When I was a queer baby in the ’90s, every time I saw someone wearing a wedding ring, I placed them in the straight column of my brain (the other column was loosely titled like me?). It feels like it’s been a hundred years since then, both for me and our culture. I recently did something I never expected to do: I got engaged.
I’ll preface this by saying that the future Mrs. Handsome Butch and I made this up as we went along and simply did what felt good to us. Neither of us had expectations of ever wearing an engagement ring, and now we both are. She has a tiny diamond ring from the 1940s, and I have a plain gold ring that makes me look like I’m already married.
We went to over to the very tiny, very lovely Catbird on the north side of Bedford Avenue between 4th and 5th Streets, and found my ring within minutes. It’s a 4mm half round (vs. flat) band — on the slim side, but proportionate to my hand, and less delicate than their 3 or 2mm bands. In my brief search for a ring, I learned that men’s bands traditionally have widths between 4mm and 8mm. I would just recommend starting at 4 and working your way from there to see what feels and looks right.
My ring’s white gold (I’m saving yellow gold for my wedding band), and it has a matte finish. Here’s what I’ve learned in the past few weeks while wearing this ring: 1. gold is a very soft metal and it scratches, and 2. eventually the matte finish will wear off and a patina will take its place (my aunt who’s a jeweler taught me that!). Perhaps the first of these two things will be the most important to keep in mind if you have plans to wear a gold band; 14k (what I got) is soft and scratches, while 18k is softer an scratches more, etc. If your ring scratches, you’re not doing anything wrong. I actually went back to Catbird to ask if I was doing something wrong and got confirmation that this is normal for gold when it’s exposed on the hand.
Here’s a picture I boldly took while on the street during the polar vortex:
Here’s the link to Catbird’s Men’s/Unisex collection of bands. In God We Trust (in Greenpoint, Williamsburg and SoHo) also has a collection of Commitment rings here. If you’re looking for a ring, the best advice I have is to go into stores and try them on — especially if it’s your first ring and you don’t know your size or style just yet. It’s okay to window shop — it’s educational. And even though Etsy has so many beautiful things, it’s hard to know how a beautiful thing is going to actually feel and look, so definitely do your research before placing an order for something. My sweetheart and I both took turns ordering each other engagement rings on Etsy and we had to return both of them. Jewelry is really tactile. Go out there and try it on, folks. You got this.
[Note: while we only had to go into Catbird to find my perfect ring, we went to a variety of really nice shops here in New York to find the perfect vintage diamond. In case you happen to be looking for one yourself, I recommend: Erica Weiner (there’s a shop in Brooklyn and the LES), Doyle & Doyle (West Village), Pippin (Chelsea) and Dylan the jeweler (who’s in Jersey City).]catbird engagement rings queer engagement erica weiner doyle and doyle pippin dylan the jeweler