Ask Team Practical: Is My Ring Good Enough?

The practical response to "Oh, it's so... unique!"

Is My Engagement Ring Good Enough? | A Practical Wedding

Q: I’ve had an engagement stressor that I cannot seem to kick, and I just don’t feel comfortable talking with anyone in my life about it. Here goes. My engagement ring. I’m afraid I maybe don’t like it anymore. To be completely honest, I’m at the point where I cannot quite decipher between my personal opinion and what the rest of the world thinks.

I had a custom designed rose gold ring in a modern setting, with a champagne-colored 0.5 carat diamond. At first I loved it. But as I showed more people, here’s what I heard: “Oh. It’s so… unique!” “That’s perfect for your small hands!” “I knew you would get something different.” And then I started noticing other people’s rings, something I never did before. I never before realized 1 carat was the standard (minimum) for engagement rings. Suddenly, my diamond feels small. I worry my wedding band won’t look right with the ring. I worry people will judge me for it. Financially, we could afford a bigger diamond for my ring. And I’ve actually considered having it redone. In fact, I kept myself up most of last night contemplating just this. But at the same time, I’m disappointed with myself for having these thoughts. My gut says I probably do like my ring, I’m just getting caught up in this ridiculous industry for the first time.


A:Dear S,

Go with your gut. You know yourself, so you’re probably right that you really do love this ring. You loved it before comments from the peanut gallery, so don’t give up on it now. Changing your ring is totally a thing, and I’m all for swapping it out if you really hate it, but it doesn’t sound like you do. You’re just worrying about other people too much.

Don’t beat yourself up for that. It’s easy to feel sensitive about something so personal. You had this baby custom designed! You poured your heart and soul into it. It’s a reflection of exactly what you wanted, your likes and dislikes. When something is so personally crafted, people’s opinions on it can feel like a reflection on you, not just the little ring of metal.

Because this ring is so personal to you, and because that tends to make us pretty sensitive about things, it’s possible that your friends aren’t even being rude about it. Maybe you’re just inferring things that aren’t really there. People can be jerks, that’s for sure, and snide comments come in all shapes. But sometimes folks are really just (maybe awkwardly) trying to be polite. People (myself included) generally aren’t great at making small talk. Oh this is your ring? It’s… shiny. Different. Symmetrical. Sometimes people just flat out don’t know what to say, and it doesn’t mean that they’re trying to diss you at all.

If they are trying to imply something with their little comments, well, “unique” is subjective. So is “small.” Heck, our comments fill up all the time with women who feel judged for having rings that are too big. And you know, this is just the beginning. I’m not even talking about the wedding pressure craziness you mentioned. Relationship comparison is totally a thing. This couple never fights! That couple fights all the time and finds it to be soul cleansing and healthy! This couple is mushier than we are. That couple doesn’t need to be mushy. You’re going to constantly be surrounded by couples who are doing things “the right way,” and much like this engagement ring, unspoken standards are just baloney. There’s no such thing as a ring that’s “too small” or “too big” because you know what, we each have different hands and budgets and tastes. Excluding a few basics about relational health, folks have relationships that work all sorts of different ways because we’re all different.

So, yes! Keep on wearing this ring and reminding yourself of exactly why you love it. It doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be perfect for you—and it sounds like it is.

Team Practical, how do you know when your own opinions are being colored by what everyone else thinks? How do you avoid comparing what you have to what other folks have?

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!

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  • Allison Pacheco

    This is the story of my year! I got engaged in December and we picked rings, yes for personal taste and prettiness, but also more for the symbolism. I got him a ring he picked – three strands of silver knotted upon itself (etsy! It was amazing! ) and he got me a ring that’s somewhere between an infinity symbol and a knot, with two small diamonds in the spaces where the knot isn’t pulled tight. I was expecting people to have reactions to his ring, maybe, but instead I got a lot of changes in tone from the “Ahhh! Can i see your ring?!” to the reactions of “Oh that’s so you” or “It’s nice, very simple.” Almost as if they were pulling back enthusiasm as they went. It definitely made question myself. But I never wanted a large ring and I care more about us moving forward than about showing off how much my fiance spent on jewelry. My tactic when I get that is to explain the symbolism and say that I picked it myself because it felt true to me. After that people usually take a more supportive stance (and if they don’t, it’s not like I’m marrying them!)

  • z

    I have a small ring too, and it’s not the traditional solitaire setting– it’s actually a vintage wedding ring with a couple little diamonds. I like it, but I’m not really a jewelry person so I wanted to make a practical choice. Anyway, in the engagement period there was a lot of chit-chat about the ring that made me a little self-conscious, but after the wedding I found that nobody brings it up at all. When you’re just wearing an engagement ring, it kind of broadcasts that you’re in the process of getting married and that’s interesting to people. Wearing a wedding and an engagement ring isn’t interesting in the same way, so people don’t tend to ask. These days, the only comments I get are from people interested in getting less expensive rings too!

    • lady brett

      this is, word for word, the comment i was coming here to leave (really, same ring description and all).

    • HannahESmith

      I can vouch that this is absolutely true. Almost no one notices after the wedding.

  • Johanna

    Don’t worry about it at all, I have a giant pearl ring that I wanted for years before I got engaged. Two months before my fiancé proposed, I saw it in a fancy department store and showed some of my girlfriends, I tried it on for the first time and a girlfriend said, it’s too big it’ll just get caught on everything and you’ll get bored of it.
    I get loads of comments, “it’s so you”, “I knew you’d do something unique”, “oh, look it even has diamonds too”. It was the ring I really wanted that my fiancé knew that even though it wouldn’t have been his first choice (he now loves it). That means the world to me.
    Take a look at mine, I love it.
    FYI, it’s now getting followed up by the “unique wedding” bullshit comments, I am not a clone, I have individual desires, the size or choice of diamonds does not validate my choices.

    • Samdamda

      I am also a member of the giant pearl engagement ring club and have literally had the exact three comments you described above. I love my ring and wouldn’t trade it for anything. My fiancé picked it out with no help from me aside from a passing comment about always liking pearls. It doesn’t matter that other people don’t like it–they don’t have to wear it. All that should matter is that when you look at it, you are reminded of the wonderful person you’re going to spend your life with!

  • Adria Rizzo

    If you have a ring custom designed, it IS unique. Relish in that. And no, size doesn’t matter. I have giant fingers and a .5 carat center diamond…sure, it’s small compared to others, but who cares? It’s mine. It’s what my husband picked out, it’s what we were married with, it’s what he chose to propose with…all of the symoblism can’t be contained in any size diamond.

  • Emma Klues

    Sometimes when I look at something for my wedding that I don’t love anymore (ie my hair piece), I think about how that was what I chose, when I was ready to choose it, for my wedding. I don’t have to think it’s always what I would pick now, but I can honor that it is what I wanted then, during that specific time period. Does that make sense? Even if you would choose something else, you can learn to love your ring as a symbol of what you wanted for yourself then, and trust that it is what you wanted. (You probably didn’t make such a choice hastily, so trust that it was a legit decision!)

    Not to say we can never upgrade or change anything, just to say that sometimes I like honoring my past choices to honor my past self. So if you’re on the fence and that helps you, then stick to it!

    • Jules

      You know, you actually just gave me closure with all my homecoming and prom dresses in high school (I know, I know, we were talking weddings….). Now that I don’t have the chance to wear pretty formal dresses once or twice a year, I look back at my pictures and think, “What was I thinking?? I could have worn X instead!”

      But that’s not really the point – you’re right. My choices THRILLED me when I chose them and I was very deliberate about them. And I can feel great about that.

  • Anna

    I would just add, time is on your side. I can totally relate to the second guessing game. I have never been a jewelry person, so we bought an engagement kayak instead of a ring and a really simple wedding band. I was feeling great about the decision until… all of the sudden I started noticing all of my friend’s and co-worker’s rings. I felt naked and sad without one.

    For me it turned out to be a (mostly) temporary feeling. Kind of like when I have a flash of jealousy when someone I know has something awesome happen to them, until I remember that I don’t even like awesome thing that happened to them, so there is no reason to be jealous. As more time passes I care less and less, which is how I know that an engagement kayak and a simple band were right for me.

    This is a question you can sit with until you really know what you want to do. It’s okay to change your mind about the ring at any point- in a month or five years from now. Good Luck!

    • An engagement kayak?? That is BOSS.

    • Enagement Kayak? Awesome!

      It is so true that you have time to change your mind about the ring. My husband and I each wore simple titanium engagement rings with the plan of buying something “more traditional” to wear after the wedding. I have never loved the idea of wearing an engagement ring and a wedding bank, so thought having options was perfect: something sparkly for everyday and something more simple for travel/jogging/lazier days. Fast forward to the wedding and I realized I just didn’t care about something more sparkly. I loved my simple band. And my husband really didn’t care about an “upgraded” ring. Instead we spent the ring money on a golden retreiver puppy. Her smiling face and wagging tail make me happier than any piece of jewelry could have. I am so glad I took the time to think about what I actually wanted. Whenever I am around women who start ring shaming I just think of Arizona (my pup) and I care a lot less about what they are saying. My initial instincts were right on.

      • Engagement kayaks? Wedding puppies? There is so much win in these comments.

  • Rachael

    The ring comparison has always seemed super weird to me. It had me so put out that I didn’t want a ring at all. My now-husband really wanted me to have an engagement ring (and not an engagement laptop, like I suggested), so I set out in search of something that would be “me”. I almost did a pearl ring, like “Johanna” below. I ended up with a 3-ring rolling ring that I absolutely adore. But yep, I got a range of comments from people of “oh, that’s different…”. I’ve even been asked on many many occasions WHY I didn’t want a more classic kind of ring. Is it just me, or is it a bit ridiculous to have to explain my taste in jewelry to the world?

    You loved the ring when you picked it out, no? Don’t let other people force you into a mold of what they think an engagement ring should look like. The molded expectations and subtle comments don’t stop with the wedding planning, although they are definitely concentrated, but carry on throughout life from choices of where to live, career paths, child raising, etc. It’s okay to take external input and question your gut, but also remember why you made the decisions in the first place.

    • Jules

      People asked you why? Oh, that’s absurd. I probably need to grow up, because I’d be tempted to ask them why they wanted the ring they have, and see them fumble for an answer.

      • Rachael

        Yep, more people than I can remember. I think the general population has very narrow ideas about engagement rings, weddings, etc.

  • SusieDoozie

    Ooofff, yeah. I get that a lot too because my ring was custom designed and it’s not a typical solitaire or three diamond setting. Usually I take a moment to thank people and then I explain the symbolism of the ring and the artist’s intention behind it and they stop talking. Still I don’t like having to defend my difference to others, but other commenters are right, as soon as you’re married the comments stop. Then you can just look down at your hand and fall in love all over again with it’s perfection. Your description sounds like it’s gorgeous, I can see why you love it! Good luck!

  • anonforthis

    I always thought I wouldn’t get caught up in the carat-comparison, but when I first got engaged, I felt a little self-conscious with my .75 carat ring in a room full of law partners with huge rocks. We were going to return the diamond and insert a (much bigger) one we had been gifted from my grandmother. But the jewelry store didn’t want to put the bigger diamond in because it had a microscopic chip, so we’d lose the warranty on the ring itself. Now, I honestly think that was the best thing. I feel proud of my ring as something we bought ourselves, with a really unique design that I love, and I have gradually let go of the need to have a certain carat size. I’m so competitive in all areas of my life, I actually had to learn the lesson that this isn’t something worth being competitive over. I’m sure people don’t mean to make rude comments, but if they do, don’t feel like you have to explain yourself or your partner. You can simply say, “thank you, I love it!”

    • rel_redhead

      Man, lawyer ring competition is the worst. Luckily, I work in the public sector, so I’m not surrounded by female partners with huge rings at the office, but since many of my friends are Biglaw lawyers themselves and/or marrying men who are, my ring feels very understated (too understated?) by comparison. But like you, I love it, and have decided this is one arena where I’m not going to get competitive. This is a ring we chose for our own reasons, and that reflects my personal taste (not what I think my taste should be) and our financial values as a couple.

  • Karen

    I have an opal ring and I do think people genuinely like it (or at least, I tell the story of how it was in my family to shut them up.) I did get some “interesting” “unique” comments, but I think I just don’t mind being different when it comes to diamonds (never really wanted one, prefer some color.) I do, however, expect people to see my ring and say “your ring is so awesome that it has made me rethink America’s relationship with the diamond industry!” and… they never say that. (My fiancé said that it makes him feel that way, though. Which is good because years and years ago he did propose to a different girl with a diamond, so I like that this is different.)

  • twofishgirl14

    I was lucky enough to have a family diamond that had been given to me precisely for the purpose of using it in an engagement ring whenever that came up. The diamond is under 1 carat, but very beautifully cut. I just always figured that I’d go for a halo setting or something like that which would give the illusion that my stone was bigger. But when my fiance and I went to the jewelry store and tried on different settings, everything that was big and heavy and blingy looked AWFUL on my long, thin hands! (Thank GOD I was there to try things on — all the things I thought I’d like I actually hated, and I ended up picking something that I would never have looked twice at in a magazine.) The band I chose is super thin and features only really tiny details like little pave diamond chips. When people ask to see it, I get a lot of “Oh, it’s so…. delicate!” which is definitely code word for “small.” And I just smile because I know that this “delicate” ring is more suited to me than any big rock could ever be.

    • jashshea

      I have teeny tiny hands – my ring finger is a 4.25 in the US. For comparison’s sake, I’m 5 foot 8 and wear a size 8 shoe, so I’m otherwise relatively normal other than my wee flippers. The band on my engagement ring is extremely thin because there’s just not enough finger real estate for two bands otherwise. I ended up with a thicker wedding band than engagement band and have diamonds in both bands (I’m into sparkles, dammit! :))

      I got a lot of delicate/dainty compliments initially – words that have NEVER been used to describe me before – and I just rolled with it. My diamond is a bit over a carat and anything larger would look ridiculous on my kid-sized hands.

      • Lian

        I also have tiny child-hands! Exact same ring size as you. So tiny, and I’m also otherwise normally proportioned. It makes it difficult to play piano well – I can’t reach a full octave :P

  • Kestrel

    It’s interesting. I basically received many of the same comments you did – different, unique, good for your small hands, knew you’d do something different – and that only solidified my love for my ring even more (also helps that it’s a puzzle ring, so that’s something people can automatically comment on). I guess it’s because I really do see myself as different from a good portion of people and that’s, in some way, a facet of my identity.

    Thankfully I haven’t gotten any real negative comments to my face – although I know many people don’t realize it’s an engagement ring (it’s got a sapphire, not a diamond so sometimes that’s not assumed).

    (And because I totally can: photo!)

    • jashshea

      That is gorgeous AND rad.

    • Caitlyn

      That is such a cool idea. I have had a puzzle ring for years so I adore this!

    • Crayfish Kate

      Oh my god LOVE IT! So neat :-)

    • Mezza

      Aaaaah I love puzzle rings! I’ve never seen one with a stone before; what a great idea.

    • KEA1

      love love love this! The stone AND the puzzle!

