Ask Team Practical: Ring Olympics, Men’s Division

It’s Ask Team Practical Friday, and also Good Friday, if you’re into that.  So a meaningful Good Friday to some of you, happy Passover to others of you, and for the rest of y’all, let’s talk about engagement rings with hilarious Alyssa! She wrote up a little something for your partner, to help him with his ring quest. If you want to buy her a gift to thank her, she really wants a pony (but shhhhh…. don’t tell her I told you). Now, let’s get cracking!

My boyfriend and I have been together for almost four years, and we have talked about getting engaged this year. I’ve told my boyfriend that I really just want a simple, inexpensive ring, but he feels like people will judge him if he doesn’t spend a certain amount. Especially in the age of Facebook photos of rings that are met with “OMG AMAZEBALLS” comments. Most of our friends and co-workers who have recently gotten married have big, expensive rings, but I keep trying to tell him that LOTS of people do it differently.

It’s not about the money. We both have good paying jobs. I would rather spend our money on our upcoming trip to Europe and on the wedding itself. I almost never wear jewelry, and I don’t want an extravagant ring. I’m kind of a type A, bossy person, and my friends have told me to back off and let my boyfriend plan the proposal and ring. To trust him to do it on his own.

We have the same values, and he usually doesn’t care about societal pressure. I feel like the wedding industrial complex is already influencing him.


Oh, Penelope.  Your friends are right, to a point.  Let your boyfriend plan the proposal, but if you feel strongly about your engagement ring, then you should give some input.  Which you’re giving, but he might not be hearing.  Here, let me talk to him…


Dear Penelope’s Honey,

Hey you!  I hear you might be ring shopping soon, and that is awesome and amazing and congratulations in advance!

However, I also hear that maybe you might think that you need to buy a giant and/or expensive engagement ring.  And that’s totally not your fault.  With commercials coming at you and telling you how much to spend and how IMPORTANT the ring is, friends flashing their giant rocks on the internet and all but showing the price tag, and then the general pressure of just being someone who is about to propose…it can be overwhelming.

And I am here, on behalf of Penelope, to tell you to stop, drop and roll your butt away from all that mess.  It can lead to no good.

But I’m not going to tell you not to buy a giant ring because of the looming pressure of WIC.  Nope, giant rings are pretty and lots of people like them.  Nothing wrong with that.  My idea of what constitutes a “giant ring” might be completely different than Penelope’s, so that designation is between the two of you.

I am also not going to tell you to not buy an extravagant ring because it’s expensive.  The amount you spend has to do with your finances and those are none of my business.

I’m not even going to tell you to not buy a giant ring because of peer pressure.  Some people enjoy the status symbol of a large diamond ring and if that’s your thing, that’s your thing.  I really wish you wouldn’t care what those people think, but again, none of my business.

What I am going to tell you is to not buy a giant ring for the pure and simple fact that your girlfriend does not want one, and she would be uncomfortable wearing it if she did get one.

If Penelope came after you with a god-awful shirt done in sequins and tassels and blinking lights that said, “PENELOPE’S” would you wear it every day (erm, assuming that’s not your style)?  Of course not. But if it was the symbol of your upcoming marriage and she got down on one knee to give it to you, you might.  But you’d secretly hate it, even though you loved her.  And that’s how Penelope would feel about a ring with a large diamond. (Also?  Know what they call large diamond rings in not-so-savory areas?  Mug-me-rings.  Consider it a safety issue.)

So how DO you go about getting a ring that Penelope will love?

Well, you could ask her.

Sure, complete surprise is romantic, but getting her input on what she likes takes the pressure off of you.  A lot of people choose the ring together and keep the proposal the surprise.  (My husband and I did.)  Penelope doesn’t need to see the end product if  surprise is important to you, but some input on material and style upfront will help you go a long way in the ring buying process.  Plus, you’re going to have to find out her ring size and you don’t happen to have a jeweler’s tool to do that lying around the house now, do you?  Hit up a jewelry store, find her size, look around together and discuss what you like and do not like.  (Look for yourself too, mister.  You’ll be wearing a ring, eventually.)

Still wanna make those AMAZEBALLS Facebook friends go nuts?  Tell them how you shrugged off conformity and had a custom designed ring.  Go on Etsy or find a jeweler that does work that is similar to something she might like (enlist a friend of hers to help if the thought of this gives you hives) and commission something.  You can also just look on the internet for artists in your area who can make an engagement ring for you if a face-to-face meeting or brick and mortar store would make you feel more comfortable.  If you’ve got a university or art school nearby, speak to a professor or head of the art department and see if they have any advanced students that you might be able to commission.  This can be tricky; you won’t be assured of the quality and durability unless it’s from an established artist, and even then it’s not always guaranteed.  Also, this can be a long process.  But it will be significantly unique.  Like your little Penny-Bunny.

How about a vintage ring?  Meg has one.  It’s best to do this together, but check out estate sales and antique shops for rings that you might adore.  They’ll more than likely need to be sized, but that’s usually fairly easy and you’ll have a ring with beauty and history.

You can also try to find a ring that is not only thoughtful but politically and environmentally friendly. (Oh look, I just happen to have one right here.) You can bask in your good karma, which totally beats giant diamonds any day.

OR…you can just go to a jewelry store and buy something in her style that she’ll love.  What makes the ring truly special is the fact that it is her engagement ring.  It’s a symbol of your intent to commit to one another and that’s what makes it amazing, not its size.  Hell, it doesn’t have to be a standard ring.  I know people who’ve gotten engaged with rings from bubblegum machines or had an engagement puppy.  My sister-in-law bought her ring off of Ebay. Find something pretty that you can afford.  And consider new friends if they make you feel bad about your choice, because that’s just crappy.  Seriously.

Still not convinced?  Still have a deep-seated notion that Penelope really DOES want a ring that costs three months salary and she’s just trying to make you feel better?  Dude.  SHE WROTE TO STRANGERS TO FIND WAYS TO CONVINCE YOU THAT SHE DOESN’T.  She just wants something pretty that she has some say in and that you are both financially comfortable with.  And you.  She wants you most of all.  The ring is just icing on the big beautiful cake that is your relationship.

Take care and get off Facebook,

Alyssa and Team Practical.


Alright ladies.  We know y’all love talking about your rings.  Help Penelope and her partner out; how did you make the choice you did for your ring and avoid the Ring Olympics?

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  • Rachel

    This could not come at a more perfect time.

    I’ve never been into big, flashy diamond rings. I have nothing against them, but they’re not my style. I’ve told my boyfriend that I’d prefer a simple sapphire ring, and that I don’t want him to spend more than $500, because I think it’s a waste of money (again, for us – I’m not judging what other people spend!)

    I was really surprised by his reaction. I thought he’d be relieved that the pressure to spend something crazy like three-months salary or whatever on a sparkly diamond was off, but instead he said “I have to spend more than that!” WIC was indeed already on him, telling him that if he didn’t break the bank, he didn’t love me, and that everyone would judge him accordingly if they saw my non-flashy ring.

    We’ve talked it over since then and he’s become more comfortable with the concept, but I was surprised at how hesitant he was! I’ve also discovered in further discussion that the thought of having to buy the ring, keep it secret, keep it hidden, and then somehow sneak it out to wherever he wants to propose was really, really stressing him out (he’s TERRIBLE with surprises, he can’t pull them off to save his life) – so he asked me if I’d mind if he proposed without a ring, and then we picked one out together after. I don’t mind at all, and that’s actually how his parents got engaged – his dad in a moment of loving bliss asked his mom if she’d marry him – she said yes, they went ring shopping together the next day, and the rest is history! They’re still happily married 27 years later, so obviously the lack of a ring at the proposal didn’t lead to any bad juju.

    • Yay for understated sapphire rings! I love mine. :)

      Mine I know was quite a bit more than $500 … but that’s because it was custom made, ethically sourced, imported from Ireland, etc. You can definitely find what you want in that price range, though.

    • ellabynight

      My best friend just got engaged and her ring is a gorgeous, understated sapphire ring. She and her honey looked for the ring together before the proposal and had a lot of fun doing it. They learned pretty quickly that they were going to have to look online for sapphire rings because the (big) jewelers they visited looked at them cross-eyed when they said they weren’t interested in diamonds. And they actually ended up finding the perfect ring for ~$700 on–of all places–Amazon!

      • meredyth

        Yeah! I went and looked on my own once. I wanted to get sized and just look around. I asked to look at emeralds and she took me to the emerald cut diamonds. When I said “No, emeraldzzzz!” She looked at me weird but showed them. I commented below about our engagement but wanted to add here. :)

        • um, can i just say it’s awesome that you went to look at rings on your own?

          • Heather

            um, why not? we ladies like to be informed shoppers.

    • Jen M

      I’ve also requested a sapphire. Mostly because I think diamonds are kind of plain. And I like blue, sparkly sparkly blue.
      I have yet to see the results of this request, but I sent the BF many snapshots and links of styles that I like. He felt bad about asking me for specifics, but I said, “There’s nothing romantic about you guessing and me getting something I hate.”

      There’s def. a lot of pressure on the men-folk for a 3-karat-diamond-in-pave-setting-given-while-skydiving-over-a-rainbow-at-sunset-landing-in-an-eternity-pool-filled-with-peach-rose-petals kind of crap. I feel bad for them…

      • Caroline

        I did the same sort of thing. I showed him pictures of things I liked and things I hated, dragged him to every jewlery store we walked past, and talked about what I wanted. (exactly what I wanted, I never saw a good example of, but he said he knew what I wanted maybe even better than me). And then he came home from a visit with his parents with a ring that me go “Omg amazeballs (if I said such things). It’s not what I thought I wanted but it’s exactly what I wanted. The diamond is by no means huge, though by no means huge, but since I mostly didn’t want him(us, since we’ve already combined finances) to spend a fortune on a ring. Since this one is free, and not so big I feel like a spectacle, but big enough that his “manly pride that he could provide a big diamond for me” is satisfied.
        I love it, I love that it has a family history, I love how it looks, I love that it was free, and I am still obsessed with how SPARKLY it is.
        I think he plans a proposal, though i’d be good with just announcing our engagement though we can’t soon :( but I wear it at home everyday.
        So yeah, see if either of your parents or grandparents has a ring you can use.

      • “There’s def. a lot of pressure on the men-folk for a 3-karat-diamond-in-pave-setting-given-while-skydiving-over-a-rainbow-at-sunset-landing-in-an-eternity-pool-filled-with-peach-rose-petals kind of crap.”

        This made me bust up laughing. But it’s so true. There are actually proposal-planning/execution businesses now! How’s that for WIC??

    • Claire

      I also have a sapphire in my engagement ring. It’s actually a padparadscha sapphire and I love it’s unique orangey-red color. It’s meaningful to me because its my birthstone and because its a constant reminder of how my husband actually listened to me when I voiced my own ethical and practical reasons for not wanting to wear a diamond on my finger. Here’s the other thing: it’s lab-created. Not a popular choice, I know, but it was right for me. That was my preference and I love it because it’s perfect, practical (read: way less expensive), and for sure ethically sourced. Besides, my husband is an engineer and we were both intrigued by the manufacturing process. It was a choice that worked best for us.

      • Hypothetical Sarah

        I commented about this lower down… my ring is a solitaire, colored lab diamond. I’m a chemist who works on mimicking nature in the lab, so it makes perfect sense for (and to) me! Sometimes people try to tell me that it’s somehow “fake” or “less sentimental” than a “real” one, but it’s chemically and spectroscopically identical to one dug out of the earth. I find it to be an interesting test of people and their reactions. Plus, if I don’t tell them it’s lab-made, they’ll never know.

        • marbella

          I have a clear lab-created ‘diamond’ for ethical reasons, and have to tell people, because you cannot tell by looking. When we were looking for wedding bands, not one of the jewellers had any idea it wasn’t a diamond, and their reactions to a couple with what they thought was a fair-sized diamond were so weird. It is super sparkly and pretty :)

          • Hypothetical Sarah

            Ah, but (chemist speaking), it IS a diamond. (Unless by ‘diamond’ you’re referring to moissanite or one of the other sparkly alternatives.) Diamond is defined by its composition, crystal structure, and other physical properties. Not how it’s made.

        • Sabrina

          I have a moissonite solitare that is soooo puurrrtttyyy. And no one questions that it’s a diamond, the average person looks at it, sees shiny white and thinks diamond. But I love to use that as an opportunity to talk to people about ethical, cost effective alternatives to diamonds. I chose my ring. I went online and picked the exact one I wanted and emailed it to my boyfriend. He did the rest from there!

      • Yael

        My boyfriend bought me a lab-created blue diamond, and I couldn’t be happier with it… There’s no way anyone can tell the difference between it and a “real” diamond, and even if they could, I wouldn’t feel down about it. Like you, I wanted to have an ethically-sourced rock, and this worked out perfectly.

        Besides, I wanted something coloured and he insisted on diamond. This was a wonderful compromise.

    • Does “in a moment of loving bliss” mean what I think it means???

      (Sorry, my mind automatically went there.)

      • Rachel

        Hahaha, whoops, no that’s not what I meant! But now that I think about it that way I see how it sounds like that! I just meant he was overcome with love and emotion and proposed on a whim :)

    • My ‘dream’ ring is a simple, yellow gold 1/4 carat round cut diamond solitaire. That’s it. You can find it from $300-$450 pretty much anywhere. I picked it out long ago, with the idea that I’d get a fancy, two tone wedding band that outshone the engagement ring. Because the engagement ring represents the engagement, while the wedding ring represents the marriage. It therefore never made sense to me why the engagement ring is always grander.

      Still, now that Ryan and I are close to the ring shopping time (we’re one of those ‘pre-engaged’ couples) I’m telling myself to let go of my dream ring. Not because I wouldn’t be happy if he got it for me, but because I realized that with me picking out a ring that I love, it had nothing to do with him… Plus, I also have been more concerned about the whole blood diamond thing, so I realized I’d be okay with moissanite or something like that.

      But then when I thought about that, I realized he might get me a ring I hated. :)

      So I set down and I told him just what I liked and just what I didn’t. I told him on facebook chat and he saved it. :) So when the time comes, he’ll have guidance. It’ll be soon… but I’m not sure how soon. So I’m hoping it’s great… and even if it’s not I’ll pretend it is because he’s great and he’s the one I want for the rest of my life, ring be darned. :)

  • First of all, anyone who thinks your ring isn’t impressive enough or expensive enough isn’t someone you want to invite to your wedding anyway. Engagement rings aren’t even necessary (I’ve heard from couples who never had anything and couples who did different engagement symbols, like a new surfboard.) They only really matter to the people in the relationship. I feel so bad that Penelope’s boyfriend feels such pressure from their friends and society in general!

    My ring isn’t gigantic or covered in diamonds. But it’s absolutely perfect for me and exactly what I would have chosen for myself. I don’t even care what anyone else’s ring looks like because it’s not mine and wasn’t specifically picked out with me in mind. My fiance went to my cousin (a jewelry designer) and they put together a ring that would suit my personality and my hand into account. I couldn’t imagine wearing anything else, even if it were a diamond as big as the Ritz. (Fitzgerald fans out there?)

  • Rachel T.

    I had this same issue. There is a lot of pressure on the men for the ring and the proposal in general. But we started our planning process first and then got engaged six months later. I, like Penelope, don’t wear a lot of jewelry and feel silly wearing a big giant ring. They’re beautiful, but they’re not me. I sent some pictures to my fiance, things from Etsy I found and loved, some standard and some really not so standard. I fell in love with one that was COMPLETELY against the grain – silver band, diamond slice, completely flawed and included (translating to lots of cracks and dirt); it was the farthest thing from a diamond. I LOVED it. I sent it to fiance, he filed it with the others I had sent him, and I kept thinking about it. Months went by, nothing happened, and I had to ask what the deal was. He explained he only had $300 and just couldn’t afford one yet. Keep in mind at this point, we had already reserved our date, space, photographer, caterer, and videographer (haha!). I told him, yet again, and I think this time he heard me – the ring I loved more than any other was $260. I actually loved it, not it was cheap enough for him to afford. But most importantly, I explained that I wanted HIM, just like Alyssa said. I wanted to get married to him. This was just the symbol, and we were already basically engaged already. He explained proposing with a ring was important to him, and I said that was completely fine. But I told him that the ring I loved was affordable and I was serious about it. He believed me, and a few days before Christmas, almost 7 months after we started planning the wedding, we got engaged at our pond. It was perfect. I still get the “that’s interesting” comments all the time on my ring. It being non-typical makes people uncomfortable and they don’t know what to think. His grandmother even asked when I was getting my real engagement ring. Every time, I smile as large as I can and say “I love this ring. It’s perfect” and they shut up, realizing they’ve put their foot in their mouthes.

    • AnotherCourtney

      We did the same thing! We just “got engaged” last week, which means I now have a pretty ring on my finger and we announced it publicly, but we’ve been planning for a couple months now. Our closest friends weren’t surprised at all – “Of course you’d have a venue reserved before you even get engaged” they’d tell me, but I’ve gotten some strange reactions from acquaintances. One was super excited about looking through wedding magazines with me until I told her I bought my dress months ago. Then her face dropped, she said “oh, then nevermind” and hasn’t mentioned the wedding to me since. I have a more traditional diamond ring, but the reactions I get to already having a date/photographer/dress/etc. are probably similarly awkward. I kind of love the awkwardness :)

    • I have had the exact same thing happen.

      This is my engagement ring — — though my boyfriend had it custom made in white gold instead of yellow gold. I love love love it; it is eco-friendly and non-blingy and very me. But, especially at first, when people would get all psyched to “see the ring,” I could see them get a little confused/disappointed/deflated when they, well, saw the ring.

      But it is perfect for me!

      • Anne

        Just chiming in to say holy cow is that a gorgeous ring, and I now kind of want pretty much one of everything on that designer’s site. What a find!!

      • Rachel T.

        I’m so glad I’m not alone in our backwards planning then getting engaged. It felt right for us, and we were happy, but people certainly have been strange through the whole process. Even my best friend was weird and wouldn’t mention it to me until he had proposed, saying she was afraid I was pushing him into planning and that he didn’t want to marry me (she lives nowhere near us and had met him three times in the 4 yrs we’d been dating). It was rough, but it made us stronger I think.

        And I LOVE your ring!!! Mine is basically the same in silver but mine is flatter, a sliver if you will. It’s perfect, and I love it. It makes me smile every day when I see it. But yep, those bizarre reactions people give. I just don’t get it. Isn’t the YAY factor that we’re getting married, not my ring? And I refused to put it on facebook because I wanted the focus to be on us, not my ring. Instead, I posted a picture of us after he asked me.

      • Celeste

        haha so funny – I used to work for MJM!

  • Paranoid Libra

    The ring olympics post is the one that convinced my guy that he didn’t need to buy me a ring that was uberthousand dollars. I ‘accidentally’ left the page open on the laptop. It turned into him reading a few more of the engagement and proposal posts.

    I searched for hours for my ring on the internets and found my gorgeous blue-green tourmaline ring(yes it was a bit of a specific color I was going for) on good ol’ e-bay. I told him I wanted that one and it’s on sale. He said then get it and since I had the established ebay account, I ordered it.

    Now the waiting game is even more fun :rolls eyes: It’s in my house somewhere just dying to get on my finger(I hear it calling to me I swear) and I just get to wait since he wants to pop it all official and surprise like…yet tells me yesterday he had until weds when i leave earlier than him for my best friend’s wedding to get the dogs settled into my parents house. EEEEEEEEEEEEE I can shout from the roof tops in less than a week I has my pretty tourmaline ring on!…yes I’m excited is it obvious? Thanks for listening APW and sorry for the slight off shoot ramble it’s just exciiiitttinggg.

    Penelope (love the name by the way) just try to get him to read a few of these APW posts on here somehow and it will hopefully sink in. Good luck cuz I know I’d be afraid of losing an expensive ring myself and personally couldn’t find it practical for us financially to have an uberthousand dollar ring and hpefully he’ll understand what ever your personal feelings are towards not spending that amount and will look in your comfort zone then.


      I had a similiar experience.

