One Engagement Ring To Rule Them All?! (Within Budget)
September 27, 2019 9:01 AM   Subscribe

I am thinking about to propose to my girlfriend in about 6 months. I know nothing about jewellery or engagement rings. Unsure about the budget. Help?

1. From my understanding, expensive diamond rings are a complete racket. Not only diamonds are not a rare resource but the markup is insane. Its not unusual to buy a 8k ring and when you try to sell it you would only get 1k at best.

2. With that said, I'm a dude and don't understand/care about jewellery. So if any ladies can chime in about the importance of the ring. Diamond or no diamond, cost and etc?

3. "Spend 2 months of your income on an engagement ring" sounds to me like a marketing gimmick to encourage out of control spending pushed by ring maker and sales people. I make about 3k a month. Should I really spend 6k on a ring? It seems such a massive waste of money. We can buy something for 1k and use 5k for an amazing honey moon instead.

4. My future fiance, bless her heart, is a little bit scattered brained and tends to misplace keys,wallets and phones fairly often. Plus she goes to the gym 4-5 times a week, removing and putting back any rings in the process. It seems very likely to me that in a few years she might lose the ring. Annoying at 1k cost, heart braking at 6-8k ring.

5. How are you supposed to surprise your future fiance with an expensive ring without consulting with her and making sure she likes it thus ruining the surprise? I can consult her mother and friends but I feel rings are like perfume, very very personal and particular preferences. I can get a simple temporary band and then go to shop for one together?

Thank you so much in advance!
posted by Sentus to Shopping (36 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The two months' salary thing is completely, 100% made up nonsense from an advertising campaign for diamond rings. You do not need to worry one bit about that.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:10 AM on September 27, 2019 [6 favorites]

It's rare nowadays for engagement rings to be purchased in complete secrecy, but is that what she wants you to do? Have you guys talked about getting engaged and she knows that's probably going to happen soon? A lot of women want to have input on the ring because they are the ones wearing it, but if you don't think that's what she wants, you should ask one of her friends.

Don't cheap out on the ring because you think she's too careless to be trusted with one (unless you think she would wholeheartedly agree with your assessment). But no, you don't have to spend twice your monthly income on an engagement ring, there are no "rules" about how much engagement rings should cost.

A lot of women expect and want a diamond (I did). This isn't a time to make a big moral stand on the issue, especially since it's very easy to buy vintage diamond rings. I believe that usually when men claim to have big moral concerns about this they are just trying to justify spending less money. Also, why are you thinking about the resale value of an engagement ring? On the other hand, there are a lot of other beautiful stones out there that some women prefer, this is why you need to talk to her.

You sound like you have no clue where to begin with this (which is fair, most men haven't shopped for jewelry before) and I really think you need your girlfriend's input. Matters of cost and what kind of ring to get vary WILDLY from person to person. Are you sure she even wants a ring? Some women don't!
posted by cakelite at 9:11 AM on September 27, 2019 [10 favorites]

4. Get it insured. It won't help the sentimental feelings about a lost ring, but it can help you replace it, at least.

5. If you know your fiancee would prefer to be surprised (check with friends and family about that if she hasn't told you), either get her one and keep the receipt so you can go exchange it for one that suits her taste, or stick with your idea of the temporary band and go shopping together.
posted by telophase at 9:12 AM on September 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

With the caveat that some women do want to be involved in choosing their own rings - I think talking to her mom and friends is a good idea. In fact, if you have a good relationship with a close friend of hers, you may even be able to get that friend to ask her directly what kind of engagement ring she'd like, by posing it as a theoretical question.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:13 AM on September 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

I would have straight-up murdered my husband if he had tried to spend 2 months salary on a piece of freaking jewelry.

