Proposition Love Puts a Ring On It
Named after the Roman goddess Juno, the patroness of marriage, June has long been the "good luck" month for tying the knot, and gay and lesbian couples are not immune. If you’re planning on dropping to one knee, you might want to consider a jewelry company inspired by LGBT marriage rights. More than a few are giving their nuptials an added impact in the form of the little band of gold that set the entire process in motion, thanks to Sam Street, his partner, Jonathan Tack, and one very timely wedding.
"We were married in San Francisco just a few days before Proposition 8 went into effect," Street recalls.
Prop 8’s brazen revocation of equal rights for gays and lesbians galvanized Street and Tack to give back to their community in the form of Proposition Love, a wedding jewelry design company for gays and by gays to celebrate a couple’s dedication - with or without government recognition.
"We decided to create a stylish wedding line that supports our community," says Street. "Since then, Proposition Love jewelry grew into a company that has jewelry for everyone, in addition to our wedding line."
As one of the few gay-specific jewelers, Proposition Love found itself so popular and in demand the founders brought more lines to the market, and today the one-year-old company features a portfolio as diverse as much larger firms, spanning the casual to the formal. One of the most popular lines is the carbonado (black diamond) stud earrings, whose brilliant-cut stones are fastened in settings in the shape of skulls, a crown, or an eagle’s talon. Pendants and bracelets range from ceramic hearts and infinity symbols perfect for everyday wear to eye-catching baubles set with crystal, diamonds and carbonados in fanciful patterns; one pendant line features "LOVE" spelled out in a font style Street and Tack created for the company.
But it is Proposition Love’s original selection of rings that, in the firm’s one year of existence, has attracted rave reviews. Available in a spectrum of metals - white, yellow, and rose gold, cobalt, platinum, and silver - and decorated with triangle and rainbow arch motifs, the rings are symbolic of LGBTQs developing their own versions of marriage traditions. And fill in a few newly discovered gaps.
The EnGAYgement Ring
With marriage equality comes the awkward realization that engagement rings are not made for men. Diamonds have been a girl’s best friend since 1477, when Archduke Maximillian of Hamburg presented Mary of Burgundy with the first true diamond engagement ring and launched one of the longest hammerlocks in fashion history. But that history largely belongs to women; even as progress for LGBTQ marriage equality moves forward nationwide and worldwide, the fact remains that gay or straight, women wear the rings and get the diamonds.
There was a time when men were as bejeweled as women, but today, men tend to have a very different relationship with the razzle-dazzle sparklers Marilyn Monroe crooned for. A quick look at any jewelry counter will show that men’s jewelry sits at two extremes: Aggressively understated, such as the typical wedding band or Rolex, or "bling," which is the conscious objection of all understatement. The EnGAYgement Ring line, proprietary to Proposition Love, treads the fine middle ground between the two.
"We developed the EnGAYgement rings as a celebration of marriage equality," says Street, noting the ring can be made out of cobalt, white or yellow gold, or platinum. "They have a diamond and a triangle in the design, symbolic of gay pride and the struggle of gay rights through history."
Even with the prerequisite diamond centerpiece, the results are masculine pieces tastefully reminiscent of Art Deco with a modern, industrial twist. Triangles and rainbows seamlessly flow across gleaming metal, and under Street and Tack’s creative eyes, morph into powerful cruciform shapes and chevrons.
Heart of Gold
Proposition Love supports LGBTQs beyond its actual jewelry lines.
"We donate to many organizations that support gay rights, marriage equality, anti-bullying and gay teens, Lambda Legal, NOH8, Trevor Project to name a few," says Street. "Proposition Love has fundraising events such as our ’Love is Love Auction’ we held with celebrities in which 100 percent of the proceeds were donated to various charities. We donate 10 percent of the company profits to organizations supporting gay rights, marriage equality and gay teens."
As marriage equality legislation continues to move forward across the country, Proposition Love dedicates a specific ring to each state that recognizes same-sex couples. The Massachusetts ring features a carbonado set within a triangle; the Washington has alternating triangles marching in a raised band around the ring; lines of diamonds add subtle glamor to the New York ring.
Proposition Love’s message has proven so popular that Hollywood took notice and lent its collective might in the form of collaborations. At the LOVE IS LOVE fund raising event last December, Melissa Rivers unveiled her interlocking wave-patterned ring studded with diamonds; funny woman Kathy Griffin designed a 14K gold and silver ring with a hugs-and-kisses "XOXO" motif. Actress Tori Spelling and blogger Perez Hilton also contributed designs.
"Our jewelry has a voice behind it," sums Street. "A voice that supports our community and the ongoing challenges we face."
And it makes it that much sweeter to say "I do."
View the full collection at