This originally appeared on Mamamia. Republished here with permission.
My fiancé proposed with a cubic zirconia, or as some people might say, “a fake diamond.” I said yes and let him slide the $500, 2.5 carat extravaganza on my hand.
It was a balmy summer evening and the sky was washed in pink as the sun set over Perth’s coast. We nestled up on the beach, newly engaged and shared our dreams of one day living in this very coastal suburb.
Over the next week I couldn’t stop looking at my ring. The perfect cushion cut diamond and antique setting with a great, big rock. I wore it swimming, during an oil painting class and I happily flung it off while I did the dishes. It represented a promise and our love, nothing more—you don’t need money to get my honey.
I would watch in amusement as shop assistants stopped to look at my hand—all 2.5 carats glistening back at them. I felt a pang of anxiety as I showed off my ring to each of my friends. Did this cubic zirconia look like a diamond to the naked eye? They all commented on how stunning it was and congratulated me.
Nobody seemed to notice—maybe out of sheer excitement or politeness. This was a real engagement based on five years of trials, tribulations, and the sort of love that defies it all. I wanted people to celebrate our love and be part of my happiness—not question my choice of engagement ring.
My future mother-in-law inspected my engagement ring and looked up at my fiancé over her reading glasses, “You bought it from a jewelery store, yes?” she quipped. My fiancé carefully delivered a response he’d prepared earlier, “Yes, I bought it on a low interest credit card.” “Fair enough” she responded. My own mother stared knowingly at my gleaming CZ and we both gave each other a little smirk. She knew our financial plan and my views on engagement rings, no explanations were required.
Not long after we got engaged, I decided to hit the jewelery shops looking for a matching wedding band. “What a gorgeous, stunning ring,” professed the jeweler. Within 20 seconds of sitting down, she grabbed my hand and held a jeweler’s loupe to my ring. “Well, it’s not real,” she said matter–of- factly, “I’m a gemologist, but I can only tell it’s not real by looking at it closely. Your fiancé should really get you a proper diamond though. When you get married there will be mortgages and children and you won’t get nice jewelery. When you are young and getting married, everything should be perfect. Have you heard about the language of love? Gifts are important.”
I thought seriously about this jeweler’s unsolicited advice—I wasn’t offended, but interested. “Well, we don’t have a mortgage. We paid cash for our house—I put all of my money in and my fiancé’ put all of his cash in. In fact, the house is in my name. He bought me a reliable car for Valentine’s Day and we just got back from a beautiful holiday in New Zealand. We are saving for a trip to Europe—something we can both enjoy. I can’t justify $25,000 on my dream ring or even $3,000 on a ring that isn’t my dream ring.”
She responded, “If I was your mother, I wouldn’t allow this.” I told the jeweler that I would take her advice on board, politely left the store, and threw her advice back over board feeling ridiculous for offering a stranger an explanation.
I thought back to that evening in the park where we got engaged, in the beautiful beachside town where we wanted to live—great schools, white sandy beach, and 15 minutes to the city.
My fiancé was working hard on a property development and I was starting my own business. If everything went to plan we would live in our dream home in two years.
Over the next two years we would travel to Europe, get married in France, and work toward our shared dream. In 2015, we’d try for a baby and raise him or her in a happy, friendly, safe, beachside enclave.
I’d still have my engagement ring, but by then it would be replaced by a simple gold wedding band. In the grand scheme of things, would the knowledge that my beautiful ring was fake make me feel less about myself or my relationship? Would I be less happy?
In time, after the buzz died down, all of my friends knew about my big, fat fake diamond (I can’t keep secrets to myself).
“That’s fine. We would have never known,” they chorused. Although their acceptance was also peppered with advice, “Don’t tell people and definitely don’t tell anyone we went to (a private, all-girl’s) school with—they’re way too superficial to understand your choice,” and “You will make sure your wedding band is at least real though, won’t you?”
It was given to me with noble intentions from a man who makes me feel secure—and to me, that is far more romantic than a real ring.
Leece Humphrey is 29 and has worked as a contributing writer in print media. She has also worked as a nanny and preschool educator. She spends her weekends surrounded by her hilarious, supportive fiance and her diverse group of inspiring girlfriends.