  • Lauren from NH

    Liz is spot on. Also as another girl with unique taste, I would try to remember that some part of you loves being unique, being different and would take comments like that as high complements. But getting engaged seems to have the effect putting the quality/validity of your relationship up for public scrutiny, and so at times, it feels like “Screw walking my own path! I want the biggest, bestest diamond around that will put all other engagements to shame!” Though not engaged just yet, I have picked out my ring, also a custom, beauty and very untraditional. And I love it, but every so often I have to fight the urge to troll pinterest for something that would top it. The WIC narrative gets in all our heads a little even if we don’t mean it to.

    • Jules

      We would SO be friends.

  • I have a diamond ring but it’s only .5 carats. I have never had anyone comment that it seemed “small,” but it is obvious that almost everyone has a bigger ring than me. I’m okay with that because my fingers are very long and thin. I purposefully chose a smaller ring and I love it. People have told me it’s “dainty,” and they’re definitely right. I stand by my decision. If you like the ring you chose, who cares what everyone else thinks? The WIC so often tries to turn weddings and engagements into competitive sport. I don’t think that’s necessary. Love what you love.

    • That is gorgeous and looks like it was made for your hand!

      • Thank you so much! I absolutely love it. I’ve had it well over a year and I catch myself staring at it regularly ;)

    • Sara Goodwin

      That looks very similar in size to mine (I think it’s a .7 carat? I dunno), and I have very small hands w/ long fingers too. I feel like a huge rock would look super weird on me, and I’m just not a person who wears a lot of bling anyways.
      It’s really pretty! I *love* the band

      • Thanks! Yeah, I never wear jewelry. This is the perfect amount of sparkle for me.

  • Bethany

    Your ring sounds gorgeous! And I’ve never heard that 1 carat is the standard minimum for a ring. That seems like a “rule” from the diamond industry to me. Please don’t let other people’s comments (which may or may not be disses) keep you up at night. You have found the best thing of all — a partner! Yes, the ring is significant and should be something that makes you happy to see, but don’t let it be everything.

  • c

    I adore my engagement ring, but it’s not a typical ring…it’s a small cluster of diamonds shaped like a flower. I’ve had several people remark, “Oh, that’s so cute!” and “Oh, how unique!” My gut reaction used to be, “It’s not CUTE, it’s BEAUTIFUL!” And then I started to worry. *Should* we have gotten a large center stone? Is $20,000 really *that* much money for an engagement ring? Is this ring really going to hold up for the next 50 years of my life?

    Eventually I realized that putting any other ring on my finger wouldn’t feel right. It would feel like ME. And I’m so damn proud of this ring — a ring that made me literally jump up and down with excitement when I first saw it. I knew at that moment that it was MY ring. There will always be bigger, sparklier, better-cut diamonds out there…but there’s only one ring for me, and I’m wearing it.

    • macrain

      OMG, I had the exact same reaction when someone called my ring “cute.” I was pretty sure that by “cute,” he meant “small.”
      “There will always be bigger, sparklier, better-cut diamonds out there…but there’s only one ring for me, and I’m wearing it.”- SAME :)

    • When she saw my ring, the only thing my mom said was, “Oh, it’s cute.” Sigh. That hurt at the time, but now it doesn’t matter at all….

    • Meg Keene

      Speaking as an old married woman with a kid and way more financial obligations now… $20K is… quite a bit for a ring. Particularly when you have a wedding to plan (hi, they ‘spensive). Which isn’t to knock anyone who had $20K to spend on a ring (bless), just to frame with a little reality.

      Interestingly, in our second round of engagement ring shopping (SOB) we’re about 10X more financially stable, and we’re spending less. We’re buying at 10 year ring and an engagement ring with the money previously spent on just the engagement ring… because this time around, I’m really comfortable with the fact that the ring is just symbolism, nothing more. If I want a really expensive ring one day and can afford it, I’ll get it. But that won’t be symbolism, it’ll be JEWELRY. And to be honest? If I’m gonna buy and wear $20K ring, I don’t want to have to take David’s opinion into consideration ;) I just want it to be whatever is perfect for me just me.

      • Long before my partner and I were officially engaged I found a series of koi paintings I knew she would love. They cost far more than either the engagement ring I bought her or the wedding rings we bought together. The koi paintings are now in our home and actually mean more to me because they were bought at a time before I knew we were truly committed to each other. Our rings are a symbol of a specific time and place in our relationship, which matters far more to me than the monetary value of metal and stones. If someone judges me because my ring has an opal, not a diamond, too bad for them. Truthfully, as a lesbian no one has ever looked at my ring. I don’t know if that’s necessarily a good or bad thing, it’s just what is.

        • ediblesprysky

          Aww, that’s a sweet story! And I’m sure there are ladies *here* who would love to see a good opal ring…

          • Alison O

            WELL….just cuz pictures are fun. I have an opal ring my bf bought for my birthday a couple years ago; I picked it out after months of looking on Etsy. It is Victorian, so ~1890s. Two opals, with a seed pearl on top and bottom, and a tiny diamond on either side, set in rose gold with a really thin tapered band. I love how girly and dainty it is. It has a bit more sparkle in person, and the opals have a neat orange glow and green iridescence you can see a hint of in the photo. I have walked through mall jewelry stores in the past and liked this ring better than anything in the entire store, and this was under $200!

            I’ve thought of using it for my engagement ring when the time comes, since as of now I don’t wear it every day, but opals are a bit delicate for long term daily wear, and I think I want something lower profile (i.e. not ever get caught on stuff) if I’m going to basically never take it off.

          • Alison O

            Hm, not sure why the picture shows up twice, sorry…the bottom one is the actual orientation.

      • c

        LOL, I should clarify, I think $20K is a LOT of money to spend on a ring. It’s just that when I was in the process of freaking out about my ring being too “cute,” it seemed like every woman in the world had a 2 carat perfect diamond, and I could figure out how to pay for one of those, right? It was just the WIC getting to me. :)

        It’s actually funny that I was so worried about my ring because I would *hate* wearing a huge diamond on my finger….it wouldn’t feel like “me.” I just somehow allowed myself to get sucked into the idea that big ring = big commitment and “cute” ring = you poor thing, I’m sure he did the best he could.

        • KH_Tas

          In our early stages of ring shopping, we found a A$100K ring in a jeweler’s window. In the end, our two rings together cost < A$1K (mostly mine, as I have a stone and his is wholly metal).

  • eskimojo

    Oh man this was so me. I never ever wanted a traditional ring, so when the time came I designed a sapphire set into a white gold band. The stone dictated the thickness of the ring, so I ended up choosing a 0.80 carat sapphire so the band wouldn’t be too thick.

    Then my good friend got engaged with a huge diamond. Then another. Soon I couldn’t go through the day without seeing a huge diamond on some girl’s left hand. I’d never wanted a diamond but suddenly I was drawn towards these big shiny things, and felt unhappy with my beautiful sapphire. Which was ridiculous.

    If I could have my time again there are a couple of things I’d change about the ring, but to be honest, once the wedding is done and dusted and you’re a few years down the track, life takes over and that ring that you spend so much time gazing at and showing to friends and fiddling with and polishing kinda becomes just another piece of jewelry. It’s always going to have that important meaning and be a symbol of your love etc etc but it’s nowhere as big a focus, so if you loved it when you designed it, stick with your guts because a year after your wedding no one’s going to care about your ring but you.

  • Roselyne

    It’s easy to say “I’m going to stop listening to other people”, but it’s a lot harder to actually make yourself do it… I’ve found that a helpful trick is to respond with enthusiasm (ex: “Oh… That’s… different…” – “Thanks, I know! I love it!”) and walk away. Getting the last word on that one just makes it easier to be like “yeah, I’m good to go with this”.

    On a more practical note: people only seem to actually look at engagement rings before you get married/when you announce that you’re engaged. After that, the conversation moves on to other things (other people getting married, kids, careers, hobbies, etc). So, really, all you’ve got to do is maintain the positive attitude about the thing you for-real wanted until snarky comments get re-distributed to something else.

    And, y’know… I got snarky comments about my (silver, tiny uncut diamond) ring (of the “oh, he’s cheap” variety, mostly), but we picked it together and it’s comfortable and never snags on anything and I love it (and since our finances were pretty combined at that point, “cheap” wasn’t actually a bad thing, just sayin…). Getting a ring that was more “traditional” but that i didn’t love would have felt like caving on on something I considered unnecessary and unwanted, and I think that would’ve felt crappier in the long run…

    • I definitely agree with the idea that your response can help set the tone for these conversations. My husband and I discussed the heck out of engagement rings leading up to our proposal – pro & con lists galore! Ultimately, we decided on matching, simple, titanium bands with very little (read: no) flair. My office of super competitive women reacted very poorly to my ring and were not short or passive aggressive commentary about how it lacked diamonds, sparkle, and price. At first I often felt either disappointment in our choice or all-out rage at society. It really caused me to think about why we had chosen the ring I was wearing and found that when I responded enthusiastically with any one of those reasons (how awesome was it that my fiance wanted to wear an engagement ring himself! and that our rings matched! it was made with a “comfort fit” that was super comfortable! we had supported a small business! etc.) people shut up and left the conversation not caring at all or with something to think about. I was fine with both and was able to walk away with a smile on my face thinking about the relationship that the ring served as a reminder of.

    • vegankitchendiaries

      I also agree with this… I’m in the ‘modest engagement ring’ camp too. No matter what the response to the ring after people GRAB AT MY HAND when they find out I’m engaged, I always say, “THANKS I LOVE IT!” Because I really do and screw everyone else.

  • er

    Honestly, people judge other people’s rings all the time, regardless of what the initial reaction is [too small, too big, too shiny, not shiny enough, omg did I see an inclusion?, where are the diamonds?, too unique, too boring, too expensive etc. etc.]. At the end of the day, you’re the one that has to look at it every day. I have a non-traditional ring, and have sometimes wished that I had a big, sparkly diamond like I’ve seen on other people, but I know that it wouldn’t be me and it would feel uncomfortable.

    And I think comments like “unique” or “so you” should be embraced as a compliment, not as a slight, even if the person’s enthusiasm isn’t what you had hoped it would be. Who would ever look at a 1 carat round cut from Tiffany’s to be “so you” or “unique”? Nobody, which is exactly why you didn’t get it. And as a last resort, try to add some hipster elitism into your own ring if it helps [oh, I would never spend that much on a ring, or I would never choose something so unoriginal or basic]. It’s petty, but so is feeling like your ring isn’t up to par with the others. The mindset may help to pass time until none of it matters anymore.

    • ktmarie

      I was just heading to the end of the comments to say the same about the “It’s so you” comment, which I have always loved and taken as a compliment! From our invitations, to my dress, to the ceremony – we got a lot of people that said our wedding was “so us” because we’re goofy nerds and had some things that weren’t completely traditional. To me it’s my favorite compliment because even if those things aren’t what our friends and family would do, they recognized that we were being true to ourselves and having a good time. Wouldn’t you always want your ring to be ‘so you’?

    • Meg Keene


      FML. Manners. Such a lost art.

  • emilyg25

    Your ring sounds so pretty! Another thing to add to the excellent advice from Liz: After the newness of your engagement wears off, people start caring a lot less about your ring. Once you’re married, people won’t even notice it that much anymore! So think about whether the issues you’re having are a temporary discomfort, or if you really just don’t like your ring, for now and the long term.

  • Ashley

    My ring got similar comments. But I REALLY love my ring. I had my moment of feeling unsure about it when my other friends were getting engaged around the same time and their rings we bling. But I never wanted to wear my wealth on my hand (too much pressure) and I love the whole thought of my ring. I look at it and can’t help but smile it’s perfect for me… That’s how I dealt with peoples weird comments I’m happy and no I am not like the commercial world. I don’t buy into crap. And I don’t even like the Jones’ so forget keeping up with them.

    My wedding band is unique too and my husbands ring also. We are so glad we didn’t go to a box store. We are glad we know where it was made (Philly) we are more then glad that brown people didn’t have to suffer for it and it’s a beauty!

    Enjoy your ring. Enjoy your man!

  • breezyred

    0.25 carat ring here too! We totally could have afforded something bigger, but I have no desire to wear that around. I got a couple snarky comments on the size when I first got it, especially from his family, but I just shrugged it off as bad manners on their part. On the flip side, it is in a illusion setting, so I had a few people comment on how it looks bigger than what they would have expected.

    Since getting married, I actually rarely wear the ring at all, and instead just sport my wedding band. This gets my mom in a tiffy. Seriously, everybody has opinions, but it is only mine that matters.

  • macrain

    I LOVE my ring, I stare at it every day, and every single day feels like a special treat because I get to put it on and wear it.
    That said, I have still experienced similar anxieties. I was hanging out with some friends, shortly after getting engaged, and someone I had never met before met up with us. She was newly engaged, and had a ring by the same designer as mine, so it had many of the same elements that made me fall in love with my ring. BUT- hers had more ornate details and had a bigger diamond than mine. When I saw it I thought it was a better, more expensive version of my ring. I was crushed by this- I had been happily loving the shit out of my ring for weeks, and all of the sudden I was questioning everything.
    With some time and distance I eventually got some perspective on it and have gone back to loving my ring. I still do have insecurities from time to time, though. Hearing all these stories is such a great reminder that my ring is mine for a reason and I love it.
    PS- It really is SO funny how you never notice engagement rings at ALL until you are pre engaged or engaged! I was totally the same way.

  • Man, this is the pits! Can’t we collectively pinky-swear not to judge other people’s engagement rings anymore???????

    Ha, talk about Utopia. My ring is also half a carat and while it’s classically styled and definitely engagement-y, a friend of mine got engaged around the same time with a whopper of a ring. “Just under two carats,” she said. Obviously this made me feel rather sheepish and small at the time. But you know what? I love my ring. It’s simple and clean-lined and will never really be out of style. This was an important feature my husband looked for when shopping and I gotta give it to him, he was totally right. My ring looks almost exactly like my Mom’s too, which has a sweetness too it I didn’t anticipate. The rings were purchased almost 25 years apart and the only difference is the color (white gold versus yellow gold) and the number of prongs.

    The style, the size, and the nature of your engagement item is really no one’s business but your own. As with all things in life and wedding world, it’s hard not to focus on the Jones’s and just be happy. Maybe if more people read APW we’d feel less pressure to do so!

  • Kat Robertson

    I don’t feel this way about my ring, but my fiancé does. The ring is a traditional-looking and probably smaller than normal in our set of people. It was his grandmother’s and I always dreamed of having a family ring, so I love it more than I ever thought I could love a piece of jewelry. My fiancé gets insecure about it though – we’ll be out at a restaurant and he’ll notice another woman’s ring being bigger and “check” with me all sad later on to make sure I really like mine. This conversation has been repeated quite a bit since we got engaged. I think I’m slowly convincing him I really do love it, but it was interesting to me that this particular WIC thing hit him a lot harder than me.

    • macrain

      I have experienced numerous WIC things throughout wedding planning that have hit my fiance harder than me. It really is so interesting how you can free yourself from all these stupid expectations but your partner may very well be caught up in them. Have other people experienced this? I would love to discuss more if so!

