A precious dazzling rock perched inside a tiny velveted box – the ultimate symbol of love and commitment.

History of the engagement ring is extremely disturbing and is no longer a secret – a quick internet search reveals the multiple layers of unethical sourcing and marketing behind the product. Even with this information out in the open, we continuously reinforce that to be presented with one is of utmost importance.

Although it’s increasingly common for relationships to be without an engaged or marital status, the expectation to receive or offer one of these jewels still weighs heavily on modern day relationships.

In an age where outdated norms are being openly rebuked, isn’t it about time we close the velvet lid on this expired tradition?

If a happy couple decides that they’d like to marry, then of course: this is a positive and exciting new chapter.

However, in heterosexual relationships, why is it the woman who must flaunt her fiancée status when the man is equally a part of this decision?

The imbalance of symbolization reflects unjust expectations from both sides.

There is simply no need for a woman to prove she’s committed to someone by donning an overpriced, oversized, impractical accessory. There’s also no need for a man to drop two months of his salary on a diamond ring in order to prove his love.

While these factors are not required to maintain a thriving relationship, society is still unable to breakaway from these expectations. This is possibly due to pressure from peers, family, or pop culture; but perhaps it's a matter of being the only widely-accepted romantic gesture in furthering one's importance.

For example, to be someone's fiancée could depict a higher importance in one’s life than to be a girlfriend – a relationship hierarchy which seems to be so strongly ingrained in us, it may be difficult to express or prove validity to our loved one in any other manner.

Not only is it inaccurate to assume one’s importance based on their relationship status/label, but it could also undermine a non-engaged (or married) partnership for what it is. One without a proposal isn’t necessarily less meaningful or committed than one containing an engagement ring; and shouldn’t be required as evidence of such qualities. Partners should already feel that they hold tremendous significance in each other's lives, without the need for extravagant affirmation.

Marriage is a huge decision, filled with legalities, planning and decision making. If either side of a relationship feels they’d like to take this step, why not simply open up the discussion? Although an open and mature dialog doesn’t hold much romantic prestige, the outcome will end up much the same; if not better.

I’ve heard far too many stories of people suffering in relationships due to the desire to marry, while anxiously waiting for their other half to pop the question.

Expressing desires and laying out expectations could reduce such on-going apprehension, while creating a strong foundation of trust and communication, without the underlying resentment of ‘being kept waiting’.

The sentimental decision to marry doesn't need to be narrowed down to one over-the-top event. It could be a journey decided upon and worked towards in a subtle, ethically-conscious manner if we allow it.

Imagine that you’ve never witnessed a Hollywood style proposal – what approach would you intuitively take to prepare your relationship for marriage?