      Found my engagement ring by using google images and typing in gold band. I loved it. It was not hugely expensive – but he did have to have it flown from England because we couldn’t find it in the states. Then I knew he had received it and I waited for almost 4 months before he actually asked me. It made me nutty in the best possible way! I knew the ring was in our little 1 bedroom…waiting for me. And I hadn’t seen it in person yet! Knowing what the ring looked like only added to the anticipation.

      Now when people ask to see my engagement ring, they have a moment where they look at my face to see if I am upset because it is understated – and then I tell them that I loved it so much, we had it flown from England. And they shut up and smile for me. One friend (who loves some bling) even confessed that after realizing that she didn’t have to have a huge engagement ring, started looking online for understated and simple.

      The best part is that I never scratch my face or snag my clothing with a big rock – because with the amount that I talk with my hands – this was as much a safety decision as an aesthetic one!

    • Class of 1980


      I adore Blue-Green Tourmalines!!!! We don’t see enough of them!

      • Paranoid Libra

        Seriously, tourmalines are a severely underestimated gem stone. They come in a rainbow of colors and can be two toned, TWO TONED people! Doesn’t get much more awesome than that with still having a sturdy hardness to it (im looking at you opal, with your pretty rainbows on one stone, but soft as hell and usually bad for rings)

        I want it nnnooowwwww.

        • Class of 1980

          Well, lock your door. I’m coming over to steal it. ;)

  • Kate

    My fiance picked out a ring and surprised me with a proposal, his rationale being “I guess I’m just traditional in that regard.” Which I found adorable, because as an obsessive reader of Miss Manners I know there’s nothing traditional about the surprise proposal complete with ring. The WIC got to him! Lucky for us both, he did a great job of picking the ring. The only thing I had ever said about it was that I didn’t want a blood diamond, so he found a great antique ring. I still think the widespread cultural expectation that the guy will surprise the lady, when theoretically they’ve both been talking marriage (uh because they’re adults and it’s a life changing decision) and she may have even picked out the ring which he’s then supposed to go hide and produce with appropriate fanfare, is silly at best. But I have to be careful how much I rant about it, because that’s not how it happened for us.

  • Seraphine

    My fiance and I got engaged without an official proposal after dating for only a short period of time (it’s a long, kinda funny story). Afterwards, I told him that I didn’t want an engagement ring. Instead, we got custom-made matching wedding bands. While they weren’t inexpensive, they’re beautiful and made by a designer that we love (uses recycled gold, raw diamonds from reputable sources, and ecofriendly sources when possible, etc.). While I wouldn’t necessarily suggest our path for everyone (I know that engagement rings matter to others), it’s totally us. And I don’t think either of us have ever felt judged for doing things our own way–people have actually responded quite positively. Our only difficulty is that we both want to be wearing the rings right now! (We’re getting married in July.)

  • Ha! “Take care and get off Facebook” = best sign-off ever.

    • Cass

      The Facebook thing was something I was adamant about. It’s no one’s business how big my ring is. If they’re interested, they will look at my hand when they see me.
      Personally, I get a little disgusted when I see other people’s engagement rings, and nothing else. No proposal story, no unique ring story, just the rock.
      I will give you my best wishes for your wedding, not a congratulations on getting an expensive pretty.

      • Well said. I’m happy for friends getting engaged, but it’s not the time/place to flaunt your giant jewelry.

      • Definitely. I love when people are excited they’re getting married and excited to share that love with everyone! I want to see their rings and I want to hear about their proposals and I want to know how happy they are! But a picture of a huge diamond solitaire, with no comment about anything else? Yawn. Give me a story I can read and smile about and remember! (Or don’t, obviously, if that’s not your thing! But don’t just put up a picture of a ring and let me guess it probably means you’re getting married.)

        • My sister took some pictures of my ring when we announced our engagement to our family, and she put them on facebook and tagged them. I should’ve probably avoided the whole ring-picture thing in the first place, but I immediately untagged them. I sent pictures of it to my best friends because I do love it, but I don’t feel like my pen pal from elementary school or that girl I went to string quartet camp with really need to see it!

      • Amy

        Yes! I understand taking the ring pictures to send to far-flung family and friends, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around posting it on facebook for all the world to see. Then again, I’m also super quiet and private on facebook and it took a fair bit of prodding for me to put up any pictures of our engagement. A ginormous pic of just the ring with no other details/story/anything just seemed very WIC to me.

        • Cass

          I outright refused to put a picture of my ring on Facebook. What if some creeper saw it, and decided to try and rob me?
          I sent a personal e-mail to close-family, and that was it.

        • Beb

          I posted a picture of my (gorgeous, incredible) ring on facebook because my fiance was so proud of it and overjoyed that I loved it, and he took like a bajillion pictures of me wearing it. In fact, I wanted just pictures of my face and he kept saying, “Hold up your hand!!” So I did. :) We also put up a bunch of pics of us grinning like goofballs (no ring in sight), as well. It was just a way of sharing our joy.

          • Class of 1980

            At least you completed the story by also putting up pictures of you two grinning like goofballs. That sounds so cute.

        • ElfPuddle

          My brother’s fiance posted a pic of her ring without a story. It sounds very WIC unless you’ve seen the ring. My brother designed it. It looks like a vine wrapped around her finger with ginko leaves and a yogo sapphire. She doesn’t have any facebookmon (the people you friend to play games or just so you can say you have a lot of friends…”got to catch them all”), so the pic seemed like them, not like WIC.

          • Jen

            That sounds like the most gorgeous ring ever. Lots of personalization and thought, and who doesn’t love a Yogo sapphire??!

          • Class of 1980

            I love that ring and haven’t even seen it! I am really into botanical jewelry.

    • I think I might start signing my emails this way! :)

  • What I am going to tell you is to not buy a giant ring for the pure and simple fact that your girlfriend does not want one, and she would be uncomfortable wearing it if she did get one.

    THIS X 1000.

    My husband wanted to do a surprise proposal, but he wanted to get me something he knew I would love. Now, truth, my husband has very good taste AND also knows what I like, and if he had chosen something on his own I know I would have liked it. However, he was obsessing. He and I got talking about rings one night, and he already knew I wanted white gold or platinum, a celtic design, and that I wanted a colored stone. However, he initially was thinking of getting me a three stone with an emerald at the center and 2 diamonds on either side.

    Pretty, right? I would have liked that. However (me, having no idea he was looking), said I really wanted a sapphire (“But I thought your favorite color was green?!” “It is, but I think sapphires look prettier with silver.”) and that I didn’t want a 3 stone, but a solitaire.

    So, now he was going to obsess, and anything he chose he was going to second guess. After a couple of consultations with our amazing jeweler, they devised a plan to get me in the store to choose my own ring.

    We went around Christmas time under the guise of getting our moms celtic jewelry for Christmas. Tom, our jeweler, caught sight of us and swooped in for the kill. “I’m not busy right now. Please, let’s just play with rings.” So, I indulged Tom while he had me try on a bunch of different rings, and I chose a 1/4 carat sapphire solitaire with two celtic knots on either side. The setting could fit up to one carat, and while that ring was beautiful, I have small hands. The small stone was more understated and more me.

    When C went to pick up the ring, Tom said to him, “I know SHE will love it, but do YOU love it?”

    He responded (and this is one of the reasons I love him, because he *gets it*), “I don’t have to love it. It’s HER ring.”

    I got a few, “Oh, that’s … different,” when I showed off my ring. I then followed up with the crazy trick-me-into-choosing-ring story, and the conceptions of it being not a traditional giant rock melt away into, “Oh my God, that was so romantic.” Yes, I suppose, my husband’s uber-neurotic tendencies look pretty romantic in this light. :)

    • clampers

      “’I know SHE will love it, but do YOU love it?’”

      So weird!

      • Beth

        Even weirder…my bf and I were out doing some on the ground wedding band information gathering (aka walking into jewelers and quizzing them about the pros and cons of various metals). I’m pretty sure I want a plan ol’ palladium wedding band–no diamonds, no fuss.

        The saleswoman was horrified that I would want palladium over platinum. I’m a chemist…so I know that these are two very very similar elements…not to mention my research had shown that palladium is lighter AND harder than platinum. Her argument against palladium? Platinum has a higher resale value.


        Needless to say when the day comes to buy for real, they will not be seeing our business….

        • I have a friend (also a chemist) who was told by a jeweler “Palladium is a type of Platinum”. Um, no.

          But Beth, seriously, what if you ever need to pawn your wedding ring to stock your lab?

          • marbella

            palladium is of the platinum family, so I can see why someone would say that, although not literally correct. I have palladium and love it!

        • Class of 1980

          My favorite designer alloys their platinum with palladium, which I think helps with wear and tear and keeping the finish bright.

        • memery

          my engagement ring is palladium and I love it. We picked it out together, and our jeweler was awesome enough to suggest we have it made in palladium instead of platinum because it saved us several hundred dollars and no one knows the difference. I love it.

          • Vmed

            My engagement ring and our wedding rings are made of palladium. They are light and bright and beautiful. Can’t wait to wear the set… our hands look so grown up with all the rings.

            Also, we had an old, old-fashioned proposal- we had talked a lot about marriage, one day he asked me formally, the next day we went ring shopping together. Because he wanted me to have a ring I love, and it was simpler not to guess at it.

            We ended up with a rectangular radiant shape. And palladium. My favorite.

        • Paranoid Libra

          Yea it has better resale….resale from them to you.

          Stupid people…Stupid WIC….

        • Claire

          My husband was asking about the possibility of using titanium for the ring he had designed for me and one jeweler responded that it couldn’t be used because ” with bridal jewelry you need that pride of ownership that only comes from using REAL metals” So, if it’s not gold or platinum, then it’s a fake metal? Nice.

      • I’m sure he sees a lot of that. Though, in fairness, the clientele for those kinds of rings is more APW/OBB/etc. style than WIC style.

        I should add, though, that when my ex-bf and I were talking marriage, he was put off by the fact that I didn’t particularly want a diamond, but a colored stone, and I wanted something small and understated. His taste I DID NOT trust, and he had already said things like, “Well, it’s just as important for me to like it as you, since I’m making an investment.” (For realz? WTF? This is one of many reasons he’s an EX.) I said, “No, it’s more important for ME to like it because if I DON’T like it than your “investment” is going to sit in a jewelry box, unworn.” (My mom said that was mean of me to say. I didn’t care.)

        Anyway, one day his sister, his mom, and I were wandering around SoHo (NYC, not London) and they went to the display window of a jewelry shop that had these ugly rings with ginourmous rocks and were oohing and aahing. I made a face and said, “Eh, I don’t care for those. They’re too big!”

        Both stopped and stared at me as if I said, “Puppies should be eaten.”

        “You NEVER EVER EVER say a diamond is too big. There is no such thing.”

        For the first time (and I had known them both for some time, at this point), I took note of both of their engagement rings, which were both giant rocks. And I knew where my ex got it from.

  • Kara

    Love this! Just forwarded to the BF-soon to be fiance. He refuses to believe me when I tell him I don’t want a large diamond.

    • Amy

      I don’t wear much jewelry at all, and I knew my husband would have zero idea of what I wanted. Not to mention, rings look very different on your hand than they do in the case. So I took my girlfriend to look at rings with me when we were seriously talking engagement. You think a boyfriend doesn’t believe you about not wanting a large diamond? Try telling that to the jewelry shop people! I picked out a setting I liked, got a picture of the ring, and then noted that I didn’t want a stone any larger than “x-size”. The lady I was working with thought I was absolutely insane for not pressuring him to do as big as possible and tried to convince both he and I that I would regret it later. Um, no, I’d regret having a “mug me” diamond on my hand on the subway, and when traveling. Thanks for fostering the ring olympics though lady!

    • Ha, me too! We’ve been looking at rings together and I tend toward rings that have ornate designs with teeeeeeeny tiny diamonds. When I show them to him he’s like, “But they’re so small.”

    • Steph & B

      I played up and over exaggerated my clumsiness when we started talking about a large ring.

      “Honey, you know how much of a clutz I am. Do you really want to put some big diamond on my finger and have it all hiked up on prongs only for me to bang against everything that I come across? I could loose the diamond. Prongs come loose all the time and you know I’ll never notice. Not to mention that’s just one more thing for me to stab you with. And think about our babies. I could never wear a big ring with a baby.”

      That and along with some other not so subtle hints is how I got my nice understated bezel set ring. I did have a hard time convincing jewelers that this was what I wanted when I went in to see if I could find a bezel-set ring to see how it would look on. What do you mean you don’t want to flaunt your diamond/a bigger diamond/more diamonds? Thank god he went to a small town jeweler that he trusted and had a relationship with.

      That’s the one bit of advice I would give to men. Don’t think about the ring first. Think about the jeweler. If you don’t have one that you know personally, go to a family member or friends. If you have relationship with that jeweler, they will listen to you. And it will really help add to the memory of the event. See irisira ‘s post.

  • Zan

    To each his and her own (as Alyssa said, some people want a big ring which is 100% A-Okay), but if you don’t want a big ‘un:

    Penelope, I recommend the use of a catchy phrase to tell your love about why you don’t want him to spend a Scrooge McDuck pool’s worth of money on a ring. You are welcome to use the same one that my buddy Sara and I came up with.

    Hubs and I really wanted to go to Japan for part of our honeymoon (we are not going now due to scary radiation) and tickets to Japan don’t come cheap. I was talking my ring preferences over with Sara prior to the whole proposal and she concurred with wanting to spend money on travel and not on a honkin’ piece of jewlery that would dwarf my tiny hands and make me feel silly.

    “Yeah!” she said, “I mean, what do you want more? Thing on your hand or trip to Japan?!”

    Very catchy and it had us in stitches. Now Hubs and I use “thing on your hand/trip to Japan” when weighing all sorts of purchases. In the end I got a lovely vintage ring with an itty diamond that I absolutely adore. It is engraved “1930” and I have made up an entire story about the woman who it was given to originally. Her name was Ernestine … but that’s a whole other barrel of pickles.

    • Beth

      Ummm…making up stories about “Ernestine”? ADORABLE. :-)

    • Class of 1980

      I bet that Ernestine was a pistol. ;)

      • Zan

        Darn right she was!

    • Paranoid Libra

      I feel I want to friend Ernestine on facebook or something…waaaayyy coool

    • Pigzfly

      We were also hoping (ie planning w/o any actual planning) on going to Japan as well and had to throw that one out the window. The skiing is in northern Japan; I doubt they’re quite ready for us yet. :-(

  • Kaitlyn

    I have a question about changing settings. I have an absolutely perfect, gorgeous, fairly- and safely-mined sapphire. My fiance and I talked for awhile about what kind of setting to get for it, but ultimately it was my decision. He had some reservations about the design that I ultimately chose based on a photo. I loved the concept and thought that it would look better in person than in the photo… but it kind of doesn’t. I chose it, I do love it, and it’s been on my finger since September. But. I would change the setting in a heartbeat, if we had a little extra $.

    I got my ring through Etsy and should have just told the creator and requested a change at the time… but I felt so guilty, because she’d given me exactly what I asked for, and I was the one who wasn’t over-the-moon with it. It was also non-returnable, because it’s custom. And it does have some imperfections in the craftsmanship of the setting that I was a bit surprised by and disappointed with.

    How would I even go about this? Take it to another jeweler?

    • Cass

      I would wait until you have the money, then feel free to change the setting. And feel free to go with a jeweller who will give you what you want, in a high quality way. This thing is supposed to last forever.

      How your ring looks isn’t as important as the love behind it.

    • Yes, exactly. Take it to another jeweler.

      The price of gold is REALLY high right now, so keep this in mind when you reset the ring. A reputable jeweler will probably “buy” the old setting from you to melt down and then offset your cost, but it probably won’t offset it much.

      Get recommendations from friends on a locally-owned jeweler. Don’t go to a mall/chain jewelry store for something like this. A good jeweler will listen to your story and not judge, and try to come up with something that you love. I think you should go somewhere that you can see it in person, at this point, simply because the Etsy picture thing didn’t work for you the first time around (though I would bet that the Etsy seller would love a chance to “make it right,” and it sounds like the craftsmanship isn’t your issue, it’s just “not quite right” for you).

      Good luck. :)

      • Kaitlyn

        Thanks so much, those are great points and it’s good to know about the price of gold, etc. I’ll start looking around for local jewelers, maybe what I need is a good face-to-face relationship :)

        • Class of 1980

          Gold hit $1,500 an ounce yesterday I believe.

          • Oy. Further reminder to me to get a rider on our renter’s insurance for our rings. C almost lost his while hiking by a waterfall and taking a picture (he slipped on a rock and slid down, his ring fell off; fortunately, we were able to recover it). We take our rings off when we hike, now, but even still – can’t be too careful.

    • clampers

      Would you ever email the Etsy creator about this? Just copy/paste the last few lines of your post here. I feel like she would rather fix her own creation to fit your wants, rather than have you take her creation to another jeweler. Plus she should be aware that there are imperfections in her craftsmanship.

      • Kaitlyn

        I wonder if it would be too late now – I’ve had the ring since September. At first I was so excited to have it that I didn’t want to consider parting with it, imperfections or not… at this point I’d rather have it fixed, but feel like I might be outside a standard window for complaints?

        • Marina

          Can’t hurt to email and ask. I think as long as you’re polite about it, and make it clear you know that it’s been a while and that you did get what you asked for, there’s no harm in asking whether the designer would be willing to change it for you. They may charge a little extra, but so would any jeweler you took it to. I mean, worst that could happen is the designer says no and you take it somewhere else anyway. :)

    • Lindsey

      Also, a local jeweler should be able to do a wax cast before they actually cast the band/setting, so you’re able to know that you love it and tweak things before they’re finalized.

    • Class of 1980

      If they melted the gold down, it seems like you’d only have to pay for design and labor. Right?

      • Kaitlyn

        I’ll be so happy if that ends up being the case!!

        • Class of 1980

          Well, they can’t exactly sell your own gold back to you. ;)

  • Hypothetical Sarah


    I have to commend my boy for finding the perfect balance between his needs and mine with my engagement ring. I’m a quiet, non-showy, small-fingered, glove-wearing scientist. The only jewelry I wore regularly was a Timex watch (the kind with a velcro wristband). The boy is more the outgoing, obsessive, ostentatious type who prefers grand gestures. He also rants about the marketing and economic manipulation of the De Beers diamond cartel and the environmental impact of mined diamonds. In the end, he got a lab-made colored diamond and had a setting made by his family jeweler. No mining, no cartel. It’s fitting with the chemistry I do (chemistry mimicking nature! boron!) and small and low enough to fit under my gloves in lab. Plus it came with spectra, which I found really exciting. It’s simple enough to make me happy and showy enough for him. The color puts it outside the Ring Olympics — people don’t usually know what to do with it.

    I love my ring. But price tag doesn’t matter — it really is the thought and love and care that went into it that matters to me.

    • Abbie

      One my ring criteria was that it would fit under lab gloves and that the diamond was in a secure setting that it wouldn’t come loose from taking on and off gloves. I didn’t want to have to constantly take off my ring (like some girls I know have to) nor did I want the diamond to fall out and have to search through gloves in trash cans (like someone I know had to)…. Just call me practical.

      • Caroline

        I’m going to be a midwife eventually, but I decide that I didn’t really want a flat engagement ring, so my plan is that for work, I’ll wear the engagement ring on a necklaandorraeave it at home, and the wedding ring for work, and I want a flat, plain band without anything things like blood could get stuck in or that could scratch someone, or cut a glove. And possibly something that iccan sterilize now and then.

        • Lindsay

          Caroline, My fiance just picked out his wedding band. It’s surgical grade stainless steel which would probably work for you. The finish makes it look like titanium, sort of dark gray. The company is called xen, they’re from germany but are carried by various stores in the states.

    • Paranoid Libra

      I would have been game for an engagement dog(puppies are far to much work for me)….:looks at the 2 dogs laying in the living room: but it seems we already have a few of those lying around.

      I think someone I went to high school with got the puppy with the ring on the collar.

    • Claire

      Ah yes! The De Beers cartel and the inflated value of diamonds. A big reason why I’m happy to be wearing a lab-created sapphire.

    • I told my husband about the Engagement Puppy line, and he said, “That’s the WORST IDEA EVER.” Then, he paused. “Yeah, I know, you would love it if I came home with a puppy.”

