Swoonworthy Engagement Rings on a Budget

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Aaron Delise

For thousands of years, lovers have used grass, strings, wire, puzzles, and thimbles for centuries to publicly indicate their intent to marry. The ancient Egyptians tied a single gold wire to their finger to indicate their betrothal. The Puritans offered their beloved a thimble as a way to offer sentimental value without indulging in the material possessions of the world. In the 1940s, the DeBeers Company launched an aggressive advertising campaign to combat low diamond sales. Interestingly enough, their campaign slogan, “Diamonds are forever”, has stood the test of time.

These days, engagement rings are still in high demand. Over 80% of women in the United States receive an engagement ring along with their proposal. Despite their popularity, engagement rings are frequently and hotly debated. The purchase of an engagement ring brings a multifaceted (pun absolutely intended) discussion about environmental impact, sociopolitical impact (read: conflict diamonds), economic value, social privilege, and sentimental value.

If you do opt for an engagement ring, how much should you spend? The spectrum of cost is absolutely baffling – ranging from heirloom jewelry that is passed down through the family as a gift to Elizabeth Taylor’s $8.8 billion dollar, 33+ carat ring. One frequently touted “rule” is that one ought to spend three months’ salary on a ring. Depending on your social circle and current financial situation, this may strike you as too high, too low, or just right. In 2013, couples in the United States paid an average of $5,200 for their engagement ring.

Every couple has different values and different priorities; this is reflected in our lifestyle and appearances, engagement rings included. Some choose to wear a minimalist gold band and start preparing a travel/retirement nest egg. Some opt for tradition and opt for a modest diamond ring and a comparable wedding. Some opt for a premium ring with the understanding that this ring will become an heirloom, passed down for generations to come.

My fiance and I did not ring shop together; however, we did have some dialogue about the ring beforehand. My three requests: I wanted a (1) beautiful, (2) unique ring (3) on a budget. I picked one out that I was absolutely, completely head-over-heels in love with. It was a small solitaire that cost less than half the national average from a small, independent designer with vintage flair. (Hint: it’s featured below, think you can find it?)

For the Bride Who Prefers Gemstones to Diamonds:

Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but they’re certainly not for everyone. One of the easiest ways to set your engagement ring apart from the rest is to rock a precious gemstone. Ruby, sapphire, emerald, even pearls can make for lovely pieces.

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Enci Fine Jewellery

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Trumpet and Horn

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For the Bride Who Loves Metalwork:

Plain bands are classic; pave bands are beautiful… But there’s something particularly lovely about a carefully crafted band and setting that can set a heart aflutter. Whether the band has been carefully hammered or sculpted, it sets itself apart from other rings.

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MSJewelers

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Catbird

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A colorful book-themed wedding by Next To Me Studios

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Ideally, your wedding day not only celebrates the beginning of your marriage, but it also celebrates the unique relationship between you and your significant other. When a bride and groom come together to throw a celebration that is as meaningful to their past as it is to their future, we can’t help but be stunned by the always-gorgeous outcome!

Jeremy and Jazmine were married at the rustic-luxe grounds of the Temecula Creek Inn in Southern California in a beautiful celebration that decorated with colorful flowers, their favorite books, and other quirky touches that came together for a truly unique wedding day. We simply adore Jazmine’s handmade strapless lace gown, and even wiped away a few tears when we saw the touching photos of how utterly excited Jeremy was to see his bride! Captured expertly by Next To Me Studios, we guarantee this is one wedding day you need to see!

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Caroline’s Style Picks for Guests: Rainbow

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Raya Carlisle Photography

Ahhhhh – nothing really gets my blood boiling (in the good way) more than knowing that I have to dress up for a fancy occasion, especially weddings. I’m just your typical college student who doesn’t get many opportunities to wear that oh-so-cute dress that I bought because I deluded myself into thinking that I could work it into my wardrobe (HINT: I didn’t). But seriously, there is definitely some sort of magical feeling in the air when I put together an outfit that is BAM! just spot on. However, with the rules and etiquette of what you can or cannot wear as a guest, trying to put an outfit together can often feel like putting together a Rube Goldberg machine — difficult and frustrating.

