Okay, I fully understand everyone’s excitement over the ring-exchange and engagement, but please don’t mock or dismiss Yuuri calling it a “lucky charm”.
Not only were those his honest and sincere feelings, but omamori are more than mere “lucky charms”, they’re a huge part of Japanese culture, and Japanese religion, with very profound meaning, so mocking that is actually incredibly rude, and highly culturally insensitive.
Traditionally, Japanese omamori look like this
and can be bought at most shrines and temples in Japan. I’d actually say they’re closer to “prayers” than “lucky charms”, really, in their intent, though that doesn’t quite fit, either. But when you know that the most common omamori are for things like safety in traffic, doing well in school, having romantic encounters, and fertility/safely born children (used both by couples who want kids, and expecting mothers hoping for no complications with their pregnancy), you probably see what I mean.
The word omamori translates roughly to protector/protection/protective charm, and are based on the animistic Shinto world view. The ones you get at shrines are part supplication that the enshrined deity will bless and protect you, and part a… hmm, almost a signal beacon? so said deity can find you, to know that you’re someone under their protection. And also part comfort for the carrier, that they’re not alone, that they’ve got someone on their side.
But it’s not just “official” deities that are considered to have protective powers. Your ancestors are also seen sort of as guardian spirits protecting their family line (common theme in East Asian religions - Mulan, anyone? - at least, and I think also in all animistic religions, though that’s not my area of expertise), and even such ambiguous things as strong emotions are seen to have protective and blessing properties, especially love and affection.
For this reason, a lot of people will use mementos or objects of sentimental value as omamori. Either because it reminds them of a particular person or situation or emotion, or because they see some kind of link between that particular object and whatever they seek blessings for/protection against.
The important part for Yuuri, and why he bought that ring, is less that it’s a wedding ring, and more that it’s a gold ring. Yes, emphasis on both gold and ring.
The gold part is obvious, because the blessing he wants is help in getting a gold medal. It’s a resonance/like-brings-like thing.
The ring part is more obscure, but I’ll try to explain it.
One of the most basic and important parts of Japanese culture and society is the idea of 縁 (en). If you look it up in a Japanese-English dictionary, you get words like fate, destiny, chance, a relationship, a connection, a bond, an affinity, and while those are all ways to translate the word, depending on context, they don’t really explain the concept. En is the meeting of two or more things/beings that leaves a lasting connection or bond.
You might say you don’t have en with money to indicate that you can never seem to amass any wealth. It’s less you’ve got no luck with money, but more that you and money were never meant to be. You might earn it, but it still doesn’t stick around, somehow. An omamori for romance is called an enmusubi, or a “tier of en/bonds”, in this case referring to interpersonal relationships.
If you’re saying goodbye to someone you don’t know whether you’ll ever see again, you might express a wish that you’ll have en, and be able to meet again.
Now, I’ve mentioned in previous posts that the Japanese love homonyms and word associations. This is even more true for en, because it’s so important to them. Like in the example of a farewell, you might give someone a five yen coin, because five yen is go-en (五円), and when speaking of en with an honorific, that’s also go-en (ご縁). It’s a physical manifestation of your wish to have en with them. This is also why five yen coins are generally considered the best coins to give as offerings when you pray for something, despite their low value, because it indicates a hope for en with your wish.
Okay, getting to the point now: Another homonym (well, technically the same one, but different usage) for en is the word for circle or round. And because that’s basically what a ring is, rings are often used as a metaphor for, or an expression of a wish for en. So rings generally have a more profound level of meaning in Japanese.
It’s a gold ring because Yuuri wishes to have en with gold medals. He gives it to Victor because he wishes to have en with him.
He spent the whole day looking for something. He said he’d desperately wanted an omamori for a long time. He’s embarrassed, because yes, it’s a goddamn wedding ring, and he’s very aware of that, and giving rings to someone, period, is not something a Japanese person does lightly. It’s a very meaningful act, and this omamori is very important to Yuuri, so going “lol, lucky charm, yeah right” is incredibly disrespectful.