      Full disclosure – we already have a dog. And a cat. But I wouldn’t mind another dog. :)

      • Chantelle

        Haha, I’m the one with the engagement puppy, and many people had very negative reactions to it. Like “what happens when he dies?” WTF! or “so when do you get your real ring?”
        I had been hankering after another dog for a while and convinced the boy that wsa totally how I wanted to go, and having a cold wet nose placed against your face when you have your eyes closed is a wonderful way to realize you’re getting engaged. Although briefly I wondered if the boy was pranking me with ice cubes or something (we prank, and pups has a very cold nose)
        He wrote “will you marry me”on the tag, but I was too damn excited to read it and just kept repeating “it’s a puppy!”
        And now when I spend sunny Saturday afternoons curled up on the couch with my silly dog, reading my day away, I couldn’t be happier with the choice we made :)

  • Carrie

    There is a radio commercial for a jewelry store in my area that claims that choosing a diamond for your engagement ring is
    It makes me rant to myself in the car every single time I hear it. Really? The diamond is the important decision? Not, maybe, the guy who is putting it on your finger? Grrr.

    • There’s a jeweler locally that had a billboard up for a while with a giant rock and a thought bubble that said, “Your girlfriend wants me.”

      I said to my (now) husband, “I do NOT want that. Don’t go to that jeweler.”

      We still laugh about that billboard.

      • ElfPuddle

        We did the same thing at a commercial with that slogan!

    • meredyth

      yeah, or like “having children” “moving” “end of life care” or any of the myriad of things that are more important than a diamond?
      This reminds me of a commercial we heard for Kay Jewelers, whose line is “Every kiss begins with Kay” and my sister said “NO it doesn’t!” And then I said, “well, technically every kiss does begin with K.” Still, dumb line.

      • Jeannine

        oh lord. no quicker road to rampage-land than those awful commercials. every time that comes on, i’ll start ranting “every kiss begins with monetary exchange!” “every kiss is part of a barter economy!” i really despise that phrase and everything it communicates about how relationships function.

      • Paranoid Libra

        Actually you are forgetting about pecks which begin with P and are my favorite especially on my forehead so you can still tell Kay to shove it.

      • Amy

        “Every kiss” begins with ‘e’.

      • So, uh. I never, ever, ever in my 25 years of existence and God-knows how many years of paying attention to Kay’s commercials caught on to the pun. “Kiss” begins with “K”. I just had this thunderstruck moment of understanding reading your comment, followed by a period of deepest shame.

  • pearlabeth

    This was me! I was very clear that I did not want a big honkin’ diamond. I would have felt uncomfortable wearing it, and I would likely knock a big diamond out of its setting within the first week. My fiance went to a local goldsmith (they exist!) and had a ring custom made with several small channel set diamonds. The folks at Cronin’s ( were incredibly friendly and weren’t phased when I brought my week old ring in for cleaning having worn it playing sand volleyball, rock climbing and gardening.And I get to tell people that my ring is custom designed. How cool is that?

    • Rowany

      Hey, I love that you climb, but wearing rings while climbing can have serious risk of degloving or at the very least cutting off your circulation if your finger starts swelling. The pictures are pretty gruesome. (Another option could be putting it on a screw lock carabiner while you climb)

      • Pearlabeth

        I have since gotten a chain that I wear it on :)

        • Rowany

          haha, OK phew! I am a med student and prone to visions of gore and dismemberment. Glad to know your fingers are safe!

      • Chris

        I can’t exactly this enough! Never never never rock climb with a ring on your finger. I know a guy who is missing his left ring finger, because he didn’t want to take off his wedding ring. His wife was honored but not very happy when she got to the hospital. I have a necklace that I put my ring on when I climb, and when I forget the necklace, it goes on a carabiner on my key or on my chalkbag.

  • jrebeccac

    Knowing that my now-fiance (yay!) would feel a little pressure to find the perfect ring that was flashy and diamondy and everything, I made sure to let him know what I would want in a ring. We went to antique stores (because they’re fun, not just to look at rings) and I would point one or two out that I really liked. We would see other people’s facebook flashy amazeballs rings and I’d let him know I was totally not into that. I ended up getting engaged with his great-grandmother’s ring, and it is PERFECT. I had never shown him anything like that before, but I always always love items with family history (I wear my great-grandmother’s locket everyday). Now when I show people it (which is still weird for me to do, I’ve never been a ‘look-at-me’ person), they say it looks exactly like me. Just being up front and showing him what you like doesn’t ruin the surprise at all, trust me! Oh, and trust him. I’m sure he’s been putting quite a bit of thinking towards it himself.

  • I’m still mad at my husband for getting me a ring instead of an engagement puppy. Team Puppy, 100%.

    • mere…

      I immediately sent this link to my boyfriend and said “ENGAGEMENT PUPPY?! I didn’t know that was an option” … seriously, add this to the list of reasons why I love APW.

      • Zan

        Hubs was supposed to get me a cow but we didn’t get the fences up in time for the proposal so I got a ring instead. Harumph.

        • JEM

          HAAAAA! Freaking love this!

        • Hypothetical Sarah

          The boy’s parents got my family a llama for Chanukah (through Heifer International, so sadly it’s not in our backyard). Shortly thereafter, he proposed. We joked for a while that that llama was my dowry

  • My husband proposed with his grandma’s diamond set into a ring that we’d picked out together (which is great, since we didn’t want to buy a diamond in the first place, and now I get one anyways while feeling like I’m carrying around some family history!). Looking back, I’m still really glad we went ring shopping together… I ended up with a ring I absolutely adore, and he didn’t have to stress about me not liking it, but the timing and method of proposal was still up to him. A win-win for us.

    Oh, and I never bought a wedding band. I couldn’t find one I particularly liked to go with my engagement ring, and it seemed like a ridiculously stressful thing to do in the time leading up to the wedding, so I just wear the original. We might find one we like someday but for now this works perfectly. (And if other people think it’s kind of odd… well, they don’t say anything to me.)

    • Hypothetical Sarah

      I only wear my engagement ring for now (mostly because we’re married but aren’t telling people until after the wedding). The boy and I had a fun conversation with an immigration officer when we came into the US last week:

      ImmOff: You’re married?
      Me: Yes.
      (ImmOff clearly glances at my finger and sees only one ring. Then looks at our passports, then at me)
      ImmOff: You’re not changing your name?
      Me: No
      The Boy: … not yet.
      Me: It’s complicated. That’s not a good question to ask.
      ImmOff: (looking at me) You live in England. (looking at the boy) Do you live in England too?
      The Boy: No, I work in Asia
      ImmOff: What, you couldn’t find a job in England?
      Me: It’s complicated. That’s not a good question to ask.
      ImmOff: (shakes his head, gives up because we’ve clearly violated all of his expectations for married couples, and lets us into the country)

      • JEM

        rather than an exactly button, I wish this post had a *like* button like facebook. I’d click it.

      • Hahahaha, seriously, those moments can be ridic.

        One of our most memorable crossings was we came into the U.S. last February for my grandmother’s funeral. The IO started giving us grief and then my husband started to get annoyed with the line of questioning. He began gesturing, and the IO told him, “Sir, please stop talking with your hands. Otherwise, I’m going to start talking with my hands, and you’re not going to like that.” I had to step in and diffuse the situation (and then get annoyed at himself later for letting an IO — who could screw up our lives incredibly — get him worked up) . . .

    • Caitlin, I never bought a wedding band before the wedding either- it was just super low on my priority list. Happily, I found an adorable sterling band from Turtle Love the last time Meg posted about them, on sale for (wait for it) $15. So now I wear two rings.

      • hmmm… may have to do more hunting around on their site. heading there now!

    • mere…

      We’ve recently started discussing rings and I admitted that I don’t want a wedding band at all. I am absolutely notorious for losing important rings and the thought of having to keep track of TWO rings scares me. And with our financial situation right now, I would much rather spend the extra money on our honeymoon than on another piece of jewelry. The more we talk about rings though, the more surprised I am by the message men are receiving from the WIC (and Facebook) and I feel for them.

    • Erin

      I bought a wedding band, because you’re, you know, supposed to have one. I looked for weeks, though, and didn’t find anything I liked as much as my engagement ring. I eventually just picked out something inexpensive that looks good with my engagement ring, because for me, THAT was the important ring. I kind of wish I’d saved my money and not purchased one!

      • My engagement ring belonged to my husband’s late godmother and it’s valuable enough to have it’s own insurance policy. (Of course, the non-financial value of the ring is truly priceless and ever so much more important.) The wedding band cost a couple hundred bucks at the mall. I love them both equally for reasons that have NOTHING to do with value and everything to do with the thought behind them.

  • This. This is perfect. I wish it had been around when my hubby-to-be was shopping for rings. I think he did well, but he spent more money than I was comfortable with. I KNOW he was worried about being judged, and he seemed relieved when I asked him if it was OK if I didn’t put a picture on facebook of my ring because facebook ring photos drive me crazy. (If any of you have one, it’s ok, I won’t judge you. I promise)

  • Sara B

    Ah, timely APW. We basically had Alyssa’s conversation almost verbatim on Monday night! I inherited a gorgeous ring that I LOVE. I’m super picky about jewelry and this ring is the perfect one for me. However, the man was worried about the families thinking he is cheap by using my ring. But then he started to think about it and realized neither of his parents will care, although his aunt might. To that I replied, “Yes, but does it affect her happiness in life?” The answer is no, and the convo continued.
    He was then afraid my family would think him cheap. Um, we all love this ring, it is from a super cool great-great aunt, and I love this ring. Plus, we’re BUYING A HOUSE. I think there are more important things we’re doing with the money.
    So after assuring him that even if we went shopping for a ring, I’d be looking for one exactly like the one I have and also that he can buy me something sparkly for our 5th anniversary or whatever, he left with the ring and my mom’s phone number. So, I get the ring I want and he gets to do the proposal. Fun!

  • my girlfriend’s coworker-friends started hassling her about proposing *really early* – which, you know, helped, because it made a good excuse for conversations on the subject that were still light and funny. i think the only real advice i gave her in the “what i want in an engagement/ring” process was, “well, listen really closely to what ______ says, and do the exact opposite.” this might be an effective tactic if you have any particularly wic-centric buddies.

    also – it might not work for you, but it did for us – eventually, she decided that she was ready to propose, but hadn’t found a ring she was real sure of. so she did. she proposed with a little silver adjustable ring. it is lovely and special, and i ended up choosing my own ring, which was $100 and i *love to pieces.*

    p.s. loving your ring to pieces and wanting to wear it forever is, all by itself, a really good defense in the face of the above-mentioned friends who will go “oh…it’s, um…small?”

  • Bee

    “Also? Know what they call large diamond rings in not-so-savory areas? Mug-me-rings. Consider it a safety issue.”
    Actual conversation I had with the boy:
    Him: “Do you want a diamond engagement ring?”
    Me: “Do you want me to die on the subway?”
    Him: “Only sometimes.”
    Me: “Then get me a diamond for those days.”
    Him: “You sure you don’t need one to, you know, remind you that I’m a man or something?”
    Me: “I think I’ll remember. Besides no diamond is probably best considering I think it’s too much of a risk to bring a purse to work.”
    And then we laughed because I’m tiny and from the midwest and totally work in the hood. But, yeah, definitely a safety issue for some of us. hahaha
    Plus, everyone totally loves my non-diamond engagement ring. It’s pretty and mixed metals and has a flower and is AWESOME!

    • Amy

      Not to mention, big honkin engagement rings are really good at screaming “American tourist” in lots of parts of Europe. I work with a lot of Swiss/French/Germans and they were pretty taken aback by the size of the engagement rings of their American coworkers. I leave mine at home most of the time when I’m overseas for that reason.

      • Kashia

        I found that when I was in Europe last winter as well. I have an eternity style band, so yes it had diamonds, but it’s not huge by North American standards. In Western Europe though I felt like it was so ostentatious relative to other rings there. I love my ring, but I also have a plain band now for times when I don’t want to draw attention for whatever reason.

        • Class of 1980

          Little known fact …

          Prince Rainier of Monaco proposed to Grace Kelly with an eternity band. Then he saw the rings being worn in Hollywood and got her a huge diamond.

        • Yup! I wear my grandmother’s tiny, flat, gold ring when I want to inconspicuously announce that I’m married.

    • “only sometimes” ha :) this is hilarious! you two sound pretty awesome.

    • I had a coworker who told me I needed to turn my ring around when I rode the subway. I’ve never felt uncomfortable about wearing my ring, thankfully, so I think I’m okay. But flashy rings, clothes, purses, iPads… they can be “MUG ME” signs in certain areas.

    • Class of 1980

      Him: “Do you want a diamond engagement ring?”
      Me: “Do you want me to die on the subway?”
      Him: “Only sometimes.”
      Me: “Then get me a diamond for those days.”

      Laughed out loud. If that is a typical conversation, then I so envy your relationship.

  • SpaceElephant

    What if you have kind of the opposite problem? I dropped a few hints about not wanting a blood diamond, hoping my guy would get something ethically sourced or some semi-precious stones or something similarly inexpensive and pretty. What he got was a very chunky tungsten band. To his credit, it is engraved with a perfect piece of text for us. But it’s really ugly, and it looks like a man’s wedding band, which makes people confused when they see it. I’ve had some really awkward “Oh, you’re engaged? Let’s see the ring!” moments.
    Which is all fine with me, I am just happy to be marrying him. The problem comes with his expectations for after the wedding; he expects me to continue to wear the ring. A, it will look ridiculous next to the wedding band I picked out. B, I just don’t like it. My plan is to switch it to my right hand immediately after and then gradually stop wearing it, and hope he doesn’t notice. Is that a terrible idea? Should I suck it up and continue to wear it, since even though it is ugly it is an important symbol? I feel like the “tell him how you really feel about the ring” train has left the station; we’ve been engaged for over a year.

    • hmm he expects you to keep wearing it? was that a conversation you had where it was clear he Wants you to keep wearing it, or does he just assume you’ll keep wearing it because “everyone does.” If it’s not something he feels strongly about, you can tell him everyone doesn’t continue to wear both (see: Meg, etc), it’s not a requirement of tradition, and you like the single band idea better. If it’s his express wish that you keep wearing it, the conversation might be tough but you may want to try having it before the wedding. You don’t have to tell him you think the ring is ugly, at this point it would just make him feel bad. Just be honest about being more comfortable not wearing it, and try to figure out where his feelings are coming from. Hopefully can find a solution you’re both happy with.

    • Bessa

      Another option for you might be to buy a nice chain and wear it as a necklace after the wedding. That way you still have it on you–and close to your heart–but won’t have to wear it next to your band if you feel like they don’t go well together.

    • Marina

      I don’t think the “being honest” train ever leaves the station.

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  • Nicole

    Exactly to all the previous posts. I did not want an engagement ring for a plethera of reasons. When my main squueze got down to one knee, he pulled out a box with a beautiful, simply solitary diamond ring. I thought “holy cow, proposing. marriage. i didn’t want a ring. it’s really pretty though. he knew i didn’t want one. now that i see it i kind of want it. this is actually happening. he wants me to marry him… wait, i think he is saying something” until I actually listened to his words and found out he was proposing with a ring that had been in his family for four generations (!!!). This was perfect. It fit perfectly. It’s conflict free, a unique cut that is not done anymore (“european”), it was given to use by his parents as a gesture of love and acceptance of our relationship (which makes me feel overwhelmed with love pretty much every time I think about it) AND it was “free” to us and came with two wedding rings. Holler. I love everything about it because everything about it reminds me of us. However, as much as I adore it, I did not post a picture on facebook. I was kind of irate at the wall comments that simply said “SHOW US THE RING” because, uh, hello, I just made a huge decision to spend the rest of my life with the man I love. MY LIFE. And you want to know the accessory that you assume came with it? I never posted a picture and I never will. That is not what it’s about for me. (Maybe if I had my heart set on a specific design or if we had helped create a design, I would but mostly I refuse out of stubborn pride and a personal belief that this is not the first comment people should make when you get engaged).
    I have a very good friend who had no engagement ring at all and her husband did get some flak for it while they were engaged but she is an amazingly strong and independent woman who sticks to her priorities and everyone who knew the couple knew that and when he said “it’s what she wanted” what he was really saying was “I respect her decision here even though you are giving me a hard time” and they shut up. Another amazing friend picked out a gorgeous engagement ring that is maybe a bit “alternative” to the norm with it’s deilicate beauty and when people comment on how “sweet” it is I just want to hit them. Because this “sweet” little thing represents a whole heck of a lot and she glows every time she shows anyone. So “sweet” hardly cuts it. Look at her face people! Look at her joy! It is awesome.
    At any rate – every couple is different (which is a great thing) and so I think they should be able to symbolize their comittment to each other in a way that is unique and comfortable for them.

    • Susan

      A friend and I were talking about how the “it’s adorable” ring comments get to us. Like you said, “adorable” hardly cuts the feeling I have about having chosen my life partner! Hearing it almost feels like shaming. I refuse to feel anything but proud of our choices!

    • Nina

      Thank you for this, I’ll admit, I’m a little weirded out right now about how 99.98% of the comments so far assume that an Engagement Ring is the way to go (with a little joking about puppies on the side).

      I’m a ring-less girl, and I’ll admit it can be really hard when you tell folks you’re getting married, or announce you’re engaged, and all anybody wants to talk about is the ring. or the proposal story. I understand that it’s easier to display enthusiasm about a physical object or a recent event, but really the focus should be that OMG, you’re getting MARRIED.

      Which you are fully capable of doing in all 50 states without an engagement ring or a proposal.

      • Stay strong and do what feels right for YOU. I was almost a ring-less gal (and we also considered a tattoo ring) simply because I hate wearing things on my hands and felt like I’d probably lose it anyway. I finally found a simple silver band, no stone, plain as they come, and it felt right. It kinda hurt at first when people would demand to see my ring, grab my hand, and then go, “oh. Um, nice.” I felt like they were assuming my guy couldn’t afford better/didn’t care enough, blahblahblah. I just explained it was exactly what I wanted, end of subject. I use the same ring as my wedding ring (because two rings? Would drive me insane).

        We’ve been married almost a year and no one ever asks to see my ring now. I rarely take it off because it’s so low-profile (doesn’t get dirty), and my husband inscribed it with a beautiful and meaningful quote that is way me “me” than any stone.

      • Seraphine

        I’m a fellow ringless bride-to-be with no fancy proposal story (my proposal story involves me asking, “so does this mean we’re engaged?” and my fiance responding “I think so.”). What are your personal reasons for wanting no engagement ring? My main reason is the inequality of women wearing the ring and men not.

        • We both wear engagement rings, so no trouble there ;)

  • YAY!

    We actually talked about it early on, and decided we wanted to look for rings together and then he’d keep them and surprise propose. Yep, them, we went egalitarian, and he picked his with me, and we designed mine together w/ an awesome Etsy vendor, Artwear By Caron.

    I do have a friend who absolutely wants her fiance to pick hers with ZERO input. It’s terrifying for him.

  • clampers

    eBay rings unite! That’s where I found my 1950s vintage akoya pearl set in 10k yellow gold…on sale! BOOYA!

    • Erin

      Umm, to that I would really have to say…. SHOW US THE RING! Haha. Sounds gorgeous.

  • Gillian

    Alyssa, your post made me laugh out loud today.

    and Penelope, good luck. I think a lot of people have input into their engagement rings these days. I know I did, even though I never actually saw the final product, the boy knew what style I wanted and he went out and got something that he liked (and was comfortable paying for) in that style.

    I also have quite a small and affordable ring – and I’ll tell you my friends and family all gushed over the ring as much as they would have over any other – because of what it MEANT. Maybe your boy needs to be reminded of that too. :)

    P.S. Congrats on your almost engagement!

    • MDBethann

      I wholeheartedly agree – my ring is low profile and affordable and my fiancé’s 9 year old niece says it is her favorite ring. :-)

  • My husband sat me down and gave me an empty ring box and said “It is to be filled with the ring of your choice if you agree to marry me.” So, complete surprise, and I still got a ring.

    Which, btw, the stone (which was a family heirloom) fell out of less than six months after we got married and we haven’t gotten around to replacing it and fixing it. Oh rings.

    • Lola

      That is really sweet. I love the variety of stories people have.

