This is a paid post in partnership with Macy’s Star Signature Diamond™ Collection
I’ve had enough friends get engaged over the last few years to know that it’s not always easy to apply feminist ideals to the delicate art of getting engaged. Maybe you want an egalitarian proposal, but your partner really wants to surprise you. Maybe you wish you could both wear engagement rings, but your partner isn’t that into jewelry. There are all kinds of expectations to grapple with—from society’s to your partner’s to, of course, your own—which might bump up against those feminist ideals in ways that surprise you. And when you couple those expectations with the fact that engagements are “supposed” to be shrouded in mystery and surprise, it’s tempting to ignore the little piece of your gut that’s telling you that you have thoughts and opinions about all of it, for the sake of not making waves.
Except that’s a bad idea! Don’t do that! And especially don’t do that if you have thoughts and opinions about your engagement ring. Because out of society, your partner, and you, guess which one of you has to wear that bad boy for the next forever years? Spoiler alert: It’s you. Which is why today we’ve partnered with Macy’s and the new Macy’s Star Signature Diamond™ Collection to give you some tips for choosing an engagement ring and communicating those wants with your partner. Macy’s has a whole range of engagement rings and wedding bands to choose from (including this one that I’m obsessed with, and also this wedding band that I definitely need), and just introduced their new Macy’s Star Signature Diamond™ Collection, which is a special kind of ultra faceted design that is suuuper sparkly. But before I go shopping, here are my essential dos and don’ts for making sure the ring you end up with is one you actually like.
Do: start by giving yourself permission to care
The first and most important conversation you need to have around your engagement is with yourself. (Are you there God? It’s me, Maddie.) So start by pushing away any thoughts (or annoying relatives) telling you that talking about your engagement or your engagement ring is too pushy or will ruin the surprise. In fact, this might be the most important piece of advice I have around engagements and proposals, period. Having an opinion, and voicing that opinion, does not make you:
- Ruin the surprise
- Take away your partner’s joy
- Threaten the very fabric of our existence
And just in case it needs to be said out loud, the above applies to having an opinion about when you get engaged too. Except double.
don’t: feel pressured to become an engagement ring expert
Reading up on engagement rings always makes me feel like I need to have a PhD in gemology. There are always new cuts to learn, and I will never understand the classification around quality. And that’s fine! If you want to know exactly what you’re getting in your jewelry, by all means, do your homework. But if you don’t? It’s totally fine to go by “I like that because it’s [pretty, ethical, affordable, fill in the blank here].” For me, I mostly cared about the shape of my ring. (My hands look like a toddler’s. I’m picky about what goes on them.) Otherwise, I figured if it looked good to the naked eye, I probably would love it. So I gave Michael broad laymen’s terms for what I was looking for (rectangle, vintage-ish), and he took it from there.
Do: Think about more than just aesthetics
But before you get too deep into the aesthetics (I know, so tempting), ask yourself what you want out of the experience of choosing a ring. Do you want to pick out your own ring? Would you rather get engaged without a ring and then shop together? How about designing your ring together? Do you have ideas about what you like in an engagement ring, but still want it to be (mostly) a surprise?
Once you’ve answered those questions for yourself, ask your partner the same things. Do your expectations match up? Great! Proceed accordingly. If not? Well then you’ve already got the perfect conversation starter for getting on the same page.
Don’t: Shy away from being direct
I took an indirect approach to picking my engagement ring (see above). And while I love my ring, if I were getting engaged now, I’d be much more direct about what I want. One of my favorite APW comments of all time is from a reader named Violet, on the subject of engagements and proposals. She said, “Honestly, the only guy I expect to read my mind is my coffee guy. In basically all other situations in life, mind reading is an ineffective strategy. Don’t leave something as major as a proposal up to the uncertainty of hoping you get it right.”
Um, can I get an amen?
Because at least for me, getting exactly what I want is even better than a surprise almost-what-I-wanted. (Seriously, very expensive surprises often do not go well.) So go ahead and put together that Pinterest board. Send your partner those links. Go into the store together. Try things on. And feel no shame in your game.
One of these days, I’d like it if we could undo all the cultural expectations around engagements and proposals altogether and treat the process like any other normal aspect of your relationship. (Do you normally surprise each other with gifts that cost several hundreds or thousands of dollars? Wonderful, you do you. Is your jam something more like a deep conversation and mutual agreement, leading to fewer credit card bill payments full of mild regret? Yay, in my fantasy world, society supports that too!) Wouldn’t that be a great way to signify your commitment to each other, to start the rest of your life together the way you intend on spending it?
But until that happens, I’ll settle for quietly undermining the system bit by shiny bit.
So start with a conversation, or two, or ten, and go from there.
If you’re just starting your engagement ring search, Macy’s has a great wedding and engagement ring resource center chock full of all the knowledge (and pretty) you might want. Check out their no-PhD-required guide to engagement ring terms, peruse and ogle their engagement ring designs, wedding bands, and matching sets, or sit side-by-side with your partner while you explore the design-a-ring feature together. And then? Do what you damn well please.
Did you talk to your partner about what you wanted in an engagement ring? What conversations helped you both get what you wanted out of the process?
This post was sponsored by Macy’s. The new Macy’s Star Signature Diamond™ Collection was designed specifically for Macy’s and is cut with 73-facets to make it extra sparkly. (It’s the first 73-facet round diamond in the U.S. to receive a Very Good cut grade from the International Institute of Diamond Grading & Research.) Plus you can rest assured that every ring in the Macy’s Star Signature Diamond™ Collection is conflict free and reliably sourced (IIDGR only grades and inscribes diamonds that meet the United Nations’ mandated World Diamond Council Kimberley Process). Click here to explore the new Macy’s Star Signature Diamond™ Collection, including our personal pick, this vintage-feeling vintage-feeling halo engagement ring.