Here at Sparkles, we’ve been blessed over the past two years to have met and worked with some of the loveliest clients we can imagine. We have been honored to watch love stories unfold for wonderful and diverse couples, many of them part of the LGBTQ community. Even prior to the massive strides made in the fight for Marriage Equality, since we opened in 2013 and beyond, we began to receive an immediate and steady stream of questions from our same-sex couples.
How were they supposed to navigate this whole wedding and engagement jewelry thing? What were the rules?
Now on the thrilling heels of our country’s long-awaited recognition of Marriage Equality I reached out to a designer favorite of Sparkles (and its clientele), LGBT jewelry creator Rony Tennenbaum, to see what he had to say in response to the five most common questions we hear from our clients.
Q: Do same sex couples wear engagement rings?
RT: “Since Marriage Equality in the US is only 11 years old, the same sex community is still evolving and developing new traditions in the Engagement/Marriage arena. While 22 years ago when my partner and I didn’t have words as engagement, marriage or even family to fall back on, today’s same sex couples do. It is still very early on in these new traditions, but I am definitely seeing a rise in same sex couples looking to wear engagement rings, and in general “getting engaged”. Having said that, the traditional engagement ring as we know them is also morphing into different and more interesting shapes and designs. So yes same sex couples may be wearing engagement rings, but they don’t all look as we expect engagement rings to look like.”
Q: Can men wear diamond engagement rings? What about wedding sets?
RT: “Of course men can wear engagement rings, and in the past couple years I have seen an increase in rings designed for men, with diamonds, that are specifically worn as their engagement rings. Since traditionally, engagement rings were designed and sold for women, there are less available designs or interesting rings out there that can be worn as “the engagement ring”, but as time moves forward, I know I am always creating new looks and concepts that are intended for men looking for those rings to propose with. As for sets, it’s interesting. Traditionally we always designed an engagement ring to fit snugly with a wedding band and we called it a “set”. Today’s couples are looking outside the box to their ring designs. Many I have seen will buy an engagement ring and use it as a wedding band as well. With the trend for single rings though, I am seeing the wedding set morph into a broader range of acceptable designs that will cover both occasions in one.”
Q: What is an LGBT wedding ring supposed to look like?
RT: “There is no one answer. As weddings are evolving to depict different backgrounds, lifestyles, family units, I think we are going to see ring designs run a wider spectrum of acceptable looks. While many couples still seek a clean band look, what I find is that most look for something with an extra twist or edge for them. For example, my designs are considered contemporary and more modern because I find gay and lesbian couples are early adaptors to designs and esthetics, yet I still get couples who want unique, but simple. I have also made wedding rings for couples with diamonds as much as I have made wedding rings without diamonds for years. Diamonds are beautiful and represent a strong bond, but don’t always have to be a norm.
I also see a lot of couples seeking sentimental stones tailored for them, such as birthstones, or a stone representing a place they first met, or went on a date. Wedding rings are a very intimate piece of jewelry and they represent a very deep emotional tie, that symbol of love carried on their fingers needs to be just as personal to them as the bond they share.”
Q: Do same-sex couples’ rings have to match?
RT: “My favorite question. My opinion is this:
“I believe in maintaining your individuality within your couplehood.”
This means, in my mind, it’s perfectly ok if both partners have different tastes and choose to wear different looking rings. Having said that, the majority of couples I see do want something that is similar or from the same family of rings when they purchase their wedding or engagement rings. There are many ways to achieve this, and I don’t think it’s something that needs to weigh heavily on either partner if they are not perfectly the same. That is not to say that a couple looking to get identical rings shouldn’t do so. Over the years I have made some stunning rings for couples who wanted the exact same ring as their partner. Remember it’s a partnership, and as long as both sides agree to what they should wear, I think its great!”
Q: If you could share one piece of advice with members of the LGBT community on their search for wedding and engagement jewelry, what would it be?
RT: “While I am a romantic and love a “surprise” engagement, I do find that most partners are happier when they go shopping together for their rings. Talk about budgets ahead of time. Discuss what each of you might like to see the other wearing and what you might like to have for yourself. And most important, start your shopping early!! The worst reply I can give any couple is, I am sorry, I will not be able to whisk these rings for you in the short amount of time you need them for. Plan ahead! And have fun while shopping.”
Here’s to letting your rings be as unique, meaningful, and amazing as you and your relationships, lovebirds!
-Ashley Collier Rowan, GIA Diamonds Graduate AJP
Manager, Sparkles Fine Jewelry