  • KB

    We ran into this too! I knew I preferred to be a one-ring bride and I didn’t want to get an engagement ring. I told my husband that when we were talking about such things, and when he did propose he did so with a cracker jack ring. But he told me after the fact that nearly all of his friends were convinced I wasn’t serious, and that I was testing him in some way, and that I really did want an engagement ring. I was prepared for that to happen, but still saddened that people actually though I was testing him, and that he was subjected to that pressure. Even immediately after the engagement he said we could go and pick out a “real” ring if I wanted one.

    I think it’s great that you are both talking about this. There may be some people that make comments about the ring after the fact, or that make a snap judgment based on superficial issues, but that will fade. People will be over getting into your engagement ring business and instead into your wedding planning business :)

    • Quela

      I’ll be a one-ring bride as well, KB. My partner has had the same issue with outside influences suggesting that I might secretly want a ring. Oh, we devil-women, always setting our traps for the less fair sex to fall into! He also had an earbashing from his stepmother who said that it may be all very well for me to refuse a ring, but people would assume my partner is tight and/or in financial difficulty, so he should act accordingly… I was glad to hear his contempt for that particular view when he relayed it to me! When the time comes for us to announce our engagement though, I’m ready for surprise at the lack of engagement ring. I’m also ready to forgive anyone who reaches for my left hand to share my joy & excitement. People who care about me won’t have enduring issues with the lack of engagement ring, so they ought to be forgiven if they’re initially suprised at my departure from the standard form.

  • Erin

    I wanted to throw my support to the ladies without huge diamonds who love their rings! I’ve always rolled my eyes at friends who picked out the biggest rings their boyfriends couldn’t afford, and had planned to stop wearing an engagement ring after getting married if we even bothered with one; except now I might not. I figured that we’d pick a date and get married without a ring, but my fiance picked out a ring with a row of very small emeralds and diamonds, and I completely adore it. That’s not to say that some people don’t get it; I’ve noticed that we can tell who knows us well by dividing friends and family who said “oh, that’s…pretty” from those who commented on how perfectly us it was. But it is fitting, for both of us, and the wic doesn’t offer anything that compares to that!

  • When my fiancé and I were talking rings, he told me he liked the old European tradition of wearing the wedding band on the right hand while engaged, then changing hands when you get married. I thought it was a grand idea, so we ordered matching bands off Etsy. They are recycled sterling silver with a baroque style pretty, and so me!!!

  • e.

    how i ended up with way more diamond than i ever imagined:
    we knew exactly when we wanted to get married, but i told him that i refused to start planning until we were actually engaged. quick recap of the conversation:
    him: well, how long will it take to plan a wedding?
    me: (quick calculation between current date and date we had in mind) um, maybe 10 months?
    him: ok (next morning hands me a small package that had apparently been in his drawer for over a month): so, will you marry me?
    and that’s how i ended up with a very large (in my opinion, others not so much, but whatevs), most likely blood diamond. not necessarily what i would have gone for, but hey – his family is from s. africa and the diamond had been in his family for a while and was designated for him (well, me). and. . . it is gorgeous. Turning it down would have likely offended his family, and I wasn’t going to do that. Luckily, he knew that choosing the ring setting was something we should do together. I wanted a simple solitaire setting, platinum band, and not the kind that makes the diamond stick up too much (i don’t know the technical term. . .but i’m enough of a klutz as it is, i couldn’t risk banging the diamond any more than i already do!). the first jeweler we went to insisted that i wouldn’t love the ring unless we added more diamonds. so we left and went elsewhere!
    i did get exactly what i wanted although even with just the simple setting, its definitely a bit of a ‘mug me’ ring. so when the time came for wedding bands, i went with the simplest, thinnest band of platinum we could find so i can wear just that if needed.

    • Sara B

      The klutz part of me is why I’m so picky about jewelry. I hurt myself with my very short fingernails, and having the hardest substance on earth on the back of my hand? Dangerous for both me and The Man. My inherited ring is Art-Deco, with a bezel-type setting. Safe!

  • I honestly had no doubts that my husband would find the perfect ring for me when the time came – I’m old fashioned so I didn’t want to help him pick it out and I was pleasantly surprised when he did pop the question. He was unemployed at the time he asked me, so I knew he couldn’t/didn’t spend a lot of money on the ring, and that was okay with me. No, it’s not nearly as big as the rings most of the people I know are wearing, but I don’t mind. I later found out he actually bought the ring set from a friend who had been divorced, and the rings fit me perfectly. I actually felt good giving the rings a second chance, as silly as that sounds.

    Now, while he did pick it out, I know that I told him the things I liked and didn’t like just casually, so I think that’s really good to do – make sure your man knows the style of jewelry you like – it is something you’re going to be wearing for a very long time, after all!

    • I love that you are giving the rings a second chance.

  • Sarah

    When my fiance and I were about to get engaged, we looked around at different rings. I am completely indecisive, so I really had no idea what I wanted. I would say things like “I like this part of her ring,” or “I don’t like that.” My poor fiance! I confused him and he ended up getting something I told him I didn’t like. When he proposed and gave me the ring, I fell in love with it immediately! And then I fell in love with it even more as he explained to me why he chose it. I discovered I didn’t really care about the ring. I loved it because it was a gift from him to me to express how much he loves me. So, Penelope, really don’t worry about it. You will love whatever he gives you!

    I discovered throughout the process of talking about marriage, getting engaged, and planning a wedding (4 weeks! eeeekkk!) that guys really do care! I have stressed over things about the wedding because that will be a reflection on me, but the proposal really is a reflection of the guys. Let’s not give them too hard of a time! The care my fiance took in planning the proposal is what made it a special moment. He could have done it at McDonald’s for all I care, but he made the effort to make it special, so it was!

    • My husband and I went to look at rings together, and I specifically picked out three-stone style rings. After all that, my husband picked a ring with a solitaire style (it has four tiny diamonds along the band, but they’re so small in comparison that the ring ends up looking like a solitaire), and I LOVE it. I love the story– how he picked it out, what it meant to him, and what it means to us. Unless it’s TOTALLY different from what you had in mind, often the sentiment will outweigh specific tastes. :)

    • suzanna

      Sarah and other Sarah: I’m with you guys. “I discovered I didn’t really care about the ring. I loved it because it was a gift from him to me to express how much he loves me.” Exactly.

      My comment somewhere else goes into the whole story, but I wish I hadn’t given my guy instructions on what I wanted (also 3 stones!). He got me what I wanted, and I LOVE it, it’s gorgeous. But. As soon as he put it on me, I realized that it totally does not matter what it looks like or what it’s made of. Anything from him is perfect. I kind of wish I had received something that was a surprise to me, and 100% from him.

  • Kate

    My husband proposed with a note attached to a twistie-tie: “I owe you a proper ring”. Which I showed to a co-worker who sports a ring that is probably worth my annual salary (which she does not wear in front of clients or on the subway), she was so excited that it blew me away. It’s really not about the ring.

    And when we did go shopping for said “proper ring” I ruled out anything I couldn’t wear in front of clients or on the subway and am thrilled with the modest, classic ring I wear everyday.

    As a side-note, our wedding rings were created by an artist and they are one-of-a-kind pieces that were rather pricey. We were, however, happy to splurge there and support an eco-friendly artist.

  • I gave him reasons why I wanted what I wanted. Plain and simple things – like “I work in construction and would really want to end it all if you got me a super huge diamond and it fell into wet concrete and became a part of the building forever.” and “I’m already flashy enough, being me, and being fabulous, and being a woman in a primarily male dominated field. I don’t need super huge bling.”…my sister went with “you might need to get something custom made because I work in a lab sometimes and have to wear latex gloves and anything that isn’t bezel set or small and flat will tear the gloves and i want to be able to wear my ring forever, not take it off every day for work…”

    Once those things settled in to his head, I added in my preferences “I have kind of big fingers, so I want something that isn’t a traditional solitaire, because you would need to get a 3 carat diamond to make my fingers look normal, and that’s just ridiculous. How about we go with a smaller stone and a fancier setting? Maybe something like this really super specific style that is unlike any other ring I’ve ever seen and makes my heart just melt because I adore it…maybe this would be better.”

    In the end, we had a super romantic moment, in which he picked out the ring he wanted to get me, but to be sure I liked it, he arranged for the Jewelry store to put out six different rings, with his selection among them, and have me pick from those six without telling me which his favorite was. I picked the same ring as he did (because he listened and because it’s perfectly me) and that’s when it became our ring. He still got to surprise me with the proposal, so it’s all good in the end :)

    • Zan

      You work in construction!? I mean, I know you are not your job and whatever but this makes me assume that you must be AWESOME.

      • I know Adria and can vouch for the fact that she is indeed awesome :)

    • Class of 1980

      ADRIA WROTE: “I have kind of big fingers, so I want something that isn’t a traditional solitaire, because you would need to get a 3 carat diamond to make my fingers look normal, and that’s just ridiculous.”

      Yeah. People underestimate just how different a ring will look on different types of fingers. Anyway, I hear you. My hands are sort of large compared to most women and my overall size. The cherry on top is that my fingers look normal, but the palm side is puffy like a pillow-top mattress.

      When I was a little girl, my grandmother would take my hand and say “Your hands are large for a little girl!” It never bothered me.

      So, I need substantial size on top with a thin band on the palm side just for comfort! I’m not into solitaires. I’m more into artistic botanical shapes with tiny scattered stones. But the metal work on top needs to have presence.

    • emilye

      Thank you, thank you, thank you! I know this is months later, but C and I are looking at rings and I feel like I keep hearing “I have tiny fingers, so a small ring just made sense!” I want a reasonable ring very badly, but my fingers are quite large. I tried on a solitaire on a plain band with the diamond size I want (I have begged for sapphires, but he is non-negotiable on the diamond part… I guess WIC got to him…) and felt like I had just stepped into munchkin land, it really looked awkward. I could just see C’s heart breaking because we can’t afford (nor do we want) anything larger than that. I never would have believed that I could develop body-image issues about my FINGERS, of all things. Sheesh.

      A larger setting is such a good idea to make my fingers look more normal, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before! I will be trying on some halo and three stone settings ASAP.

  • Here’s how I dealt with the Facebook pressure regarding engagement rings: I unveiled my ring to my Facebook friends with a photo of it up my fiancé’s nostril.

    • JEM


      • Class of 1980

        Robin, I love you.

  • Susan

    I remember getting the run down of rings from a chain jeweler. I was shocked that the least expensive SETTING was twice our budget! When we left the store, I told P. “I’m not your property, and I don’t want a slave band.” He loved that I felt that way and we picked out a beautiful ring. It’s a brand name ring from a department store, but it wasn’t in the ‘engagement’ section. We got exactly what I wanted under our budget. No one is the wiser – most people think it’s totally unique and/or vintage. I assuage my guilt by promising that my children will inherit it and someday it’ll actually be vintage. Anyway, in 22 years, it will be!

    • Class of 1980

      No guilt necessary. I love that some modern-day jewelers make settings based on vintage pieces.

  • Katie in DC

    I’m really appreciating all the discussion here. The BF and I are going ring shopping in a few weeks, and while I’m very excited to be taking a step towards marriage, I’m feeling increasingly conflicted. I wish that I wasn’t the type of person who wants a big ring, but I do. I’m having trouble reconciling that with my general low maintenance approach to things (I’m the one pushing for a courthouse elopement with immediate family only, and he’s the one who wants a big shindig and large wedding party). I’m also feeling very conflicted because while I want a big shiny, pretty ring I hate the idea of spending a lot of money on it. (They have cheap, high-quality diamonds right?) This is especially true as both the BF and I are very frugal, and we’re dilligently working to pay off our massive student loans. Ultimately, I know that I won’t be able to justify a huge expenditure when our money would be much better put towards our student debt (which we want paid off before we start a family), I guess I’m just afraid that I’ll feel disappointed. I think that I would be happy with whatever ring I got, if the BF picked it out and I never knew how much it cost or where it came from. But since we’re going to go look at rings together (and we’re discussing budget beforehand) I’m a little worried I’ll be disappointed. (I’m also a little worried that my BF is going to suggust an amount higher than what I’m thinking — he’s a lawyer and I’m just graduating law school, so for right now our perceptions of what is expensive and what isn’t tends to skew abit — and I won’t be strong enough to bring it down, even though I know the money really should go towards our debt.) Basically, I’m borrowing a lot of trouble, and I probably need to just chill out a little.

    • Amy

      Have you looked into moissanite? Its super shiny and sparkly and pretty cool – scientists discovered the how to make the stone by looking at the makeup of meteorites (awesome, right?). Its waaay cheaper than a similarly sized diamond, and may very well satisfy your urge for big and sparkly without breaking the bank.

      If you really want a diamond though (which is fine) I’d suggest buying one loose in the diamond district of DC and having it set yourself. The competition of the vendors in the diamond district tends to drive down the price of the stones, plus there you’re just paying for the stone, not Tiffany’s marketing budget ;)

      • And, as suggested, estate sales and antique jewelry are good places to look! Not all, but many, or the antique rings I’ve seen seem to have larger stones, and more elaborate settings, but they’re really unique.

    • Hypothetical Sarah

      In addition to what Amy and Meaghan said (plus ebay, as some people mentioned above), you might consider getting a slightly lower quality diamond. When he bought my ring, the boy stressed a lot about the 4C’s. Had he known then what he knows now, he would have gone for a lower clarity stone. How many people actually look at your ring with a jeweler’s loop? So long as you can’t see any inclusions with the naked eye, it doesn’t really make much of a difference… except in price.

      • This!! And, actually, my stone has an inclusion that I can see. It’s a little black dot up by one corner, and I’ve grown to love it! I call it my ring’s birthmark. :) At a glance, no one can see it, and my friends don’t really notice it even when they look closely. I know it’s there because I know my ring best (aaaand because I stare at it sometimes, lol), but it doesn’t diminish the GORGEOUS stone, or make it sparkle any less when it hits the light.

        The birthmark is a little bubble in the stone, a reminder that it came from the earth by some crazy process of pressure and time, and it gives it character. I like that my stone isn’t perfect, but is still so beautiful– just like me.

        • I have a visible inclusion too. It’s a vintage ring, and I didn’t really see it at the jeweler, but my eagle-eyed fiance pointed it out later. I had a day of freaking out all WIC-like (why didn’t we do our homework! Why did we ignore the 4-Cs) and then I came to my senses and remembered: we ignored the 4-Cs because I didn’t care. I wanted a vintage ring, I wanted something that would work with my small hand, and I wanted something different that fit with my aesthetic. My ring is all those things. Sure there is an inclusion, but A#1, you’re not going to really see it unless you are staring at it (like I do too), A#2 it’s still sparkly, and A#3, so what? It’s imperfect. So am I and so is my fiance. And yet we love each other (and the ring) anyway.

          • Katie in DC

            Those are actually all a lot of really great suggustions, and I think playing around with the quality (4Cs) is definitely something to look into. I also love the idea of a “vintage” ring from an estate sale or the like. And obviously, it’s not all about the ring, but they are so pretty!

      • My (inherited family) ring has a fairly large stone, but at least two viable inclusions plus others that can be seen under a loup. However. All I can tell when I look at it is that it’s pretty and sparkly and casts the most amazing rainbows on the roof of the car while I’m driving. Good enough!

    • second’ing the moissanite suggestion. I wanted something sparkly but didn’t want a blood diamond (nor did I want to spend the kind of dough to buy a diamond) so I got a beautiful, sparkly, basically looks like a diamond to every single person I’ve shown it to moissanite ring. I don’t pretend it’s a diamond – if someone asks, I’ll gladly tell them its not a diamond but most people just say “Oh that’s beautiful!” and I say thank you.

      Also, moissanite? Originally discovered in a meteor crater. and now it’s made in a lab. Go science!

    • Jen

      I love “How To Buy A Diamond” by Fred Cuellar. He used to give it away but now is selling it. E-mail me at jennieboo33 at att dot net if you want and I will mail you my copy. It has a TON of useful info about how to get the best deal and is very science-ey if you like that stuff! I am getting a family diamond, but I was relying on what I learned in this book and what I trusted of our small jeweler before I knew that.

      I also advocate moissanite as an alternative to diamonds. There are ALSO some really good simulants – try and for some well-regarded simulants.

      • Katie in DC

        I’ve honestly never heard of moissanite before this discussion, but I’m really intrigued and will have to look into it more. I know my former engineer bf will also appreciate the science-y aspects of it! Jen, I e-mailed you, thank you!

        • mmsva

          You should also try Charlston-Alexander in Falls Church and ask for Diane. She was wonderful! In fact I was looking into moissante too, but she suggested CZ (don’t bother with Asha, just marketing hype). She was the only jeweler that didn’t make me feel bad that I didn’t want a diamond. In fact she encouraged me to go with a CZ (only $20-$30 dollars) and I love it. As long as I keep it clean, it’s just as spakly as a diamond.

  • Elle Marie

    I am so, so glad to hear comments from all of the other people who have picked out their own rings – for a while, I was worried I was being too demanding/picky, but my significant other really wants me to have something I want. He initially started linking me to rings with ornate settings and stuff that just wasn’t my style – and was floored when I repeatedly told him that no, really, I like a simple, modern setting. So now he has the setting I love bookmarked, and in the not-too-distant future will hopefully be getting it (he just bought a house, and even with my push for a more budget-friendly setting and stone, the money isn’t quite there yet).

    I tried to talk with him about not needing a ring to be engaged, but he’s dead-set on it… And I think there are some times where his ideas of what an engagement should be need to be honored, too. Even if I think it’s a little silly – heck, he thinks it’s silly that I don’t want a fancy setting with five million pave diamonds!

    • Katie in DC

      I totally know what you mean about the men having needs to be honored too. For a while I was driving myself crazy over what was going on here b/c he would never give me anything about whether marriage/engagement was upcoming, something he was thinking about etc. Finally, it came out that he thinks the engagement should be a huge romantic surprise and he thought talking to me about it at all would ruin it. Once I knew he was thinking about it I chilled out considerably. While a surprise engagement is not something that I need, it’s something that he does, and I can live with that!

  • ElfPuddle

    My engagement ring story.
    I don’t think it’s about the ring. I think it’s about what it stands for, and the people involved in its story.

  • Anon

    I’m too ashamed to put my name on this comment, but I just have to say to Mr. Suspecting His Girlfriend Secretly Wants A Huge Engagement Ring: If she says she doesn’t, SHE DOESN’T. Don’t you appreciate it when she takes you at your word? You should do the same for her.

    Now for the shame part. When my wonderful husband popped the question to me, it was a complete surprise, something we had never talked about. I was shocked, but overjoyed, and overall I really liked the surprise of it all. Yes, I’m a little controlling, and had he given me a chance to pick or even influence the picking of an engagement ring, I would have become a crazy person, obsessed with all the choices, prices, etc. I was glad he saved me (us) from all that and just presented me with a ring. His proposal was lovely and sort of old fashioned, and I liked it, even the surprise aspect of it all. My ring is beautiful, and yes, it’s enormous. HOWEVER. The fact that it’s enormous isn’t what makes it lovely; it’s what it represents, his question to me, his proposal that we spend our lives together. That’s the part I was overjoyed about. Wearing a ring that gets stuck on everything, that scratches my loved ones and gets all kinds of stuff stuck in it when I’m cooking… not so much. Here’s a shocker, I don’t even care about diamonds!!! I never wear jewelry, except the diamond earrings he got me early in our relationship, and I wear those more for what they mean than how they look. Had he ASKED ME what I preferred, I would have gone with something much cheaper and simpler, just a personal preference. I know he’s very proud of himself for picking it out all by himself, for providing me the engagement ring equivalent of a Hummer. I love him so much and am so happy to be married to him, so I could never tell him that secretly, I’m not over the moon about my engagement ring, the physical properties of it. I don’t even want to wear my engagement ring ever, I prefer my wedding ring only, but I feel terrible when I don’t wear it, like it’s a statement that I don’t appreciate the gift, the thought and emotion behind it, the expense. So I do wear it, but it’s just so much. I would have been happy with much less.

    God, I know I sound like an ungrateful brat :-( Just wanted to say to those guys out there having this conversation with your loves: if your girlfriends are TELLING you they don’t want a big ring… they’re telling you the truth. The ring itself doesn’t prove anything… it’s why you’re giving it to her in the first place. Just my two cents!