And here’s my version of putting together a Rube Goldberg machine. I shy away from bright colors like the plague. Feel free to call me strange or ridiculous, but I definitely think it takes a lot of self-confidence to wear bright colors because bright colors are more likely to catch people’s eyes, and maybe I can’t really handle the thought of scrutiny. SO, I have been trying out a challenge — a challenge to create outfits that I would wear as a guest to a wedding incorporating all the colors of the rainbow. Plus, I figure that since it’s Pride month and I’m in the Bay Area, it would be a nice tribute!

Red

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Red — the color that actually gets people’s blood boiling. In a previous post regarding what was safe and not safe to wear, red obviously raises a red flag because it’s eye-catching in both a flattering and potentially consequential way. I personally enjoy the color red a lot, especially a really dark, rich burgundy red (can anyone else guess how excited I was when the whole oxblood trend broke out?).

I think that as long as you err on the side of a deeper hue of red than a really loud one, you can get away with wearing an elegant sheath dress like this Ava & Aiden one. Additionally, because it has an interesting neckline, you don’t need to really accessorize around the neck and can let the dress do all talking! Pair it up with a sleek pair of black heels and your own glammed up version of the tuxedo jacket, and you’re ready to go.

Orange

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Definitely the hardest color (at least for me) to figure out how to wear. I have a hard time imagining anyone actually wearing orange successfully beyond Velma and Blake Lively for some reason, and that’s because orange is a very hard color to translate into a subtle appearance. It’s not quite as delicate as a pale buttercup hue, yet not as mature or vampy as red. Basically, orange is the awkward cousin that you know could be really, really attractive, but you just don’t know how.

After careful consideration, I decided to pair this orange dress up by emphasizing its strengths and minimizing glaring weaknesses. With a color this bright, you don’t want to wear other items that would compete for the center of attention. However, I wanted to complement the color orange instead of going with neutrals, so I selected a very dark suede navy blue heel (because blue and orange go together, yay color theory!). That way, it doesn’t look too Halloween-y but is mature and put together. Add some cold silver jewelry and clutch to let the warmth of orange shine, and you have a stunning and wholly unique look.

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Engagement Ring Horror Stories: How Did That Happen?!?

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Christine Chang Photography

The engagement and wedding rings are meant to symbolize everlasting love… but let’s face it, they also have either an incredibly expensive rock or are incredibly expensive in general. With great expensive things comes great responsibility. Yet, sometimes you can’t really control the circumstances surrounding your ring. You’ve probably have that internal twinge of panic when you’ve realized you misplaced your ring somewhere, just to find it teetering dangerously close over the edge of your garbage disposal. You’ve probably heard of a few ring horror stories yourself.

I have a ring horror story of my own to tell (no, it did not involve some fabulously wealthy man offering to whisk me away from a monotonous life by giving me diamonds and a radical makeover a la Pretty Women). My friend had an acquaintance who had broken up with her boyfriend after a rocky relationship on both their sides. Apparently, while my friend’s acquaintance was getting herself back into the dating game, her ex-boyfriend had no other girl on his mind. He got into underground fighting, managing to nab enough victories to scrap up enough cash to buy an engagement ring for the girl. The whole story sounded very surreal and unbelievable (much like Fight Club, now that I think about it), but in retrospect, I feel like it’s very tame compared to these horrifically riveting tales.

Machine Guns & Yachts

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Greg Bishop

The headline already makes this horror story sound like it came out of a scene in Fast & Furious or a James Bond flick, but I assure you, it is a real-life proposal horror story. Essentially, a man who lovingly and thoughtfully put together an elaborate scheme to propose to his long-term girlfriend gets shafted by a pseudo-yacht owner, the police, his own blazer, and a five-star hotel.

Yet, everything miraculously seems to have a happy ending, and the girl finally gets the ring! You know you want to find out how.

A Gorgeous Wedding Ring Owned By… Satan?!?

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The ring itself, gah! | Daily Mail

In a humorous Craigslist ad, a man is selling a diamond ring for $1,800, claiming that it has been worn by “Satan herself”. Apparently if you wear this ring, you will immediately be afflicted by the “curse” of the ring (thankfully, no creepy girls crawling out of wells and TVs). Downed power lines, swarms of locusts, damage sustained to the heart??? The owner suggests that if you purchase this ring, you should take it to a priest to get it exorcised. Yikes — bad breakup, much?

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