Are you sure your girlfriend wants to be surprised by a ring? One thing you can do is propose with a cheap ring and then go ring shopping.
posted by mskyle at 9:14 AM on September 27, 2019 [15 favorites]

1. ... diamond rings are a complete racket.
3. gimmick to encourage... Should I really spend 6k on a ring? I
4. ... very likely to me that in a few years she might lose the ring.
5. I can get a simple temporary band and then go to shop for one together?
This seems like the best bet. For all we know she would be upset if you bought an expensive diamond, or anything over $200. You need to talk to your potential life partner about big purchases, or at least happy couples I know do.

One possibility if you are on good terms with her family: ask them? I ended up with a very nice heirloom non-diamond ring from my in-laws that worked as wonderful engagement ring for us.
posted by SaltySalticid at 9:14 AM on September 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

You should talk to your GF about what she'd want. Would she want a placeholder ring that could be exchanged for the perfect one? Would she prefer a ringpop, since she can consume it immediately (more difficult with gemstones)? Does she hate the institution of marriage, prefer covenant marriage, or look forward to living separately forever? Does she plan to take her ring off ever? And how much would a rider on your renter's or homeowner's insurance cost?

Just kidding, you can research the last one yourself. But the rest, if they're not obvious to you already (and even if they are) should probably talk to her about.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 9:14 AM on September 27, 2019 [6 favorites]

My husband proposed without a ring and then we shopped together, and then he did a more public proposal with the ring.

At the time, which was in the Jurassic Era I guess, I did choose a very simple solitaire diamond. Our budget was under $1k and it has a flaw in it (that only we know about), which I love because life has flaws too. Knowing what I know now about diamonds I might have made a different choice, but I've been glad for its simplicity because I've been wearing it daily for 26 years. I'm also glad I got to help choose it.

He lost his original wedding ring but I've never lost mine. I am scatterbrained sometimes.

YMMV of course but that worked well for us.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:20 AM on September 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

You can and should definitely talk to your fiance about all the questions you list above! I had Very Specific Feelings about the cost, stone, style, and how involved I wanted to be in the selection. You can have a general conversation about these things and then depending on whether your fiance wants to be surprised or not, you can pick out a ring with some notes on her style preferences or you can pick one out together.
posted by stellaluna at 9:31 AM on September 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

You guys have talked about marriage before, right? Not just in the abstract but in the specifics? Do you know her attitude toward money and jewelry? Are you and she on the same page about things like wedding costs (which vary widely), honeymoon costs (which vary even more)?

The two month rule has some historical background since it was proof that a man could afford a wife and family and also because the ring itself was collateral/insurance against a broken engagement. Nowadays, it's just marketing, as are diamonds. Look up the history of DeBeers sometime.

Do you even know that she wants a diamond? Unlike cakelite, I specifically do not; I would want a ring with mine/fiance's birthstones, and I would resent anyone who bought me a diamond instead, and I'd be downright angry at someone who spent a lot of money on a ring. As you said, this is really personal!

Do you or she want the proposal to be a surprise, or the actual ring to be a surprise? Most women I know who have expressed a preference for surprise, actually mean the former, but they want input into the actual ring itself. If nothing else, you would need to know her ring size.
posted by basalganglia at 9:34 AM on September 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

Unless she specifically says she does not want a diamond engagement ring, get a diamond ring. Learn your diamond marketing fun facts, what all the cut clarity color etc stuff means. Memorize the setting styles. This is supposed to be a one-time purchase, so do the homework and take whatever time you need to get it right.

Ask her to point out, or send you pictures of, rings she likes. Make a note of their essential characteristics. Find out if she has any metal preferences for the band. Talk about her expectations around the ring budget, then figure out what your actual budget is going to be.

It seems such a massive waste of money.

Buddy, don't look at it that way. You will only buy so many deeply meaningful ceremonial objects in your life. Think of all the dollars you wasted on trash and nonsense in your young and foolish years. This is not the time to draw a line in the sand about markups and marketing gimmicks. Don't financially imperil yourself, but seriously, do not cheap out.

Where were we?

Oh yeah. Figure out where you're buying the ring. There are some major retailers that are universally panned and some online stores that have a pretty solid reputation. In fact, you may see all signs pointing in the same direction sooner or later.

