The Rise of the Man-gagement Ring
- Back in the 1920s, the jewelry industry made a botched attempt to market pre-wedding bling for men. But with today’s egalitarian marriages, the time may be right for another try.
SAMANTHA ZABELLFEB 14 2014
…According to a recent survey by XO Group Inc.—parent company of leading wedding Web site The Knot—5 percent of engaged men are wearing mangagement rings.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the origin of this little-known piece of jewelry, but it certainly predates the 21st century. Vicki Howard, author of Brides, Inc: American Weddings and the Business of Tradition and an associate professor of history at Hartwick University in New York, spent hours poring over jewelry trade magazines to trace the history of what the industry calls the “mangagement ring.”
… Even a groom’s wedding band wasn’t a given until the 1940s and 1950s. “There was an idea of ‘togetherness’ that was emerging after World War II,” says Howard. “People were experiencing a postwar prosperity, and the lavish white wedding fit into that ideal. Jewelers promoted weddings as a symbol of the American Dream.” According to Howard’s research, celebrity hunks like Humphrey Bogart—the first movie star to don a wedding band—also played a role in bringing this trend into popular culture.
…Today, a different set of factors is changing the way couples marry—and accessorize. A July study from the Pew Research Center reflects these shifting ideals. In 1977, only 48 percent of the public favored a household where couples shared domestic responsibilities. By 2010, that number had jumped to 62 percent. And 78 percent of women under 30 currently favor a dual-income marriage model.
Emboldened by these trends, the jewelry industry is giving the mangagement ring another try.