Engagement rings
November 15, 2013 6:23 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to develop my taste in engagement rings, but nothing feels right. Help me figure out what I want.

I have kind of a fraught history with marriage and dating. I never thought I'd actually get married. But I now have someone I want to spend the rest of my life with. So we're going to get engaged!

And he's going to propose to me. But first I have to figure out what I want.

I want that princess-y ring. But I also want something different, something that better represents me and us, like a ring made of metal that has been to space. Or a ring made of some obscure metal with interesting properties. Or a ring with a stone that shoots lasers. You get the idea.

- What are the coolest engagement ring ideas you've heard of or seen?
- Maybe something we could share together so we could give each other rings?
- Maybe not rings at all? (He's vetoed tattoos, but maybe there's something else?)

- Cost isn't a huge object, but I don't want him to spend a ridiculous amount on a piece of jewelry. I don't wear any other jewelry because I always lose it or break it. Happy to spend $50 or up to $5,000 for something super cool and crazy. (Maybe something we could share?)
- I prefer gems grown in a lab. Both for the fun science and the because no one had to suffer in a mine to get them. But maybe gems aren't the way to go.
- I don't like diamonds in general, but I adore the classic, simple look of diamond solitaire engagement rings. That's the princess part of me.
posted by 3491again to Human Relations (27 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Check out tension-set or bezel-set rings, along with mokume-gane jewelry.
posted by evoque at 6:42 PM on November 15, 2013

Do you have any hobbies or interests that might lend to rings? I swear I saw a pokeball ring on Etsy once, though I can't find it now. Not to say you'll get a pokeball, but Etsy is a treasure trove for quirky ideas.
posted by Zelos at 6:50 PM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

You could get a moissanite ring. Moissanite was origianally found in meteorites (space!) but is now usually created in a lab. They look like diamonds, but with no ethical problems and they have a higher refractive index so they sparkle more (and are (comparatively) cheaper) than diamonds. They're just slightly below diamonds on the Mohs scale (9.5 vs 10). Here are some examples of moissanite rings.
posted by Weeping_angel at 7:03 PM on November 15, 2013 [4 favorites]

Yeah, if you're not married to diamonds, there are other awesome rocks out there. Opals are my favorite.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 7:05 PM on November 15, 2013

oh man, i just did all of this. we had a hard time. ultimately i looked at about 15,000 rings on etsy and discovered that the one i liked best was $62 and was made of rainbow moonstone (sparkly but also kind of different).

i personally liked the 2TrickPony shop a lot on etsy. she has tons of different stones and her whole setup is solar-powered. plus when i messaged her she was TOTALLY AWESOME. and a lot of those rings feel princessy to me, but not TOO princessy.

also there is this buzzfeed link: http://www.buzzfeed.com/peggy/45-engagement-rings-that-dont-suck which should give you some inspiration.

have fun slash good luck!
posted by andreapandrea at 7:06 PM on November 15, 2013 [4 favorites]

If you want something princessy with a cool twist, look into color-changing gemstones. They can look totally different depending on the light source. (I have a zultanite engagement ring, and it changes from peach to pale yellow to mint green. I love it.)

Lab-created alexandrites aren't hard to find - they go from purple to greenish. The depth of the color change varies from stone to stone.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:10 PM on November 15, 2013 [4 favorites]

You can always look into obscure minerals, like iolite. A lot of the really obscure ones will be softer (I don't care myself, you might - they will scratch a bit more easily, that's why they aren't as valued.), but are often gathered by a guy going into the mountains by himself to secret sites only he (or she!) knows about. Tanzanite is lovely, watermelon tourmaline is a bit crazy, there are TONS of cool minerals.
For examples:
http://www.alpinegems.ca/CatalogueGems/ioliteONT.html < it changes colour based on which way you look at it. :)

Perhaps you can try contacting one of these rockhounds, and maybe making a trip out of going to find your own stone? Mining and gemstones aren't all big-corp! I can possibly get you a name and phone # if you're in Ontario. Memail me!

I'm a geologist, so the newly-minted fiance went with a placeholder ring until we can figure out ours since I want more interesting minerals than diamond, custom is likely. If you have any questions, I'm more than happy to help out. :)
posted by aggyface at 7:11 PM on November 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

I should have linked to pics of opal rings, not just opals!
posted by rabbitrabbit at 7:14 PM on November 15, 2013

Shapeways (and presumably other 3D printing companies) can do rings in precious metals and other metals, so you could design it yourself. You can also look at and usually buy designs other people have come up with.
posted by XMLicious at 7:31 PM on November 15, 2013

I love opals amd opal jewelry. Opals aren't great choices for a ring you would wear every day. They are relatively soft (think glass rather than diamond) and temperature-sensitive and a bit finicky about humidity if you live somewhere arid. The stones are likely to develop hazes of scratching more quickly than other stones (again, think of glass--such as fine scratches on eyeglass lenses).