Stay the hell away from the mall shops. If you even make eye contact with a salesperson they will extract your contact information via telepathy and hound you about rings for the rest of your natural life.

Anyway, once you've found your vendor, mess around with the custom ring builder widget on their website (if they don't have one, stop. Back up. You ended up at the wrong online jewelry store) and make some rings that look like the rings she liked. You'll have a lot of options for stones, so look long and hard and pick the nicest ones you can afford. Whatever your budget is, you're using all of it. Don't go trying to save $100 by taking the stone with the gnarly inclusion.

Once you've made a custom ring that looks and feels right, leave it in your cart and pull it up several times a day and ruminate over it and go through whatever mental rituals dissipate any anxiety you may get over pulling the trigger on big decisions, then buy the damn ring.

You will almost certainly be offered the chance to purchase ring insurance when you check out.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:43 AM on September 27, 2019 [7 favorites]

As a woman who is in the general, but not immediate market to receive an engagement ring, what I would like the most here is:
1) a low-cost ring, so we can pick a real one out together later, BUT
2) it would be great if you consulted with mom/sister about a low cost ring (fashion jewelry/costume) that I might actually like, because:
(a) it will make it more fun in the moment
(b) if she's not an expensive ring person, she can just wear that one sometimes, and mainly wear a wedding band.
posted by mercredi at 9:45 AM on September 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

2. Depends on your girlfriend! Plenty of people don't WANT diamonds/ want them ethically-sourced (i.e., lab-made). Personally, I wanted a conventional diamond. But that's me. This ring is for your girlfriend and her preferences are what matters.

3. Nah. Get a ring that's right for her. That cost estimate is marketing nonsense. But maybe a $5-6K ring IS what's right for her. Or maybe a $100 diamond chip is.

4. Insurance, for sure. I don't have my ring insured, which terrifies me, but I am extremely careful with things and have a couple set places where it goes when I take it off (a small jewelry tray by the sink if I'm dong dishes, and an overnight tray in the bedroom).

5. You DO NOT have to surprise her. That said, my husband and I had talked about marriage. I knew it was coming. A friend and I went to the jeweler he's used before, looked at rings, and she noted down my favorite few. I mentioned this to my husband, and when he went he found a different (MOST PERFECT) ring, but he knew the general style I liked going in. You could leave a magazine with a sticky note on it that says "circle your faves". You'll also need her ring size... which you should NOT just guess. It's better for rings if they don't need to get re-sized.
posted by DoubleLune at 9:49 AM on September 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

My future fiance, bless her heart, is a little bit scattered brained and tends to misplace keys,wallets and phones fairly often. Plus she goes to the gym 4-5 times a week, removing and putting back any rings in the process. It seems very likely to me that in a few years she might lose the ring. Annoying at 1k cost, heart braking at 6-8k ring.

This is me, and I did. It was beautiful and very very very stupidly disproportionately expensive (a big oddly light-colored almost purple sapphire), and I held onto it for fifteen years, and then yes, at the gym I took it off to do chinups and tied it to my shorts and then it wasn't there when I looked. It was insured, but for the purchase price rather than the replacement value, and I was sad and guilty and ashamed. (And then the marriage broke down a few years later).

Given that your fiance is like me, I'd look for a pretty, interestingly designed, semiprecious ring in the couple of hundred dollars range.
posted by LizardBreath at 9:51 AM on September 27, 2019

I feel rings are like perfume, very very personal and particular preferences. I can get a simple temporary band and then go to shop for one together?

I think you're completely right about this. Do the inexpensive temporary band. If you want, get it engraved with a personal message or get one in a style that goes with some other jewelry she wears often (if she does). If she's not a much of a jewelry or ring wearer in the first place, maybe it doesn't even need to be a real ring - could be a chocolate ring, origami ring, whatever.

I think the main thing is to put thought into it.