      • Heather

        My fiancee was really uncomfortable with my desire for a smaller diamond and flat out refused to consider moissanite. I think that the ring part tends to hit men harder because that’s the part that society/WIC tells them they’re responsible for. Even though we picked it out together, he knew that “people” would be judging him on the “goodness” of the ring. I don’t agree with any of that, and we talked it through enough that he was ok with telling people who suggested he surprise me with a bigger diamond that I wouldn’t be happy if he did that.

        • Lauren from NH

          This is another one of those instances when I am floored that some people have the gall to say they know better than you on a personal matter. I can hardly believe those stories we here, where friends/family/etc insist to a male partner, she wanted a bigger ring, a traditional ring, a ring! How do people not realized they are saying your communication as a couple sucks? Your only job, when someone is sharing their personal stuff, is to be supportive or mind your own business…it’s not hard!

      • KH_Tas

        I have a bit, the ring I chose was *too* affordable for him initially, he wanted to really spoil me. He spent a little while asking things like ‘if you find out that X’s ring cost 2K more than yours will you get all sad’, but I think (hope) he’s fine with it now, and I love the atypical traditional ring I have, and that we have the money that hypothetical ring would have cost for the wedding/our future

  • C

    I got annoying comments for 6 months because I didn’t have a ring. When I finally got it, people were not as interested which was fine. My engagement ring is white gold with two green sapphires and the wedding band has one green sapphire (when worn together they look like a single ring with three stones). Sometimes I sorta wish I’d gone with yellow gold, but other than that, I’m happy I stuck with my less-traditional choices.

  • Meredith

    Another tiny ring lady here. I love it now. I helped choose it and am a very practical person. I did not want to wear anything overly flashy or trendy or a blood diamond. I only wanted .5 carat on a simple band that I could pair with a flashier wedding band. We ordered it online from Brilliant Earth and once my now husband proposed I was a little surprised at how small it was. When we took our engagement photos it was difficult to showcase since it was so small! I found myself a little embarrassed to show it off because people often seemed unimpressed. Now that engagement season is over and we’ve been married 3 months it’s perfect. I’m rarely worried about it though for those same reasons! I don’t think anyone would murder me for it when I’m out jogging. My wedding band is a tiny band of diamonds and yes, it is simple… like me. You and your spouse/fiance don’t have to use a giant diamond to prove to the world what a great relationship you have!

  • Emily

    See, and I was told my ring was “too big”, “impractical” or my favorite, “that looks like something my grandma would wear to a funeral”. Haters gonna hate, don’t let some preconceived notion about diamond size or price or setting make you second-guess what sounds like a perfect ring for YOU (you know, the person wearing it everyday).

    • EmilyRose

      That’s so rude, I can’t believe someone would say that!

  • Jana

    I also didn’t realize how large other peoples’ engagement rings were until I got engaged. The diamond on mine is small (1/4 carat) and it’s funny sometimes when people ask to see it and then respond with “Ooooh…. that’s…. nice” like they don’t know how to respond. Even if my fiance could have afforded a larger diamond (he’s currently in school so finances are tight), I don’t think I need it. Love isn’t defined by diamond carats. :)

  • socallmeshirley

    I was just having this conversation the other day, because i showed a friend a picture of my dress and she said “Oh, it’s so YOU” and for some reason it just felt like an insult. I don’t know why; if something is “so me” and I’m awesome, why did it sting? I guess what I wanted to hear was that it was beautiful, also?

    I have received similar comments about my ring, which is like many of yours, custom-designed and not a diamond. Even though it’s a fairly traditional setting (but a ruby instead,) people don’t seem to realize it’s an engagement ring. That doesn’t really bother me, but the “You didn’t want a diamond?” questions are a little tiresome. My future MIL said “It is unique and beautiful, and it really reminds me of you!” which conveyed the same surprise at my having chosen something a bit different but without being insulting. I have taken the same approach when commenting on others’ jewelry now; let them know that it’s gorgeous and also fits their personality!

    And pics, just because.

    • macrain

      Absolutely lovely! I would love to see more pics of reader’s rings too!

    • EmilyRose

      That’s gorgeous, and talk about a perfect manicure! Wow!

      • socallmeshirley

        Oh wow, thank you! As a reformed nailbiter that really means a lot!

        • Reformed hand biter here too!! (I actually stopped unintentionally for the wedding that happened a but over a month ago) your ring as well as the hand that wear it, is beautiful!

      • NB

        Seriously, lady. Your hands look, like, hand-model good. You have convinced me to stop biting my own nails for an afternoon, at least.

        • If you have the means to it, getting manicure professionally done is SO HELPFUL. Also cut your nails before it gets too long because then you’re just asking for it

    • Jules

      Ooooh, wow. The ruby looks AMAZING with the yellow gold. It’s lovely.

      Is it okay if I secretly love this post in part because we get to see ring porn? Sigh.

    • Lindsay Rae

      I think your ring is beautiful! I felt a similar sting when talking about my dress with a friend – we were just looking at dresses on pinterest and I said “Mine is similar to that one,” (she hasn’t seen the actual dress). She replied with “Yeah, I thought you’d pick something like that.” What does that mean?!?! Why does it bother me?? I love my dress, but maybe I didn’t want to be predictable? I know it’s beautiful, but still..?

    • Ashley Meredith

      That is really beautiful! Unique but also… timeless, in a way I think a lot of diamond rings aren’t? Looking at that first photo especially I feel like it could be part of a painting/portrait from almost any point in history for hundreds of years. I don’t know if that does or doesn’t mean anything to you, but I think it’s awesome.

      For the record, lest anyone think I’m dissing diamonds, mine actually is a diamond and I love it.

      • socallmeshirley

        Oh wow, thank you so much. I have had a few people ask me if it is vintage, which is nice. I like diamonds too, but I never wear them and I always joke that red is my “power color” so it just felt right to get something colorful. Also, I feel like it fits a bit with my secret inner goth, especially as in low light it can look very dark.

    • Karen

      I’m frankly a little jealous, though I wouldn’t trade my e-ring for anything. :-) I’m OBSESSED with rubies (I’m a July birthday, so, birthstone!), and I actually bought my own wedding band for when we were married in June. It was very inexpensive, but it’s completely unique and has four rubies in the band. My e-ring, on the other hand is very simple…three-stone, circle-cut (I think?) diamonds, set above a yellow-gold band. The one comment I got that sticks with me was “It’s so delicate!” Ha! But boy, do I love looking at both those rings and remembering I’m married!

  • Dom

    Going to play the devils advocate here – but I hate any ring that isn’t mine. It isn’t because those rings aren’t special or beautiful in their own way. I just love my ring, and when I compare it to others (which we all do) all I can think is everyone elses is too big or gaudy or small etc etc. So, I try not to say anything about other peoples bands other than “Oh, that is beautiful”. Usually comparison is the thief of joy, and this is the opposite for me – I have to fake that I like my friends rings so I don’t hurt their feelings.

    Everyone should love their rings more than someone elses.

  • K.

    Neither of us wanted a diamond, so my fiance designed a gorgeous sapphire ring for me (with the help of Sarah Perlis, whose work is totally awesome). Most people loved it unconditionally because, frankly, it’s gorgeous and shiny. But I definitely got some, “Aw, how cute!” and “Very…different” comments from a few people (mostly acquaintances or strangers), but I knew that could happen. It takes some swallowing when you feel like such a personal item is being attacked — even in the mildest way — but that’s part and parcel for choosing something non-traditional. I’m sure at our wedding, some people will whisper about how odd it is that my fiance and I are going to walk down the aisle together or will think I’m a show-off because my dad and I are going to do a father-daughter song (him playing the guitar, me singing) rather than a dance. And yeah, those reactions make me a little nervous because I’ve been socialized to please everyone, but I know for the most part everyone is incredibly supportive and actually enjoys seeing something a little unique. Plus, I’m working on not giving as much of a fuck and just doing what I want to do, outside opinions be damned.

    But my absolute favorite story about my “unique” ring is when his 13-year-old cousin saw it for the first time. She complimented the ring and said that blue was her favorite color. Then she looked up at me and said, “But wait, where’s your engagement ring?” My heart sunk just a little and I told her that it WAS my engagement ring. Her eyes went totally wide and she broke out into a huge smile, saying, “WOW! I didn’t even know you could HAVE rings that weren’t diamonds! That’s allowed?! I love color so much! That’s SO cool!” I thought that was the best possible reaction and it made me even prouder of my gorgeous, non-traditional ring than I usually am.

    • H

      Aren’t kids the best? When my niece was barely four, sitting in my lap watching a movie, she suddenly grabbed my hand and spun it around. She poked my ring and stared at it with a wide eyed expression on her face and said “Beeeooooootiful.” That was all, but it was honestly the best compliment anyone’s ever given me on my non-traditional engagement ring. Your ring sounds absolutely gorgeous btw.

  • Ann

    “When something is so personally crafted, people’s opinions on it can feel like a reflection on you, not just the little ring of metal.” Spot on and sums up all of my Wedding Feelings perfectly. Finally I’ve learned to keep the decisions most special to me (i.e. my dress) a secret to preserve my sanity.

    On the ring side, it’s hard to keep that a secret so I’ve just had to come to terms with the comments. And I have the opposite problem – I have a diamond much bigger than I expected and have had to field a different set of comments that make me feel uncomfortable… “wow, look at that rock!” or “he must really love you!”. Um yeah he loves me. We’re getting married, dumbass, and not because he can buy me a diamond. It’s the same kind of comments that I get when people ask what my fiance does and I tell them he’s a doctor. Good lord, it’s like the 1950s all over again! Can’t I just marry a doctor because of who he is and not what he does???

    • Kaitlin

      Same here about the much larger stone! It makes me really uncomfortable when people make comments like “Wow, you can ice skate on that!” The thing is, it’s not even a diamond. It’s moissanite (lab created, sparkly, and much cheaper). But I feel uncomfortable when people gawk over it, and I feel the need to tell people who I respect “Oh no! It’s not a diamond!” In my field (English grad student), women don’t tend to wear engagement rings anyway (for both political and financial reasons), and I feel like my engagement ring flaunts the fact that I’m marrying up. I love my engagement ring so much, but I hate feeling like I have to explain it so that people won’t think less of me.

  • EKS

    I had the same experience as Z, below. I always felt like I had to defend my ring, even though I had picked it out and knew I loved it! It was really hard at first. But then, after your family and friends and colleagues all see it, the questions are pretty much over. Every so often, someone new I meet comments on it, but for the most part, the new engagement excitement period is over for people, and that means the ring gawking period is over. I’m not sure how long you’ve been engaged, but I would say it took me 3 months or so before everyone had seen the ring and gotten their comment in, and my anxiety over it dissapated. So I guess I’d say, if you wait it out, I bet the comments will (mostly) end.

  • Christina

    My ring has a 0.5 carat, rose cut, pear-shaped diamond in a yellow-gold wire setting. I’ve been in love with it for YEARS, ever since I saw it on a design blog in a
    0.3 carat form. I showed my fiance the 0.3 carat version, and he
    decided to spring for the 0.5 carat one. We’re both really happy with
    the ring since it’s the weirdest prettiest most special thing I’ve ever seen, and he
    got to “upgrade,” which made it feel more special to him. I think it’s freaking gorgeous, but most people are sort of stunned into silence when they look at it (including my dad?). Mostly people sort of take a moment to process and say “oh wow, it’s really you!”

    • Christina

      Oh, and sidenote: He wears a simple little silver ring that his grandmother gave him the last time he saw her in Bosnia before she passed away. When we’re together, people pay WAY more attention to his engagement ring than mine, because…gender.

    • EmilyRose


    • Meg Keene

      PICTURE!! Some of us are ring shopping. AGAIN.

  • tashamoes

    Another tiny ring wearer here! We picked something small and understated because we wanted the symbolism of the ring to be at the front of our minds (“hey world, we want to get married soon”) and because we wanted to stay away from competing. The comments of “aw, cute!” have grated on me sometimes, and I have to consciously remind myself that I don’t need to justify it or explain that it is exactly what was right for us…I like the suggestion below about responding with enthusiasm as well as taking it as a sign that they’re just interested in hearing about your wedding.

    • Meg Keene

      SUPER pretty.

      • vegankitchendiaries


    • Love it!! What I learned is sometimes people mean well, they just execute it HORRIBLY. My friend decided to shout out the cost of my ring at a house gathering. Then tell the world it’s not real. (I have a moissonite center stone) what. The. Actual. Fuck?!

      • tashamoes

        Moissonite! I looked at a bunch of morganite and moissonite rings before we decided to go with something simpler -so lovely. What kind of setting?

        I bet it is gorgeous – and how wildly inappropriate for her to tell the cost of your ring (and say it isn’t “real”?…absurd. I might have reminded her that it was a real ring with a real stone that signified I was really engaged. How much more real does it get? :) Horrible execution indeed.

        • She usually means well, but sometimes missteps.. a lot. It’s a flower like halo with twisted band I love it! And moissonite sparkles more than diamond so I love it. It looks pretty big on hand, but when you’re finger size is 3.5, I guess most things will look big.

  • Dani

    My ring situation is sort of different in that the ring I was proposed to with is not going to be the ring that I wear on my left hand. I come from an Irish heritage and we have had a Claddagh ring handcrafted and passed down in our family for hundreds of years and it made it to me! Technically, I’ve been wearing my engagement ring for years since it normally rests on my right ring finger, indicating whether I’m in a relationship or not based on it’s placement. I get the impression that people think that the Claddagh is no longer special because I wear it everyday, regardless of my relationship status, which is just absolute nonsense. The ring that I was proposed with is a little silver band with several disks in a pattern, no stone, no embellishment, and I love it. When I was first telling people that we got engaged, they would look at the engagement ring and be disappointed, like I was missing out on something. I felt the need to say ‘oh well, I’m actually going to be wearing my heirloom piece once we exchange rings on the wedding day’ in order to appease people. Honestly, even if I didn’t have my Claddagh, I would be more than happy with this little band, because it was what my partner thought I would love and he’s right. I don’t understand the war on engagement rings. It’s such a personal statement about the couple and the individual wearing it. Trust your gut! Plus, your ring sounds absolutely gorgeous!

    • Roselyne

      Totally not the thread topic, but I just have to say that your silver ring with the dots is absolutely adorable, and I kinda love it!

    • bambi

      growing up italian in a very irish town, i always wanted a claddagh. the sentiment of the hands and the crown… gah, the feels i had as a middle schooler. And I never had even seen one as gorgeous as yours! wowza. :)

  • LM

    I didn’t want a separate engagement ring. I rarely wear jewelry and for various reasons didn’t want a stone so we picked out my very low key band together and I was (and am) very happy with it. At first some people seemed really confused by the ‘right now it’s an engagement ring but then it will be a wedding ring’, plus it’s so plain that sometimes I felt like I had to give an explanation, even though the ring was exactly what I wanted. Two friends got engaged shortly after me and had big rock rings and I worried that they were getting engaged the ‘right’ way. But, at the end of the day, their rings wouldn’t work for me, and if at some point I want a new relationship-y ring…I can get one. Yet another example of how fraught wedding decisions can be…

  • Jules

    S, I feel you.

