Saturday, May 23, 2009
US vs. UK - Diamonds
If you want to know the difference between the US and the UK then just look at the ring finger of any married woman.
Even the lowliest toilet-scrubber in the US will be sporting a cantilevered confection bristling with diamonds. I first noticed this while still living in the UK. My home town in North Yorkshire hosts a US Army Intelligence Base so it was not unusual for local women to meet and marry American serviceman. After having done so they could barely lift their left hands because Good Lord - where the UK engagement ring mantra seems to be 'it's the thought that counts' in the US it is definitely 'size matters'. It honestly had me wondering whether diamonds were ten a penny in the States.
Then I moved over here, and I swear the same DeBeers commercial that rhapsodizes 'how else can one month's salary last a lifetime' is two months salary in the US. I'm convinced I remember the 'one month' yardstick in the UK, but I'll admit I've tried and failed to google some proof of this. Am I just imagining this or are there really different standards in largesse? I really think so. Take a look at any issue of Hello magazine and you will see the wealthiest of Brits sporting the most modest of rings.
I inherited my engagement ring from my Nanna, and while it is definitely on the 'demure' side representing love in the North of England in the late 1930s it is priceless to me.
Having said that, I realise that whatever I write here may cast me in a jealous light as a result. I do notice what I call the 'Nordstrom effect' of being judged in shops by the lack of a carbon paperweight on my left hand. If you think I'm being paranoid, in high school LK used to teach kids tennis lessons at one of the swankiest clubs in town. The guy in charge pulled him to one side on his first day and told him to be most solicitous to the Moms with the big rings. If their child was worthless, persuade the parent that all he/she needed was extra tuition, if the child showed any talent at all, persuade the parent that private lessons would guarantee acceptance to the Ivy League school of their choice. If the ring lacked carats - don't bother with the kid.
Obviously there are exceptions to this, and I do know a lot of cool California chicks who sport the most pared-down of wedding bands, no in-your-face bling at all - something that I think is becoming increasingly popular.
Has anybody else noticed this? Any expat Brits out there fighting the good fight with their meek solitaires, or any Americans in the UK wondering why no-one else has 17 diamonds surrounding their 3 carat centerpiece?