Although engagement rings are most commonly worn by women, the rise of egalitarian marriages has seen more men sport them in recent years. Dubbed ‘man-gagement rings’, 67% of men are “open” to wearing one. Meanwhile, Google searches for men’s engagement rings increased by 66% from 2018 to 2019, according to fashion search platform Lyst’s 2019 wedding report. As the trend gains momentum, we look at what’s changed, and why this jewelry has become so popular with both brides and grooms-to-be.
Diamond engagement rings date back to the 15th century, when Archduke Maximilian of Austria commissioned an early marquise cut ring with diamonds arranged in an ‘M’ for the initial of his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy. This influenced more men of high social status and significant wealth to present diamond rings to their loved ones.
Nowadays, an engagement ring typically symbolizes commitment and eternal love to your partner, and can be worn by anyone. In the past, they were more commonly used as a way to show potential suitors that a woman was “off the market” and engaged to be married. Engagement rings were even used as a financial transaction for women until the 1930’s, offered as a dowry payment in exchange for a woman’s hand in marriage.
While engagement rings once showed that a woman “belonged” to a man, they now represent the wearer’s decision to marry their partner. What’s more, as traditional gender and relationship roles become more fluid, views around engagement rings have changed accordingly. More women are proposing to their boyfriends, and same-sex marriages have also influenced the rising trend of men’s engagement rings, with 40% of gay couples both wearing one. Conversely, only 5% of men in hetrosexual relationships are also opting for an engagement ring.
Men choosing to wear engagement rings also demonstrates how outdated traditions are changing, and provides a sense of equality in a marriage. For example, pop singer Ed Sheeran wore a silver ring during his engagement to his now wife Cherry Seaborn, which initially sparked rumours that they married in secret. However, Sheeran told ITV show Lorraine that he “never saw why men didn’t wear engagement rings. It’s the same commitment either way.”
Many men opt for a simple wedding band style, while others customise theirs with diamonds and gemstones or choose a more contemporary band material such as black-plated titanium. As more women seek out unique engagement rings, the same applies to men. Having a bespoke ring designed to your own taste and specifications is the perfect way to get a one-of-a-kind creation that represents your personality. This means choosing all of its elements, including the type of metal, gemstone and how it is set. As expert jewelers Taylor & Hart note: “There’s nothing wrong with choosing an off-the-shelf design if that’s exactly what you’re looking for, but if you aren’t 100% blown away by a design, why shouldn’t you look to create an entirely perfect ring?”.
While the trend is growing, it’s still not commonplace enough to say outright that every man wants to wear an engagement ring, and this is simply down to personal preference. Some prefer to wear one because of what it represents: a physical and emotional commitment between two people. In other countries, however, there is more of a precedent — it’s tradition for men in Chile to wear an engagement ring on their right hand, for example. However, some men choose not to have one because they don’t like jewelry, or don’t feel it’s socially acceptable for a man to wear one. However, as men’s engagement rings continue to gain popularity, more grooms are expected to start shopping for an engagement ring alongside their partner.