Today, engagement rings make the front covers of weeklies and tabloids. Though still a symbol of the upcoming bond of marriage, they have become much more of a spectacle and a competition, prompting the question, “How big is the ring?” It seems that carats are more important than the approaching nuptials and it has lead me to personally question whether or not engagement rings are still tokens of that eternal love or just fashion statements to flaunt like the newest pair of shoes.

The custom of engagement rings has been popular in the Western world since the 13th century, but I found the Ghanaian engagement ceremony to be even more special and interesting. There, engagement is where the combining of families begins (in traditional circles). The families of both the bride and groom come together and the sister of the groom fills a tray with a multitude of gifts. The family preacher then discusses the gifts which are then given to the bride’s family. The groom’s family also presents the bride with a suitcase of new intimates so that she comes into the marriage fresh and new. The bride and groom are then paraded in front of each other’s families before they must give spoken confirmation that they would like to marry each other to the family preacher. Once that is spoken, the bride is given a ring box (often with a bible attached) and the groom then places the ring on her finger.

The traditional Ghanaian ceremony makes ours seem much less personal and more of a show than a union. Our obsession with Jennifer Lopez’s six-carat pink diamond ring (which didn’t lead to marriage) and Kim Kardashian’s twenty-carat stunner seems to perfectly justify that idea. We are all about the size of the ring and the love that it symbolizes is secondary. What person really needs a $2 million ring as a token of commitment? It seems to be just an accessory instead of a representation of the beautiful bond taking place.

What do you think of the lavish engagement ring trend? Are they still seen as symbols of love or merely accessories?

-Faith Cummings

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