For the comments that say to definitely get a diamond because it's standard - I think your instincts are right and it's important to remember how personal all this is. If someone just got me a standard diamond ring because that's what you're supposed to do, I'd wonder how well they knew me.

And do make sure you've both talked about marriage beforehand. Imagine having to actually make such a huge decision on the spot. Knowing that a proposal is coming at some point won't ruin the surprise.
posted by trig at 9:56 AM on September 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Just ask her. My wife and I are both women, she wanted a $200 ring from Macy’s, I wanted a BBQ grill. Everyone got what they wanted and is happy.
posted by Pretty Good Talker at 9:59 AM on September 27, 2019 [23 favorites]

My husband bought me an engagement ring that cost less than $200. I love it, because I love him, and it’s also very pretty. However, the little diamond chips keep falling out because, y’know, it’s not an expensive ring and it’s from a random internet shop. When that happens, I feel bad for him and he feels bad for me.

What I mean is: if you can avoid skimping (whatever that means on your individual budget) then avoid skimping.
posted by JJZByBffqU at 10:28 AM on September 27, 2019

So if any ladies can chime in about the importance of the ring. Diamond or no diamond, cost and etc

Ladies are not a monolith, and every person you ask is going to have a different answer here! I would suggest just asking her and finding out what she wants. If you don't want to do that (assuming you don't based on point 5), is it absolutely and totally fine to ask her friends to do a little recon for you. I have done this, is it great fun.

That said, I know a guy who found out what his now-wife wanted by seeing a photo on a magazine on a rack at the store with some celebrity engagement on the cover, saying something like "oh that's a [pretty/unusual/something] ring!" and listening very closely to how she responded. So that's always an option, if you're desperate.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 11:03 AM on September 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is something where you are going to have to use your best judgement. Not all women want diamonds (my wife didn't want one. She wanted a ruby and that's what she got). Some do. Her wishes are the most important thing here.

Don't get an emerald. Emeralds are softer stones and should not be on jewelry that is worn every day. Diamonds, sapphires, and rubies (which are just red sapphires) are harder stones

I didn't propose with a ring. I proposed (we both knew it was coming) and then we went ring shopping. The nice thing about this is that I know she got exactly the sort of ring she wanted (and she didn't know what kind of ring she wanted when she walked in the door). I also bought my own wedding band so that I would get the kind of ring I wanted. You don't have to make it a surprise, is what I'm saying.

If you want to make it a surprise, however, a temporary band is a great idea. This is also something she can wear if she's doing something that might cause her to misplace her nice ring.

As for money, the two months thing is nonsense. Utter crap. Spend what makes sense to the two of you. It's okay to spend a lot if you have the means and really like the ring. It's okay to spend very little if that's what works for you.

Above all, don't do something (or not do something) because of what other people tell you you should do or should not do. This is your choice.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:27 AM on September 27, 2019

A lot of this really depends on your girlfriend/fiancee. If you have a high-powered career in New York and she's going to be mostly a trophy wife/socialite type, then yes, a massive ring will probably matter, because her friends will all have massive rings and she'll feel pressure to fit in. If she's a Peace Corps volunteer in Botswana, not so much. (Those are stereotypes, of course, but you can see what I'm getting at.)

One thing to look into, if she's open to the possibility, is a used ring, which can sound cooler if you call it an "heirloom" ring. You can find nice ones at upscale antique and consignment shops, for quite reasonable prices. Even better: an heirloom ring from someone in her actual family. This is what I did; my wife is proud of her Irish heritage, and my grandmother had a ring with an emerald set in a ring of small diamonds. Perfect for her, and total cost to me = $0. Plus there's a cool story to go along with it.

Regardless of what you do with the initial ring, it has become somewhat common to purchase bigger, more expensive rings as an anniversary present down the road. This is always an option for you.