    • I had the same issue with my husband giving me a ring that was much blingier than I’d wanted. At first I rather resented feeling like I needed to defend an ornate ring that wasn’t even my style, but then I started looking at it – like you said – as the symbol of his commitment to me and of his desire to get me something that he found beautiful and precious. No shame in wearing a ring that says that, no matter its size. So, shame blasters activate! Pew pew pew!

    • I sleep without my rings after scratching David in the face while I slept. OOPS.

  • Rachael

    We talk a great deal about how the WIC pressures women, so it’s a good reminder that men have to deal with it, too.

    When my now husband and I were discussing getting engaged, he was very disappointed that he couldn’t afford a ring he thought I “deserved.” I just wanted to be married to my person, so I told him (truthfully) that he could propose with no ring and I would still want to marry him. He ended up proposing with a plain gold band, because it was very important to him to propose with a ring of some kind. Fast forward a few months, and my mom surprised me by flying in to look at wedding dresses with me. (Best surprise ever!) But I wasn’t the only one she had a surprise for. She brought a ring that belonged to her mother, who died when I was very young. It was a ruby ring with smaller diamonds. She said husband could have it and give it to me if he wanted, but there wasn’t any pressure. So they went to a local jewelry store together and picked out a new setting, and now I wear my beautiful engagement band and a truly gorgeous ruby ring that I love. That ruby ring means so much because it is from my family, but also because husband got to design a setting and make it something new. It has so much more meaning for us than if he had listened to the WIC. And I get to tell a great story every time someone comments on it!

    • Jess

      Your story really resonated since mine is similar – my fiance proposed with a simple white gold band because he’d impulsively decided to propose *that night* and stopped at the jeweler’s on his way home from work. I know he wanted a fancier ring and a more elaborate proposal, but to me the simple ring and proposal meant just as much, if not more. I never wanted a big rock for my hand. But he kept talking about upgrading to something fancier until my mom remembered her grandmother’s ring that had been sitting in a closet since she died. We were able to have it resized (I didn’t inherit her tiny fingers!) and whoa, is it big and sparkly and old-fashioned – and kind of to my surprise, I LOVE wearing it. It’s already an engagement & wedding band fused together, so I’m set.

      I didn’t get any negative comments while I was wearing the plain band (for a month or two) but I did get the feeling that people expected something more exciting when they asked to see my ring. I get more enthusiastic comments with this one, but I really think it’s just because it’s beautiful and not because people think it’s better (librarians aren’t a very flashy bunch). I had a great conversation with some coworkers about inherited rings that made me feel like part of a great tradition (my mom’s ring came from my dad’s mom, also).

  • I was very adamant about not wanting a diamond or even a gold band. Very adamant. So when Mr. EG finally started thinking about rings he knew I wanted silver and a colored stone of some sort. He’s not the type to go to jewelry stores so late one Friday night (like 12:30 I’m tired and going to bed late) he asks me, “Um. Hey, what do think of these rings?” and pulls up a file on his computer. It has photos of some very nice silver and sapphire rings. I respond that they’re ok but still a bit too flashy for my tastes. So we get on Etsy and start looking. That night we found a jeweler from NYC that had several rings that we both liked. I said that any of those would be perfect and left the final decision up to him.
    He actually wound up proposing without the ring as it was still being made and we were leaving for vacation/ he’ll be gone the other half the month at a conference combo the next day. The ring showed up after I returned home and he was still away at the conference. It was so hard to wait to wear it out and about, but I waited until he returned so he could see it before everyone else. I was so excited to show everyone. I was like: “LOOK AT MY RING! ISN’T IT SOOO COOL! It’s got these Flowers and Leaves and the Flowers have Different Colored Stones in the Centers!”
    I still like to show it off a year later. Might even use it as my wedding band.

    • meredyth

      This sounds a little bit like us! We looked at rings late at night and I told him what I didn’t want. I said I didn’t want a diamond. Call me Anne of Green Gables, but I’ve never been a huge fan. I do like other colored rocks though, and since our birthdays are both in May and that’s when we met, I told him I’d prefer an emerald.
      But, one of the outcomes of proposing to him meant that there was no ring for me. We’re doing engagement gifts and I have a strong feeling that a ring will be mine. His will be cufflinks and a nice iPad case. Recently I was in a vintage shop and looking at an emerald ring that I might take him back to.

      That being said, I have felt a little sad to not have any ring on my left hand for right now. People who heard we were engaged and then saw I didn’t have a ring were confused and I felt a bit like a fraud. I know it’s my choice and I like that we’re making our own decisions, but the excitement and fun that comes with a ring and engagement has been missing a little. However, I’ve been collecting stories of women who don’t have engagement rings, or didn’t get one until much later. Because of them, I remind myself that it doesn’t really matter, I’m still getting married regardless.

      • Jess

        A friend of mine had an engagement rock…literally. It was some sort of cool rock that her fiance had found while hiking, or something like that, and she loved the gesture but you can’t exactly wear it on your finger or carry it around with you! I don’t think it really matters, either, but I do hope you get your emerald!

  • Anonymous…Sorry!

    We had a pretty unique ring situation. The story goes like this. I’ve had a family heirloom watch face in my jewelry box for years gathering dust that has real diamonds on it. The watch was a piece that my great-grandmother gave to my grandmother to wear at my mothers wedding (tons of sentimentality). When my fiance and I started talking about getting engaged, we explored ethical diamond rings, estate rings from antique shops and many other options without success. Our goal was to find a beautiful and unique diamond ring but we definitely had no desire to spend 3 months salary on it. That’s when I remembered that I already had several small, very beautiful diamonds in my possession. I asked my grandmother what she would think about me re-purposing it and she was absolutely delighted at the thought of it being reworked. This turned out to be the perfect solution because it had very sentimental meaning for our family. My fiance wanted our engagement to be a surprise so I handed the diamonds over to him about 6 months before he popped the question and he worked with the jeweler to create a ring that would hold the diamonds. We’re both so happy with this choice. The ring is beautiful, totally blingin’ (ha) and I get a heart twang every time I look at it! :) My advice is to look in your jewelry box, or maybe your mom’s or his mom’s jewelry box. You might be surprised at what you find. Maybe there is a beautiful but unworn sapphire, diamond, ruby or even emerald necklace waiting to be re-purposed!

    • My parents got engaged on a whim (my dad kept talking about “when we XYZ” and my mom just asked him, point-blank “when are you going to ask me to marry you?”) and my dad asked his mother if she had anything lying around that would work for an engagement ring. She produced a gorgeous antique platinum filigree ring covered with diamond chips (and matching brooch!). It was a little too big, so my mom wrapped a band-aid around the band, wore it for a few months, then replaced it with their wedding bands.

      Meanwhile, I actually have a diamond ring given to me by my aunt; it was from her first husband, and she didn’t want it anymore. I could easily pass that along to someone in our family (…come to think of it, I should mention that to my pre-engaged cousins). You never know what’s lurking in people’s jewelry boxes!

  • Lola

    My fiance picked out the perfect ring for me with hardly any input at all, but I did tell him: nothing huge, please. I don’t want something flashy and I don’t want something I will feel guilty about when I think of how much he must have spent. Anyway, I do encounter the people who probably think it is small, but I’ll tell you one thing you can do after the deed is done that will put everyone at ease: gush about how much you love your perfectly you-sized ring right in front of your fiance. I was just doing it because I really do love it, but I realized at some point that it was making him so happy to hear my praise too. I know it is just a ring, just a thing, but complimenting it in front of him is a little gift that keeps on giving.

  • Penelope’s description of herself is 99% me! My fiance wanted to surprise me but wanted to get me something I would enjoy wearing. We agreed that me sending him a few links to photos of rings that I liked would be okay :) I hate gold, diamonds, and anything big.

    He hit it out of the ballpark with a teakwood ring with a silver inlay (

    Did I post close up pictures on Facebook? No, that’s not my style anyway. Do I tell people that the ring is exactly what I wanted so people won’t think he was being cheap? Yes, because I know he appreciates it. Did our dog eat the engagement ring promptly one month into the engagement? Yes, because it’s how he rolls. Did we find a $10 replacement to last the next 6 months because I only want to wear my wedding ring? Yes, because that’s how we roll. Did people judge my fiance because I didn’t have a rock? Maybe. Maybe not. Do we care? No. Is our honeymoon going to be outstanding because we didn’t blow our savings on a ring? YES.

    • Lola

      Sorry, I need to know more about your dog eating the ring!

    • Paranoid Libra

      Now I’m worried my dog who eatsanythingincludingenjoyingelectrocution kind of dog might try to eat my ring.

      Love the $10 replacement ring though. Good idea if you just want to wear the wedding ring.

      • Haha, it was largely my fault. The wood ring was gorgeous but a tiny bit thick, so I had to take it off to play guitar. I made the mistake of setting it down on the coffee table, and when I finished playing, it was gone. We actually aren’t even 100% sure the dog ate it, but we can’t find it anywhere else. The wood ring was, again, gorgeous, but obviously not durable, so after watching our dog’s every bathroom break for a few days, we gave up. It’s a mystery! Put your ring in your pocket if it’s not on your finger folks!

    • Sarah

      My grandmother’s dog ate her ring once. She spent 3 days following that dog around, waiting and checking EVERY bit of anything that came from it. (From both ends, even!)

      Eventually, she got it back, had it cleaned, and went on wearing it. Now that diamond is on my sister’s hand, and we tease her about the dog.

      If nothing else, it made for a fun family story!

    • Pigzfly

      Those wooden ones look super sweet and I wish I had known about them! Totally my style.

  • Ah, how two ladies complicates things. Because that means… two engagement rings! My partner (McPants on this board) and her best friend went ring shopping together because they were both in long term relationships and that way they could be a source of info if the other needed it. And when they came back from the trip, McPants told me I had to go with her. And we went ring shopping together and I was really glad we did. Because what I thought I wanted for a ring (three stone setting, simple band) is not at all what I liked on my hand (same for the fiancee). In the end, the ring is still what I wanted – sapphire, silver (well, white gold), with a little bit of detail, but not at all what I thought it would be… and the same for the fiancee!

    The best part is that we each went separately to order the rings separately (which leave to some hilarity with our friends apparently). Neither of us knew it was coming, so proposing was still unexpected. And we got to propose to each other! (I suggested she propose to me because I was enjoying putting together my proposal so much, I thought she would too)

    I’m actually wearing my ring on my middle finger these days for no other reason than I’ve lost weight and I’m terrified of it falling off.

  • My husband and I bought the ring together. I picked it out because I have really, really, really picky taste, and the ring I wanted was from this etsy artisan so it wasn’t something he could just find on his own easily. :P I felt bad commandeering the ring process on one hand (pun) but on the other, it’s something I plan to wear for a long, long time, so I wanted it to be the something I’d been pining for.

    I feel guilty sometimes because I feel like people are judging him when they see how tiny and delicate my ring is — the stone isn’t mounted, and it’s super tiny, and looks like a tiny knot in a tree. It’s gorgeous but SUPER small and not sparkly, which has caused me to get some “ohyoupoorthing” comments/looks from people, and basically *disappointment* from others when we got engaged and I was prompted to show it off. But I’m always very quick to say “*I* picked this out. It’s handmade!” and that’s my way of silently reproaching people because yo, don’t judge my boy on this ring’s size!

    There’s really not a whole lot you can do about other people. Go with your gut and do what makes *you* happy as a couple and eff the rest. People project a LOT when it comes to judging other people’s weddings and choices anyway…I feel like if I went with something that would be more approved by say, my coworkers, then my offbeat friends would be disapproving instead, or something. You can’t please everyone, so we decided to please ourselves.

  • I too, was surprised how much societal pressure got to my fiance. I gave him a few guidelines – yes, I wanted a diamond, but I wanted it to be less than a carat (I don’t wear much jewelry and I’m not flashy by nature), and what mattered more to me was the “character” of the ring. I wanted it to be different, unique. I wanted it to be US.

    I thought he’d be totally on board. I thought he’d be relieved he wouldn’t have to spend as much. But when he proposed, after I had gotten over the utter shock (bonus points to the fiance for still being able to surprise me even though we’d talked about it for months), he actually said “We can get an upgrade for our 10 year anniversary”.

    I looked down at my gorgeous engagement ring, in a setting with a ton of engraving and embellishments that SO fit my personality, and asked “Why?”

    Men get just as caught up in this stuff as women do. They know that other women are going to ask to see – and judge – the engagement ring. I totally get where Penelope is coming from. Just reassure him, over and over, that it’s not about what other people think, or what he thinks he SHOULD be getting you. It’s about you two committing to each other, and the ring representing that. He’ll get tit eventually.

  • Erin

    My husband proposed without a ring (he was a little tipsy and decided that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, and why not tell me while he was thinking about it?), and so we picked my ring out together. I knew that we had a very, very small budget, so I planned on either buying a “fake” ring that would be suitably beautiful and large and awesome for a very low price, or watching estate sales and etsy to catch a vintage ring on sale. We looked at a few jewelry stores, but the prices were insanely high and jewelers got a little miffed when I said that it didn’t HAVE to be a diamond solitaire.

    Finally, though, we were walking through the mall and noticed that JcPenny’s was having a sale. It was the beginning of the worst part of the Recession, and Penny’s was apparently a little freaked out, because almost their entire jewelry section was on sale. There was a little section of rings on the far end of the display case that was 70% off, and then 30% off of that, and then you could get another 15% off if you applied for a credit card.

    Even with the discount, some of those rings were outside of our budget. But the salesman was awesome, doing the math on all of these rings for us, explaining the differences in the diamonds so I knew why one ring was more expensive than another. I finally tried on one of the smaller rings in the case, and was absolutely stunned by the quality of the diamond. It wasn’t huge, but it was the clearest, sparkliest, most beautiful diamond I had ever seen. Our awesome salesman did the math, and with insurance and tax, the ring came out at around $300. I looked a little anxiously at my then-fiance, because that was still a lot of money, and he said “It’s a $2,000 ring for $300 and you love it. Sold!”

    I love my engagement ring much more than my wedding band, and I had much more of a “This is it!” moment when picking it out than I did with my dress. Overall, I would totally recommend picking the ring out together, even if it does take away a little from the surprise proposal with ring in hand.

  • Kate

    My cousin recently got engaged and he gave his fiancee a sapphire ring. They posted pics on Facebook and every comment was still “Oh it’s so pretty!” Like everyone else said, it’s about what the ring symbolizes, not what it looks like. Ideally, anyone that doesn’t like your ring will STFU or stick to “Congratulations!”. If not, they’re revealing things about their character that aren’t really your problem.

    As you can see in the other comments you have lots of support for whatever you choose, but don’t forget that people have been opting out of the current standard WIC narrative for a long time. When my grandparents were going to get married, my grandfather said he’d get an engagement ring and my grandmother said “None of this engagement ring BS – you either marry me or you don’t.” I don’t think my mom had an engagement ring either, at least none that I ever saw.

    I guess that attitude is genetic because I told my husband that I didn’t need one at all. He was like your boyfriend so I’ve got a pretty typical one. Although I love it, the longer I’m married (over 6 months now, gosh I’m so experienced and wise!) the sillier it seems. My engagement was very long, but it still seems like a lot of money to mark a (relatively for me/literally for most) short and purposefully temporary time period & relationship state. It makes a lot more sense to do what works for you and what makes you comfortable.

  • Sarah

    Oh, the ring olympics. So near and dear to my heart. Rawr.

    We’ve ended up with MULTIPLE run-ins. The very first experience was while we were purchasing my ring. I told the jeweler what I wanted and she (gently) started teasing that I just wanted to save money. It went on for about half an hour of looking at bands until I finally asked her to take a larger (but not huge) stone out of case, put it on, and just put my hand on the counter. She looked at my hand, looked at me, and laughed “Wow, you really do look like you’re playing dress up!” That settled that. And, to her credit, she immediately started searching for the “perfect” stone within my guidelines, and stopped trying to upsell me.

    Second? Every g-d woman in my apartment building. I swear (and have witnesses!) that every time I get in an elevator I get sized up. When the see my ring, the generally sneer (some actually snort at it, asshats!) and flash their much-flashier-adorned hands. It’s irritating, but funny at the same time.

    Third, though, was my family. This one pissed me off. When my sister’s diamond was larger I was told (not by the sister, mind you) “that’s what an engagment ring SHOULD look like.” Or my grandfather who says he can’t respect my husband because he “got (my) grandmother something much nicer 60 years ago, when (he) was 19. And that’s the best (my husband) could do NOW?”

    ::sighs:: Way to miss the point, family.

    I didn’t post a shot on FB specifically because I didn’t need anyone to comment on it, positive or negative. The ring is totally not the point, people.

    On the postive side, a recently engaged friend couldn’t wait to show off her ring … which was a gorgeous sapphire. Her response when someone asked her if she was disappointed she didn’t get a diamond? “I’m not a diamond kind of girl, and I LOVE my ring. Anyone who thinks we did this wrong can go kick rocks.”

    At least SOMEONE has their head on straight. =)

    • clampers

      Sorry your family reacted that way. My mom was pumped about my pearl ring. (But this is also the woman who asked me, “So. Are you wearing pants or a dress?” Ha! Love you, Mom!)

      But my dude’s mom said, “Let’s see the ring!” And then when I showed it to her, all she said was, “Oh.”

      Wah waahhhh [sad trombone]

      • Sarah

        Eh, it’s what I’ve come to expect from my family, so it didn’t hurt my feelings. It just made me a bit incredulous. =)

        My dad totally got it, though. It looked at it, smiled, thought for a second and said “It’s beautiful. Dainty. Dainty is a good word, right? It’s perfect for you.”

        And he was totally right. And, I love “dainty” … it conjurs up images of having tea parties with my grandmother …. and our shared taste in jewelry (her engagement ring was the one exception to her small jewelry rule … and only becuase it was special to her).

        I’m sorry you had such disappointing reactions. People really just don’t pay attention, do they?

    • Jerks. I honestly don’t know why anyone cares what anyone else’s ring looks like. WHAT is that all about? I’m sorry people have reacted that way. I have a white sapphire ring (which actually kind of looks like diamonds, hah) and I absolutely love it. I think it’s perfect for me, perfect for my partner and I’s relationship, and everyone else can- as your friend said- go kick rocks.

      • Sarah

        I’m convinced it’s rooted in insecurity of some kind. Not sure why this keeps coming to mind when someone judges, but it does.

        It’s such a personal choice, really. I’m a small jewelry/diamond type of girl. My best friend is totally not stones at all. My sister blings out. Another friend doesn’t wear any jewelry that doesn’t have some sort of color. We’re all so different, why would we ever choose the same ring?

  • Geepuff

    My FH got me a very traditional solitaire (hey, I’m a traditional jewelry kind of girl), and everyone oos and ahhs the appropriate ammount. Our big secret? Yeah, that diamond everyone thinks is so pretty, totes not real. I told him I’d rather have a new couch than a new diamond. I’m undercover practical that way. Don’t tell my mom.

    Also, I’ve found that if you start this whole engagement hoopla with a statement of yourself, it’s a whole friggin heck of a lot easier to carry that feeling into your wedding planning, and that’s nice.

    • Kathryn in VT

      I love this story!

  • BCS

    I don’t have an engagement ring, mostly because I don’t wear rings (though I will wear a plain, 2mm yellow gold wedding band) nor do I like diamonds, but also because I realized I was really uncomfortable with the tradition that the man has to buy something to make the engagement official, but the woman doesn’t have to do anything in exchange. A possible solution: one of my friends says that he wants an engagement sword. His logic is, why can’t he get something shiny and pointy and awesome out of the deal too?

    • My dad actually has an engagement ring and a wedding band, just like my mom, and it wasn’t until I was a teenager that I realized how different that is in today’s society. I also think it’s odd that women wear an engagement ring, and men don’t- and that most people don’t even question it. Bravo. :)

    • Claire

      My husband got his ring from a wonderful local artist as soon as we agreed to join forces permanently. He immediately put it on his ring finger and never took it off. I was still waiting for him to finish designing and making my ring, so for most of our (very short) engagement he wore a ring and I had none. This was very confusing to most people and we both got a lot of odd looks and comments. He took some flack from “the guys” for wearing an engagement ring, but he proudly stated, “Hey, I love this ring and everything it stands for and I’m going to wear it every second I can.” That shut up the guys and made the girls swoon.