    It’s easier when what you want conveniently falls in line with what society thinks you should want. On the flipside, it’s easier for us society folks when things happen according to our expectations, because we know how to react to that…call it practice. “Unique” and “perfect for you” may be received as slights, but they’re probably just words in 90% of cases. “It’s gorgeous!” may have been more appropriate, but sometimes we get awkward and feel the need to acknowledge differences, and can’t manage to do it in a way that’s universally polite. Well-meaning compliments can fall short. Also, comments can largely depend on our social circle and their norm, so “too big” or “too small” or “[too] unique” can come from different places about the SAME ring. (There are also people who are awful enough to make truly rude comments, but that’s something to write off and immediately forget.)

    It also sounds like – and this is no bad thing – you might want some acknowledgement from people that you/your engagement/your relationship are every bit as legitimate as ones that end with 1-carat traditional rings. I think we all seek such validation to varying degrees, and when we don’t get it, it can hurt. Personally, I’m someone who needs to be affirmed, so if people flubbed their initial reactions to some happy event of mine with their feet in their mouth, I’d need a big glass of wine. (I’d also probably say, “Thank you, I love it! We had it custom-made” because I’m slightly self-justifying that way.)

    When you’re engaged, part of how people [unfortunately] judge the sincerity and validity is by the “quality” or hell, the presence of, an engagement ring. But when you’re married, your legitimacy comes from…the marriage itself…and that’s why I think there’s so much less focus on the ring afterwards, even though that bit hasn’t changed.

    Do what truly makes you happy. There’s not really a wrong; you just have to figure out what that is.

  • Dani

    My ring situation is sort of different in that the ring I was proposed to with is not going to be the ring that I wear on my left hand. I come from an Irish heritage and we have had a Claddagh ring handcrafted and passed down in our family for hundreds of years and it made it to me! Technically, I’ve been wearing my engagement ring for years since it normally rests on my right ring finger, indicating whether I’m in a relationship or not based on it’s placement. I get the impression that people think that the Claddagh is no longer special because I wear it everyday, regardless of my relationship status, which is just absolute nonsense. The ring that I was proposed with is a little silver band with several disks in a pattern, no stone, no embellishment, and I love it. When I was first telling people that we got engaged, they would look at the engagement ring and be disappointed, like I was missing out on something. I felt the need to say ‘oh well, I’m actually going to be wearing my heirloom piece once we exchange rings on the wedding day’ in order to appease people. Honestly, even if I didn’t have my Claddagh, I would be more than happy with this little band, because it was what my partner thought I would love and he’s right. I don’t understand the war on engagement rings. It’s such a personal statement about the couple and the individual wearing it. Trust your gut! Plus, your ring sounds absolutely gorgeous! (Edit: for better picture quality!)

  • scw

    I, personally, am just not a big solitary diamond kind of girl. I don’t wear a lot of jewelry, I ride the subway every day in philly, and my fiancé and I already have a mortgage and student loans and it just wasn’t my priority at all to have a ‘normal’ engagement ring. when we found ours at bario neal I knew it was the one and looked at its picture pretty much every day between picking it out and getting engaged. it’s a tiny rough diamond chip with a white enamel circle and it is perfect for me.

    still, when I started wearing it and the comments rolled in calling it ‘unique’ and ‘dainty’ I had some moments of self-doubt, too. my allergist (we got engaged outside of his office, lol) even asked me why I wasn’t wearing my ring… while looking at it. those feelings lasted for about 48 hours, until I realized it IS dainty and unique and that is exactly what I love about it. we’ve been engaged for three months now and I love it more now than when we picked it out. I hope the op comes to the same realization too!

    • That ring is so cool! Looove it.

      • scw

        thanks! I have been sitting here looking at everyone’s rings and loving it so I wanted to share my own! it’s extra special because bario neal let my fiancé pick the rough diamond himself out of a bunch of them.

    • vegankitchendiaries

      What the hell? Why are everyone’s rings are so awesome?! I actually think all of these comments on this post is the finest ‘ring roundup’ I’ve ever seen on the ‘wedding internet’!

    • Oooomigosh, I LOVE this ring!

      • scw

        aw thanks!

  • InTheBurbs

    We exchanged claddagh rings as engagement rings and then each picked out what we wanted as wedding rings. I wanted a bit of sparkle but just couldn’t justify the price and the ethics of a diamond – so I got a moissanite ring from Tamara McFarland – and she made my wife’s ring as well. Neither of us wear the claddagh’s anymore – but have plans to tattoo them somewhere.

  • jhs

    I too have a custom designed rose gold ring, but with a .33 carat diamond (great grandma’s, and the perfect size for me since I tried rings with larger diamonds and they looked too big too me) and I love it! I was a little surprised when I saw it (FH designed it), just because it is so thoroughly different than anything I’ve seen before, and there were some moments when I worried I wouldn’t love it.

    However, once all the “it’s so…unique” comments started rolling in, it made me love it more! Fuck yes it’s unique, because you know I’m not the type of girl to get what everyone else wears, and fuck you if you don’t like it. The more I wear it, the more I love it, and the more it becomes clear to me that people who way that kind of stuff aren’t the people I want to spend my time with anyway.

  • Alison O

    A tiny (.06) diamond is currently the front runner in my engagement ring search. LOVE this one.

    • vegankitchendiaries

      I love this too!

      • Crayfish Kate

        Me three! :-D

    • Meg Keene

      Oh good! I posted that on Pinterest during my (sadly current) engagement ring search. I’m glad you’re into it!!

    • Ally


    • LaikaCatMeow

      Oh man, I have tiny hands and an unflappable love for rose gold. This is super up my alley. (Although, my BF works with metal, and has expressed he’d prefer to make my ring. Is it bad that the thought of that scares me?)

  • Kelli

    The funny thing about my ring is that I got to pick it out, but that wasn’t what was intended. My fiancé picked out a ring that he was incredibly proud of, and it was a little more unusual than the norm. They assured him it could be resized to my tiny size 4 finger, but when we went in to do so they said they couldn’t! They let us pick out a new ring for 20% off and I know he was bummed about it, but after a few months I know he loves my new ring too.
    When I picked it out I surprised us both by going with something a little more mainstream, but it’s still different. It’s perfect for my small hands and it doesn’t get in the way when doing daily activities.

  • Meg Keene

    UGH. I got the “so small” and “so… unique…” comments endlessly when I got engaged. I had a tiny vintage ring that was perfect for my small hands, and I worked at an investment bank where most women had three carats and up (no joke). Not to mention, we did not have $40K to spend on our WEDDING, let alone on a RING. It sucked, it was hurtful, it was constant (and yes Liz, they meant it to be rude ;)

    AND. Now my ring is stolen, and I’ll probably miss it for the rest of my life. So, in short, enjoy that ring because you’ve got it.

    • H

      I’m so sorry Meg! I know the feeling of missing the ring you were “engaged” with. I was heartbroken when my original engagement ring fell apart on me (it was mis-halmarked costume jewelry, probably made of nickel, belonging to his grandmother). I didn’t really want a “replacement”, but we did purchase a new, affordable ring so I’d have something to wear. My fiance was feeling guilty about it all, so I told him that if he was so inclined he could buy me a wedding locket to wear down the aisle. I hope you find something that makes you feel happy!

    • Well it seems at your marriage is outlasting your engagement ring, at the very least! And now you have a kid! It’s terrible your ring got stolen but great that the relationship it symbolizes is still thriving!

  • Granola

    Rats, disqus deleted my comment so trying again.

    I feel similarly to you about my wedding ring. I made the best decision I could at the time, but now I’m not sure I’d do it again. There are other things I like and find beautiful. What I find helpful is to just give myself permission not to think about it. I can feel something about it one day or ignore it the next or check in again six months later if I feel like it. There seems to be a WIC narrative that you have to *feel* something about the wedding/engagement ring, and it has to be sort of intrinsic to the object.

    Instead, I’m focusing on a narrative of that this is just an object whose meaning, if any, changes over time, specifically that it acquires meaning throughout my life and marriage. I didn’t feel much for the ring when I got married, but I already feel a little more after a year and a half of marriage. I’m interested to see how that evolves in another year, or five or ten or fifty (hopefully). The idea that one day I might have a child or grandchild who might view my piece of jewelry as a potent symbol seems really cool to me, and that will only happen because of my accumulated influence, not the ring itself.

    To be honest, I didn’t think my husband was all that special the first time that I met him, but 5.5 years later I’m singing a pretty different tune. So perhaps that’s the better way of looking at things anyway. God luck sorting out your feelings!

  • Lizzy

    My fiance gave me his great-grandmother’s ring as an engagement gift and I love it to pieces. The comments that I receive from the general public are that it’s gorgeous and it gives off the impression of being huge (it’s not). But let me tell you, the first time I walked into a jewelry store to get it appraised for insurance purposes was a trial.
    My fiance had already gotten my ring fixed up, but this woman at the jewelry store was having none of it. She told me everything that was wrong with my ring and more. These prongs aren’t touching the diamonds, they’ll have to be redone. In fact, she said that six prongs had to be redone, to the tune of $250. She also mentioned that two of my diamonds were chipped and if I wanted, they could replace and upgrade them to bigger, better diamonds. (Did I mention that this woman was wearing not one but two 2-carat rings? I asked.)
    And then we got to the paperwork. When I told her how old the ring was, she looked at me and told me all the reasons that she doubted that the ring was really as old as I claimed. We had to put down the estimated value of the ring before I could leave it to be appraised, and after some back and forth about how I don’t know and that was why I was here, she gave this little sigh and said that my ring probably wouldn’t go for more than a couple hundred dollars at an estate sale.
    In the end I only got the appraisal, but I wish that I’d had the guts to walk out without it. I have to find another jewelry store to get my matching wedding band fixed up and this woman has made me dread the experience. Moral of the story: Jewelers can ring-shame just as much as ignorant people.

    • Rachelle Reese

      That’s a joke. Almost as bad as the body-shaming bridal consultants in dress stores. You absolutely should not be treated that way by someone you’re giving business. Go elsewhere. There are plenty of wonderful jewelers in the world that will tell you how beautiful it is when you take your ring in.
      Also, the bit about wanting to know how much you think it’s worth before appraising it? That would raise a huge red-flag with me and I probably would have walked out. Call around and find a jeweler with a certified gemologist on staff to re-do the appraisal and see what repairs really need to be made.

  • Rachelle Reese

    I’ve gotten plenty of “unique” comments – some do mean it as a complement and follow up with something about wanting a ring that doesn’t look like everyone else’s and some clearly just don’t like it. That’s okay. It was my grandmother-in-law’s 35th anniversary ring and I adore it. Me fiance was given (and gave me) the option of selling it to get something else or re-setting the stones, but we both thought it really did feel like me.
    You designed your ring to be unique and may get over the comparison with time, as I have. But honestly, if you want a bigger stone and can afford it I don’t see why you shouldn’t. Mine’s not super tiny (0.66 carats) but it’s a whole lot smaller than most of the rings in my office where the majority of my coworkers make six figures. Looking at my ring every day makes me feel incredibly happy and loved. If you think a carat will make you feel better, why the hell not?
    Mine is actually eerily similar to the one used in this post:

  • Amanda

    A few days before my engagement/wedding ring arrived from the artist making it for us, we went out to dinner with three married/engaged couples. During the course of waiting for food, the three women were comparing their engagement rings and passing them around the table. The conversation started with the women trying to point out the differences, but after a few minutes, no one was sure anymore which ring belonged to which couple. At the beginning of the conversation, I’d been feeling a little disappointed with how different mine was going to be, but by the time I was watching them struggle to determine which one had the matching scratch marks to go with their wedding rings, I was back to being in love with doing something so different. Each of them loved theirs, even if they couldn’t tell it apart from any others, but while I hadn’t picked mine just to be different (there were practical reasons I went with something smaller and non-diamond), after watching that, I was glad to know I would be able to pick mine out of a pile (even if I had no intention of letting it be in a pile to begin with).

    • Erin E

      This is a great story. Sometimes I feel bad that my ring isn’t like everyone else’s and isn’t what’s in style now, but I think that’s just fleeting sadness about feeling “othered”. When I remember that I love my ring and that I’m glad it’s unique, the sadness flies right out the window. Cheers for going against the grain!

  • april

    Ugh. The number one response I get when I show people my ring (I just have the one, we didn’t really do engagement rings) is “Aw – it’s so cute!” Which I hate. Hate hate hate hate hate. Seriously, nevery tell someone their ring is “cute.” Even if it’s meant well, it just sounds mean and dismissive. “Oh – that extremely meaningful piece of jewelry that costs more than anything else you’ve ever worn? Adorable.”

    Ranting aside, I sympathize with the asker’s doubts. My ring has a very small (.35 carats) oval diamond, which used to belong to my MIL. We had it set in a very simple band. It’s not exactly what I would choose if money was not object for us – but for right now, it is. So I’m content with my simple “cute” ring – at least until I can afford to have it re-set in something like this:

  • Meg

    These comments don’t really mention the person who gave you this ring at all. I think their feelings should be taken into consideration as well.

  • Laura

    There is also the flip side feeling. In my case, I have a very main stream ring that I adore but sometimes see beautiful custom rings on etsy or OBB or APW and wonder if my ring is somehow not unique ENOUGH. If I should’ve gone with something less mainstream. But. Then I remember my shopping trip with a friend to look at rings (at my partner’s request) and my partner himself and the love that came with the ring. And all is right with the world.

    • Lizzie C.

      Yes, I was thinking about that side too. I designed a unique engagement ring for myself with a lab sapphire, and when engaged or married female friends commented on it I detected a hint of caution in their questions: “So you didn’t want a diamond?” and “That’s really…different!” They weren’t being rude, I realized; they were trying to gauge whether I was anti-mainstream ring. As in, anti-THEIR rings. When I explained exactly what I love about my ring (the stone, the filigree, etc.) instead of listing what I’d tried to avoid, my friends seemed to relax. Then I asked about their rings, and even the most “mainstream-looking” rings had lovely personal stories. It’s all about the meaning, right?

  • Queequeg

    The correct response when looking at an engagement ring is “that’s beautiful!”. What are all these people thinking? Geez.

  • Laura K

    Thanks for that link to Maddie’s “keeping up with…” post. It was exactly what I needed to be reminded of today.

  • Kendra D

    I really don’t think that 1 carat minimum is actually a standard. It’s what the WIC wants you to think is the standard. I remember hearing it first at college (a ring by junior spring or your money back paired with if it’s less than a carat turn him down). It’s up there with the insanity of spending three months pay on a ring. Or having to have the most romantic, complicated proposal or it doesn’t count. It’s a false construct imposed by an industry looking to make money by selling the concept of love and commitment.

    I have a .46 carat diamond in a solitaire setting. I fell in love with it when we picked it out together after getting engaged. I wore it proudly through our elopement and up until my sister’s wedding. There, a cousin I hadn’t seen since before getting engaged asked to see my ring, “oh” was her only response. I immediately started feeling bad that my ring wasn’t bigger. When my BIL got engaged, his fiancee constantly compared her much bigger and fancier ring to mine, telling me how glad she was that we both had simple rings. Those irk me for sure. I hate that somehow my husband’s love for me is judged by the size of my ring. Because that is absolutely false.