In terms of what she likes, you have to be sly. If you go to the mall, walk closer to one of the jewelry stores and let something "catch your eye", then make a comment. "Oh that ring looks weird, not a fan!" "Never seen a ring like that before." Or if you see a friend's ring on Facebook, make a comment. There are ways to get her to tell you what she likes without actually asking her.
posted by kevinbelt at 11:42 AM on September 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Moissanite is also a diamond alternative option if your girlfriend is into that. (It's what I would have gotten had I been able to pick my ring!)

Please just talk to her about rings, proposals, etc. She's the one who's going to have to wear it and tell the "proposal story" when people ask her about it.

I disliked the ring my partner surprised me with and my partner's proposal was so, so bad. It was romantic and meaningful for him, but he didn't consider how it would feel for me.

I wanted to cry (in a bad way) every time someone asked me how he proposed, and quite frankly, I still do. (Thankfully, fewer people ask about it these days.)

It should be meaningful for both of you, and the only way to get there is communication.
posted by marfa, texas at 11:42 AM on September 27, 2019 [12 favorites]

Another vote to ask her and include her. I was given a classic Tiffany-style six-prong solitaire, and it was beautiful, and I loved my partner and I was so happy to be engaged, but I'm a pretty casual person and the ring was not at all my style. It always felt weird to wear it because it felt like it belonged to someone else.

What I would have liked is this:

- A heartfelt, private impromptu proposal with or without a simple ring, even something like a piece of twine or a bread tie. We'd already discussed marriage for six months at that point, so the whole popping-the-question thing should have just been a fun few romantic steps to enjoy together.
- An honest discussion about whether to get a ring or spend the money on something else that we both could enjoy. For me, the whole point of getting married was to make decisions together and combine our strengths, and this is a big first decision that should have set the tone for the whole marriage. I would have been happy with the money going toward the honeymoon, or maybe toward a down payment on property. Or honestly: A puppy! He wanted to do a ring because That's What People Do.
- Shopping *together* for a ring based on our budget and style. I'd have loved a modest ring, something nontraditional, something inexpensive. Something easy to wear.
- Having a small, romantic dinner or maybe a picnic somewhere pretty and getting the ring.

Again, everyone is different. What matters here is to agree on what she would like and what you both would like, and if you're going to marry her, you should be able to talk about these things together.
posted by mochapickle at 11:51 AM on September 27, 2019 [4 favorites]

5. How are you supposed to surprise your future fiance with an expensive ring without consulting with her and making sure she likes it thus ruining the surprise? I can consult her mother and friends but I feel rings are like perfume, very very personal and particular preferences. I can get a simple temporary band and then go to shop for one together?

Not all women want to be surprised. Has she told you that she does? Some women would like a surprise proposal with an expensive ring; some might like a surprise engagement ring with a candy ring so they can shop together; some women might want to propose to you. Has your girlfriend given you any hints about what she might like? Think hard. Also talk to her mom and friends.

Six months isn't super long in some cultural contexts. Are you pretty sure she's open to this? It's totally okay to ask general questions about engagements and marriage. She'll know what you are hinting at.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:53 AM on September 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

It's your choice, but do try to go into this with the attitude that it is okay and defensible for her to want to a ring, particularly a ring that she would feel comfortable wearing every day, forever. The point is to get it withing your budget. It does sound like you're on board with most of that, but just make sure that you don't bring your own completely-valid-for-yourself not-caring-about-jewelry into your evaluation of her desires. Do not, under any circumstances, bring up the fact that some women either do not have or do not wear engagement rings if she is someone who would like to wear a ring.

Consider, though, that someone who isn't super careful with things may benefit from having a hardier ring - lower-maintenance metal, a more secure (e.g. bezel-set) setting. Go into the process knowing that some of these details significantly affect the cost of a ring, and be realistic about what can work on your budget.
posted by blerghamot at 11:55 AM on September 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

When we were dating, my wife and I talked about getting married, so we knew what we were expecting. We talked about rings, and then we looked at rings together, and went with her sisters and mom at different times. We saw a LOT of rings, but we also had done a bit of research before (she didn't like diamonds, but wanted something that wouldn't chip or flake in years of use). From reading about the hardness scale, we were ready when a jeweler told us "sapphires aren't the hardest stone." I asked, knowing the answer "what's harder than sapphires?" "Um, diamonds." So my wife and I joked about her getting in fist-fights with women wearing diamond rings and losing.

