Now some twenty+ years later, I get a glimpse into my husband's preparation for that unforgettable night. I am the retail jeweler that plays a part in that night by assisting in the selection of the "symbol" of that request, commitment and promise.
I must admit that as each hopeful groom passes through my door I get more and more confused and at a loss to understand this next generation. I recently had a client come in to purchase an engagement ring. He came through the door saying that she wanted a 1+ carat round brilliant diamond with a good color, ideal cut and good clarity. After spending 3 hours with him, attempting the impossible (made impossible by his $2K budget), I sent him out the door to rethink things. He could not give her what she wanted and spend what he wanted. I told him, "Welcome to the world of marriage - marriage is about compromise and one of you has to bend." I explained that I would love to help him in his quest however his quest had to be reasonable.
As he left I wondered what her proposal would look like. Would they stand on a bluff in the beauty of the night, with him on one knee? Would she pull him to his feet by his shirt and proclaim, "YES" or would she say, "Well, I do not know. Let me run back to the car to view the ring in the light." Would she say, "I will give you my answer in the morning when I can see the ring"?
Yesterday I met with a client that was looking for a "certified" diamond. It had to have papers. I have no issue with that, but I will admit that his insistence had caught me a bit off guard. I dealt with my "off balance" feelings by chalking it up to him being one of those people that will have a registered breed dog, authentic Waterford Crystal and is suspicious of everything. I did have some fun with him because I think I caught him a little off guard when instead of pulling out diamonds to show him I pulled out nothing but certificates.
As he left the office, with papers and diamond in hand, I could not help but play out his proposal. I could picture it. He stands before her reading the certification, then hands it over to her along with the ring. In turn she hands over a copy of her birth certificate, family pedigree and health records - and they are now officially engaged.
I understand that I am a bit out of touch with things. I am always the last to hear about a plane crash or the latest lottery winner. My time is consumed by my business and by my family so I am sure I missed something. I would really like someone to help me understand... When did the RING stop being a SYMBOL of the commitment and become the focus of a marriage? Would she really say NO if she did not get her one carat? When did the focus of a proposal shift from the commitment and union of two lives to the type of ring he proposes with?
Silly me, as a retail jeweler, I thought it was my job to assist in finding the perfect ring that matched the uniqueness of their relationship and love. I thought that with a GIA diploma and years of experience I was well prepared to perform my job - and I was - until someone changed my job description. Now my job description states that I am a go-for. I am dictated to by clients that know nothing about diamonds. I am told, "Go find me a (alphabet soup) diamond and put it in this ring (showing me a print out of a picture she e-mailed him) and do it for (blank) amount of money." I am forced to work under the implied impression that if I cannot perform the dictated task she will not be happy and I will be a failure.
Perhaps I could be more successful in my job if someone could help me understand - when did the real question of "Will you marry me?" become "Will you accept this ring?" On second thought, with divorce rates at 50+%, bankruptcy at an all time high, and staggering foreclosure rates - I am not sure I want to understand how the focus became the ring instead of the commitment.