    My ring is a symbol of us being married, but the size of it doesn’t implicate the size of our love or commitment to each other. My husband likes to tell people rude enough to comment on it to his face that he has nothing to prove, so he didn’t need a bigger diamond to compensate for a lack of anything else. While a bit crude, it does serve the purpose of reminding them how inappropriate a comment it is.

    • ediblesprysky

      “(a ring by junior spring or your money back paired with if it’s less than a carat turn him down)”

      ^This made me LOL at my desk. That sounds like SO many of the girls I grew up with. (Were you in the South, by any chance?) Now a bunch of them have had their Pinterest-perfect weddings with their perfect identifiable-as-engagement rings and their perfectly khaki-clad (but never-seen-the-inside-of-a-dentist’s-office) fiances, all of which I’ve watched with fascination on Facebook. And you know what? If you blurred out the faces, there’s no way in hell I’d be able to tell those weddings apart. Not a chance.

      • Kendra D

        I was in Texas. At Baylor, so a school much more known for it’s MRS than it’s Bachelor degrees.

  • Laura

    I also very much feel the need to share this video which is from college humor so may or may not be entirely accurate but reminds us that rings (and other traditions) may not always be ancient customs with deep philisophical meaning.

  • Rebekah

    Here’s the thing for me (and APW has talked about it before too): A ring can be more than a physical ring. And that’s a lot of what I love about mine, which is not a typical ring either. So when people make comments that reveal their surprise at seeing a ring that’s outside the Diamond Industry Norm, I simply make it clear how much I love it and they get on board with me. This works in reverse too. I have a couple friends who have recently gotten engagement rings that are absolutely not my style, but their faces glow with the joy and love involved in receiving the ring and being engaged to marry someone they love, so I focus on that and not that I don’t really like the ring.
    Personal style is just that.

  • vegankitchendiaries

    You know, I’ve always avoided showing off my ring but this feels like a small engagement ring pride parade and I want to join!

    Yes, my fiancé and I shopped for this ring together and we were on a budget (about $300-$400)! We went to some small shops but we ended up choosing this one from a large chain jewelers in the mall (picture the Canadian equivalent to Ben Bridge… romantic!). It was kept very separate from the engagement rings and the saleslady called it a “fashion ring”. It’s rose gold with very small “chocolate diamonds”. I remember Googling ‘chocolate diamonds’ when I got home and read all of this stuff online about how they’re “inferior”. Good thing that I love that ring TRULY MADLY DEEPLY!

    When my fiance proposed the FIRST thing I said was “I don’t want an expensive ring!” Even if we did have a spare few grand lying around, it’s mostly because I know myself well enough to know that I can’t not lose a piece of jewelry between now and… uh… death? No point on dropping 3 months wages on a ring I’m going to lose down a drain in a few years time. And that, my friends, will be the moment people will say “That’s so YOU!” and really, truly mean it.

    • Ashley Meredith

      “No point on dropping 3 months wages on a ring I’m going to lose down a drain in a few years time. And that, my friends, will be the moment people will say “That’s so YOU!” and really, truly mean it.”


      And… it’s lovely. So who cares about anything else?

  • Brooke

    I get that sometimes “unique” is what people say when they can’t come up with a “real” compliment, but FWIW, a lot of the time “unique” can just mean unique. I spent many years complimenting unique things before I realized it was a faux pas.

  • ART

    I have moments where I wonder about my ring. I picked it out, and even now when I surf the site where I found it, I feel a little flutter of excitement when I see it, and then go “OH, I HAVE THAT ONE ALREADY.” But I got moissanite instead of a diamond because I had never wanted a diamond, and now I sometimes think aw man, should I have just gotten one anyway? Would it be a better color? Sparkly in a better way? A better “fit” with the vintage style? Should we have spent more on it? And I’ve only gotten really positive comments on it (that I know about, anyway)! I know this is just me bugging out and that I actually love it, and the longer I have it the more “me” it seems. I’m holding my hand weird in the photo so you can see the side. It really is lovely, and yet I have my share of doubtful moments. I think it’s normal to have those feelings about something everyone wants to see/chat about and that you may well wear all the time FOREVER.

    • Beth R

      This ring is pretty much exactly the ring I wanted and didn’t get. My husband picked out the ring himself (although I had sent him pictures of things I liked) and I ended up not really liking what he got. The store let us swap it out, so I sort of got to pick at that point, but their selection still didn’t really have anything like this. At that point I actually “downgraded” from a .7 carat to .6 because I have small hands and felt like the .7 was HUGE and garish on my hand. I like my ring a whole lot, but don’t love it. Yours, I love, haha!

    • Headythings

      Your ring is lovely, both very vintage and classic.

    • Alyssa M

      I have moissanite instead of diamonds around the emerald in my ring and it’s super cool! Instead of supporting diamond cartels, I got a lab created version of something that only naturally occurs in METEORS! And space and science are cool, man.

      • ART

        yeah, i mean that’s the pull of the WIC, that i could actually look at my ring and think “but, diamonds!” when i already knew i *really* didn’t one, for numerous reasons. we joked about getting star trek-themed rings, but i did wind up with a synthetic space rock in my ring, that’s good enough for this trekkie :)

  • Ereg

    My two cents – There is absolutely nothing wrong with changing your mind and deciding you’d like something different. However, since you designed it and loved it at first, before all the other people started making comments, I’d suggest keeping it for a while, until people are no longer talking about it, and decide if you still want a change then. As several people have pointed out, after the initial burst of “You’re engaged! Where’s the ring?” (which is a whole other assumption that everyone does the same thing – I kind of prefer “Did you decide to get a ring?” but – meh – I digress), no one really pays much attention to the rings later. (Later, they start making almost-positive-sounding-but-oddly-judgy comments about your wedding plans instead.) Anyway, once you’re past this initial “ring phase”, I think it’ll be easier for you to make the call that’s right for you.

    And I think your ring sounds fabulous, but I’m not the one who has to/gets to wear it. :)

  • NB

    I just wanted to weigh in say that I had a similar experience—my ring has a center stone with a small, but visible, exclusion in it, and the stone is smaller-than-average. I didn’t think any of those things bothered me (my ring has Really Old Stuff in it, see?), but….they did. Immediately after I started getting “that’s so…cute!” comments from co-workers in my very status-obsessive, generally conservative, and high-income industry. When I looked at the rings around me, they were rocks on the order of mortgage bills and down payments, and mine just…wasn’t. And that made me feel a little embarrassed (and then, embarrassed at being embarrassed, because: COME ON. Don’t give in to the Man, man!)

    I don’t have any wise advice as to getting over it—but I can say that my personal experience was, as wedding planning went on, there were so many of these comments (“Oh? You’re honeymooning in Denver? Not Paris? That’s so…economical of you.”; “Your wedding dress is off-the-rack? How…nice. I’m sure no one really uses those as a heirlooms anymore, anyway.”) that weren’t intended to be competitive or mean-sounding but…were. This is not meant to be disheartening! (It does sound a little disheartening, doesn’t it?)

    But, if wedding planning, and the subsequent commentary on wedding planning, taught me anything, it is this: Even people who love you sometimes have a very, very hard time separating your experience of getting married with their own idea of What a Wedding Should Be (and all the physical trappings that go with that), in their brain. I don’t think this is always a conscious decision—but sometimes it means that you’re going to be standing in a bridal shop while your maid of honor tries to bedeck you in flowy flower-child style dresses that are much more her than you, sometimes it means that your mom is going to look at you like a crazy person when you tell her you’re not getting married in a church, and sometimes it means that people say “cute” and “unique” when they look at your ring, because they can’t possibly imagine wanting the same thing for themselves. That’s just…not what appears in their heads when they think wedding. And, that’s ok! Because they are not having *your* wedding, and they do not get to wear *your* awesome ring. And sometimes,

    Because it’s an engagement ring (or, later, a personal choice about the way that you want to do A Wedding Thing), it feels really personal when someone comments on it, even if all they are doing is making awkward small talk. And, it’s hard in a way that some other wedding choices are not, because it’s such a visible symbol—not to mention the fact that there are folks out there who see you wearing one and take it as an open invitation to offer Opinions (look out! There are more of those coming!). But, it’s still yours, and only yours: and whatever the “it” in question is can be awesome even if it isn’t what your coworker/sister/mom/brother/mailman/bus driver had in mind when they called up the idea of an engagement ring in their head.

    Your ring sounds awesome to me, too. But, even if it didn’t: you are still right to love it (or not love it, if you someday change your mind and want to swap it out), and I/the public/Queen Elizabeth/Howard Dent/whoever else will just have to deal with that. The best analogy I can think of is oysters: I cannot, in a million years, think of a good reason why I would want to eat one. They are boogers in shells to me. *But*: you are entitled to eat all of the oysters you want (or, come to think of it, drink all the tequila you want), and still think they are awesome—and at the end of the day, you will still be awesome you, with your awesome oysters, and I will raise my whiskey glass and bowl full of sour jelly-bellies, and proclaim that we can still be mutually awesome, even if our versions of Right For Us look a little different (and even if I want no part in your oysters, and you want no part in my jelly beans).

  • ElisabethJoanne

    I completely didn’t like my engagement ring. It was exactly what I didn’t want – wrong metal, wrong setting, wrong stone. I took it off for the wedding ceremony and literally haven’t seen it since, and no one’s asked about it. [It’s safe in my mother’s jewelry box.]

    When I was engaged and wearing my engagement ring, very few people asked to see the ring. I usually cut off any comments by volunteering that it was a family heirloom, one of very few to survive the pogroms and the Soviets. That gave people more fodder for compliments: “You must be so honored.” “What a wonderful story.”

    My point: This too shall pass.

  • Becky

    Even having a .5 carat diamond solitaire, which I love and think is plenty big, I get comments constantly about how I can “upgrade” down the road. I don’t think it ever occurs to these people than not everyone WANTS to start a future together by spending a huge amount of money on a piece of jewelry. I love my ring and it’s exactly what I asked for, but I still find myself questioning my ring after constantly being told I can get a better one later. So frustrating.

    • Jules

      I agree, and I find the term “upgrade” somewhat offensive in the first place. That implies my ring is somehow worse than one that’s more expensive, and on another layer, implies that what I should want is bigger/higher clarity/more colorless/blah blah. It’s like saying “don’t worry; you can upgrade to a BMW” when all I really want is my Jeep.

      • La’Marisa-Andrea

        I, too, have always been bothered by the term “upgrade” and people asking me like I’m supposed to because my ring isn’t big enough? Not sure of the motivation behind this question.

  • Anya

    STAND FIRM! My now husband and I had a lot of discussions before we got engaged about how our lives will look like. At one point we were looking for a present for his mom in a jewelry store, and I commented that I found big diamonds tacky.

    He did a surprise proposal. And the ring he designed is gorgeous to me (pic below — photo by Stephanie Court). But he was telling me about how hard it was to convince the jeweler that he wasn’t being cheap, and that his girlfriend really didn’t want a big diamond. And no, she didn’t want a huge ruby either. And she wanted it to be lab grown. They basically told him at one point: “well, you have a good job; why are you trying to save so much money?” I’m surprised he didn’t try to find a different jeweler at that point.

    Then, finding a wedding band without inlaid diamonds was a pain for me because: “it’s what brides want.” I’m a bride, and I don’t want it. I finally just asked a goldsmith to make me a small band, because to remove the diamonds was a “custom order” that somehow equaled the price of the band with the diamonds.

    I love how my set looks, but the comments of “oh, why is it small?” or “Ruby: so daring!” or “well, we always knew you don’t like the spotlight” or “I guess you guys were saving for a house” really do bother me at one point. Because they are so off base. Just remember what you loved about your ring. And if you discover it’s not you, maybe have an updated version?

    • vegankitchendiaries


      • Anya

        And now I REALLY want some vegan goodies. Recipes?

        • vegankitchendiaries

          Haha, that name is a hangover from my old, oft neglected blog. But you know, why create a new Disqus account when you don’t have to?

    • Claire

      We went with a lab created sapphire and the first jeweler made a comment about it being fine for costume jewelery, but not really appropriate for wedding jewelery since you want “the real deal” for a wedding ring. I guess he was trying to pressure us to upgrade to the far more expensive natural stones because he kept talking about “real stones” having “pride of ownership”. We stuck with the lab created and went with a different jeweler.

      • Anya

        I think my husband is just obstinate and clueless. So he doesn’t get bothered by it as much as I did (we went back to that jeweler for wedding bands and when I got told I need to get diamonds in my wedding band if I’m serious about the marriage, that’s when I lost it).

        My favorite is how they can tell whether it’s labgrown or not: labgrown is too perfect. Seriously. I got told it doesn’t have enough character.

        • Alyssa M

          That’s totally why we picked a lab created emerald. My partner looked at the more expensive “real” natural emeralds and laughed at the idea of spending more on something less pretty,

      • Lizzie C.

        I chose a lab sapphire because I love the idea that humans can make something so beautiful. Make it! We did that ourselves! High five, science. I gush about that and ignore the Raised Eyebrows of Judgment.

    • EmilyRose

      Ugh, jewelers can be so rude… We went to a few looking for wedding bands, one I told I didn’t want a big band as the band of my engagement ring is so thin, so I just wanted a thin, plain gold band – at which point he ACTUALLY sneered and said “Well, if it’s that thin, you won’t even see it on your hand, people won’t realise you’re married yet.” At which point we left and never went back! Bought our wedding bands from a much friendlier jeweler instead!

      • Anya

        I can’t believe they said that! Good on you for finding someone who’d listen. I had to look around for a while as well. Ridiculous standards. Seriously.

    • jeabird06

      A jeweler did the same thing to my fiance when he was ring-shopping! I had told him before that, while diamonds are very lovely, I liked gemstones better because they have a bit more color and personality. When he told the jeweler this, the guy told him that “all women want diamonds.” Um. False. Because I most certainly didn’t. Luckily, he didn’t buy my engagement ring there, and instead went to my favorites list on Etsy. It’s a light pink morganite stone in a halo stone and I love it, but, like the author, some people’s comments have bugged me about it. Even the “it’s cute!” or “it’s unique/different!”, while meant to be polite, seem hurtful. Actually, the very worst was when my mom saw it for the first time and simply said, “It’s not as sparkly as a diamond.” THAT was mean. Anyway, regardless of what people say, I love my ring, and I love that it doesn’t look like everyone else’s. After all, it’s MY ring, not theirs.

  • Whitney

    When we decided we wanted to get married and began to look at rings, we pretty much realized what my fiance could afford on his own (and it was his decision to pay all on his own) was a .5 carat diamond. I wanted a specific cut (cushion) and a solitaire setting. It’s what we can afford now. We probably could’ve waited another year or so to get engaged and bought a bigger ring… but to me the ring is supposed to be a symbol of loving the person and wanting to marry them and I didn’t want to put that off just to buy a bigger ring. I have toyed with the idea in my mind of getting a bigger diamond in a few years, and two things stop my thoughts: 1. We may be starting a family then, and money-wise that will definitely overshadow a diamond, 2. This is my ring, the ring that we chose, the ring that he proposed with. And I’m not sure I’d be okay with ‘trading it in’.