    • Vmed

      I got the fella a very nice pocket watch and chain after we were engaged. The double hunter case is engraved with our initials (at his request), and I presented it to him on a day we were looking for our ceremony site.

      It’s not pointy, but it is shiny and gorgeous, and it’ll be in his vest pocket on our wedding day. Probably not at night, though, evenings aren’t for watches.

    • YngMadeline

      I have had this exact same issue with engagement rings. I am planning on proposing to my boyfriend sometime soon since it works in our relationship for me to take the lead on this. He is not particularly concerned with traditional male roles and I like planning things.

      My problem is that I want an engagement ring but I really feel uncomfortable with the traditional meaning of them. The only way I would feel comfortable wearing an engagement ring is if 1) we both got something and 2) I figured out a way to personally shift my cultural associations with it. Tackling the first issue was hard since my boyfriend is not a jewelery or accessories person at all, so the idea of a nice watch/ring/necklace would not work. What he does love is art and webcomics, so I am planning on contacting one of our favorite webcomic artists to design a couple pieces for us, one to be the actual engagement question and the other as a piece of art to celebrate our commitment. As soon as I realized that *this* is what I really thought engagement presents should symbolize, I felt good about wearing an engagement ring.

      • Claire

        What a wonderful way to take a tradition and make it your own!

  • mere…

    While we’re on the topic of rings…my boyfriend and I have very different ideas of what my engagement/wedding ring should look like. Not so much the size/cost/color – we just simply have different tastes in style. I’d prefer a pear shaped Peridot possibly bordered with smaller cruelty free diamonds. He likes the idea of a stone flanked by two other stones. The three-stone look is just so NOT me. But he comes from the camp of “it’s my GIFT to you, I should get to pick out something I love looking at and get to think ‘she’s wearing the symbol I chose for our marriage'” and “you can pick out any ring you’d like for me and even if I hate how it looks, I’ll love it because YOU chose it.” I feel much more along the lines of “I have to wear it everyday. It should be something I love looking at/wearing!” but am having trouble wording this in a way that doesn’t come off sounding like “mine! mine! mine!” Ideally of course, we’ll find a ring that we both fall in love with – but if that doesn’t happen does anyone have any thoughts on how I can make sense of the idea that it should be something I feel comfortable wearing?

    • Ack. I’m in your camp. I TOTALLY think you should have a say- since, as you said, you’re the one that will wear it every day. You can let him read this post, hah, and use the example of the blinged-out shirt that Alyssa provided.

    • Class of 1980

      I bet you can find a ring you both love.

    • I, too, think that if you two go shopping together, you’ll be able to find something you both love. Try to go to a brick-and-mortar store and try on different settings, even if you don’t buy the ring there (like some ladies mentioned above, some rings look different on your finger than they do in a picture – you might both be surprised at how your tastes change or are confirmed by trying things on!)

      My engagement ring is definitely not my style (though I can look at it and objectively see that it’s beautiful in its own way). On the days when that really bothers me, I leave it at home and just wear the wedding band that I got to pick. Maybe that could be a workaround for you guys?

    • i think it has a lot to do with how one thinks of gifts.

      a good friend of mine put it very well – that when you give someone a gift, once it’s given it is *theirs*. it belongs to them, and is theirs to do with as they choose. basically, that means it not your business after it’s given. if they throw it out? okay, their choice. or brag to everyone about how cool it is? also their choice.

      anyhow, i think it’s a little different with an engagement ring, given the nature of the relationship and symbolism involved. but it can really help to think of gifts as something belonging to the other person rather than something belonging to you which you are passing along.

      (it took me many, many years of giving my mother books that looked *fascinating* to me, which she never read to realize what i was doing wrong. on the bright side, my dad read every one of them. oops. =)

  • Hillary

    My fiance and I are both online all the time, sharing things on Google Reader, emailing links, etc, so I basically just shared tons of images of rings I liked. We are both into design and style so I was sharing rings from artists, smaller jewelers or antiques dealers – usually art deco stuff or more modern organic pieces. I had actually seen the vintage one he bought while we were looking together online.

    I didn’t really have to convince him of any of this. Our taste swung the other way already and we both think that giant rings are wrong and impractical for us, me, our budget, etc. I lose stuff all the time, too. I’d be so petrified wearing an expensive ring.

    That said, I see plenty of big VINTAGE rings I like. I just have never liked big diamond rings that look like the ones everyone else has. I’m a unique person with a sense of style and wanted a ring to reflect my individuality. Having a ring from the 1800s makes me feel WAY more special than if it was from Tiffany circa 2011.

  • Michelle

    I looove my ring. Its def not what I would have chosen, but its soo much better! I would have been fine (thrilled even!) with a non diamond ring (maybe some funky abstract design with opals – im a sucker for different and blue!). But my now-hubby was thinking more long term and brought longevity of the ring around my clutzy self (goodbye fragile opals!) AND factored it what he felt represented him. And he wanted it to be a once and done thing, no “upgrading” on an anniversary etc. So he did all the research and figured out the max size that would be proportional to my hand and went from there (smart boy!) and he achieved the desired result. I looooove it and will never want to “upgrade”.

    On the flip side, we have friends who have a really cool heirloom diamond ring. Its literally PRICELESS because they dont make that cut anymore. But, its small and the poor hubby always makes jokes to “play it off”. She loves it – no one has ever made a rude comment (everyone I know thinks that having a heirloom diamond is AMAZEBALLS!) but HE feels judged by others all the time. She loves her ring, thinks its very “her” but will likely end up with an anniversary “upgrade” at some point for his comfort level. Penny wrote to strangers to ask how to get through to him, but she just needs to make sure that he isnt trying to get through to her about his comfort level too. The ring will be on her hand, but it should represent and be loved by both of them. (IMHO)

  • alkd

    I do not like large rings, nor am I a huge fan on diamonds. I am a fan of garnets, emeralds, and opals — but garnets especially because there’s a lot of mythology/folklore related with them that I love (I’m a literature nerd). My guy asked me to go online and send him pictures of rings that made me swoon. Some of them had diamonds, most of them didn’t. I had no idea which ring he chose for me, or even if he would chose out of the pictures I had sent him, but the ring he found was perfect.

    My main point is this: I cannot tell you how many women admire my ring and tell me how secretly envious they are that my guy picked out a ring that is exactly, perfectly, absolutely me – and how much that suited our relationship.

    So, to any guy out there gearing up to propose: what you like in a ring is important. But this ring isn’t about you, just like it’s not all about her – it’s about your relationship. Find a ring that compliments her personality, while also reflecting the personality of who you both are together. That is what makes a ring special & garners the AMAZEBALLS comments from your friends & family.

    Besides… if this ring does get posted to facebook, which comments would you prefer: “Gorgeous! That is so you, I love it!” or “Wow. That’s big.” ?

  • Steph

    I definitely think it’s something to talk about beforehand (pardon the pun). When we were pre-engaged/talking/thinking about it, my inital thought was “I will be happy with whatever he gives me because it came from him. Two of my close girlfriends pointed out “YOU will be wearing it everyday for the rest of your life so it should be something YOU love and that YOU feel comfortable wearing,” (Part of me thinks they wanted to look a rings with me to have the fun experience, but they also made a great point). I immediately fell in love with small diamond solitares and mentioned this to my now hubby. He had assumed I wanted multiple diamonds, which I didn’t. I was still surprised with the ring he picked and surprised by the proposal, but I’m glad we took the time to talk about what I liked vs. what he thought I liked.
    PS I was also happy that he knew me well enough to make sure the one he picked out was certifed as not being a conflict diamond. He made me so happy :)

  • Sarah

    I am very lucky to have a few family rings I got to choose from. I kept telling my now fiance that he better not buy me a ring. He should save it for a down payment or take me to Italy. We also wouldn’t have to worry about blood diamonds or environmental impact. He was a little resistant but when he understood that it was really what I wanted – that I have wanted to wear my grandmother’s engagement ring since she left it to me and that her marriage was amazing and that it makes me feel close to her- he got it. I love my ring because it reminds me of both my family past and my grandmother and our future. He was worried about proposing without the ring so I told him to draw a ring on my finger with a marker or tie a ribbon around my finger. In the end, the proposal was more spontaneous and came out of a conversation about our future which was just right. My engagement ring (and my grandmother’s) is beautiful and I absolutely love it but it is bigger than I would have picked, My mother says that I will grow into it and I think that is probably right. The strangest thing about having a big sparkly platinum ring is the way people look at me and then at it and then back at me. It is like they feel they have to reassess my worth in the light of the ring. It is really uncomfortable. The wedding industry really did a number on folks – convincing them that a woman’s worth, a man’s worth, and their love could be measured by the number of carats on her finger.

  • We decided to skip the whole ring thing all together. Neither of us wear any kind of ring and we like it that way. Maaaybe down the line, but not yet. It just didn’t feel right and we listened to it. For some reason it makes me feel….like I’m silently protesting something? Or that people don’t know I’m married and I feel like a badass because I have that secret? They can judge me but they’d be wrong? That’s kinda weird now that I’m writing it out, but I dig it.

    Alyssa, as usual, your advice is spot on. Especially the analogy of the blinking PENELOPE’S teeshirt. Way to put it into perspective ;)

  • A

    We didn’t buy an engagement ring. It was not something I wanted, and my partner is from a culture without engagement rings.
    Most people did not seem to bat an eyelash, but there were some that just wanted to see the ring when I told them we were engaged. When I told them we didn’t buy one, they seemed embarrassed for me or something, which then made me feel awkward for them. The hardest part for me was to bite my tongue and not feel like I needed to explain/justify our decision to near strangers.
    Our engagement and our wedding were way outside the norm, and that made me so much more comfortable most of the time that those few awkward moments were worth it.

  • Lainey

    I was engaged once previously, and had the Big Honking Ring. It was a huge surprise, I hated it, and in hindsight, feel like it was symbolic of my relationship with my ex in general: flashy, perfect on paper, but just not for me. I taught school at the time in a rural district populated mainly by migrant farm workers, and I always felt awkward and even guilty about my “bling.”

    I picked out my current engagement ring with my fiance, and wore it out of the store. I was in the “don’t need a ring” camp, but my fiance wanted to get me something, so I chose an antique-looking ring, not intended to be an engagement ring, that only cost a few hundred dollars. Frankly, I don’t intend to wear it after getting married on a regular basis. While I do like it, I prefer the simplicity of a gold wedding band.

    The thing is, blingy ring or “unimpressive” ring, folks judged either way. When I had the bigger ring, we sure as heck got treated a lot more seriously in looking for wedding venues; however, I’d also get comments like, “Of course you can afford xyz!” Just look at that rock!” With my current ring, one of my closest friends actually told me that my fiance needs to “upgrade” me in five years. I snarked back at her that those weren’t our values. I know my fiance’s friends have given him crap for not having a traditional proposal and ring as well.

    It is SO not worth worrying about what people will think of your/ your fiance’s big ring/ small ring/ no ring. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I think the tone of this post is exactly right; focusing on what Penelope will be most comfortable in is the best thing her boyfriend can do.

    • I totally agree that it’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t. My husband proposed with a family diamond. Let’s just say that his mother’s taste is faaaaar more extravagant than mine. Since the diamond was “free,” he spent his money on custom-designing a setting that he felt did justice to it.

      The first words out of my mouth after “yes” when he proposed was: “Holy crap, I can’t wear that. I work in non-profit; no one will take me seriously!” We actually spent some time going back and forth about re-setting the ring before I realized two things: 1) There’s no such thing as an inoffensive engagement ring. If you have a big honking diamond, there are some people who will judge you for it. And if you have an understated ring or a non-traditional stone, there are different people who will judge you for that. 2) Because my ring mattered so much to my husband, it needs to matter to me. He’s said, “I wish I was one of those guys who can say ‘Whatever you love,’ but for some reason, I want there to be a part of me in this ring. I want it to symbolize *us* and that’s why I took the time to design something unique.” And you know… even if his reasons or his tastes don’t match up to mine, I can respect that desire, and it makes my blingy ring much more beautiful in my eyes than if he’d bought it just to “keep up with the Joneses.”

      (Our compromise has been that right now I usually wear only my wedding band or a simple hammered gold ring that belonged to my grandmother. The engagement bling comes out on special occasions, and J’s said that if in 5 years I still feel like I haven’t ‘grown into it,’ we’ll get me the small, dainty diamond ring I wanted. Anniversary… downgrade? ;))

      • Thanks for the update, Sharon! I’ve been wondering what you guys had decided & that seems like a good compromise.
        And “anniversary downgrade” made me giggle. :)

        • Yes, me too. :) I’m glad you worked out a solution that you can both live with.

          (FWIW, your ring IS beautiful.)

          • Aww, thanks, guys! It’s so nice to have a community wherein one can express such things and not be immediately stoned as That Bitch Who Wanted to Change Her Ring. :D

    • Laura Mc

      Perfectly said about the damned if you do damned if you don’t with big rings and small rings.

      • Class of 1980

        People not only have different tastes; they also have different lifestyles. That’s another reason one size won’t fit all.

        • This. Exactly. My mother-in-law, bless her heart, will take one look at a 1.5 or 2 carat diamond and immediately say, “Oh it’s okay, you can upgrade in a few years” (!!??!!) But that’s the circles she runs in.

          • Laura Mc

            I think a lot of it depends on the area you live in. Being from DC, I think it tends to skew to larger sizes on average; however, what is considered “smaller” in DC might be ginormous to someone living in the midwest. It’s all relative.

    • Claire

      “I was engaged once previously, and had the Big Honking Ring. It was a huge surprise, I hated it, and in hindsight, feel like it was symbolic of my relationship with my ex in general: flashy, perfect on paper, but just not for me.”

      Wow. I feel like you just wrote my story. Exactly.
      My former fiancé completely disregarded my well-known feelings about diamonds and super expensive jewelry in general and bought me the huge diamond solitaire anyway. I felt like he was more interested in showing off and impressing people with what he could afford than he was in considering my values. Not good. But also indicative of that relationship.

      • My ex did that too! It wasn’t a large stone, but it was every single thing I told him I didn’t want. In hindsight, it was a nice little summary of our relationship.

  • Kathryn in VT

    After years of proclaiming that I didn’t want a ring — in my own sort of obnoxious anti-ring olympics, in which practicality trumped showiness — I was really surprised by how much I fell in love with my engagement ring. It’s been in my fiance’s family for more than 100 years, and his mother gave the ring to him to propose to me. Thinking about the love and generosity behind that gift just floors me. For me, it was win-win situation; I have a beautiful reminder on my finger of both a family history I am joining and of this momentous decision we’ve made as a couple. But! My fiance didn’t spend a dime on it, and my practicality cheers that on.

    I know we were lucky to have a family heirloom in this situation, but even if there aren’t family jewels in hiding, I’d really recommend people scour their family jewelry boxes (if family members are up for that sort of thing). I’m going to be wearing my mother’s very simple gold wedding band that she and my father bought when they were poor as churchmice some 30 years ago. We’re looking into melting down some of my fiance’s late grandmother’s jewelry for his band. I love knowing that we’re connecting in this way to a long family tradition and history. And given the price of gold these days, it’s a great place to save a bit of money.

    But, just to back track — I completely realize in retrospect that my haughty “I’m too sensible for an engagement ring!” attitude was just as bad as the idea that a ring has to be huge and impressive. The important take-away seems to be, to each her own. I wish I’d realized that a long time ago before turning up my nose at seemingly ostentatious gestures.

    • Stephasaurus

      “Recycled” rings are awesome! Especially if they’ve been in the family for generations!

  • Stephasaurus

    I unknowingly made my ring choice by walking out of my undergraduate mineralogy class (Geologist here!) one day, calling my then-boyfriend, and telling him how I just learned that zircon is the oldest mineral found on earth, and that was SUPER COOL. And also telling him about my professor joking that zircon would make a better engagement ring than diamonds, because it’s older (and thus symbolizes “eternity”) and diamonds are just carbon (i.e. decayed organic matter) after undergoing tons of pressure. She was half-joking, but I thought it was so true!

    Ten months later, he proposed with a ring of white gold and blue (BLUE!!) zircon!

    • Kathryn in VT

      Just Google image-searched zircon, and wow! How gorgeous!

      What a lovely story. (Also, I’m super psyched that I learned something today about the oldest mineral on earth.)

      • Stephasaurus

        Thank you! It is a really fun story to tell people, because boy did he ever indulge in my nerdiness with this ring. And I’m glad you learned something new today! :)

        • Ris

          Oldest mineral on earth? How freakin cool is that?!?

          I’m in the looking-around-at-engagement-rings stage right now, so I’ve read literally every comment… yet this is this first one I’ve felt the need to comment on. I think it’s a good sign that learning something new makes me way more excited than jewelry :) Maybe my bf should just get me an engagement set of encyclopedias.

          • Stephasaurus

            I feel honored that mine was the first response you felt the need to comment on! And I totally agree — learning something new is 1,000 times more exciting than jewelry. But having an engagement ring is still nice because of what it symbolizes….and if you happen to get one that’s super unique to you and you alone, it’s even better! :)

            (However, I’d still encourage the set of encyclopedias from your boy…how awesome would THAT be!)

  • Robin

    I thought I didn’t want a blingy thingy on my finger. I am older (49 when I got married) and have fat old lady fingers. I wanted something smaller, and non-traditional. Because yanno, when you’re a first time bride at age 49, you don’t really see yourself doing the traditional things that women who are marrying in their 20s tend to do. I thought something with a small emerald would be nice, since that’s my birthstone.
    But my fiancee bought what he wanted to buy, since he was the one buying it. I opened the box, threw up in my mouth a little bit, and put it on. But lo and behold, about 5 minutes later I loved it. Love love loved it. I think it was partly because I loved him, and partly because it’s a beautiful ring. It has a pretty large emerald cut diamond, and has little teeny diamonds all the way around the bad. But also (here’s the important part) partly because I also realized that there was a piece of me that thought I didn’t deserve a giant blingy thingy on my fat old lady fingers.
    We also had the same discussion about the wedding ring(s). The solitaire he bought had two (not one but two!) skinny bands to sandwich the engagement ring, with those same teeny diamonds all the way around the bands. It is v.e.r.y. wide, and I was afraid all together it would look too wide on my fat old lady fingers. And maybe it does, but it doesn’t matter because I love the whole package. And my darling husband.

    • Oh lady, this comment made my heart swell. Your mister sounds like a great guy. :)

    • suzanna

      Oh yes to this! See my comment below on letting the dude pick out the ring. It’s a gift from him, about how he feels about you. What it looks like and what it’s made of do not matter.

  • TNM

    Of course, there’s another option for those who are having second-thoughts regarding the ring. No engagement ring at all. I’m 100% happy we took this path – though obviously it’s not for everyone (and I love hearing all the wonderful ring/proposal stories for folks who took the other path).

    But I personally (a) don’t like diamonds, (b) don’t like solitaire rings aesthetically, (c) don’t much like wearing rings/bracelets or anything on my hands, (d) hell, don’t even wear precious jewelry begin with, and (e) had my inner 9-year old proto-feminist Ramona Quimby squirming over the idea of an engagement ring “marking” me in anyway. One day, I literally woke up and realized, wait, I am not *required* to get an engagement ring. Felt relief. Continued feeling relief for the next month, and decided it wasn’t a passing whim. Told now-husband I did not want a ring. Saw relief on his face. Decided we were a good match! Oh aaand (e) got a kick-a$$ antique deco band for my wedding ring. (Though incidentally, I still don’t like the tactile feel of rings, bracelets, etc. so the wedding band is a significant concession to Mr. TNM!)

  • Mia Culpa

    I started seeding my fiance with ideas early on: white gold, ruby or sapphire, no diamonds, Art Deco type of setting. Because I am so particular, when he proposed last month (complete surprise) he said “I don’t have a ring for you, but I have some ideas. Let’s go shopping for it together.”

    After looking at a bunch of the typical modern rings online, we found an antique shop that specialized in estate jewelry thanks to Yelp, and visited it the next day. And you know what? We had a blast shopping together. He had a lot of fun looking at the different historical styles, I had a lot of fun trying on rings. He told me his budget, and so when I tried on rings, I’d surreptitiously look at the price and realize that just because a ring was expensive, it didn’t make it more beautiful or more suited to me.

    I fell in love with one totally different from what I thought I would like: a rose gold mine-cut diamond solitaire from the 1870s with unique trefoil details in the setting. It was within budget, and everyone who sees it compliments me on how beautiful and perfectly well suited to me it is. I never thought I would love a piece of jewelry so much, but then I’ve never thought I would fall in love with the right person and marry them either.

    • Yeah, it’s amazing what a difference it is looking at rings in person on your hand versus on the internet. When I looked at rings online, I had an idea of what I wanted and then when my fiance and I went shopping in person (something I totally recommend) I went for something COMPLETELY different. What I had liked online just didn’t work on my hand.

      • Mia Culpa

        I know, right? Turns out sparkly things don’t photograph well, especially antique sparkly things.

  • Flan

    I love this (and wish this post had been around a year ago!) I never wanted a new ring, and told my now-fiance that I wanted “an estate sale ring or a family ring, if there is one,” having no idea whether there was any family jewelry floating around. In the end, I have his great-grandmother’s engagement ring, which his mother also wore, and although probably not what I’d have picked out on my own, I adore it. Part of why I love it is that at Christmas this year everyone in the family told stories about her (neither of us ever got to meet her). So it has enormous sentimental value, and but for resizing, it was free!

  • kya

    We picked out my ring together. FH is a student and therefore “three months salary” equals either “more loans” or “no lunch” so it was important to both of us that we find a ring that I liked for a price that he felt comfortable with. I finally found something that I liked, FH let the jeweler talk him into paying for it on credit, but when he started filling out a credit application, he looked so worried that we couldn’t go through with it. I told him that while I liked that particular ring, I couldn’t wear it knowing that the payments were making him miserable. Because I love him more than any piece of jewelry, y’know?

    So, we went to another store and found something that worked for both of us – and I ended up liking it even better. It’s just the right combination of sparkly and practical. Compared to some of the monster diamonds my co-workers wear, it’s small – but the cost of the ring has no correlation to the love in our hearts, contrary to what advertising wants us to believe.

    • Class of 1980

      I couldn’t wear it either knowing it was adding stress to his life. I like your story.

  • We were fortunate to have a family diamond that was, what I think, tasteful in size and high in quality. It’s a .76 carat diamond, and I love it.

    At first, I was really uncomfortable wearing it. It seemed ENORMOUS to me, but over time it started to feel just right and I began to feel more comfortable. Every time that diamond sparkles it makes me smile and think of my husband. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • (I should preface this with saying that my partner and I are both ladies, and we both got engagement rings. I know that some men get engagement rings, but not too many in our society, so we had double the ring search as most couples!)

    Honestly, when we started talking about getting married, I was pretty sure I didn’t want a diamond- or at least, not one mined anytime recently, because I was too worried about conflict diamonds. I decided I would rather have something antique, or a lab-created diamond, or (more likely) something completely different, like a sapphire, garnet (my favorite gem!) or emerald. In the end, I got a white gold ring with a trio of white sapphires, which I LOVE. My partner, Lindi, got a lab-created, one carat diamond (whoa! Lots of bling!) and we both loved our rings that we picked out together. Lindi’s ring was later irreparably damaged, so her “new” engagement ring is a trio of white topaz with diamonds on the sides of the rings. So pretty! And all three of these rings cost less than $200 each, which was also important to us- since we were on a strict budget as poor college students. We then both got simple 3mm white gold bands to match- about $100 each.) I lose stuff all the time, and while I don’t THINK I would lose something that was on my hand, it would make me really nervous to be wearing a several thousand dollar piece of jewelry all the time. Also, as Alyssa pointed out, there’s the safety aspect- no “mug-me ring” for me!

    I understand that some people want/would rather have the ring be a surprise, but I don’t really understand why you would want it to be a TOTAL surprise. Honestly, if I am going to wear a ring for (hopefully) the rest of my life, I would love to at least have some input into the color/size of the ring. I think that may be how a lot of women feel, which in my mind is very reasonable. It seems as if that’s what’s happening here- Penelope just wants something relatively simple with a conflict-free diamond!

    Don’t give in to the societal pressure! I promise you’ll both be happier in the long run.

  • Class of 1980

    “Take care and get off Facebook.”

    Ha ha haha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Ha!

  • LBD

    I didn’t want to pick out the ring, but I also wanted it to be something I liked. I wanted the final ring to be a surprise, and I knew if I was involved I would obsess about getting it “perfect.” So, there is a local jewelry design store here in Seattle that I love, and they have a great website with lots of pictures of things they’ve made before. I sent him some examples of things I liked, then left it to him. He then worked with one of their designers to come up with something for me. So, while it may not be big and flashy (that’s not what I wanted), people tend to be impressed when they learn he had it specially designed and made for me, and learn about the process. That might satisfy your boyfriend’s need to impress.

  • Celeste

    First off I’ll say that I’m a jeweler, so I think that was intimidating for my fiance. Second, we had been together for 8 1/2 years before he proposed, and had the marriage talk at least 3 years before that, so the pressure was starting to build in layers, together with all of society’s pressure, forming a hard sedimentary rock of expectations. I repeatedly told the now fiance that I did not need a diamond, in fact did not want one. I even emailed him pics of rings I liked. Still, he felt pressure for it to be a surprise, for it to be “good enough,” etc.
    Then, I planned a romantic Valentine’s Day trip to the Grand Canyon, and I think he saw that as a good opportunity to propose and just went ahead and bought me a “placeholder” ring that he proposed with. It was a black elastic band with a diamond embroidered on it (in my favorite color, turquoise). And even after all our years together and after all of our talk about marriage, I was completely surprised, to the point of tears. I showed that elastic band off proudly and didn’t get a single nasty comment.
    Then, when we got back from our trip, I showed him again the ring I wanted (with my special custom specifications), I felt it would be odd to make my own engagement ring, kind of takes the “gift” aspect away, though I’m not knocking it if someone else does it. My ring has no stones whatsoever, is made from silver and green gold, and is a tongue-in-cheek take on a traditional engagement ring, and I absolutely love it! Not to mention I got a second proposal when it came in the mail ;) He balked because it was under $300 and not traditional, I had to convince him that it was what I wanted.
    Here it is, from metalicious on Etsy:

    • That’s badass! I love it.

  • Lindsay

    I am a big advocate of ring shopping together with your partner. My FH surprised me by having “traditional” feelings about an engagement ring. I have always loved wearing rings and am very particular when choosing something new. He tried to find out what I wanted, but I honestly didn’t have a clue when it came to a fancy engagement ring and choosing on his own stressed him out, so we decided to pick it together. I was interested in sapphires to avoid conflict diamonds, but found out that he thought engagement ring = diamond. It was not about the stone itself but more that he wanted to make sure everyone knew what the ring meant. We went to three antique jewelery stores and found an art deco ring with a modest stone and an amazing setting that just blows me away. So he got the stone with the symbolism he wanted, I got a setting that worked for my hand, and we both feel like we made an ethical choice. I loved going through that process together – it was a really exciting time and I actually liked drawing it out, it was fun to have a secret mission. We were both amazed at how different things looked on my hand than in pictures. I left the ultimate decision up to him because it was a big purchase for us and felt very frivolous to me. He was able to call the store and purchase the ring over the phone so it was still a surprise for me when he proposed a few months later.

  • wasabi

    We decided to skip engagement rings all together, and put that money toward our bling-y wedding bands from Brilliant Earth and a kick ass honeymoon. One of my friends is about to propose with a rough diamond engagement ring. I love the symbolism of a rough diamond, and since they are much more affordable, you can still have a substantial sized stone.

  • Jessica

    I know I’m the minority here, but, I have a (decent sized) diamond in a pave setting, I picked it out with my fiance, and I’ve posted it on facebook without a story (mostly because I feel our story is kind of boring and no one wants to really hear it).

    I honestly never even thought of having a non-diamond engagement ring- it never occurred to me. The diamond itself didn’t even matter to me, I just wanted something shiny. I was all about the setting. We looked so many places for a setting, getting to the point where my fiance could be counted on to pull rings I would love long before I saw them. The setting we ended up getting, we saw at pretty much the exact same moment. When it came time to pick the diamond, we said we were looking for about .5- .75 carats*, but we were more concerned with clarity and color than carat weight. I was all about the shiny. The jeweler didn’t have stone in that size and clarity, so he “upgraded” us to over a carat at pretty much the same cost. I had to wait about a week before my fiance proposed, which sucked, since I knew the ring was there, but, in the end, I got a ring that I love and that my fiance feels is “his” too.

    I adore my ring, and people compliment it all the time. While we probably could have ordered online and got a lab-created diamond or something, neither one of us regrets going the route we did. We supported a local business (and continue to support- one wedding ring down, one to go!) but still got something that we think is “amazeballs” even though it’s a pretty WIC ring.

    *I have always had fat fingers. No matter how much weight I lose, my fingers have always been fat. It’s very WIC of me, but I felt like if the diamond was too small or the setting too minimal, it would look lost on my finger or make my finger look fatter. I feel I need a more pronounced ring.

    • Ashley B

      Your not alone! I too have a ring along the more traditional lines, and love it because it sparkles so. I think the point is, that you have something that represents the two of you as a couple and that you’re comfortable wearing, not that you purchased it because you felt like you had too.

    • Paranoid Libra

      That’s why you try the ring on so you know its all proportional to your hand. So what if it was WIC-y it was what was right for you two.

    • Class of 1980

      Yeah, I wrote about finger/hand sizes earlier. You are right about proportions.

  • Raqui

    Picking one out together was fun and romantic for us! Do it!

    My fiance was pretty relieved when I said I didn’t want a surprise and I really didn’t want him to overextend himself/us financially. We looked a lot online together to get ideas – thanks APW for your awesome jewelry vendors! So much gorgeous stuff. What I realized was that price didn’t define my taste – I loved rings that were $60 and I loved rings that were $3000 equally. My fiance had saved a bit for it though and did want it to be a special expense and he wanted me to have a stone, so he encouraged me away from the $60 rings and I accepted that even though it is my nature to be super frugal.

    We ended up picking something out at a brick and mortar store – Catbird in Brooklyn. I loved the experience. The ladies there were great and they sell jewelry of local artists, so we picked out the stone (a natural grey diamond) and the artist made the ring and I love it. It is very me.

    I’m working in Big Law right now and although I try to keep things low key I did end up having to show it to co-workers and nobody made snide comments. They were kind of mesmerized and intrigued by it. I don’t really know anybody else who would be judgemental outside of the potential there at work. I mainly surround myself with bohemians and zen buddhists.

    love yas

  • Stop, drop and roll . . . who knew it would come in handy on a variety of occasions?!?

    Ahhh, rings. I wanted a vintage ring. Himself wanted to surprise me (and not-so-secretly didn’t feel like plowing through a bunch of shops and hole-in-the-wall places and scouring estate sales and looking online to get one). I was sad about it, but hey. I got over it. I told him the metal I wanted, and I told him that I would only wear a diamond if it was lab-made or Canadian. He went off and got it custom-made. It wasn’t what I would have picked, but I love it now, as I love him and respect the fact that he wanted to do it on his own.

    Good advice . . . especially the part about it being cool if you like big diamonds or you want to impress your friends or if you want to spend a lot of money, because there was no shaming about doing any of those things. We’re oh so tolerant here.

  • Judy

    We used a family ring so that whenever anyone asks about it, we tell them that we didn’t touch the family ring. This only works if you have a ring in one of your families.

  • Suzanne

    My engagement ring cost $100 and is a herkimer diamond which is a double ended six sided crystal… and its a big rock like a parody of an engagement ring. I also got my fiance an engagement ring that cost about the same and was a reproduction of a Russian wedding ring from the 1500s. I do have my grandmother’s engagement ring if I really do want a diamond but I couldn’t see spending a bunch on money on something I didn’t want. It shouldn’t be a contest but rather a reflection of who you both are. Best of luck!

  • Ashley B

    I feel like I’m the Goldilocks of engagement rings. That one was too big, that one was too gaudy, but the one I have is juuusssst right. It’s an ethically sourced diamond, it’s super sparkly, I got to pick out the setting, he got to pick out the rock, and now we have a beautiful ring we both love! The engagement process is so different for every couple, that I think the ring/puppy/surf board is a reflection of that. I totally know the boy was going to propose before he did (people always sound disappointed when I tell them I knew it was coming) but it didn’t stop us from being over the moon about it and giggling like idiots!

  • Lindsey

    I was VERY adamant with my fiance that I didn’t want a big gaudy, diamond. We met while my mom was in hospice, and she immediately knew that he was “the one.” So before she died, she spent several hours with me just poring through pages and pages of online engagement ring sites, where I got horrified by how ostentatious and not-my-type the rings were. But I also felt traditional in the sense that I didn’t want to pick out my ring and wanted to be surprised.

    Hmmm…it’s a complicated story! To tell the story of the ring, here’s a little bit of how we met. Basically, we lived cross-country from each other and met randomly in Atlanta. It was instant attraction, so we started emailing/talking on the phone. My mom had cancer for a long time, and was in hospice. She saw how I was with him and said, “You need to know.” So she surprised me with a ticket to the other coast, and that weekend (the second time we saw each other in person!) we both knew that this was it. So then it was a mad rush to get him out to meet my mom before she died–and they hit it off. The second/last time she saw him, she shooed me and my dad out of the room and secretly gave him a ring that she had been saving to give to whoever was going to marry me–a ring that my dad had given her for her 50th birthday that had several small diamonds. She wanted him to use those diamonds somehow on my engagement ring/wedding band so that even though she wasn’t around, she would still be a part of my married life. (My mom died a little over a month later.) My love held onto that ring for three more years before putting it into action.

    He involved my friends–my best friend was a ninja and somehow found out my ring size (I still, to this day, have no idea what my ring size is!); my other good friend created a ruse and went shopping with my boyfriend for a ring. He took the ring my mom had given him to the jewelry store and explained what he needed done. They told him, “I’m not sure that will work, but it will probably take 3-4 weeks to make.” Nope, he was planning on proposing the next weekend and needed it in 3-4 DAYS–and having my mom’s diamonds in there somehow was a necessity.

    All of this to say: my ring is exactly what I would have chosen for myself had I picked it out. It’s beautiful but not blingy or enormous, it has some small diamonds that belonged to my mom (so every time I look at it I also think of her), and it involved the sneakiness and love of my closest girlfriends. It looks perfect on my hand and fills me with joy and happiness every time I look at it. And that is the most important part, because I really could not care less what other people’s opinions are of it.

  • My husband surprised me by “casually” walking through a jewelry store in the mall while we were waiting for our movie to start and asking me what style I liked. I pointed out the small simple ones. That’s my style. I’m not the huge sparkly type and a huge sparkly one would’ve looked completely out of place in my life. He bought my ring, a small simple one, later on his own at an outlet jewelry store. And it sparkles so pretty that I’m still staring at it when I drive probably more than I should when I’m driving.

    As for the facebook comments, nothing annoys me more. And I’m so very grateful that the first reaction of none of my friends was to ask to see the ring. And there are no pictures of just the ring anywhere on facebook. The ring is something for us.

  • a reader

    I have full confidence in my boyfriend’s ability to find the perfect mountain bike for me, but despite his charm and thoughtfulness I have serious doubts about his ability to pick out jewelry. It seems however that since he wants the proposal to be a complete surprise, the topic of engagement is a no-no. Even though we openly discuss marriage and building a life and family together. Anyone else ever been considered “pushy” when they try to raise the topic? Can’t figure out what would be more important in ‘our’ engagement: ‘his’ playing out his idea of an engagement or ‘my’ expectations in an engagement.

  • Rachel

    Oh Penelope, I hear you loud and clear and I really hope that Alyssa’s fabulous column gets through to him. If not I completely offer up my fiance to talk to him. We sound very similar…type A and not into jewelry.

    I wanted something simple but I knew that our tastes were very different so God bless him he let me design my own ring and he surprised me with the proposal. I insisted that he not spend a lot of money, etc. and the ring turned out to be exactly what I wanted. To this day he continues to get compliments on the ring and let me tell you he beams but then says “…nope, she designed it”. People think it is really cool that we both had a hand in it (no pun intended) and that we did it together. Kind’ve like a nice first baby step towards your new baby family.

    Best of luck to you both.

  • Fiorentina

    My guy predicted (without us having the conversation about it directly) that I wouldn’t want an engagement ring. Which is not to say that nobody should want one, just that I didn’t, for myriad reasons.

    So he went out and bought my some beautiful custom earrings and a necklace. Apparently, several months prior, after a leeeetle (or maybe a lot) too much to drink, I said to him, “If you ever do get around to proposing, you should get some jewelry from this one shop I went to with M!” (I do not remember saying this.)

    He very sneakily got in touch with M to find the shop name while I was out of town, then picked out a gorgeous pendant and earrings all on his own.

    When he proposed, he said, “these are an ‘engagement GIFT’ – you should wear them whenever you feel like it, and not if you don’t – I hope you like them”. It was perfect – my biggest balk at having an engagement ring was all the judgment I knew it would garner from other people – too big, not big enough – I didn’t want to deal with it, and I also felt as if wearing an engagement ring might be an invitation for others to speculate on how much *I* was purchased for. A reflection of my “worth”, and of my partner’s love quantified, and of his “worth” financially speaking. Did. Not. Want. to deal with that. (Again, not judging other people’s desire to have engagement rings – I just blame the WIC for the idea that you can calculate a person’s worth or a couple’s love for one another in karats.)

    Of course, we do get the “WHAT!?! NO RING!?!?” reaction with relative frequency (and at least one horrible person who said, “well, you’re not really engaged unless you have a ring”), and that irritated me at first, and for a while it really got to my partner – he had the nagging doubt that he’d somehow disappointed me by not getting a ring, despite the fact that the “engagement gift” jewelry was exactly the right thing. We’re past that now, but dang, it sucked to see him wrestling with what he knew I wanted v. what the WIC told him I must want. Trust in how well you know your partner is an awesome thing in the end.

    • Class of 1980

      FIORENTINA WROTE: Of course, we do get the “WHAT!?! NO RING!?!?” reaction with relative frequency (and at least one horrible person who said, “well, you’re not really engaged unless you have a ring”

      Tell them some married people don’t wear rings and ask them if that means they aren’t really married.

    • Claire

      Those small-minded reactions suck. We also had to ward off the shaming, “What? No ring?” comments. I felt like I had to defend my guy against the judgments of people who treated me with pity for my lack of an engagement ring.

  • Cassidy

    Not to repeat what is already here- but I had specifics for my engagement ring and it took awhile to bring the bf around:

    No Diamonds- I just don’t like them!
    Something either in the band or with 4 prongs on it (so I don’t loose it, see below)
    Under $300, why would you spend more than this on a ring (only for me-bcuz) I don’t want to wear more than that on my finger!

    Other than that- go for it.

    I got a beautiful gold ring with a ruby in the center and two small diamonds on the side. And I LOVE IT!

  • Cindy

    My wife happened upon my engagement ring when she tagged along on antique-shopping trip with some of the actors in the show she was stage managing out of town. It’s lovely, yellow gold with white gold setting around the 5 tiniest diamonds ever. But in the old-fashioned (1930s) setting kind of way, where lots of light gets in under the diamonds and they really sparkle in spite of their size. They’re feisty. She planned to wait until the anniversary of our first kiss to propose, but apparently the ring was burning a hole in her pocket and she lasted under 48 hours after arriving back in town.

    I spent the following six months hunting every antique shop in town, various online vendors, and finally – eBay to find her one that would go with it.

    We both spent a laughably minuscule amount of money on the rings (hey, we’re theatre people, which means we’re broke) and we couldn’t be happier with them.

  • Lizzie

    We skipped engagement rings (I think I got on my high horse about how I sure as hell wasn’t going to wear something to say that I was taken if he didn’t have to as well…), but went shopping for wedding bands together pretty early in our engagement. We have them in a little box next to our bed and we wear them around the house together on weekends to practice (I don’t normally wear any jewelry at all). If we’re feeling especially bold, we’ll wear them out on Saturday night if we’re not spending time with people we know. I’m sure we’re jinxing our marriage in someone’s book, but it works for us. It’s kinda like easing your way into a freezing lake instead of just jumping in. Sometimes, instead of saying that we’re engaged, we’ll say we’re about 23% married.

    • Jessica

      that is awesome. Sometimes I practice calling my fiance my “husband” and he practices calling me “Mrs. xxx” but I never thought to practice with wedding bands. I love that story.

  • Clare

    Has anyone else clicked through on the “pony” link? made me smile. thanks meg (and alyssa for the awesome post- think I might send it to my bf for future reference)

  • You know, after reading through all of these comments (I deserve a cookie), another thought came into my head. Even when we don’t want the big, stereotypical platinum solitaire diamond ring, we seem to often expect the ring to reflect the ring-wearer as a person, the ring-giver as a lover of the ring-wearer, and/or the relationship between the ring-wearer and the ring-giver as a whole.

    Meh to that. Just as the wedding dress isn’t going to be the dress to end all dresses and the wedding isn’t going to be the day to end all days, the ring isn’t going to be the ring to end all rings (or jewelry!). It just can’t encompass everything, nor should that be expected. Even if you wear the engagement ring every day for-EVA, it’s perfectly fantastic to love the ring “just” because of the way it looks — or the way it makes you feel when wearing it. It may not be “you” or “him/her” but it’s pretty. And practical for your situation, of course — duh.

    • Oh, I could just kiss you for this comment. Exactly, exactly, exactly!

    • I’ve read them all, too (cookies all around!), as I always try to.
      My parents didn’t have engagement rings and that’s exactly what they wanted at the time, but 10 years later they both started to feel pressured by society & all of their friends were doing it, so they bought my mom a CZ solitaire. She still wears it every day, and likes it, though she was careful to use it as an example for me an my siblings of societal expectations and not caving to them!
      After looking together at lots of different rings and finding that we had similar taste, my partner surprised me with a ring I love! And, because I had seen my mom’s as a model for what an “engagement” ring looks like, mine is nearly identical to hers in style!

  • Just read this so am a bit late on the comments! My boyfriend proposed to me on holiday with a tiny wooden ring I’d picked up in a tourist earlier that week. It was a complete surprise and when we came back home we went to pick out my ring together. Part of me wanted to just keep the wooden one as it’s the actual proposal ring and I still wear it sometimes. When we went shopping the first ring i saw was in a packed window of a family jewellers and it just said ‘second hand’ underneath with no price. After about another 3 hours going around the shops (we were in a jewellery arcade) and trying on rings that were increasingly further removed from the idea I had in my head, he suggested we go back and look at the first one. He was worried I was just picking second hand to save money but I loved it way more than all the other ones I’d tried on, and bonus, it was about £500 cheaper than some of the ones I’d seen!

  • suzanna

    Dude. Let him pick it out. I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW. You’re gonna be the one wearing it for the rest of your life, etc. etc. Trust me on this. Let him pick it out. You will love whatever he picks, I promise.

    I just got engaged in January. My guy knew I wanted a 3-stone ring because for some reason I think solitaires look like I’m trying to play Pretty Princess Dress-Up or something. I wanted something low profile, not too big, etc. He actually called me from the jewelry store in a small panic: “What size are you? Do you like round-cut or square-cut? I gotta go!!!”

    He got me a beautiful ring. It’s gorgeous and sparkly and I sometimes get distracted by it while driving. But as soon as I put it on, I wished I had let him get me what he wanted. I knew in that moment that IT DOES NOT MATTER what it looks like or what it’s made of. The fact that it’s from him is what’s important. Seriously and for reals, trust me. Tell him to forget everything you’ve told him, and you will be so, so happy you did.

  • I got around the ring issue by proposing to my honey. And I did it on the spur of the moment (in a special place) with no stuff. We’re just going to get rings for the wedding, and I’m happy with that.

  • yenny

    When we started talking about engagement, I told my now husband that I just wanted a wedding band. No engagement ring required. I would poke my eye out with it or lose it within days. Never wear jewels, not to mention it was the last thing I wanted us to spend a pile of $$ on. I told him that I just wanted a very wide wedding band, marrying him was the most important part. He said that he never envisioned getting down on one knee with a whole lot of nothing. He almost caved and bought a solitaire but our best friend told him to knock it off and listen to what I was asking for.

    When he did get down on one knee he asked me with a twig he had tied together. I said yes to the twig and then he pulled a ring and I about died. He ended up designing an amazing diamond band with the jeweler in our town. After all the freaking out & making out he said he designed it so I could have my wedding band made to fit together to get the wide band type of ring that I wanted. Amazing.

    The reaction of some people was ridiculous. My favorite was “that is sporty”. But F that girl, it was just what I was looking for. And it is amazing.

    Oh and the only picture of the ring on FB is with me shoving it up my own nose.

    • Pigzfly

      “Oh and the only picture of the ring on FB is with me shoving it up my own nose.”

      Love it!

  • Amber

    I found my dream engagement on craigslist. My fiance had just lost his job & I knew that we wouldn’t be able to afford anything too expensive. The ring ended up being around $230 and it is everything I could have ever wanted.

    About a week after he proposed, I noticed a prong was broken in the setting around one of my pave diamonds, so I took it to a local jeweler for repair. The woman there asked me where I got my ring and told me that it was garbage and that I should take it back. I explained to her that it was my engagement ring and it meant a lot to me. She told me “No reputable jeweler would touch that ring”. She immediately went gaga over the diamond ring I wear for no particular reason that I bought at a pawn shop for $150 because it was a “mine cut champagne diamond” and wanted to reset it for me, right AFTER she called my engagement ring garbage! I walked down the street and got a second opinion – from a classier establishment that was more than willing to fix my beloved ring.

    Honestly, I am always eager to brag about how much we spent on the engagement ring – we saved so much that I could afford two wedding bands that compliment it perfectly! Whatever works for you as a couple, that is what you should do! I am proud of the fact that I never let that rude jeweler make me feel badly because my ring didn’t meet some standards that SHE set.

  • Aims of Team Murgle

    Love this post Alyssa!

    I felt the same way about rings, Penelope, though I still have no idea how much my man spent on mine.

    We had much discussion about rings before we got engaged. I started looking online and in a few stores, but hated everything traditional. I’m not a flashy person and I rarely wear jewelery so I didn’t want anything that would draw a lot of attention. I also hate how there is so much stock put into the ring.

    Since we weren’t in a rush, we decided to talk to Stu’s uncle who is a jewelery appraiser and occasionally designs as well. He sat down with us and went over what I liked, but mostly what I hated. The poor fellow, I didn’t give him much to go on at first. He also questioned me about things other than jewelery that I enjoy or am passionate about.

    A few weeks later he came back with some drawings. We discussed each one then chose the one we liked. He hit the nail on the head perfectly with a simple band with a wave in it. We also talked about metals and stones, what would stand the test of time, what wouldn’t, etc.

    Next he had a wax casting made of both the engagement and wedding bands so that they would fit together. We talked about stones more in depth and he showed me examples of tiny blue and white diamonds (any stone would look great like this though) set in a pave style along the “crest” of the wave. This was to represent my love of the ocean and sailing with my dad.

    The following step took a little while, but he found a goldsmith to cast our rings in white gold, then we got to see them again. This time we ensured that the sizing was correct and talked about the layout of the stones. He drew marks on the bands to show the placement of the stones.

    Lastly we were shown the finished product. The whole process took about 9 months, but we were not in a rush, he was doing us a favour and we got a large discount (though I don’t actually know how much the 2 rings cost as Stu feels strongly that this is one expense he would like to keep to himself).

    It was so cool to go through this process together and create something that is completely unique and considers our relationship and passions. I was really opposed to wearing a ring at all for a long time, but I absolutely love what we collectively came up with! I also love that there is a story behind them. I will be proud to pass them on to future generations of Team Murgle. :)

  • I’m living in Africa and thus am currently avoiding the WIC pressure, although I watch my sister struggle with it from a distance. I’m a few months engaged now and the proposal was discussed before, I declared no diamonds and I’d rather pick the ring myself. He proposed as we hiked through mountains in Ethiopia, standing on a cliff edge watching birds of prey wheel around on thermal flows. We bought the ring when we returned to Tanzania and bought a simple white gold band with two small tanzanite stones. Meaningful for us, reminding us of our time here (this beautiful blue stone can only be found in Tanzania) and also beautiful and simple which is what I wanted.
    I toyed with no ring for a while but decided I wanted something to symbolise the decision that we’ve taken. And different and simple as it is, it’s perfect for me. I think it should be something that both of you agree on – marriage is about both of you and the proposal should be too.

    • Ris

      Um, I’m so in love with your story. I thought regular hiking was my dream proposal… turns out it was actually Ethiopian hiking.

      • I gotta tell you – even for a girl who didn’t want a proposal in the first place, it definitely rocked!

  • Erin

    I picked my ring out all on my own – I tried giving bf a list of rings (all from etsy, ranging in price from one-tenth to three-quarters of his stated budget), but he was still afraid to pick the wrong one. I made mock-ups out of post-it notes, and found the perfect proportion for my fat, stumpy fingers. It’s a bezel-set cushion cut clear diamond (I really wanted gray, but we couldn’t find one that was the right shape). Because of the cut, it doesn’t sparkle all that much, and a few people have been confused by it, but I just take that as evidence of their small-mindedness. Also, we started announcing our engagement months before we had the ring, so the worst ring-grabbers were totally thwarted by my empty finger…

  • Claire

    After a series of fantastic conversations, my husband and I decided together to make our partnership officially permanent. We were thrilled and eagerly shared our happy news with our families and friends. We were a bit surprised by how the lack of an engagement ring really dampened some of the responses. For one, the first question (mostly from women) was often, “so, how did he propose?”. When we explained that it wasn’t him proposing to me, but us both making a decision about our future together, a few people acted disappointed that I didn’t have a proper engagement story…like I’d somehow been gyped out of the elaborate surprise proposal that every girl is supposed to get. One relative had the nerve to publicly joke that my husband should have been able to “man up and pop the question”! My husband actually felt shamed enough to ask me if I wanted him to get down on one knee and propose so we could do it the right way. I had to reassure him that we already had done it the right way for us – I absolutely did not want one of the most important decisions of my life to be sprung on me as a high-stakes surprise! Secondly, it was kinda hurtful that some people didn’t seem to take our announcement seriously without a ring. They reacted with polite happiness, but not the overjoyed excitement that I’ve seen when others announced their new status by flashing their new bling. The attitude was, “that’s nice that you say that you’re getting married, but I’ll believe it when I see the ring.” That we had decided to spend our lives together wasn’t reason enough to gush without the hardware to prove it. Finally, I was really bothered by the responses I got when my husband finally finished making my (awesome!!) ring. Then people were gushing, “oh my god! It’s actually official now!” I was like, “no. It was official way back when we decided together and announced that we were getting married. This ring is not what makes us official.”

  • I’m also not a jewelry-wearer, so I told my fiance not to even get me a ring. But he was determined. AND he was determined to get me platinum and diamonds…neither of which I even like. He was SURE that if that wasn’t what I got, I’d kick myself later when my friends’ rings weren’t like mine. Which honestly made me question our entire relationship, that he even had those thoughts.

    So one day, after calmly telling him the same thing over and and over again to no avail, I yelled at him, “I DO NOT WANT A DIAMOND. IF YOU GIVE ME A DIAMOND, I WILL THROW IT IN YOUR FACE AND SAY ‘NO.’ STOP TELLING ME WHAT I WANT.” That fixed it.

    I sent him links to rings I loved on Etsy, and then I suggested we go ring shopping. He was leary of involving me in the ring-shopping process, but I reminded him that jewelry in person is totally different than jewelry in pictures, and that it would suck if he got me a ring I’d sent a link to, but then didn’t actually like in real life. So we went. And I hated the rings I thought I loved. But fell in ruv with a totally different ring. Then he surprised me with an in-person meeting with my most favorite ever Etsy jewelry artist, where we hammered out the details for what would become my ring. Which was this: Win!

    Then I totally proposed to him before he got the chance, but that’s another story entirely. Oh, and I gave him Large Hadron Collider cufflinks. Good luck, lady!

  • sarah

    Wowza. . . I’ve not yet read comments so diligently. Biscuits for all (or, banana bread, the only thing I was able to rustle up while reading)!

    I can’t resist but to tell my ‘story’ . . . . I didn’t want anything big, sparkly, bloody, etc, for the primary reasons of a) not me (even though I am classic/girly) and b) fiance’s not got a pot to piss in (divorced, disproportionate child support, etc). He had mentioned he was looking at diamonds and I essentially begged him not to.

    Fast forward (and it was fast for us! haha): he comes to my house (for the first time – we don’t live in the same town) and cooks me supper, invites my family over, and when they’ve left, goes out to the car. He returns with Doritos – and also a huge ring that had been his Grandmother’s. She, like me, was a grade 3 teacher, and some of the first words out of his mouth were, “Change this to what you want.” I had my eyes covered because that made me brace!

    Turns out, it’s a big ol’ rock, not my style, and yet … something about it! Now, it wasn’t her original engagement ring, and I don’t think I’d have changed that, but she bought it herself later in life. I realise it’s probably a cop-out to say that I am in the process of having the stone put into another setting, but because he actually feels better about my enjoying it more fully, and his family essentially requested it, because they felt I would be more comfortable.

    In all,though, the whole thing feels very special to me. I don’t see it as “my” ring, but “our” ring, and something special from his family – at the centre of which is the stone his Grandmother so loved. The fact that he loves and honours me enough (not to mention his family! his sister said to him, after meeting me once and only after we’d been dating a few weeks, “If you ever want to get married again, you can have Grandma’s ring”) to share it? It makes me feel proud to sport the thing that is much bigger, sparklier or more expensive than I’d have chosen. I can’t wait to receive the special stone back in its new setting (and to have my priest bless it – has he did with the ‘first’ one)!

    :) sarah

  • Alex

    I’ve been secretly reading this blog for awhile now – my boyfriend and I are in the “pre-engaged stage” – and thought of APW when I realized I was in way over my head on the ring question. The boy and I have talked about getting married, and rings in particular have been a torturous process for me. I knew that I didn’t want a diamond, which he was OK with. But in reality, I don’t wear much jewelry and I drove myself crazy trying to find some other stone as a “substitute” in a ring. In a fit of despair I googled “I don’t want an engagement ring” and when I realized that I didn’t have to have one, I was overjoyed. Lucky for me, my boyfriend was perfectly happy when I told him that as well.

    But as time has gone on, I feel like I haven’t yet hit on a good solution. It’s important for him to be able to propose with a ring, and I too like the symbolism of the piece. I thought about borrowing my grandma’s ring, but she lives in a different state and it just makes it complicated. Now I’m thinking about trying to see if we can have a custom ring made – I know that I want something relatively flat, metal (silver, white gold, or palladium), and without a stone. I haven’t seen anything that actually seems like an engagement ring – they all just look like dressed-up wedding bans, which I also don’t want. I keep coming back to the idea that I don’t want one at all. There just seems to be too many options. I feel bad that I don’t know what I want, but I just like understated things and the bottom line is that I care more about eventually marrying him than any piece of jewelry. We haven’t talked about the previously mentioned tradition of wearing the band on your right hand during the engagement, that could work. I just know he wants it to be something that I like, and I feel bad that I don’t have an answer and am totally open to suggestions. Hopefully APW in its non-crazy wedding wisdom can help. Thanks in advance; sorry for the length.

  • Robin

    I thought I would add my two cents in. First there is nothing wrong with not having an engagement ring or a big proposal story to go with it. My parents decided to get married by sitting on their couch having a logical discussion about the problem of my grandmother not approving of them living together. They’ve now been very happily married for 36 years. Second their is nothing wrong with wanting to have an engagement ring and a story to go with it. When the boy and I started talking about getting married I knew that I wanted a pretty traditional ring (cushion cut diamond, pave band) but not huge since I’m in veterinary school and examining dogs and cats is pretty difficult with a 3 carat diamond on. I also knew I wanted a ring that fit with my values. He ended up taking a bunch of pictures that I had sent him and going to a family friend who is a jeweler to make my ring. I love it because it represents the commitment we’re making but also the time and effort he took to have something made that I would love.
    Third if you want a diamond solitaire but are worried about blood diamonds consider a Canadian diamond. My stone is from a mine up in the Yukon that follows Canadian laws on treatment of workers, environmental protection etc.

  • Kristine

    My fiance gave me a beautiful sapphire ring as a Christmas gift two years before we got engaged. When we started to talk seriously about getting married I had just lost my job and we were in no position to invest in a hand anchor. Nor did I want one.

    I put my beloved sapphire ring back in its box and gave it to Steve. I told him I already had a ring I love and we already knew that it fit. When he was ready to propose, I told him to use a ring that was already special to us both. To me, it wasn’t about buying something new as much as it was giving me a symbol of his desire to marry me.

    At first he protested because he felt pressured to buy me something big and sparkly. But since I wasn’t the one pressuring him, I think he realized that doing it this way was just as significant, if not more so.

    He proposed on the shores of Hawaii on Christmas Eve and when I saw him open the box, I was completely overcome with emotion. I already knew what it looked like, but this time it was going on a different finger and that thought was just beyond words.

    I love my engagement ring because when I look at it it tells the story of our relationship, past, present AND future. :-)

  • Abby C.

    I totally got sucked into the ring drama – I definately liked fancy, detailed rings and almost cried when I couldn’t find anything in my ideal budget to share with my FH. He had the money, but I would have felt totally guilty to have him spend so much, and then when we had to pay off the debt after the wedding, I’d have been mucho irritated with myself for wanting something so fancy.

    Solution, after much sweat and tears: EBAY FTW. We found a platinum, vintage ring with a hand carved setting and lots of sparkly side diamonds, and a 1 ct BLUE diamond center, for less than 2 grand, when even the ‘modest’ rings I started looking at were 3 grand and rising. Best part: my vintage ring appraised at over $10,000 in value. Dear My Future Grandkids: Please get married so I can pass this ring on to you. Love, Grandma.

  • Pigzfly

    My partner and I had been talking about rings and marriage and such, as we’ve been together for a few years. Both of us thought it was ridiculous to spend 3 months salary (that is a LOT of money, esp given a moderately well paying job!). Originally I gave strict instructions that I was not to be asked… clearly I let that lapse too long without repeating it, because here I am!

    Anyhoo, I didn’t put too much effort into rings, ever. I don’t really do jewelery (except for the necklaces I’ve collected on my travels as very portable souveniers). I only know that my ethics and economics background made me hate De Beers and blood diamonds. Also the Spence Diamonds radio ads really piss me off, which everyone around me knows. I didn’t really want a coloured thing either. FH also had ethical/economic objections to gold, but I had a hankering for white gold that I couldn’t quite match up to my ethics.

    Anyhoo, I got a Canadian diamond, recessed set, in a white gold band that comes to a ridge in the middle. To quote my partner,”like ski tips.” Very simple design that suits me, small diamond, I think maybe 0.3, and the best part – it’s powder coated so that it’s not so shiney!! It was designed by my partner at the local jewelry shop that makes most of the things they carry.

    The weird part was, at Christmas, I found myself having a bit of bling-envy at the in-laws, but then 10 minutes later I thought “what am I thinking, I would hate having something like that!” It was really weird for me to even have such thoughts, and they required some reality check! No one has said a thing about the rock, it’s size, what it is, etc, which is nice. Everyone around me knows that it suits me and that finances wouldn’t have been the concern!

    Also, (very jokingly), my partner said “it’s recessed, so you can’t cut b**ches!” In reality, anything that stuck out or caught on anything would really p*ss me off. Plus he was kind of concerned that I would inadvertently attack him with it, because that would definitely happen.

    That was waaay longer than planned. Mostly I wanted to share the part where I had the bling-envy then self-realization reality check!

  • Krystal

    My fiancee had a really creative solution that he and the jeweler he picked came up with. She helped him narrow down and find a diamond in the price range he wanted to spend, making sure that he was getting good quality for his price. Then they set it in a simple basic “loaner” band, so he could propose to me with a ring. Now I get the fun of going shopping with him to pick out the exact setting that we both like the look of and that I’m comfortable wearing for the rest of my life. Once we get a setting decided on they will custom make it for us “so it fits the diamond he picked out and my finger and looks proportional and all that good stuff) and then just take my ring back for a couple of days to transfer the diamond over. He even gets reimbursed the cost of the loaner ring once we give it back! I was really impressed with the ingenuity and thought put into this, and I think it was a great solution!