Engagement ring alternatives?
May 17, 2016 12:12 PM   Subscribe

I'm thinking of popping the question to my girlfriend. The trouble is, for a variety of reasons, I hate the idea of buying a diamond ring for my proposal. She's kind of traditional, though, and will probably expect one. What are some good alternatives that I can consider? What are some good diamond ring substitutes that you've experienced or heard of being used? I'd like to come across as thoughtful and not cheap.

My objections include the artificially inflated price of diamonds, the morality of diamond extraction and the companies that participate in it, and the mindless consumerism and tradition behind the diamond ring/proposal connection. Frankly, the thought of going to a chain jewelry store to buy a diamond ring makes me a little sick. I have the money to buy one, but yeah, I just can't make myself do it. Thanks for the advice!
posted by Fister Roboto to Human Relations (59 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I hear an echo on the spring breeze, and it is saying "Ask your girlfriend what kind of ring she wants first".
posted by Frowner at 12:13 PM on May 17, 2016 [105 favorites]

Yep, please ask your girlfriend. Presumably, she's going to wear the ring for the rest of her life, and as long as she understands why you don't want to buy a diamond, it should be fine.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:15 PM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've peripherally asked her this before, and I'm fairly certain that she's in the pro-diamond camp.

/end thread-sit
posted by Fister Roboto at 12:17 PM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ask her! I literally emailed my now-husband a link to the engagement ring I wanted and said "that one, please," he bought that exact ring, and it was still incredibly special and lovely and heartfelt. Plus, I got a ring that I love! Win-win.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 12:18 PM on May 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you guys are talking about getting married, then you should be able to talk to your girlfriend about the kind of ring she wants.
posted by colfax at 12:19 PM on May 17, 2016 [11 favorites]

You could go with an antique or heirloom ring. That way you are repurposing a diamond that already exists in the world and has been used and loved, rather than a brand new one. You should really subsume your personal feelings to your girlfriend's wishes on this one though.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:19 PM on May 17, 2016 [74 favorites]

If she wants a diamond ring - especially a "traditional" one, and you want to minimize your participation in the new-diamond-extraction thing, you should look for vintage rings in small, local jewelry shops.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 12:20 PM on May 17, 2016 [28 favorites]

You already have your answer then. Problem with weddings (your fiancé will find this out soon enough) is that there are so many cultural expectations that she will have to decide whether to opt in or out of (or maybe not even get the choice).

But this one? This one she gets to choose.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 12:20 PM on May 17, 2016 [12 favorites]

I am a woman who chose to get only the teeniest, tiniest diamond ring for her engagement (think $100s of dollars, not $1000s) for exactly the reasons you describe. It's a bad investment, an exploitative industry, plus I think large jewels look aging (think older ladies with big rings). But, you know what? If I were in your position, I would think about making my future wife happy. What I think or believe would not be important in this instance. I am an uppity woman, and not buying a ring smells like mansplaining-by-engagement-ring. Don't do it.
posted by Atrahasis at 12:20 PM on May 17, 2016 [39 favorites]

I agree with the above, regarding learning more about your wife-to-be's wishes. Another consideration, if you are mostly squicked out by the exploitative nature of the diamond industry, is to look into ethically sourced diamonds. Brilliant Earth is one company I know of.
posted by reren at 12:22 PM on May 17, 2016 [7 favorites]

A friend of mine discussed rings in the abstract with his now-fiancee to get a sense of her feelings about the diamond industry. Luckily for him she also abhorred the diamond trade and ended up thrilled with the lovely tanzanite he selected.

When you discuss this with your girlfriend you may get the sense that a diamond is Really Important to Her. If that's the case, you can source ethical diamonds by going through companies that only work with vetted mines or getting an antique or vintage ring.
posted by xyzzy at 12:22 PM on May 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

My grandmother had a lovely engagement/wedding ring that was many small diamonds set into a groove all the way around the ring. It was pretty and thrifty (they married in the depression) and in modern terms could easily use ethical and affordable lab grown diamonds.
posted by Candleman at 12:22 PM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

The middle-ground solution to some of the ethical issues is to buy an antique (in other words, at least second-hand) ring. Consignment, estate jewelry sales, property auction, etc.