    And when I see someone else’s ring that is HUGE and then look at my smaller diamond, I always remind myself how much love is behind my ring and it curbs any jealousy!

    • Jo

      Yup! While reading this post, I just kept thinking, well the beauty in this situation is that now they can use the money they saved in not going bigger than they wanted, and put it towards a vacation/house down payment/baby stuff/whatever other life investment is coming.

  • snowmentality

    I totally agree with the advice a couple other commenters have given: to respond with excitement/enthusiasm, even if you suspect someone’s comment is intended to be mean. Remember why you loved your ring in the first place, why you chose the design and stone you did, and expound on that.

    My engagement ring has three fairly small sapphires — that were lab-created. If people ask about it, I say happily “Oh yeah, it’s totally awesome! They’re real sapphires, made with heat and pressure in a lab rather than heat and pressure in the earth! I’m a scientist, so it’s absolutely perfect to have sapphires created by SCIENCE! Plus, they’re absolutely gorgeous sapphires.” All of this is true, and it tends to make people realize what is actually awesome about the ring.

    I haven’t yet had anyone continue to be rude after that. If they were, I think it would be easier for me to write them off, having just reminded myself of why my engagement ring actually is awesome.

    (P.S. This “one-carat minimum” crap is crap. Pure and unadulterated. Just as much as if they said “If your wedding dress costs less than $10,000, it’s not really a wedding dress.” I know it doesn’t make it much easier when everyone around you believes it and tries to judge you by it, but just please know that you are not wrong — they are.)

    (P.P.S. Your ring sounds absolutely beyond gorgeous. And I mean that.)

  • Kat91314

    This is mine :-) I have tiny hands, so a big diamond would have looked stupid on me anyway, and I’m perfectly happy with my 3/4 carat. And I didn’t want anything high-set either. Garnet is my birthstone and my favorite gem, so that’s what went on either side. The matching band looks exactly the same except there’s no diamond, and they fit flush up against each other. I love the way the set looks together, and I can’t wait to wear them together permanently after we get married in September :-)

  • CPR

    I’ve definitely encountered more than a few disappointed “Oh, isn’t that nice?” comments with my non-traditional ring. My future father-in-law even said “Um, is that what you wanted?” the first time he saw it. Yep, it’s exactly what I wanted…in fact, I’d be coveting it for months and months before it became mine! I went through a period of doubt shortly after the proposal, too. I found Mara Altman’s Sparkle (a Kindle Single available on Amazon) to be particularly helpful when feeling unsure. She does a great job talking about the personal and societal issues that come up when we think about wedding jewelry. She also nicely encapsulates the DeBeers/diamond industry marketing/monopoly behind so much of what we “expect” when we think of engagement rings.

  • Mezza

    I cannot even imagine trying to wear a ring with a 1-carat stone. Mine is .33 carat, and it’s perfect – even though I did want something semi-traditional (i.e. diamond solitaire), I also wanted a very thin band and a stone that didn’t stick up very far, and I have pretty small hands (ring size 5).

    Now, I do sometimes get embarrassed if people ask where the ring came from, or how I picked it. Truth is, it’s from a very generic wholesale jewelry website, and all I did was pick the setting, metal, stone size, and clarity range. It’s not particularly unique or personal, and there’s no cool story behind it But it’s exactly what I wanted, and it fits perfectly with my wedding band (which my wife made, so that one is unique and personal with a cool story!).

    • KEA1

      Gorgeous–BOTH of your rings.

  • Gen

    I love the crap out of my ring, but it definitely baffles people. “Are the diamonds…grey?” “Is that…gold?” They’re just being curious, not derisive, but I still want to pull back my hand, give my ring a smooch and whisper to it how very very pretty it is. My fiance picked it out on his own (after 8 years together, the proposal was a surprise), it’s hundreds of years old, and I’ve never seen anything like it. I didn’t even think that it was small until I started obsessively checking out everyone else’s rings.

    My friends have a broad range of rings, few traditional. One even has an ancient gold coin, a prutah, that they had set in gold. A few thousand years ago it would have bought you a loaf of bread, and theirs isn’t worth too much more, but it symbolizes a marriage bound by love, not money.

    • MagNCheese

      What a stunner!

    • Laura

      Um. That is gorgeous.

    • Caitlin_DD

      That is gorgeous, my gosh!

  • Tennymo

    Let’s me join the “It’s the symbolism!” chorus. I got a simple hammered burnished silver band with a pearl in it for my engagement ring – I think it cost about $200, which to me, was an astounding amount to spend on a ring, since I mostly just wear earrings from Forever 21 by way of jewelry that I replace every 6 months when I lose them. I loved it because it was stylish and unique. Then, we went on our honeymoon to Sicily, got our rental car stuck on a road that can be more accurately be described as a medieval hiking trail. Moving rocks all afternoon to get the car unstuck, the pearl fell out. Many people have told me to get it replaced, and I may someday, but I like the ring as it is now too, because it reminds me of the first trial of our married life and how we got through it with teamwork. Me and the car, and my ring:

    • vegankitchendiaries

      Lovely story!

  • Claire

    My ring was designed and manufactured by my partner and I adore it. I picked a lab created sapphire for the stone since I didn’t want a diamond and sapphire is my birthstone. All the comments I get are of the “that’s so unique” or “I’ve never seen a ring like that” variety. I take them all as compliments since I happen to love that it is unique.
    Oh, except for the one random acquaintence who actually said, “Wow! What does a stone like that cost?” I just laughed a shocked laugh and replied, “I’m going to pretend like you didn’t just ask me how much it cost.”

    • Claire

      Edited to add: She didn’t know it was lab created.

      • KEA1

        Made by your partner? Oh, wow…major props, because this is beautiful…

        • Claire

          Yep, he did it all on his own. A girlfriend of mine joked that she imagined him hammering out the ring wearing nothing but sweat and a loincloth. In reality, it looked more like this:

    • Ashley Meredith

      What a gorgeous color and a really cool design! I’ve recently come to realize how much I love pink sapphires and wish I’d given the colored stone question more serious consideration when we were choosing (although, best of both worlds? The diamond he picked out for me is completely colorless, and depending on the light it sometimes looks like a blue topaz, or a ruby, or an amethyst, without the daily commitment of a color, which is probably better suited to my style anyway). But seriously… I’m having a hard time scrolling on past this ring, I’m enjoying looking at it so much.

  • bostonbabe

    I have a very traditional .9 carat diamond solitare (there’s an absurd price difference between a 1 and a .9 carat diamond). It’s on a thin thin band and I absolutely love it and its simplicity.

    I love it so much that I didn’t get a wedding band, which really threw people for a loop. NO WEDDING BAND? ARE YOU REALLY MARRIED? I just felt that I have 1 ring that I love so much, why would I need two?

  • Acres_Wild

    When I was engaged, my ring was VERY non-traditional – aquamarine stones and little silver animals. I got the “how… unique…” reaction more times than I can count! My favorite response was to act like the person had paid me a huge compliment (even though I know it was not always intended that way ;). Truthfully, I had wanted a non-traditional ring precisely because it was unique, so it WAS a compliment. But it was also fun to make the judgers feel like jerks. Heh.

    There was one time when a great-aunt I hadn’t seen in a while asked me if I was “still engaged.” (It was a long engagement.) I told her I was, and she asked if I still had the same ring. Uh… yes? She assured me that I could always trade it for something nicer when my fiance got a better job. Looking back, I think the story is hilarious, but at the time I was so shocked that all I could manage was a dumbfounded look… my mouth was probably hanging open for a full minute before a horrified relative changed the subject. Some people are just rude!

  • MagNCheese

    What perfect timing on this! I had almost the exact same feeling last night and had an uncomfortable conversation with my fiance about it. My ring was not expensive, it was probably $250. Sterling silver with a little sapphire. We picked it out together and at the time it was all we could afford. We can afford something a little nicer now, and I find myself wondering if we should upgrade before the wedding to gold or palladium, but the truth is all that pressure for the perfect ring comes from people outside our relationship. My ring was a work of art. I love it. It feels like us and it represents a time in our relationship when we gave all he had for me, even if it wasn’t much.

    We are going to have the original jewelery artist solder on a small wedding band onto my ring. His wedding band will match mine, minus the stone, with small, plain silver bands on either side.

  • MagNCheese

    What perfect timing on this! I had almost the exact same feeling last night and had an uncomfortable conversation with my fiance about it. My ring was not expensive, it was probably $250. Sterling silver with a little sapphire. We picked it out together and at the time it was all we could afford. We can afford something a little nicer now, and I find myself wondering if we should upgrade before the wedding to gold or palladium, but the truth is all that pressure for the perfect ring comes from people outside our relationship. My ring was a work of art. I love it. It feels like us and it represents a time in our relationship when he gave all he had for me, even if it wasn’t much.

    We are going to have the original jewelery artist solder on a small wedding band onto my ring. His wedding band will match mine, minus the stone, with small, plain silver bands on either side

    • KEA1

      OMG…except for the metal (allergic to silver) this ring would totally make me swoon…you are right that it’s a work of art.

  • Aubry

    I also have a different ring. I have gotten mostly positive comments, but the “oh, that’s…nice/different” or “I didn’t realize you were engaged! I guess it just doesn’t look so… traditional” comments do get to me. I think partly for the reason i am getting a wedding band after all, though I didn’t originally plan for one. I will more my engagement ring to my right hand after the wedding.

    I also proudly tell people that it is a sapphire, not a diamond. Like, I feel superior or something for not buying into the diamond industry. But I love other people’s diamonds and don’t judge them. Maybe just a defence mechanism, so I don’t feel as bad when I feel like we/him are getting judged for being cheap?

    I chose it for lots of good reasons (like: I like it firstly, it is economical, I preferred to get a gem stone rather than a diamond, I like that it is sparkly, it fills up my super long fingers, it doesn’t stick out and get caught in stuff, it is hardy enough to withstand me working with my hands a lot) and I am standing my ground in the face of all the people who just want you to fit in and do what’s expected. But remember, you also get judged for doing that too, so just let your freak flag fly!

    and, ring porn cause I love it.

  • MDBethann

    My engagement ring received 2 years ago yesterday: white gold with a sapphire with little diamond chips down the side. No idea what the carats are, don’t care. It isn’t huge by any stretch of the imagination, but I have thin fingers, so it works perfectly and I don’t have to worry about knocking or catching it on things, it only spins occasionally (like when it is really cold outside), and it isn’t heavy & awkward so I can wear it all the time. Perfect.for.ME. Yes, it’s different and most certainly isn’t a diamond. But my husband I both consciously decided against diamonds and we picked out what we liked. If you and your intended made a ring that is meaningful to you and you really did like it, chances are, you still do, and at the very least what it symbolizes – your engagement – is really, really important. The ring is about you and your intended, not what other people think.

    I also know from experience that the engagement period can be really crazy, stressful, and full of lots of second-guessing. So my advice is to set any and all doubts aside you have about your ring – for now. After the wedding, when the dust has settled and you don’t feel like you HAVE to wear your ring all the time, stop and reassess. Trying going without it for a few days and see if you miss it. Or just wear it for special occasions. Experimenting with your true feelings about your ring will be a lot easier when the “you’re engaged, let’s see the ring!” noise is silenced (along with all of the other wedding planning noise).

    Good luck!

  • thislittleredcat

    You people with your pretty little hands! I have umm.. un-dainty hands and i wanted a bigger stone because it looks better on me and you know, baller. What I didn’t want was a diamond. My ring (sorry, no photos on hand) is a fairly large, (lab-created) emerald. I’ve been married 2.5 years and sometimes I still just stop and look at it. The ring wasn’t expensive (10k gold can save you a lot in this market)- we were well within the three figure mark for both of our engagement rings combined, but it looks expensive. I didn’t quite realize until I had it how much some people use your ring as a way of placing your financial status. I have had women congratulate me on the ring- basically on bagging a man with money, which is fairly gross. I like to think that my ring says a lot more about my taste and my politics than my financial status, which was part of why I avoided a diamond to begin with. If people have weird reactions to your ring, it says a lot more about them than about you or your lovely ring (big or small).

  • Rowany

    My ring was custom designed too, and very untraditional – no diamonds, and it even has a DNA helix! The thing I’ve realized is that people are used to having an established dialog that goes with traditions: “how many carats? what’s the cut?” , etc. When you have a non-traditional ring, they have to make things up as they go along, which while well-meaning, can lend an air of awkwardness that can be misinterpreted. Engagement rings nowadays are used as a proxy for who you are and it’s understandable to thereby to feel these comments are personal. But think about the comments you would have gotten if you had first worn a traditional ring “I know someone who has a ring like that!” “I expected you to get something a little more…unique/different.” I’m guessing that would have been even harder for you to take! It sounds like you got the perfect ring for YOU, and your friends are just struggling with the vocabulary to say that. My strategy: lead the conversation by pointing out the things that YOU love, and respond to comments enthusiastically about how it fits you and how it’s based on your choices.

    • DNA helix? Please post a picture!

  • Natalie

    So, can I join this thread even if my ring isn’t as non-traditional (read: amazing) as some of the other rings on this thread? Mostly because my fiance and I designed it together, and I only got to start wearing it on Sunday (read: I GOT ENGAGED ON SUNDAY!!!), and also because I can’t stop looking at it.

    But in all seriousness, ring comparison shouldn’t even be a thing. But consumerism thrives on comparison, and our country thrives on consumerism (as does the WIC) so *of course* they want you to compare your ring to Susie, or Jane, or whoever is wearing a 2 carat diamond that probably cost more than I have ever had in my savings account. But you know what? I don’t want to be Susie, or Jane, or anyone else, even though they may be fantastic. Because neither of those women are marrying the man that watches Dr Who with me when it’s pouring, or tells me that I’m pretty when my face is red and blotchy because I just finished reading a really intensely sad novel, or asked me to come outside because he wanted to kiss me under the stars.

    So even though someone will have a bigger ring than I do, someone will have a prettier one, or more unique, or more trendy. I love my ring. Because he gave it to me. Also, a photo. Because I can’t stop looking at it.

    • Laura

      This: “consumerism thrives on comparison, and our country thrives on consumerism (as does the WIC) so *of course* they want you to compare your ring” is a great point. Also, CONGRATS and yes, your ring is gorgeous!

  • Jessica D

    I’ve run into this a lot, both me and my fiancee are quite out of norm in our tastes. He actually made my ring – one smooth band of African black wood and Titanium nothing sparkly about it! We’ve taken a lot of flack about it from some family (his family is the worst for it) and friends. I’ve actually had to take a stand about it with a lot of people, I’m not flashy and I like wood! and most importantly I’m not a ring person! My ring is on my hand maybe 10% of the week – that is it’s on if we are going out with friends/family or I have some bridal related appointment. Spending thousands on a ring isn’t practical use of money for us – my ring is perfect for me and that’s all that matters! (Our wedding bands are going to be made out of Maple!)