As I said, I love the stone (crystal, black, fire....I love them all. Even the "boring" milk opals that aren't considered precious). It's just that there are other stones that make better engagement rings, because they're more durable in everyday life.

I like some of the odder garnet varieties out there for natural stones, but that is because I already have an example of another suggestion: find your own rocks! A relative of mine found diamonds in an old lava flow and (legally) acquired them. Then had them set in gold from a small local (like near my home) mine that had just closed, and that is how I have a set of ethical diamond jewelry with ties to my home. :)

Anyway, I know you can go amateur gem-digging all over the US, and it just does not get more fun and individual than finding your own rock.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 8:00 PM on November 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Are you on Pinterest? I'd start following some jewelry boards and see what comes up of if you start noticing similarities in things that you like. For me, I just looked at the jewelery I pin and it seems I like hammered gold and also raw stones so I'd love to wear something like this or these.
posted by biscuits at 8:36 PM on November 15, 2013

What about an antique ring? I wanted something unique, and also I didn't like the ethical issues with new diamonds, so we went to a bunch of antique stores. We got mine for a steal (like $300) and it's really pretty and unusual and I love it!
posted by radioamy at 8:49 PM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

New Zealand Blue Pearls are cultivated in the shells of NZ paua, a local species of abalone. They're absolutely beautiful - the photos don't really do them justice, but they're sort of like a pearl crossed with an opal. I think this ring is rather lovely.

Alternatively, this guy actually did make his wedding ring out of a meteorite. Looks like it's possible to buy chunks of Gibeon meteorite online - maybe you could find a local jeweller to forge it for you?
posted by embrangled at 9:09 PM on November 15, 2013

Huh, looks like meteorite ring guy takes orders!
posted by embrangled at 9:22 PM on November 15, 2013

I've bought earrings from 2 Trick Pony, which I love madly and wear all the time; agree she was great.
posted by Kaleidoscope at 9:26 PM on November 15, 2013

Are you planning to wear it every day for the rest of your life? Because the novelty of cool and nifty can get old, but classic goes on forever.

If you're planning to have a stone, look for a sturdy stone - like an 8 or higher on the mohs scale. Opals and pearls are wonderful for necklaces and for rings that don't need to take a beating, but you need tougher stone for a daily wear ring. If diamonds aren't your thing sapphires are lovely and durable.

Do you want a wedding ring in addition to the engagement ring? If so, design them together.

One more thing, I love my engagement ring. It's beautiful, but the center stone sits up very high which is a problem because it snags on stuff. Still absolutely love it, but I don't wear it everyday because it catches on things. (But yeah, it's totally princessy and I love it.)

Given all of your criteria, I'd do a cushion cut moissanite solitaire in rose gold.
- Lab made stone in a vintage cut
- Funky metal
- Princessy!
posted by 26.2 at 9:54 PM on November 15, 2013

My engagement ring is a 1 carat moissanite stone in a princessy antique setting and I love it so much. it's great having a ring that I can feel good about from an ethical standpoint, it's durable enough for me to wear to work every day, and since it was relatively inexpensive we were able to afford a kickass honeymoon. I really recommend looking for antique settings if you want a one of a kind ring.
posted by makonan at 10:25 PM on November 15, 2013

Look at other stones with good hardness, for example, this chrysophase known as cymophane which is the true 'cat's eye' gem. It's honey to lemon colored with a white streak which is the "eye". This was made popular as an engagement ring by the Duke of Connaught over a hundred years ago. There are the conundrums, purple, green, blue and orange sapphires, some with stars, while pink and red gemstone corundums are known as rubies. These are all hard enough to serve as engagement ring stones. You will probably have to look at a lot of rings yourself to find what appeals to you. There are so many jewelry boards on Pinterest and jewelry makers online that all it needs from you is some time and a willingness to say what you like. You can have a ring made from a stone you have or buy or find. I agree that looking at antiques is another way to be a responsible consumer. I had a lovely antique engagement ring and never tired of it. I passed it on ages ago to a younger bride who feels the same way about it.
posted by Anitanola at 4:01 AM on November 16, 2013

First thing I thought of when you mentioned space rocks was this etsy shop. The guy who runs it makes rings out of not only meteorite, but also things like titanium, fossilized dinosaur bone, and petrified wood. He doesn't have many princess-y rings up, but there is this black diamond one, and he takes custom orders.
posted by Dante Riordan at 8:35 AM on November 16, 2013

A friend of mine is the same way - she knows what she wants in a general sense, but has a hard time finding something she really wants. So she tries to find something that has a story to it. Such as lower quality diamonds, because she likes that they have more of a geological history imbedded in them. Or try looking for antique rings or rings from estate sales - something that has lived one life and is now beginning another.
posted by troytroy at 9:58 AM on November 16, 2013

I've been thinking a lot about engagement rings lately because I just got engaged and we're going to look at sapphires this afternoon. I also want something a bit different, although my particular dream is a coloured stone.