To that end, if you were planning a surprise proposal I would suggest that you do that part with either a novelty product or a completely non-engagement-like ring that she can wear on another finger as she chooses, or go completely off-ring and propose with a pendant or bracelet, and then begin the hunt for a used ring that she really likes, which may take some time.

Alternately, you can go with a lab diamond.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:23 PM on May 17, 2016 [11 favorites]

nthing estate or antique rings as an option.

You could also talk to your mom or grandmother or other female relative. Maybe they could give you an older ring and you could get a new setting.

Finally, you could consider another stone.
posted by brookeb at 12:23 PM on May 17, 2016

I got my ex a sapphire ring with diamond accents. Sort of like this, but not quite like this. (I did not get a Tiffany ring!)

I/we thought the sapphire was elegant and the diamond accents sort of touched on the traditional part.
posted by AugustWest at 12:26 PM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I was dead-set against a diamond engagement ring up until the day after we got engaged. Before, I was all "I don't need a ring! Fuck the mindless consumerism!" And then the more I thought about it, the more I wanted a) a tangible, durable symbol of our commitment and b) something sparkly on my hand. Diamonds are really, really pretty. They just are. You can see the baggage and acknowledge it, then ignore it to make your partner happy.

In the interest of bucking stupid traditions, you could do what we did and propose without a ring, then go shopping at a small local place together. I felt like the whole process was very romantic and sweet.
posted by witchen at 12:26 PM on May 17, 2016 [7 favorites]

nthing ask your prospective fiancee. This is a gift for her, and so it needs to follow the general rule for all gifts: it has to be what the recipient actually wants.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:26 PM on May 17, 2016 [11 favorites]

Use a prop ring for the proposal if it's a surprise then you two can shop together for something that meets both of your needs. If antique is not her thing a jeweler can make a custom piece w or w/o diamond or maybe using an antique stone in a new setting.
posted by oneear at 12:28 PM on May 17, 2016 [15 favorites]

Your girlfriend has to wear the darn thing. I feel like there's this weird sense in your question that You are going to Select This Ring and she'd better like it - and that there's something weird and wrong about her wanting a diamond even if she has to look at the thing on her hand every day for the rest of her life. There's this inherent tension in your question - she has to wear the thing, but you are picking it out and her first choice is something you have decided you absolutely won't buy. That's got to produce tension, because she's in this situation where she has to wear the thing.

She will be happier if she picks the ring, or if she does much of the work of picking the ring in terms of choosing the stone and general type of design.

Now, normally I wouldn't bring this up, but I've heard from a lot of men lately about how bad diamonds (worn by women) are, and it always makes me think of China Mieville's critique of some of the rhetoric around conflict diamonds. I'm not saying one should go ahead and revel in diamonds - after all, I boycott some things and buy other things that are probably just as bad when you examine them closely - but it's worth considering just how some items get moralized and others do not.
posted by Frowner at 12:32 PM on May 17, 2016 [34 favorites]

I kind of hate diamonds. My husband insisted they were a requirement. I have a lovely moissanite solitaire that looks like a diamond so it satisfies his traditional relatives, but he now tells everyone it's a moissanite and how much cheaper it was. I've worn mine every day for 5 years and it still looks brand new. My wedding band is a family heirloom diamond band, which doesn't bother me since the diamonds are out of the ground already and it's cool that it's over 100 years old. It does not currently fit due to pregnant sausage hands, so my doting husband procured for me a conflict-free diamond band that I love to be my pregnancy ring. It was on such a good sale it was less expensive than a comparable moissanite band would be.
posted by notjustthefish at 12:33 PM on May 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

Oh! I have a solution that overcomes all of your objections and will probably make your girlfriend happy. They are an ethical, women-owned jewelry company in Philadelphia called Bario Neal. My engagement ring was a custom ring from them and they seem to show up on the fingers of quite a few hip, ethical brides-to-be. Comb through their blog, portfolio, and Instagram. You won't be disappointed. They also have the lovely staff to talk to about options over the phone and via email.
posted by pinetree at 12:37 PM on May 17, 2016 [9 favorites]

[Folks, at this point please consider the "you should ask her" point to be made, and stick to offering alternatives. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:37 PM on May 17, 2016 [8 favorites]

Sapphire-giver here, 44 years ago. I think fiance input is required.
posted by SemiSalt at 12:38 PM on May 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you go with estate, vintage or used diamond rings (and that's what we did and if that's what your girlfriend wants, well, she's going to be wearing it every day and she is not a bad person for wanting diamonds in her ring), I highly recommend Lang, even if you're not local to San Francisco. They are extremely knowledgeable, and via phone or email, can help you assess how much you can re-size the ring, can help you assess how well the ring matches what you want, and they handle returns/exchanges pretty well for a high end purchase.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:39 PM on May 17, 2016

Knowing what she wants and setting forth to do the opposite doesn't sound like a good way to start off married life. Are there any family engagement rings that can be used? For example in many families there are wedding bands or engagement rings that have been passed down and get used my successive generations. Is this something you can ask her family about?
posted by Mrs Roy G Biv at 12:41 PM on May 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

Buy a second-hand "vintage" or "estate" diamond ring. That should get her what she wants and while quelling your very valid concerns. (It's a marriage, you know? It's important to find ways to get everyone's needs met.)
posted by DarlingBri at 12:48 PM on May 17, 2016

Antique ring. If she wants a diamond ring, get her a diamond ring. This is a no brainer.

There is literally no way you can declare that you're not going to get her the ring she wants, even though you can afford it, because You Know Better, without coming off cheap at best and an asshole at worst.
posted by corb at 12:48 PM on May 17, 2016 [7 favorites]

You know how when someone gets you a gift that is completely wrong for you, it's kind of awkward? Like you don't want to hurt their feelings, but you really don't want to keep that useless macrame thingamabob around? You are trying to do this to the person you say you'll do anything for, who matters most, and they will carry the reminder of the fact you valued your own thoughts more on their hand forever. Don't be that guy.

If chain stores bother you, there are plenty of conflict free diamonds on Etsy. I would advise against getting a vintage/estate ring unless that's her style, and even if it is I'd let her pick it out. They are quite idiosyncratic in taste/style and it would be better to propose with a prop ring and let her guide you.
posted by decathexis at 12:49 PM on May 17, 2016 [13 favorites]

Okay, what if....you and she work with a jeweler to design an engagement ring around an old stone? Passage des perles has some posts about redesigning jewelry that have always made me wish that I could do such a thing. You could work together to create something that would be unique, meet your ethical concerns and perfectly suit her taste - plus it would be a great way to make sure that you can co-plan something complicated and fiddly, which you will need to do with the [gulp] wedding planning.
posted by Frowner at 12:54 PM on May 17, 2016 [6 favorites]

Lab-grown diamond. They're actually higher quality than the mined ones anyway.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:04 PM on May 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

Don't do lab grown diamond unless she's already expressed an interest in lab grown. It's cheaper, so it's likely to come off as a cheap move.
posted by corb at 1:05 PM on May 17, 2016 [8 favorites]

Despite all the advice here about using old stones or getting a vintage ring, I have to caution you that may not be a good idea, depending on your wife-to-be.

Some people (and I don't know if she fits into this category) are very superstitious or wary about other people's jewellery. An engagement ring, even the stone in the ring, is a symbol and some feel they don't want their future marriages tainted by whatever the stone picked up from the previous wearer. Even if it's not that woo-woo, some are still bothered by the symbolic representation of the stone--it's one that could have come from a broken marriage, or a situation where no loved ones want to keep a reminder of the union.

When William gave Kate Middleton Diana's ring as an engagement ring, there were lots of people who thought it was a beautiful gesture with a family heirloom. There were an equal number who said they would never want to wear an ill-fated woman's ring from such a unhappy, doomed marriage. Personally I'm closer to the second camp than the first. I wouldn't have wanted the ring as an engagement ring. It would have been fine under other circumstances, but not as a hopeful symbol of a new relationship.

So just take it under advisement that you have to understand how she feels about rings and diamonds and their symbolism. It's going to be on her finger, not yours.
posted by sardonyx at 1:06 PM on May 17, 2016 [14 favorites]

In addition to small jewelry shops and those that specialize in estate jewelry, check out some (higher end) pawn shops - the prices can be wonderful, and a good jeweler can re-size for you.
That's where my engagement ring came from - my husband wanted to put a ring on it, but didn't (and couldn't) spend months (or years, or whatever the current algorithm is) of salary for a ring.
I wear several diamonds, most of them small, and almost all have been out of the ground longer than I've been alive.
posted by dbmcd at 1:08 PM on May 17, 2016

Do you have ring that's been in your family? Would the current owner of said ring object to having it 'made over' for your betrothed? If so, use that and when you make this gift let her know, 'this was grandma's ring. Mom wanted you to have it and she says we can have it customized to your taste.'

You can also call her family to see if they might have a ring to use.

But you can use a fabulous fake for the proposal and then let her pick out what she likes.

Make and stick to a budget and let her know what it is.

I'm with you, diamonds suck.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:09 PM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Though the op's question was a little different, there are lots of good ring suggestions in this recent mefi thread.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 1:18 PM on May 17, 2016

For me, personally, my ring had to be meaningful to me. A diamond ring felt like it was something that everyone else has. It felt like what I 'should' want, but not what I actually did want. It felt superficial and competitive. So I thought about it for a while, and I remember thinking about how I always disliked my birthstone-- garnet-- because I'm not a fan of that russet kind of red. I remember thinking, 'gosh I wish there were green garnets,' because I've always loved green. Well, turns out there is such a thing as green garnets. There are various shades of garnets, it's just that the most popular one is red.

So we sourced green garnets and got my ring made. I love it, because my ring is my favorite color and my birthstone; with color-change alexandrite on the side. I did get some derision-- I won't lie, but I don't care. Most people think it's neat.

Perhaps tell her about your ethical concerns (which are valid) and see if she would be willing to get a ring made with a different kind of gem, or color gem. Gems are so varied and beautiful and I never understood why people buy into the diamond industry to that extent. This has only been a recent thing, too-- I get the most understanding from older ladies, who have varied gems for their rings-- it's all my contemporaries that look at me funny.

But I do agree that if it's important to her, you need to either rethink your ethical stance on this-- or otherwise your proposal.

Good luck.
posted by Dimes at 1:20 PM on May 17, 2016

Get her the diamond if that's what she wants. You probably buy things with artificially inflated price tags all the time. I don't understand why dudes who buy iPads made in China and patronize companies like Amazon suddenly really care about these kinds of issues when the woman in their life wants the pretty sparkly ring they will wear for the rest of their life. I mean, maybe you really do live a life of complete abstinence from anything that's overpriced or ethically fuzzy, but probably not.

There are so many ways to get your hands on a diamond ring now that don't involve hazy ethics or even setting foot into a jewelry store. You are planning to marry and build a life with this person, you should respect what they want out of an engagement, they (theoretically) only get to do it once.
posted by cakelite at 1:20 PM on May 17, 2016 [33 favorites]

I went to an antique store in NYC and bought a really nice expertly verified vintage ring. It was about the same price as a store bought ring but A. Awesome art deco design and B. Much fewer weird feelings about sources. And C. It was from the 30s! Classy!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:30 PM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you are proposing to your girlfriend, that is, going the traditional 'surprise' route of doing so, I find it odd that you would ask her what kind of ring she wants in advance.

Nthing the antique idea.
posted by NatalieWood at 1:54 PM on May 17, 2016

Yes, this should be a decision the two of you make together. My husband wanted to give me a big honking diamond and I was not having it. Because the traditional aspect was what was important to him, I did a little research and found that sapphires are also traditional engagement ring stones.

My ring is a Montana sapphire that is the color of my husband's eyes. Its in a halo setting surrounded by diamonds. My husband loves it and I love it too. I'm sure the two of you can work something out.
posted by pintapicasso at 2:02 PM on May 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

I will say that if, after you have talked about it, she is open to this, my engagement ring was a lab-created sapphire and it's beautiful and I love it. I also have two pairs of moissanite solitaire earrings that are, for my money, far prettier than diamonds and much cheaper. So there are definitely options - grown in a lab, vintage/heirloom, ethical, etc.
posted by oblique red at 2:03 PM on May 17, 2016

My husband proposed with an empty ring box and a little note inside, then took me shopping the next day for the ring. I was SO EXCITED that I got to choose my own ring - it's such a personal decision and it was really fun for both of us.
posted by ukdanae at 2:03 PM on May 17, 2016 [11 favorites]

If I were doing surprise engagement + ring in Chicago, I would take them to Jeweler's Row, pop the question at the door and go shopping together. Elsewhere, I'd find a fabulous jewelry store with rings in the window and say how about it? It's so much fun picking it out together.
posted by BibiRose at 2:09 PM on May 17, 2016

My engagement ring was from a family diamond, but my husband-to-be knew I'd want to be part of the discussion about the setting, etc. So he proposed with a lovely "place holder" ring that has a lot of sentimental value to me. So you can keep the surprise element in tact and get something non-expensive you feel good about, then let her be a part of the final design and stone choice.
posted by LKWorking at 2:29 PM on May 17, 2016

Another alternative is high quality CZs. My ring is hand-cut cubic zirconia in white gold and it's stunning and bright and clear and less expensive. Not to mention I get tons of compliments on it all the time.

That said, DON'T just get CZs (or other lab created stones) and try to pass them off as diamonds. Ask your partner. If they have a strong preference for diamonds, then find some that you're comfortable buying. I picked out my ring and LOVE the fact that it's CZ but not all people would be okay with it.
posted by Crystalinne at 3:06 PM on May 17, 2016

Anecdata of me here: I would have liked to have an fun inexpensive (but not novelty) ring as a placeholder for a proposal. Maybe with my birthstone or something else pretty but not fancy.

As it is, he proposed without one and I picked a vintage diamond ring myself.
posted by vunder at 3:14 PM on May 17, 2016

The thing is, you know she really wants a diamond. If my fiancé started off telling me that people who want diamonds are mindless consumers who participate in death and destruction in the Congo, and that they're all overpriced and expensive, all it would do is make me feel like absolute crap. A gold digger who just wanted to spend his money and didn't care if people died for it.

But you know, I'd give in. And get $200 piece of plastic or whatever from a lab just to keep the peace so I didn't seem like a bad person. And every time I would look at it (which is many, many times a day) over many years, I would get that feeling again. Is this really the way you want to start your life together?

When you start moralising like this, you are telling her something about HER. By all means, go and get an antique stone and get it reset, (don't get a lab diamond unless she's expressed interest, you'll just look cheap) but spare her the diamond rant unless you're prepared to apply the same standards to every item you ever purchase for yourself.
posted by Jubey at 3:42 PM on May 17, 2016 [9 favorites]

Hey there! I just got engaged and can speak to this!

First things first, the best way to find out what your girlfriend expects, engagement-ring-wise, is to ask her.

I am pretty anti-engagement ring, but after getting engaged two things happened:

1. It turns out my fiance is a little more traditional than I am and wanted us both to have engagement rings,


2. It turns out that a lot of people seriously do not understand if you tell them you're engaged or mention your fiance and there's nothing on your left hand ring finger to back it up.

So I chose a simple rose gold wedding band, which will probably double as my wedding ring. I couldn't be happier with it, and fuck the haters who don't understand why it's not a diamond solitaire.

But, OK, your girlfriend is pretty traditional, and she's probably not going to want a non-traditional plain band or something else non engagement ring esque. So I'm going to go through all of your points against:

the artificially inflated price of diamonds

Vintage ring, or maybe CZ or another lab created stone that looks like a diamond. I also love druzy quartz, though it does not in any way look like a diamond. Or would your girlfriend be into a solitaire with a different gemstone?

the morality of diamond extraction and the companies that participate in it

Vintage ring, different gemstone, or maybe a conflict-free Canadian diamond.

the mindless consumerism and tradition behind the diamond ring/proposal connection.

Vintage ring, or maybe a ring that is already in one of your families? If you dislike the whole ring/proposal connection, welp, I hate to tell you, but literally every single other person you know believes in this to an insane degree, more than fundamentalists believe in god or gamblers believe in luck. I was shocked to find out the extent to which otherwise rational people believe you cannot be engaged without a ring.

Frankly, the thought of going to a chain jewelry store to buy a diamond ring makes me a little sick.

My ring came from Etsy. There are also vintage jewelry shops, indie jewelers, and, again, rings that are already in the family. There is a lot of middle ground where your girlfriend gets what makes her happy (solitaire engagement ring that either looks like a diamond or looks like a deliberately creative/unique choice) and you also get what makes you happy (not dealing with the hype of the Engagement Ring Industrial Complex).

Also, one little bit of devil's advocacy from one engagement ring hater to another. You really love her, right? And you want her to be happy? Maybe if none of the compromises appeal to both of you, this is just something you do for her, because you love her and you're a team.
posted by Sara C. at 3:46 PM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Late to this thread but I'll tell you that it is less expensive and very meaningful to design a ring, e.g. make it her birthstone embraced by yours. If you want to consult her wishes, which is a lovely thing to do, one very cool way to do that would be to propose with a stand-in ring like something made from marcasite or a jewelry box with a picture of a ring inside, and tell her you want her to work with you to find the exact right ring for her.

Personal story: my engagement ring was a ruby with two waves of diamonds in a channel setting breaking over it. My husband and I found it together in a jewelry store in Aculpuco, Mexico, and it made us both think of waves breaking over a heart, which is kinda the swamped in love feeling I have always had about him. It meant a lot that we found it together and viewed it the same way. These days I usually wear the anniversary ring he pointed out to me on a weekend away, which is an unusually colored spinel embraced by two diamonds, in the traditional past/present/future design.
posted by bearwife at 3:46 PM on May 17, 2016

Just to kind of go against the grain of previous comments, I don't think it's thoughtless or mansplainy or generally bad of you to want to honor your ethical concerns about this.

Yes, the ring should honor your girlfriend's tastes and wishes since she'll be the one wearing it, but you're also well within your rights to avoid spending a large amount of your money on something that squicks you out.

I think you've done well to ask this question and consider possibilities that both of you can be happy with.
posted by delight at 3:56 PM on May 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

I had always told my husband I didn't need a ring, so he proposed to me with a necklace he has made for me (it looks like a scrabble tile with the letter of my first initial but is made of white gold). I was touched and delighted. And then he surprised me---there was a ring too after all. He had talked to my mother and she had given him my grandmother's ring. I never thought I wanted a ring generally, but having that particular ring means so much to me. Maybe there is an heirloom ring you can pass onto your lady? I have my beautiful ring, but my husband did not pay a dime to the diamond people...
posted by JoannaC at 3:58 PM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Save a bunch of money and go to a pawn shop. These days, there are many that are non-cheesy. Explain that you want your gf to be able to choose, see if you can get one with an exchange option. Pre-owned diamonds carry way less guilt, but maybe that's just me.

Or, buy a necklace and a charm that represents a ring or some other nifty event. Proposing with no ring is less movie-esque, but much more like marriage, i.e., Instead of a faux-romantic event where I spend gobs of cash on something you might not like, or even hate, I'm going to let you participate in the choice.
posted by theora55 at 3:59 PM on May 17, 2016

also, Mazel tov.
posted by theora55 at 3:59 PM on May 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

I bought my fiancée a pink sapphire. Sapphires also come in blue, white, and yellow, and they're durable and pretty. A white sapphire is NOT as sparkly as a diamond, though, if that's important to her.
posted by J. Wilson at 4:15 PM on May 17, 2016

I read that (blue) sapphire was the traditional engagement stone before the diamond industry.
posted by eviemath at 4:31 PM on May 17, 2016

Australia also produces conflict free diamonds, and ours are pink (whoa, and purple too, apparently).
posted by glitter at 4:46 PM on May 17, 2016

If you want to have something sparkly to propose with, but don't want to spoil the surprise by asking her first, you could try this: get an ethically scoured diamond - just the diamond - and make a box for it that shows that you two will design the actual ring together and have it made to her tastes. Maybe have the inside of the box look like blueprints? and label the parts of the drawing of the ring with things like "your size" and "your style". The blueprints could even extend around the box to look like you are making a plan for your future together. Maybe even have an appointment with a jeweler booked so you can go together and start talking about the design.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:50 PM on May 17, 2016 [6 favorites]

I'm nthing lab grown diamonds. They've really come a long way lately, to the point that even skilled jewelers can't tell they're lab grown just by looking at them.

If it's important to your girlfriend to stick with the traditional diamond, and it's important for you to not inadvertently back unethically sourced diamonds, this seems like a good compromise. Good luck!
posted by helloimjennsco at 7:24 AM on May 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'll second Brilliant Earth. They have lab-grown and conflict-free diamonds and I think most of not all of the metal in their jewelry is recycled.

I bought my fiance's engagement ring there and she loves it. They have a showroom in San Francisco if you live around there.
posted by Aizkolari at 1:53 PM on May 18, 2016

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