She identified 3-5 rings she liked, and I picked the one I thought she liked the best. Before buying the ring, I think I talked to the jeweler about wedding ring and my groom's ring, and he was able to make custom rings to match. I appreciated being able to go to local jewelry stores with her.

And I was able to surprise her. She thought we were still just thinking about rings when I proposed to her with The Ring, so it wasn't all a set process after we started looking at rings.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:00 PM on September 27, 2019

No one asked me what I wanted, so I was proposed to with a diamond ring. I can say now, at this late juncture, as the relationship is ending, that I would have preferred a different stone and setting. I had a lot of ideas that I wasn't given a chance to pass along in any way, and the choice of stone and style didn't feel like they were about me or what I might prefer, but rather a performance of what some hypothetical woman or perhaps their family might expect. The proposal was really well done, the ring was and is beautiful, but it was also more expensive than it needed to be, even with a family relationship with the jeweler, and now feels somewhat reflective of an inability to fully take into account what I like and prefer. I really didn't want a diamond. I didn't and don't feel like I could say anything about it, because I accepted the proposal and it would have sounded ungrateful, because feelings would have been hurt, and because that would have been treated like a life-ending catastrophe if I spoke up. But that was and is how I felt and feel.

Also, some time later, my spouse lost his ring, and it kind of started to represent for me his carelessness with things of value. The ring finally reappeared, years later...a few days before I was already slated to leave for good.

I tell you this not to diminish your excitement about this, but rather to say that this choice does matter, because this is an object you'll have in your lives for hopefully a very long time! So definitely do find a way to find out whether she has any preferences, and do your best to consider that and make this something that will be special for her.
posted by limeonaire at 12:44 PM on September 27, 2019 [4 favorites]

If she's an Etsy user, it might be worth checking if she has any favorite sellers or pieces. (I'm in the "we've talked about it, he hasn't bought it yet, but I have preferences" situation, and I have a whole bunch of Etsy favorites.)

Ditto for checking her Pinterest, if she has one; it can be tough in terms of sourcing (people uploading images with no or wrong links, etc.) and tends to lean aspirational -- so you might run into some of the more expensive rings there -- but if you see a pattern of certain elements in her pins, you can get a good idea of the styles that appeal to her.

It's also possible that she saves these things on private Etsy lists or private Pinterest boards -- it wouldn't hurt to ask if she has them and if you could see them.
posted by littlemisslaika at 1:27 PM on September 27, 2019

There's a lot of good advice up-thread. You should read it and make your decisions carefully.

If you DEFINITELY want to surprise her with a ring, here's a suggestion: enlist the help of one of her best friends. Choose someone you can trust to be subtle, and someone who can keep a secret.

The Best Friend can ask questions without seeming suspicious. The Best Friend can go ring shopping with you. The Best Friend could be your great ally in pulling this off.

I know this because my husband enlisted the help of my best friend when he proposed to me. I was completely surprised, and I got a ring that I love, and (more importantly) a partner that I love.
posted by cleverevans at 2:07 PM on September 27, 2019

Nthing the idea to ask her family (or maybe your family?) about rings in the family!!

I'm a woman who has been engaged before and I wish my former fiance hadn't gotten me a new standard diamond ring. I would have LOVED an heirloom ring for a placeholder at least, and would still love it from the right person.
posted by leemleem at 2:07 PM on September 27, 2019

There is awesome advice in these answers, but every single one of your questions is heavily dependent on your girlfriend, and none of us knows her. I would sit down and really think through what you know about her, including:

Would the fun (and tradition) of a surprise proposal appeal to her, or would she rather have a say in the details? Would it matter to her that her family or friends know about a proposal before she does?

How would you feel if she was overjoyed to marry you but asked to switch the ring for something else?

When she chooses jewelry and clothing, does she pay attention to ethical issues like sweatshop labor, or something else that might hint at where she stands on diamonds?

What does her jewelry look like—is it delicate? Bolder? Silver? Gold? Modern? Vintage?

Does she spend a significant amount of her money on visible items like clothing and accessories? Does she like splurging on a big ticket item (for herself or as a gift for others), or does she tend to save when she has extra funds?
posted by sallybrown at 2:15 PM on September 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

As noted above, not every afab person wants to be surprised with a proposal. This is the sort of thing you find out by talking with your girlfriend - about marriage, about your mutual cultural expectations, about her jewelry preferences (does she like rings? some people hate the feeling of something around their fingers, some people are okay with a band but don't like stones, etc.)

By talking around something, you can definitely get a very good sense of your partner's preferences and feelings (political and/or aesthetic).

I can get a simple temporary band and then go to shop for one together?

If your girlfriend truly wishes to be surprised, this is probably the best option: something pretty but cheap (like $20 - lots of lovely sterling silver rings are cheap) or just symbolic, and tell her specifically that you love her so much you'd like her to be involved and to get something she would really like.

I love my proposal story: I proposed to my cis-male partner spontaneously (surprising us both). We picked out matching sterling silver bands for $6 each, and he re-proposed because he'd always wanted to do the down on one knee thing. We both upgraded to gold at our wedding. The simplicity and matching of the rings is totally us - as is the fact that occasionally I remind him that he still owes me $6 for my ring, but it's been fourteen years, so I probably should forgive that debt by now.

But I think I love it because I was so active in it - and we'd both talked a lot about our preferences and ideas about marriage and gender and partnership - and rings. He knew that I find rings distracting/uncomfortable, especially if they have a stone, and that I would likely only ever wear one ring. After all, we'd be dating for several years - I think we'd talked about everything by then.

posted by jb at 3:16 PM on September 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

You definitely have to ask. I do not have even one friend with a conventional diamond engagement ring. I have a $200 ring that I picked out, another friend has no engagement ring at all, others have sapphires or rubies or vintage whatever and all of those women would have been horrified at the idea of someone spending $6k on a piece of jewelry. If you don’t want to ask her check with her friends — I definitely knew the broad ring preferences of my close friends because, you know, they figured the dude would ask.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 4:11 PM on September 27, 2019

Talk to her. I have a moissanite ring and love it because I didn't want a new diamond but my husband wanted me to have a traditional looking ring. It was the perfect compromise for us and my ring was under $1,000.
posted by notjustthefish at 4:32 PM on September 27, 2019

I think it's a good idea to get her input on the ring, either by getting a placeholder ring and then saying that you can go ring shopping together OR having a conversation. That conversation could either be a very open conversation about engagement, marriage, expectations etc or could be more subtle (Maybe you could bring it up by mentioning someone you know who recently got engaged to try to gauge her feelings about aspects of it).

I personally would not be happy for my partner to spend so much money on a piece of jewellery, and I would be upset if he got me a (non lab made) diamond because they seem to be ethically questionable even when they claim to be ethically sourced. However I know other people who have very specific demands about how much their partner spends on the ring, and have fewer qualms about ethics of diamonds. My partner and I have had a conversation about it, and we're both on the same page.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 6:04 PM on September 27, 2019

In case another person saying it is helpful, this is a question that can only be answered by your partner. (Or, if it is critical that this is a surprise, then by someone who knows her really, really well and can maybe ask questions on the sly without totally giving away the game -- a best friend, sister, etc.)
posted by Dip Flash at 12:03 AM on September 28, 2019

My husband surprised me with an opal engagement ring that he picked out. I love it. He knew that I am not a fan of diamonds, and that opals are my favorite gemstone. But if you don't have any clue about what sort of ring your girlfriend would like, I would try to figure that out, either by asking her or buying a cheap temporary ring and then picking out the real one together.
posted by emd3737 at 11:14 AM on September 28, 2019

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