage.