When we first announced our engagement to everyone, we were asked, “Did he pick the ring or did you give him ideas?” I felt kind of taboo when I answered, “Well I gave him a selection of top five and he picked from one of those.” Other married/engaged men then sneered at my fiancé and pronounced they picked the ring themselves, a sense of pride glowing from their being. They picked a ring themselves their significant other loved! When I talked their wives/fiancés, I wouldn’t say all, but many mentioned they wished they gave guidelines for their rings. They liked their ring, but it didn’t fit them.
I always worried about that predicament. I was previously engaged. A dumb idea when you’re eighteen and madly in love with your high school sweetheart. We both thought we wanted to get married and when a jeweler was going out of business, he snagged a really good deal on the ring. He proposed quickly after. When the ring stared back at me, I immediately knew it wasn’t what I wanted. Here was this gorgeous marquise ring, but it just wasn’t me. I couldn’t break it to my then-fiancé that I hated the ring. We obviously couldn’t return it, the place no longer existed. So I pretended I loved it. I thought I could fake it until I believed it. Of course, it never came to that. We broke things off when we realized we didn’t quite work. It was a sigh of relief. I lost a guy (and a ring) that I didn’t mesh with. So, this time, when my relationship with my partner reached the four-year mark, I started to think about marriage but even moreso—the dreaded ring.
I didn’t want to end up with something I didn’t love. I love my husband-to-be. He’s supportive, forgiving and just a barrel of laughs, but he has no fashion sense. He doesn’t know what looks good—or anything about style actually. He’s the kind of guy who will wear red gym shorts with a polo shirt. So I was terrified he wouldn’t know what ring to get. I could end up with a princess cut or another marquise and I hate everything about them. I decided I would discuss it with him even though it’s a taboo. Engagements are about the surprise! Here I was about to spoil it by talking about rings.
We began the conversation a few months into the new year. I told him I was ready to get engaged. Initially we had discussed waiting until I graduated undergrad (check) and waiting until after the jaw surgery I needed to fix my terrible bite (check) and well…I had mentioned waiting until my braces came off but I was ready regardless. We discussed the logistics. Diamonds are expensive, should we spend so much on a ring when that same amount of money could take us on a trip? So I began research. There had to be affordable rings, right?
When I found moissanite stones (they are man-made now, but the first moissanite was found on a comet that landed on earth how cool is that!) and saw they were a 9.5 on the hardness scale—only down .5 from a diamond—and they sold at a fraction of the cost, I knew that was the stone I wanted. I began looking for retailers who specialized in moissanite and found a small shop in Chicago that set up on Esty. I began looking at every ring they created. I couldn’t stop showing him ring after ring.
He told me he planned to buy the ring with some tax money and asked me to pick the ones I loved most. I sat for hours, looking over the pages many times picking the perfect five. I found some I loved, but I knew I would outgrow. I found some that were practical but just didn’t accomplish the look I wanted. Finally, I found five that fit all that I envisioned.
At first I felt guilty about the involvement I shared with picking the ring. The surprise was gone. Sure I wouldn’t know exactly how he would propose—or when—but I did know it was coming up by the end of the year, (I made him promise he wouldn’t take more than a year to ask me,) and I did know what the ring would look like. And many people scold you when you say that you want to love the way the ring looks. They tell you it’s about love, not looks. However, I began to realize: this was something I would wear the rest of my life. This ring would become a piece of who I am, and it felt appropriate that I included myself into that decision.
After all, isn’t this what marriage eventually becomes? Two adults that work together to make it through life? My fiancé and I took the next step our relationship as we had taken every other step: together and united. I won’t feel guilty that we are starting our new lives the same way.