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One Ring to Rule blahblahblah
January 22, 2014 2:55 PM   Subscribe

I am planning to propose to my girlfriend at some point, but I need help buying a ring. I’ve never done this before, obviously. I know she would like something with a diamond, something vintage (or vintage-style). Questions below:

-Are there any online vintage jewelry stores that are reputable? I am in the Twin Cities, so I will take local shop recommendations as well.

-Are there any search terms I should be using? I think she would like something in an art-deco ish style, but it doesn’t have to be original to that period. I’d like something with clean lines, simple, maybe a bit of a raised profile. Kind of like this. I don’t really have the vocabulary to explain myself very well.
- Ideally I’d like to spend $2,000 or less.
- Do return/exchange policies exist for this kind of thing if she doesn’t completely love it?
- Is there a minimum ring size I should be sure to get so that I am positive it fits her? (she’s petite, but again, totally new to this jewelry thing)

- Am I being unreasonable with these criteria?

Any help or advice to at least start this process is very much appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (20 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
We got ours from Circa1930s.com. I wasn't involved in the purchase (I gave him a list of styles I liked) so I don't know if there were any problems with it, but I don't think so. He bought me a pair of earrings from there a few years later.

Do pay attention to the sizes-- the pictures make the diamonds look much bigger than they are. The one I got was tiny, which I would have realized if I'd taken the time to look at real life diamonds. 1/4 carat is smaller than it looked.

As for ring size, I can't help you there. I'd go for larger over smaller though, as it'll be easier to size once she gets it on.
posted by cereselle at 3:15 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


While my advice would be to buy an inexpensive "filler" ring for the proposal and take her shopping for her actual ring post-proposal, if you're set on getting the ring first, then call up one of her female friends and ask her if she can think of any ways to get the ring size from her. Perhaps work with the friend to make up an excuse for them to go jewelry shopping for herself (the friend), and in the course of the trip, have your girlfriend try on a ring so the friend can note the size and tell you later. (I have noticed that, oddly, women's ring sizes are sometimes similar to their shoe sizes; if you can't think of any other way, I'd ballpark it by getting her shoe size as a ring and then taking it to get resized later.)

And places do have return/exchange policies: just call them and ask before going to look.
posted by telophase at 3:19 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


I highly highly highly recommend getting a stand-in ring and letting her pick the actual piece. Unless you are 1000% sure you know her style, she will either (a) have to wear something that she almost likes but doesn't want to say anything, or (b) potentially hurt your feelings by speaking up.

Get something in her birthstone, or ask someone in your family if they have a ring that can be given to her as a stand-in (or maybe the real deal), or get something fun and beautiful but let her pick the ultimate ring.
posted by barnone at 3:19 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


I have done business on-line with Peter Suchy. he has a large ebay presence & specializes in vintage pieces; in particular he frequently lists deco-era diamond rings. I've not had to return anything; I can certainly say that delivery was immediate and the items always exactly as advertised.

He is not particularly cheap. He has rings for $2000 but perhaps not what you're looking for.
posted by mr vino at 3:20 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Reputable online sellers: Turtle Love, Brilliant Earth, Doyle and Doyle (generally above your price range but with vintage-inspired rings as well), Lang Antiques, Erica Weiner...and many, many others. Etsy especially. You may also want to look and speak with local auction houses and vintage/estate stores in person.

Return/exchange policies: this probably varies quite a bit by store.

Ring size: if you can, please sort out her actual ring size. The thinner or more intricate the style of the band, the harder it will be to resize, and resizing it multiple times will weaken it. Most rings can only be resized 2 sizes or so and some styles can't be resized at all. I had to go down nearly a full size, but I have 3mm of solid gold in the back of the band. If you go vintage, make sure it can be resized.

Have you talked at all about the size of the stone or the shape or the profile? Some women care a lot about the various C's (and clarity and cut matter a lot for emerald cut stones) and some don't. Has she seen what different styles of stone look like on her finger? (This again matters way more to some people than others!)