    • Beth

      That ring sounds amazing! I love wood as well.

  • Deify Plums

    This article, and these comments, have been awesome to read. I’ve had a different end of the spectrum experience — I have giant hands (I’m 6’2″, totally have my dad’s bone structure). After my fiance proposed, we spent a day shopping for rings, and I fell in love with something, only to find out that they “couldn’t” make it in my size (ARGH! They’re my hands! They work great! Please stop judging them). So we searched and searched and finally found a jeweler who was all “sure, I can make that”. And he did a fantastic job. But I absolutely hate the commentary.

    I love this ring. It’s shiny and pretty, and I can wear it under my hockey gloves when I play (my biggest fear is losing it). It’s diamonds, so it isn’t that far outside the norm, but I’ve heard so many things that make me want to hide my hand and just enjoy the ring myself. Of course, in the 6 weeks it took to get made, I was SO tired of people staring at my naked finger expectantly.

    His aunt: “oh my god!” (She’s actually really great, but I think she doesn’t think of my fiance as someone who buys nice things?)
    Random lady at an art show: “You’re engaged? It doesn’t LOOK like an engagement ring.”
    Random lady while I’m getting a pedicure: “Is he rich?” (This was the worst. Just the worst.)

    But I love it. And my mom thinks it’s pretty. And my real friends say it looks great and exclaim with joy. And those are the comments I try to say focused on. Because all the other rings I liked and tried? Looked silly on me. I’m not going to suddenly have my mom’s thin, elegant bone structure.

    I am also, like many of you, discovering that *everyone* has an opinion on *everything* to do with the engagement and wedding, so it’s been super important for my fiance and I to make sure we’re doing what we want, starting from the ring and moving on from there, I guess :)

    Adding a pic because I really do love it!

    • KEA1

      That is a *gorgeous* ring. Holy crap.

      • Deify Plums

        Thank you so much!

    • Totes McGotes

      My experience is somewhat similar to yours – I’m also tall with large hands and long fingers, so I did need something substantial, regardless of what the stone actually was. I have a >1 carat diamond in an elegant classic-with-a-twist setting and definitely got the looks you describe that indicate people didn’t expect my husband to get something nice. (Just because he’s an unshaved metalhead doesn’t mean he doesn’t have style.) And then I feel compelled to share the fact that the stone is an heirloom to help them make sense of it, even though it’s no one’s business – I guess I didn’t want people to assume it’s fake?
      I actually kind of get both sides of this issue, because my closer friends group definitely does not include people with large rings, but as a lawyer and member of Junior League I see people pretty regularly whose rings dwarf mine. Then, even though I love my ring, I do sometimes get a flash of, “If there was just half a carat more…” And then comes the shame!

  • Amanda L

    I could have written this letter a year ago (0.5 carat diamond, ‘it’s so unique’, etc etc). I do still worry that it’s not ‘enough’ for the world, but I’ve come to learn that it was enough for me. I figured that out when I had broached the subject with my H about retrofitting my grandmother’s ring (the one he took my 0.5 carat e-ring diamond from) with a 0.75-1 carat sparkler. He looked hurt. And sounded hurt. And I realized that the ring MEANS something to him. He put a lot of thought and time into creating it with a jeweler, with me in mind. Once I felt that from him, I couldn’t stop wearing it. It’s not the ring I would have designed for myself, but the ring isn’t all about me.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still be getting a diamond in my grandmother’s ring. And I’ll occasionally wear it on my left ring finger. But I no longer have to force myself to wear my e-ring on a daily basis. Because every time I look at it, I can feel the love from the person I care about most.

  • Lindsay

    Having a vintage ring was important to me; I like the concept of recycling diamonds and gold and not contributing to more mining. I also like vintage styles much better than modern ones – I’m not a fan of halos or pave diamonds.

    I picked out a handful of rings online and told my fiance where to find them so he could look for inspiration or just pick one of those. He looked around but didn’t find anything he liked better, so he picked the cheapest one off my list. It’s the equivalent of one week’s salary, and not that ridiculous 3 month rule of thumb. I LOVE it. I think he was worried it was too small or too cheap, but at just over a half-carat, it’s perfect. I don’t like solitaires generally, but mine has flowers engraved on either side of the center stone that makes it look similar to the three-stone style but it’s much more unique. I love the illusion setting, that it’s fairly ornate without sticking far off my hand, and that it’s from the 1940s or 1950s. I would also be terrified about losing a more valuable ring. I would be extremely sad to lose this one, but I wouldn’t go broke replacing it either.

    If anyone needs a vintage jeweler, I highly recommend Market Square Jewelers. You can find them on Etsy!

    • bambi

      so ditto on the halos and pave and mining. so, so ditto.

  • bambi

    We’ve all done it. My ring was my grandmother’s and my mom gave it to my man a few months to a year before we got engaged. I saw it then, we decided we would use the stones but reset them. so i started looking at settings, and found a few i really liked so when the time came (ie: the day after i broke down crying while chopping cabbage saying i knew he didn’t love me because he couldn’t tell me he honestly didn’t want to get married or else why was he saying he wanted to get married but he hadn’t gotten the ring reset yet, him saying of course he wanted to get married he was just scared of botching the ring if he did it alone) . When we showed the jeweler my ideas, and the ring, he said “I’m not tearing this ring apart to remake it. What you want is what you have.” :D BEST JEWELER EVER. He resized it and coated it in rhodium to make it shiny. I have no idea what size stone I have, but I know it’s too shiny to take a good picture of! And I know i can’t stop staring it some days, 9 months after i got it!

    • ART

      love that story :)

    • Hannah B

      I know you posted this months ago, but A) this ring is gorgeous, and the story is awesome, good on your jeweler! B) I had a weird moment doing a double take because we have the same keyboard and our hands look alike and I have a similar vintage ring from my grandmother! I had to double check that I hadn’t posted this in my sleep. Internet twins!

  • KEA1

    Oh, man…all of you who are posting ring photos are making my heart sing with all the gorgeous…

  • La’Marisa-Andrea

    I had no idea 1 carat was the standard minimum. Hogwash.

  • Alyssa M

    The most insecure I’ve ever felt about my ring was when I excitedly announced to my coworker “I got engaged over New Years!” and held out my hand. To which she responded “Is that an engagement ring?”
    Yes. -_- Why else would I be showing it to you along withe that announcement.
    I LOVE my ring. It’s perfect for me. It’s a lab created emerald with three moissanite on either side. Since that day when anybody I don’t trust asks about my ring I start gushing about all the things I love before they can say anything. It nips any negativity in the bud. If they are still rude about the lack of a diamond or the price of lab created I feel no qualms about openly pointing out they they’re being rude.

    Also, a 1 carat standard??? I know little to nothing about diamonds, but looking at the pictures on here along with size descriptions… I feel like 1 carat is HUGE! That definitely sounds like De Beers nonsense…

    • Laura

      Well, your ring is gorgeous! And I love the strategy of nipping the negativity in the bud.

  • Kirstin

    I have those moments of second guessing too. I got a beautiful white sapphire ring that I love, 99% of the time. I know why we picked it: We wanted something budget conscious, shared in cost between us, and ethically sourced and made from recycled materials. I liked supporting a small vendor on Etsy. I knew I’d likely just wear my band after we get married. I was super proud to not have a diamond.

    But that doesn’t mean that those feelings of doubt don’t creep in. Especially when I am in a room of women and I notice that my sapphire ring isn’t quite as sparkly as all of their diamonds. The sparkles get me every time.

    But I get over it. And I remember that our relationship is based on having made other sacrifices for each other. And that I’m the girl who said I’d rather get an “engagement washer/dryer” or “engagement home down payment” than a ring. And that’s still pretty true. The pretty, cost-effective ring that we bought months after getting engaged is just a bonus.

    • Carolyn

      Would you care to share the Etsy vendor? I’ve been looking at white sapphires for an engagement ring, although I haven’t found something yet that I love. I may just go with two plain bands.

  • Jade

    I come from a cultural background where engagement rings are usually plain gold bands, so I’ve never really had any knowledge or preference towards a diamond engagement ring. But my FH is a traditionalist and picked out a diamond solitaire with his sister for me. The ring excited me and made me all kinds of happy and I love staring at it, but it was only after I got the ring that I started noticing that mine was smaller than the stones everyone else was wearing, a mere 0.4 carats. And yes, it’s hard not to compare yours to other rings. But in the end, I know that not only is an understated ring more my style, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable with my FH spending so much on a jewel that causes so much conflict when it’s mined.

  • hester

    It’s fun reading all the comments of unique engagement rings because mine is the same.

    My fiance had my ring designed by a jewelry designer in the U.K (where he’s from). He chose sapphire (because blue is his favourite colour) and had it sourced from Sri Lanka where we had our first holiday together. The ring was made in Hong Kong where we are both living now. I love my ring for the story it tells and I’ve also gotten lots of comments about how it’s so me because it’s so simple. But I take it all as a compliment since I have a story to tell with my ring.

    Added to that, I just bought my wedding dress for slightly less than $40 USD at a fundraising thrift event where all the proceeds went towards Animals Asia to save the bears. Now the comments I’m getting from that would make for another interesting post.

    • KH_Tas

      I think your dress story is awesome. Fistbump

  • Stephanie

    I think you have to do what feels right for you. I don’t want an engagement ring, because I don’t like the inequality of it. I don’t think the solution for me is getting my boyfriend a ring too. I’d rather just have a plain wedding band when the marriage happens. But I also feel a teeny bit sad that I won’t have an engagement ring, because they are pretty. Anyway, feelings about these things are complicated, so there is no right answer.

  • emfish

    I have almost the same ring! Though I think my diamond is smaller — I have no idea the technical size, but it’s set into a fairly narrow band, so it’s just a baby diamond. I definitely get funny faces sometimes, and people often say, “It looks just like a wedding band — are you sure you’re not already married?” But I don’t care. One thing I always come back to (and which very much drove the process of deciding whether to get a ring and what it might look like) is that this ring is forever. I knew people would find it a little off-putting now, during my engagement, because it’s not what they expect. But pretty much as soon as we’re married and my engagement band is nestled next to my wedding band, no one else will care about it. And I’ll have exactly what I want, which is two very unobtrusive gold bands that are a subtle and simple reminder of the most important person in my life. Done. I feel very confident that this ring will feel just right when I’m 50, or 80. And that’s more important than it feeling right at this specific moment, which is a weird transition period anyway (don’t know about you, but I find being engaged endlessly uncomfortable — I want to be on the other side already).

    So for what it’s worth, your ring sounds lovely and and I really don’t think the size will matter to you one iota once the scrutiny of “Oh my god, show me the ring!” is over, which it will be soon!

  • Caitlin_DD

    I will chime in with all the other lovely ladies here! I have a really small diamond… even my best friend took one look at it, said Oh… how nice. And never said a word about it again. BUT I love it! I have tiny hands, and anything big gets in the way of handiwork. I say love what you got, and forget the haters! (Also I want to share a ring picture.)

    • macrain

      That is SO lovely. My ring is on the ornate side but I just love a dainty engagement ring!

      • Caitlin_DD

        Thank you!

      • Caitlin_DD

        Thank you!

    • LaikaCatMeow

      Tiny hands club here, too! My hands are so tiny, that I’ve never been able to wear a ring or a watch. Your ring is exactly the type I love — and if people want to give me grief about it being tiny…well, there’s a finger right next to the ring that’ll communicate my feelings just fine :)

      Seriously, though. I wish Judgey McJudgersons would step back and realize a big ring looks silly on a tiny hand.

      • Caitlin_DD

        Hehe, exactly! (I feel you about the watches….bangles….any arm thing….)

  • June

    I love this conversation! When my fiancé and I were first looking at engagement rings, I was surprised at how much the shopping experience really brought up a lot of feelings about the politics of the whole engagement process. My feminism had been lying dormant for a while, but once we started looking at rings, it was like, “hold the phone! We have lots to think about here!”

    We wound up getting a diamond engagement ring with a twist- the stone is a .45 pear cut champagne diamond tilted sideways with five little white diamonds flanking it. The band is white gold, but depending on the light, the metal sometimes looks like yellow gold, and it sometimes looks like white gold.

    I got mixed reactions from people just like the original poster, and I had the same questions about my ring at first based on other people’s reactions, but now, I look at it, and it really does feel like it represents us- slightly off-tilt, sharp and soft, our reflections changing with the light.

  • A.

    Don’t sweat it too much. In France where I live, 0.5 carat is already a pretty big diamond size. Very few people actually go for the one carat and over ring, because it is much less accepted culturally to invest as much in engagement rings, and also because… well, I hope I won’t offend anyone here by saying this, but diamonds this size are considered a bit tacky (especially if you have small hands!).
    Unless it’s a vintage old cut diamond of course, or a saphire, but it does not give out the same effect at all.

    There’s so much more to a ring than the diamond itself: there’s the design, the fit to your hand…

    Not everyone can wear, or likes, big sized rings.
    Don’t let the diamond industry make you miserable over a ring that you chose and love!

  • macrain

    Love seeing all these rings pics! Here’s mine!

  • Lisa

    Here’s what I did for my 2nd wedding. Teeny diamond for engagement ring. Just felt too weird to have a big honking stone at 57. Then went for a pretty blingy wedding band, Tiffany 5 stone. Not my usual style but I love it. SO SPARKLY. Now I wear the teeny one on my right hand and the band on my left. All goals met all the way:).

  • NW

    This is the best article. I’m positive that I got comments from people (definitely one from my cousin), but now, 7 months after we got married and almost a year after we got engaged, I couldn’t care less. I don’t even remember most of the comments I got about picking out a ring that is technically an anniversary band for my engagement ring. I tried on the “typical” rings and knew immediately they weren’t for me and gravitated towards a band style, my husband agreed. We also spent less on three rings than we were planning on for one so that’s nice too.

    • macrain

      I adore the simplicity of this. Just lovely.

    • Carolyn

      I’ve been going back and forth between a few rings for favorites, but I’m definitely planning on two bands (probably without stones because of money restrictions). I really do love the simplicity of this look, it’s very pretty.

  • T.

    I picked my ring out from thousands of rings online, which was actually a very enlightening process. I realized that what makes a ring beautiful is not the size or flawlessness the stone is, but how the setting and design contribute to the overall look. I picked out a beautiful ring with vintage diamonds, in an art deco design. Even though the center diamond is not big and it’s considered a “petite” engagement ring, to me the impact of the overall look is bigger than the sum of its parts. I’ve gotten comments from people ranging from “I love it”, “it’s beautiful”, to “is it an heirloom?” and “that’s so special”, but honestly I could care less because I love my ring. I’m currently working with the same vintage jeweler to find a complimentary wedding band, and I’m so excited for the treasure hunt!

    • macrain

      I love the two tone! So pretty.
      My ring is similar to this and I’m pretty sure I’m going with a simple, slim as possible wedding band. I’m going to “embrace the gap” and see how I feel. (I read somewhere that wearing the wedding band flush to the engagement ring is a fairly modern and recent thing!) If it doesn’t feel right I may just wear the band on my right hand instead. I don’t know- I just really love how my ring looks by itself but I felt pretty attached to the idea of wearing both on one hand. We’ll see!

