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16 Apr

Before you groan and roll your eyes, know this: The very first engagement rings actually served as “tags,” so men could mark their wives as property in the ancient world. Instead of an occasion for spending hard-earned cash on an arguably sexist, outdated symbol, your engagement could be a moment when you make a real commitment toward your life together.And there are worse times than today to make such a forward-thinking move, what with interest rates so low.A great deal of evidence shows that spending money on experiences tends to generate more happiness than spending the equivalent amount on material things.In other words, you might considering buying an inexpensive engagement ring—or skipping the ring altogether—so you can, say, drop your savings into a one-year CD that will come to term right in time for your honeymoon.De Beers and other natural diamond purveyors regard synthetic diamonds as a threat to their business and have been very successful in selling the public on the idea that a “real” diamond must come from the earth.The fact that mined diamonds are literally millions (and sometimes billions) of years old is certainly romantic.Don’t worry, you can always make another type of DIY ring. Weave the tiniest gemstone beads you can find into a buckyball, which is basically a diamond for nerds.After all, there’s nothing classier than making an engagement ring with your own two hands.

One such example is the Claddagh ring, a betrothal symbol dating back to seventeenth-century Ireland that features two hands holding a heart topped with a crown (representing friendship, love, and loyalty).Fear not: There are plenty of romantic, classy alternatives to the “traditional” diamond engagement ring, many of which offer greater value and far less cause for guilt. White diamonds that have been grown in a laboratory typically cost 15% to 20% less than comparable natural diamonds, though the discount might be much higher or lower, depending on the size of the stone and where you’re buying.And colored lab-made diamonds can be a whopping 80% or 90% cheaper than their mined equivalents.According to custom, the heart is worn pointing away on the right hand if the wearer is single and toward the body when the wearer has a love interest; on the left hand, it should point away if the wearer is engaged and toward the body once the wearer is married.Another band with traditional meaning is the “true lover’s knot,” an ornamental (and difficult-to-untangle) knot once tied by sailors separated from their beloved.