If I were trying to get a sense of what the options for slightly alternative engagement rings are, I would start by looking at The Clay Pot and Green Lake Jewelry (notice the Unusual option). Pricescope also has tons of pictures of people's actual rings: Show Me the Bling and Colored Stone E-Rings.

Here are some Etsy (or not) stores I like:
Kate Szabone
Kristin Coffin
Nodeform Weddings
Stout Woodworks
Midwest Alchemy
One Garnet Girl
LashBrook Designs

Chatham is a name you see come up re lab-created gems. Moissanite also sounds like a really good option.

I've never bought anything from any of these places, so I can't comment on what they're like as a customer. I didn't even know what rings would look like on me (how tall are they, etc?) so I found a jewelry store nearby that the yelp reviews said was really friendly and they had styles I liked so we're going that route. We'll see today what the sapphires they brought in for me look like.
posted by carolr at 10:30 AM on November 16, 2013 [5 favorites]

My mother had an alexandrite ring I've always loved. Here's a youtube video of an alexandrite stone changing color. There are synthetic alexandrites available.
posted by gudrun at 1:10 PM on November 16, 2013

I've been thinking about this a lot, because I love gems and I collect minerals as well.

If you like the princess style settings -- realize that those settings are high because the stones set in them, like diamonds or sapphires, have a high refraction rate... they sparkle, and because they are hard, if you accidentally bang your hand on the car door, they won't shatter. So they can be set that way.

Whereas, if you get a stone that is less hard, like opal or garnet, even tourmaline (which I love, because hey, it is a Maine stone, as well as California and other parts of the world), or tanzanite, what you are going to see is a lot of metal around the stone to protect it. You won't get that high prong princess setting, because it has to be encased and more protected against damage.

I personally love sapphires beyond old diamonds (and often you can find old Tiffany settings with diamonds in pawn shops or vintage shops). Sapphires can also be lab grown, and as mentioned above, color changing. I have a vintage sapphire ring set in a high gold cage with old diamonds around it, and I love it.

One thing to consider is a wedding band. You can get an engagement ring and then get a band that will wrap around your ring, to be given during your ceremony. I had this at my first wedding: I had the traditional diamond set in prongs and a lovely wrap band with leaves in gold, each leaf had two diamond chips in it. It was not expensive, but it was unique. They also make wraps that have stones on the outside that fit snugly against your engagement ring.

Lastly, if you tend to lose or break jewelry, please, please get a hard stone like a diamond or moissoinite or sapphire. What I do is keep mine in a special ring box within my jewelry box, and I put it on when I go out, and take it off when I get home. I never set it down anywhere, ever. It is either in the box or on my finger. I don't do dishes wearing it, or housework of any kind. It is literally worth thousands of dollars so I don't feel like messing about with it.

Anyway, if you want that high setting, do it!!! You will be happy with it and that's the important thing. Don't compromise because you feel like it has to be out of this world, get what makes you feel good. I know I love looking at my sapphire every time I take it out of the box, so special!!! And there is always another time to get other jewelry. :-) Like rare benitoite. Etc.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:31 PM on November 16, 2013

I am in love with antique art deco rings. These guys also have ruby and sapphire in gorgeous settings: Antiques on King
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:00 PM on November 16, 2013

Like this one or this one or this one or....
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:15 PM on November 16, 2013

Try them on!!! I looked online forever, thought I had found the most perfect ring ever. Tried it on. Hated it. My most perfect ring ever, which years later I still wear 24/7, turned out it be a different metal, stone, setting, style, etc.

Also, do not overlook comfort. There are beautiful rings out there that are super uncomfortable or inconvenient and brides stop wearing them soon after they're wed. Sad to go through all the effort and expense than not wear it.
posted by Neekee at 10:26 PM on November 16, 2013

Response by poster: Such great suggestions! Feel free to keep posting as I'll probably be figuring this out for a while (and it might help someone else too).
posted by 3491again at 6:51 AM on November 17, 2013

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