Other things to consider: what metal-- white gold, platinum, palladium. There are a variety of pros/cons. You will need a proper appraisal to have it insured; get one from an independent GIA gemologist (after she's said yes!)


I had no idea I was even getting a proposal, much less a ring, and it's perfect. Not everyone wants to pick out their own ring, but he had a lot of background help from family and my own research interests. You know her better than we could, but don't be afraid to ask for either her help or her friends'.
posted by jetlagaddict at 3:22 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


women's ring sizes are sometimes similar to their shoe sizes
Yeah, no. Women's rings tend to be around 5.5-7.5 (roughly, some higher or lower) but they don't really correspond to foot size at all. I'm a 6.5 in rings and 9.5 shoes. My partner is a 6 in rings and 9 in shoes. My sister is a 6 in rings and a 7 in shoes. My friend is an 7 in rings and 6.5 in shoes. It's not related at all.
posted by barnone at 3:22 PM on January 22 [11 favorites]


You could try asking for help from the Pricescope Vintage Jewelry forum. I learned a lot from reading their coloured stone forum and I recently got a sapphire engagement ring that I picked out.

Does she have a nickel allergy? Do her ears get irritated from cheap earrings? That will limit your options as white gold has nickel in it.

Shoe size: 6.5, ring size 4.0.
posted by carolr at 3:40 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm a size 8 in heels, a 9 in hiking boots, and a 5 in ring size. I've never heard anyone think that ring size and shoe size associate in any way.

Does your girlfriend Pinterest? If so, check and see if she has a 'wedding' board. Guaranteed there are rings on there.
posted by saragoodman3 at 3:42 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Adding to jetlagaddict's list: Jewels by Erica Grace, Dover Jewelry on eBay.
posted by payoto at 3:43 PM on January 22


I just got one from BrilliantEarth that my fiancee and I picked out together, and she is extremely happy with it. Their selection of vintage rings is really good.
posted by Slinga at 3:53 PM on January 22


pricescope in general is a tremendous resource
posted by knockoutking at 4:05 PM on January 22


I highly highly highly recommend getting a stand-in ring and letting her pick the actual piece.

Time to hit the gumball machine! If she's the type to appreciate that kind of proposal, that is.
posted by cereselle at 4:06 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


When you get to the point of picking things out: I got mine from antiqueengagementrings.com/Leigh Jay Nacht in New York. The shipping and everything was perfectly fine and they were great to deal with. My husband picked it out (he had AWESOME taste) and had it shipped to us with a CZ stone, and after the proposal we sent it back for sizing and replacing the CZ stone with his mother's Rock.

We got a setting, not a full ring, so you could do just about anything in it. I get so, so many compliments -- including from a friend who comes from Middle Eastern wealth and was openly gawking. NOBODY has a ring like mine.

The prices listed on the site are for platinum, but mine is in white gold and cost quite a bit less.
posted by Madamina at 4:09 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


I came to suggest Brilliant Earth. I haven't had experience with them but they carry real vintage rings that are beautiful.

However, please please please find some way to get her ring size!! Some rings can't be sized very well without risk of damaging the ring and having stones fall out (especially if the ring has side-stones.) Trust me I'm a 4.25 ring size and I ordered mine made to size, but I wouldn't be able to go much larger than a 4.5 if I wanted to size something down without risking the integrity of the ring.

I can't imagine being proposed to with a beautiful ring that's two sizes too big only to find out that the ring wouldn't be able to be sized down that much. I would be crushed. So please get her ring size!!
posted by Crystalinne at 5:05 PM on January 22


Depending on her skin tone, you might also consider rose gold. I have pinkish skin and the rose looks much nicer than either white or yellow.

Also, it is totally possible to get a great ring for $2000. Mine was under $1000. He had a higher budget, but it was by far my favorite.

We ordered from a small designer, so there were no returns since she made it to order. If you aren't sure she'll love it, it might be good to with a filler ring so you aren't limited to rings you can return. I'm extremely picky about jewelry, and the second my husband hinted he was going to ask, I was sending him ring suggestions so he would get it right. He actually proposed without a ring and we shopped together. Depending on the level of surprise you're going for, it might be worth hinting around or enlisting a friend to see what her preferences are.

