Lesbian Engagements: Choosing the Ring

Although society, and quite possibly our parents, see most lesbian couples as being non-traditional, one traditional trend that continues to extend to lesbian engagements is the ring.

Wedding rings began in Ancient Egyptian times. The circle was used to symbolize a never ending cycle and the space it makes – as a gate way. Betrothal rings were used during Roman times, but weren’t generally revived in the Western world until the 13th century. In other cultures men and women wear matching rings. In some cultures, engagement rings are also used as wedding rings.

What does all this tell you? Engagement rings are based on cultural preferences which means…it is totally up to you. I’m going to answer a number of commonly asked questions regarding lesbian engagement rings and offer a solution to the problem those questions cause and with that add my suggestions. Remember, there is NO right answer when it comes to engagement rings…except saying “YES!” of course.

Where did the idea of an engagement ring come from?

Conventionally, the woman’s ring is presented as a gift by a man to represent a formal agreement to future marriage. Before the 20th century, other types of engagement gifts were common. For example, before the end of the 19th century, the bride-to-be sometimes received a sewing thimble rather than an engagement ring. This practice was particularly common among religious groups that found jewelry sinful. The diamond engagement ring first appeared in the US at the end of the 19th century when Tiffany’s first offered its diamond solitaire. Diamond rings didn’t become common until the 1930s when companies like Sears had them available. Now, 80% of American women are offered a diamond ring to signify engagement.

Meg’s Suggestion: Don’t buy the run of the mill engagement ring just because everyone else has done it. Celebrate your diversity and personality! Consider your partner’s job. Is she active? Then stay away from the trendy titanium. A broken finger can lead to much more than having the ring cut off. EMS and ERs don’t have a tool that can cut it off safely. Will a solitaire get caught on things because she works with her hands? Then have the stone you chose inlaid. Remember, when buying a ring think of YOUR partner…not necessarily what the market is telling you to buy.

How much do I spend on a ring?

According to The Knot Inc.’s survey, which interviewed more than 21,000 couples across United States who got married in the year 2009, the average amount spent on an engagement ring was $5,847.00. Reviewing average statistics reveals that the average American still employs the two-month salary rule and the average bride-to-be receives an engagement ring over ½ a carat.

Meg’s Suggestion: Again, do what’s best for you both. I always said, “I want my ring to have an address”. I felt the large amount of money many of my friends had on their fourth finger would best be spent towards a house. I won’t tell you what I paid for my fiancée’s ring…but I’m gonna guess it appraises 8 to 10 times what I paid for it! If she likes the diamonds find a resale shop or jeweler who buys from estate sales. Antique jewelry is well designed and classic and you can get an amazingly beautiful ring for so much less. An engagement ring is a lot like a brand new car. Once you take it out of the store most are worth half what you paid for them.

Another option is to have a jeweler make it. We had my fiancée design it with help from the jeweler and included an inscription.

Who gets the ring in the event of a break up?

In most states of the United States, engagement rings are considered “conditional gifts” under the legal rules of property. This is an exception to the general rule that gifts cannot be revoked once properly given. See, for example, the case of Meyer v. Mitnick, 625 N.W.2d 136 (Michigan, 2001), whose ruling found the following reasoning persuasive: “the so-called ‘modern trend’ holds that because an engagement ring is an inherently conditional gift, once the engagement has been broken, the ring should be returned to the donor. Thus, the question of who broke the engagement and why, or who was ‘at fault,’ is irrelevant. This is the no-fault line of cases.”

Recent court rulings have determined that the date in which the ring was offered can determine the condition of the gift. e.g. Valentine’s Day and Christmas are nationally recognized as gift giving holidays. A ring offered in the form of a Christmas present will likely remain the personal property of the recipient in the event of a breakup. (“Who gets the engagement ring when the wedding is off”. FindLaw. 2001-10-23.)

Meg’s Suggestion: Duuh! Don’t get engaged until you are a million percent sure. But, if you’re like me and make that mistake, figure out what to do with the ring. I let her keep it the first time around. I felt it caused me less of a headache AND she never fought me for it. If you get it back and you got your little heart broken, I suggest having a best friend or family member take care of selling it and then treat yourself and a friend to a nice vacation. Of course, that’s only if you followed my suggestion from previous articles…pay cash for that ring!!!!

What finger are lesbians supposed to wear their ring on?

In North America and the United Kingdom, it is customarily worn on the left hand ring finger. Similar traditions purportedly date to classical times, referring to the fourth finger of the left hand as containing the vena amoris or “vein of love”. This custom may have its origins in an ancient Egyptian myth that the finger contained a vein leading directly to the heart, or it may simply be because the heart lies slightly to the left side of the body.