  • kaybad

    Whenever people ask to see my ring, before I even hold out my hand, I gush, as enthusiastically as the situation allows, that it’s “EXACTLY THE RING I WANTED! Isn’t it SO PERFECT! I absolutely ADORE IT.”

    That usually clues people in that they needn’t provide any other response except equal enthusiasm for this teeny tiny little ring that perfectly suits me and I love wearing.


  • Valerie

    I’ve been feeling similarly vulnerable about my ring. We picked it out together (including selecting the specific stone!) and I LOVE it, but because of that any perceived judgments about it seem that much more personal. It’s a rose-cut naturally-shaped sapphire and palladium, so definitely not the traditional diamond solitaire.

    • Clur

      Yay high five for another coloured sapphire and palladium wearer!

      • Clur

        And here is mine, for reference :)

        The comments I got are much the same as when people find out i’m not wearing a white (or ivory, cream, etc) dress: “oh, i always knew you’d go for something…different”. Not entirely sure whether to take offence at it, some people (ie future MIL) definitely mean it as an insult, but you know what, I like being different!

        • Caitlin_DD

          That is so badass and gorgeous, love it!

  • April

    I’ve been getting “unique” a lot too, and I honestly don’t have a problem with it. My fiance and I picked something that I loved and that wasn’t going to hurt us financially. Everyone has a different idea of what an engagement ring (or wedding dress, or centerpiece, or venue) should be. At the end of the day, if you love it, it’s perfect.

  • beelitenotfab

    Mine is the knot from Barrio Neal. I searched and searched and searched and I loved it. I didn’t want a stone, I have Ehlers Danlos so it hurts my hands to have something heavy and it just worked for me. My friend was like: “oh, I just for me, that I would want a diamond, but its cute.” after I explained this all to her.

    Honestly it just made me feel sad for her because she measures her value in that way.

  • Not only do you not need a large diamond, you don’t need any stones at all! My fiance and I are got engagement rings made with each other’s fingerprint engraved on it. I’ve fortunately not had any negative feedback (at least to my face), as I’ve headed it off at the pass – if someone asks to see my ring (in person or a pic), I immediately explain that it’s his fingerprint. My tone and words clearly convey how special I think that is – so no one’s put it down! (I’m actually slightly disappointed that no one’s put it down, I’ve come up with a couple good comebacks that I haven’t gotten to use! I kind of want someone to bring up that a large diamond is supposed to signify that he can financially support me – so I can point out that I make twice what he does – he’s a teacher, so fortunately “financially support me” isn’t what I’m looking for in a marriage).

    I think explaining what you love about your ring before someone can bring up why they think it’s not a valid engagement ring can be a very useful tool. At worst, that will guilt most people into not saying anything negative or “neutral” (like “how unique”) about it, and at best you’ll plant a seed in their minds to re-think what an engagement ring is “supposed” to be.

    (If my attachment worked, here’s a pic of our engagement rings.)

  • beepbeep

    Oh man, the same thing happened to me. My FH picked out my ring all on his own, it was a complete surprise to me. He put so much thought into it, and I adore it. But it’s certainly not a traditional engagement ring at all. The comment I get the most is, “oh, it looks like a wedding band.” His mom thought there wasn’t enough “bling.” But I wouldn’t trade it in for anything. It’s so different from anything I imagined and I love that about it. I could do without the “tiny diamonds” comments though. We are going to get three tiny gold bands as the “wedding band.”

    • beepbeep

      Here’s a picture!

  • disqus_kLUUeqEzq3

    I know I’m late, but I love my tiny ring! Bario- neal are amazing and I love that it matches my skin tone and blends into my hand!/Users/gordonandbeaula/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Previews/2013/07/26/20130726-190443/iHJmN7OTSTaulXJK%IZ99Q/DSC_0819.JPG

    • Bea


      • Bea

        ugh can’t figure this out!

  • rel_redhead

    I also have a small, delicate engagement ring (not custom-designed–we actually found it online). It was exactly what I wanted: rose gold, a little unusual looking, and, serendipitously, the name of the design was actually my name. It’s got three very small diamonds, rather than one large one, so I guess in some ways it doesn’t look like a stereotypical engagement ring. I’ve gotten some similar comments–“that’s very you” “that’s so delicate and understated” “very unique”. I think they’re genuine compliments coming from most people, and to the extent they’re not, I try to just ignore them.

    I did get really paranoid about my ring over the weekend because I was at a party without my fiance (something I haven’t for whatever reason had occasion to do since I got engaged) and a guy was hitting on me really aggressively–I tried to chalk it up to “drunk creepy dude with no sense”, but there was a part of me that felt like maybe I should have gotten a bigger ring, since evidently mine wasn’t giving off sufficient “I am ENGAGED” signals.

    But really, I didn’t want a big flashy wedding ring. I’m not a huge jewelry person, for one, and while fiance and I both make good salaries, the idea of him spending one or two or three whole paychecks on a piece of jewelry gave me the heebie-jeebies. I also work in a sector where ostentatious displays of wealth/income are pretty inappropriate, so I would have felt weird coming in to work with a several grand on my ring finger.

  • Jessica

    Love this thread! When my fiance proposed, he did so without a ring – it was a huge surprise for me (after saying yes, I followed it up with ‘wait, are you serious?!’…because there are tons of fake proposals out there…). This meant that we got to pick out a ring together the next week! This was really nice because we could discuss our feelings, especially his, about buying a ring. He felt this internal conflict between wanting to spend a lot of money on some huge ring, because I was worth it to him, and not wanting to spend that kind of money because it clashes with our values and ends up proving your love to the world through a materialistic gesture. There were obviously other emotions that went into the equation from both of us, but it was nice to have a concept of what we were looking for and why. It was interesting to hear his opinions as I’m sure many other men have had the same thoughts!

    As for picking out the ring, I didn’t have much of an idea of what I wanted, but I did know that I didn’t want anything too big and liked the more common diamond + white gold appearance. For the size, I needed to feel comfortable wearing lab gloves (I’m a scientist) and it couldn’t overwhelm my finger (size 4.5 here…but long hands). At the store I tried on a few and kept saying ‘too big! too tall!’ It was actually the jeweler who picked out the ring (we hadn’t seen it yet) and said he thought it would be a good fit for what I was describing – and clearly it was! It ended up at the low end of the budget we discussed (which was great, because we were both like, ‘yay it’s the one! wait….how much is it?’) and it is a set so my wedding band is included in the cost! One interesting thing is the variety of reactions I’ve received. My FMIL asked how many carats…. I have absolutely no clue. We both liked it, it was perfect…badda bing badda boom. Some friends have commented on how expensive it looks, while others have gone the ‘oh, that’s cute’ dismissal route. What is clear is that people will always have an opinion – from every side of the table. What really matters though, is your own. I love the ring I got, but it’s only special because of the guy on the other side of it. The sparkles still make me smile though….

    And because I’m enjoying all the other ring pics, here’s mine!

  • AL

    I was a bit dismayed at some not particularly enthusiastic comments about my ring but after a while I realised that a lot of people simply aren’t that interested – not in my ring or anyone’s! Some people will never gasp and say ‘how beautiful!’ about jewelry. In fact the only times I had friends really gush about how lovely mine was, it was friends who had recently been got marrie or knew a lot of people who had. That’s not to say they didn’t mean it but that they had a strong sense of just how symbolically loaded engagement rings are and how important to the wearer. I mean obviously my other friends know this too but I suspect haven’t put as much thought into it so are more likely to make a slightly thoughtless ‘oh that’s unusual’style comment.

    Then of course some people just have ridiculously narrow views on all wedding traditions and how they should be done. There really isn’t anythiing to be gained by worrying if -or for some of us – when you disappoint these folk with your unconventional choices.

  • Nicole

    This is such a great discussion. I, too, have a non-traditional engagement ring. I have heard all kinds of reactions, but at the end of the day I love it and what it represents.

    My fiance and I picked it out, and I will never forget finding it together and wearing it all the way home once we bought it. The artist who made it lives and works a couple blocks away from our first apartment together so it is even more special to me. I love the 18K gold (everyone warned me about scratches but I love the color) and the champagne diamond. I can’t imagine a more perfect ring for myself!

  • sunkneeg

    I have also had a difficult time resolving my opinions with the expectations of others: friends, family, and fiance. I was not a little girl that dreamed of a wedding day. I dreamed about being inaugurated as POTUS, and remember considering marriage only as a political strategy to curry favor with conservative voters. I was a “unique” child.

    I have cancelled one wedding dress, purchased another (I love), but still window-shop dresses because I really wanted a red dress, regretfully, my fiance thought it was aggressive and weird. My mother passes Korean-Methodist judgment on my decisions in such a perfectly passive-aggressive way that any retort from me makes me look like the bad guy for sticking up for what I want.

    Planning a wedding I didn’t know I wanted until I was getting it is very strange. Friends and family believe that certain elements of the wedding have to exist, just because it’s what done. Deciding if first dance, or father/daughter is important to me because it TRULY is important, or if I’ve been lead to think it’s important because it’s an element of the last 15 weddings I’ve attended has kept me awake at night.

    A ring, though a beautiful symbol of your commitment, can be modified or replaced at any time. I agree you have to go with your gut, even when it’s hard to hear.

  • 909girl601world

    Do what you like! I had a traditional diamond engagement ring – center stone with stones on the side, not particularly large – which suited me just fine. Until I decided traditional wasn’t really my style. So I replaced
    it with a wide gold band with a small diamond in the middle. I wear my thin gold wedding band under it. People always have something less than complimentary to say about it. I don’t care. We’ve been married for 15
    years, have a great kid, and in the grand scheme of things what other people think about my ring is WAAAAY down on my list of things I don’t care about.

  • RTC

    If you loved it when he have it to you i think that says it all! I went through the same thing. I have an emerald engagement ring where my fiancé’s family is a sea of yellow gold bands with solitaire diamonds. They all had the same reaction “oh, it’s very… Different/unique” or “well you don’t see rings like that as engagement rings, do you?” Honestly, those exact words from ten different women. It made me annoyed and it made me subconsciously start to think i needed a diamond studded wedding band to make up for it. But i had somehow forgotten one thing: i don’t actually like diamonds. Once i came back to my senses i fell in love with my ring all over again. Just remember, your ring is going to be on your finger for the rest of your life, not theirs! So it’s value is only rated by your own love for it :)

  • Stargirl

    I’ve had loads of people say my ring is unique/different and always take it as a compliment – that is one of the many reasons I love it! It was actually my Grandmother’s engagement ring, and she picked it for that exact reason and screwed what everyone else thought. Unfortunately a lot of people think that you should have the same diamond ring as everyone seems to have…!

  • Liz

    Hey y’all! Such pretty rings here. I got my ring from my local vintage jewelry store here in New Orleans- it’s a star sapphire in a flower setting from the 60s and I am OBSESSED with it. My philosophy was to pick a ring I would be happy to wear every day. And who knows, my style might change, but it was inexpensive enough that maybe I could replace it some day and not feel guilty or excessive about it.

    Also- I noticed someone posted something about this below and probably lots of other commenters have hit on it too, but the idea that a diamond engagement ring is traditional actually came from a marketing campaign from the 1930s, when a very savvy lady copywriter came up with the slogan “a diamond is forever” for the DeBeers company, which still holds more than 60% of the world’s diamond supply. A really big part of the reason that diamonds are so expensive is that one company owns such a huge share of the market and keeps the price artificially high by limiting the inventory. So the idea that diamonds are very rare is actually a marketing construct (albeit a seriously clever, creative, and successful one!)

    So, if you love yourself a big ole diamond or a vintage diamond or a cubic zirconia or ruby or whatever your ring is, I still recommend finding a ring you’re happy to wear every day because YOU love it, not because you feel obligated to. And if someone condescendingly tells me my ring is cute, I feel okay about it because I know the history. And I can’t wait to spend the money we saved by not spending thousands of dollars on a diamond on a house or a kickass honeymoon!

  • DavidJennifer

    The ring is surely beautiful. I must say that its uniqueness is its beauty. I praise the idea of being different.

  • bearsfan84

    I just got engaged. We went with a small ring with a black diamond. After reading APW, I was steeling myself against the snarky comments that were sure to come. None have come so far — people have said “that’s so cute!” and “it’s so dainty” and “it’s so delicate, perfect for your hands!” I love all those compliments since they’re the reasons I chose this ring.

    Also, I echo the idea that a person’s reaction to your ring will be based on whether they’ve gone through the engagement process or are about to do so. I didn’t start caring about rings until we were on the hunt for one, and never cared to see other people’s rings. Guess what? Now I do. Not to compare or judge, but to gush and share in the celebration. It’s a happy time.

  • Blue_Lady

    I got engaged a few months back, and am setting my wedding for next march/april. I actually have the opposite problem, I really dislike my ring. It’s a smallish maybe .25 carat diamond marquise solitaire in a basic white gold setting. My husband (we eloped but are still having a wedding) got it by himself, and in all honesty? I feel like he really got ripped off, and it makes me unhappy with the ring. Unfortunately from when we talked about it, (no surprise engagement XD), he pretty much got me my dream ring. First, the metal was more important to me than the gemstone, and I don’t really care for diamonds. I really wanted palladium, for silly but meaningful to us reasons. I thought I wanted a solitaire, and I love the marquise cut, and I didn’t think I would mind it being a diamond. In fact, I feel like maybe I would still like (but not love) my ring, if I had never known how much it cost him.

    I live in a small town and he got it from the only jeweler in town, who I know jacks up his prices. That being said the jeweler and I also don’t have a good relationship, so knowing he bought my ring from someone I don’t like is also a little bitter. The price he paid for my ring was more than triple what I could pay online, and more than double what I could have payed at the nearest Jareds. The setting is lackluster, the diamond is bleh, especially knowing the price, and after all of that, it also didn’t come with any certifying papers!

    As much as I complain though, I will not trade it in, I can’t. My poor husband, well, grand romantic gestures just aren’t his thing, so this ring means the world to me from that standpoint. Also, I know no matter how I explained it, he would feel very hurt that I didn’t like the ring he picked out, and paid for, and hid from me for nearly 4 months. So I need some help in coming to terms that this ring is mine forever, and maybe it doesn’t need to be everything I want it to be.

    The ring in the photo is pretty much exactly the same as mine, albeit nearly 7 times cheaper.

  • Becs

    I have almost the opposite problem – I have always imagined that I would have a really unique engagement ring – I love everything vintage, and all of my close friends knew that I wanted something with a lot of intricate metalwork and a small, understated, conflict free stone (not necessarily a diamond). Somehow along the way, my fiancee was convinced by his family and the jeweller that what I really wanted was the most mainstream ring you could ever imagine, basic white gold ring with a 0.8k diamond in a Tiffany’s style setting. I love my ring because it was given to me by the most amazing man with so much love in his eyes, but it drives me crazy when people say things like ‘oh, it’s so simple’ or ‘I suppose there’s something to be said for the classics’. I know it shouldn’t bother me, but I can’t help it…