Good luck!
posted by ohisee at 11:48 PM on January 22


I also meant Twist as a good place to find unique rings in your price range. We got my ring here and they're great.
posted by ohisee at 11:53 PM on January 22


Rings are hugely personal for the wearer. It is something she's going to wear every day for the rest of her life, so it needs to be something she really likes. I know some people are able to pick out the engagement ring without consulting the other person and have it work out well, but I know of a lot of people who have "Ehhhn" feelings about their ring but would never tell their husband that. I see the example you gave has a sapphire as the center stone, which I LOVE (I have a sapphire as my center stone), but you need to make sure that is what your girlfriend would like. Not every woman likes gemstone engagement rings.


I think you have a couple good options to consider:
1. Proposing with a stand-in ring and then afterwards the both of you go and pick her "real" one out together. Re. the stand in ring, it is actually nice to have what I call a "back-up ring". I have one and I wear it when I am gardening or doing a lot of baking or painting or going to the beach. Basically, things that would gunge up my real one. I know some people are all "Dude, just don't wear your ring at that time, why do you need a back up?!" but I really like wearing a ring to symbolize my union to my husband and I always want a ring of one sort or another on. So your stand-in ring could serve as that.
2. Next time you're in the mall together, just wander in to a jewelery store with her and guage her interest on different styles. Be as casual/coy as you want, but she will absolutely know what is going on. That isn't a bad thing, it can be really exciting actually. While you're there, for the love of god get her ring size!
3. Skip the coy act and directly talk to her and ask for specifics on what she does and does not like. Go in to a couple of stores and actually look at rings together and see what she likes. Talk about different metals, different stones, different cuts, etc. Pick one out together, if you can. The fact that I knew what ring my husband was going to propose with made me even more excited and anxious for him to just PROPOSE already because I loved the ring so much.



My husband and I did #3. We knew we were on the marriage track so it wasn't a big shocker or anything when we started talking about it. He actually brought it up rather smoothly because he saw me looking at a ring on my laptop and he said something like, "Man, if I were a woman I'd want something more interesting than that ring!". We spent a fair while that evening going over different ring styles, different stones, etc. During that talk sapphires came up, which was something I had never considered. It was his suggestion and at first I was all "Seriously?" and then as I saw more sapphire rings I was all "LOVE IT!". The next day he went and looked at sapphire rings at a local jewelery store that makes everything themselves, and scoped out a few he liked. He then took me over the following day to look at sapphire rings to see if I for real liked them. I ended up falling in love with the one he had favoured himself when he had looked the day before, and it was about half the price he had been budgeting. He apparently went the next day and bought it. :) He proposed a couple weeks later. Even though I knew it was coming, even though I even knew the ring, it was an incredibly surprising, emotional, special moment. I cried for hours and hours. :)

(My ring is an absolute stunner and I get a ton of comments and compliments on it from strangers. You can see it if you want if you go here and scroll down a little bit, 6th picture one down.)



CONGRATULATIONS in advance!
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 4:44 AM on January 23 [1 favorite]


I took my now wife's best friend since middle school ring shopping with me. This turned out to be a smart move- she knew her ring size and helped me pick a ring she loved.
posted by LBJustice at 9:10 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


Congratulations and much good fortune!

Just dropping in to say that sometimes folks have qualms about diamonds specifically because their harvest and preparation and sale often seem to be tied with slavery and war spoils and other forms of horrific human exploitation.

Some folks try to acquire antiques to try to avoid the risk that the diamonds are conflict tainted and others find they can purchase from a non-conflict diamond merchant. Usually there's a premium on that kind of purchase.

Not saying you shouldn't buy a diamond, just posting a comment to make you aware of that aspect of diamond purchasing and the mores and ethics surrounding it.
posted by kalessin at 8:20 AM on January 24


Late to the party but I love love love the rings here, plenty of art deco for you. It's in Toronto, Canada.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:21 PM on March 3


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