Meg’s Suggestion: Again do what YOU want. But, I like some of the traditions. I think an engagement or wedding ring on the same finger is helpful. My fiancée is a beautiful woman and it tells both men and women that she’s taken. But, once you wear it, people ask questions. So, if you aren’t out yet you may want to consider something a little less obvious or traditional. Remember, most people openly celebrate an engagement. People will want to congratulate you and ask questions.

So, the moral here is make your story…your own. When I asked my fiancée (Joey) what was the most important thing about our rings she had this to say, “I wanted it to reflect my personality and the personality of us, as a couple. And it was more meaningful to me because we picked it out together.” So, talk to your lady, find out what you both want and are expecting. But, I stress, buy a ring within your budget. The worst thing you can go into a marriage with is debt.

Come back next Sunday. Our topic for April is telling friends and family about the commitment. If you have a story about your friend’s or family’s reaction submit your story and it may be featured here on The L Stop. Send your stories to

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About The Athlesbian

Meg was born and raised in Chicago where she became an avid sports fan the moment she laid her eyes on her first ball. She has a knack for picking up any sport quickly as most four sport high school athletes would. Meghan played two sports in college and spent her post college years playing women’s pro football, capturing a national title, before having to quit due to injury. She still plays numerous sports in rec leagues around the city and boasts at a recent team tryout knocked out 51 consecutive push-ups in a minute. Always willing to try something new she just played in her first rugby match. Meghan currently works as a fire-medic and is finishing her Master’s degree from University of Chicago, and no, unfortunately, its not in sports reporting!


12 Responses to “Lesbian Engagements: Choosing the Ring”

  1. So… how do you decide who proposes? Does each lady in some couples get engagement rings?

    Posted by Betsy | March 25, 2012, 12:45 pm
  2. Good question Betsy…my answer would be the same to the question is how do the two of you decide what restaurant to go to for dinner…either one of you always makes the decisions or you talk about it. I suggest the latter. Once I start dating someone and its obvious we like each other but definitely not serious enough topic to take seriously I like to start talking about it in a playful way. This conversation will tell you SO MUCH about a person when you are dating…so…by the time I have even come close to considering it I already knew where they stood. Its all about communication…but isn’t it always? My fiancee and I both did our own proposals and bought the other a ring. I went first because I just couldn’t wait…look at the last article Tears in my Beers for the whole story…its truly up to the two of you.

    Posted by Meg | March 25, 2012, 2:20 pm
  3. I will be passing this to my daughter and her partner. Thanks.

    Posted by Lazaro Castillo | March 25, 2012, 2:54 pm
  4. Loved this well-written piece, though it does make me sigh longingly for a ring of my own!

    Posted by Lacy Telles | March 27, 2012, 9:27 am
  5. Meg, I’ve been following your blog and I am incredibly inspired. I am struggling with an issue in my own life – my partner and I want an intimate wedding but we don’t know how to “trim the fat” off the guest list without being too controversial. Can you please give a detailed response to help guide us, as I’m sure you have encountered this issue yourself in your own wedding planning? Thank you so much,

    Posted by Jamilla | May 19, 2012, 5:37 pm
  6. Jamilla, this is actually a topic I have been meaning to get to. One of the other ladies and I have been meaning to rack our brains and give the best advice possible…Its brewing and I know I still am struggling with the who’s…our invites will go out in the next three weeks…

    Posted by Meg | May 22, 2012, 5:27 pm
  7. Considering you are a website that caters to the Chicago area would you know of any LGBT friendly jewelers? Id like the moment I go pick out the ring to be special not ruined by someone who has a negative opinion about the LGBT community.

    Posted by LU | June 1, 2012, 3:51 pm
  8. How do I find the ring on your site?

    Posted by deb | December 20, 2012, 12:55 am
  9. Thanks for checking out our article and congrats on thinking about an engagement! I’m not sure of any chain jewelry stores that specifically cater to LGBTQ (although I’m sure there are some that are supportive). I do know that Rebecca Zemans does hand-made jewelery and creates a lot of commitment rings. She’s extremely LGBTQ supportive and friendly!

    Posted by Leah | December 20, 2012, 5:29 pm
  10. Choose the right ring please… I dont want to believe in it but still would recommend you to out the The Unluckiest Engagement Ring characteristics over here before the decision is made. Why doom your relationship with a jinxed ring anyways.

    Posted by dreamer3 | December 19, 2013, 2:55 am


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