How does a guy pick the right engagement ring for his bride-to-be? And how does he do it without her finding out about his romantic plans? When it comes to engagement rings, the first truth men have to come to terms with is that they don’t know anything at all. And I would know because I just recently got engaged myself. So fear not future fiancés; after some major trial and error, here is what I’ve learned you’ll need to know so she will say yes. -Mark Cline
Find her ring size
Whether it is the first step you take or the final piece you add in the engagement ring equation, at some point you are going to need to know her ring size. Nowadays, some jewelers offer something called an engagement setting in which you pick out the diamond(s) and place them in a temporary setting, just to get you through the proposal. Afterward, you and your new fiancée can go back to the jewelers and select the perfect mount together.
That may work for some, but I am not one of these people. I want Miss Right’s ring to be 100 percent me. There are several techniques you can employ to gather such important information with varying degrees of danger and accuracy. You can try the less invasive procedure of taking a ring of hers—one that she is not wearing at the present moment but one you’ve seen her wear recently—and either trace the inside of it on a piece of paper, or slip it on one of your own fingers, taking note of where it stops on your digit. These might be the most undetectable methods of sizing, but they are somewhat unreliable.
The method I employed was one of the breaking-and entering kind. Miss Right was gone for the day, so I cracked open her jewelry box and extracted a well-worn ring of hers that I knew fit her finger comfortably. It brings with it a bigger risk of getting caught, but it also delivers the necessary information right to the jeweler. This method greatly erases the possibility that any of her ring size information gets lost in translation. Just make sure you get that ring back in its exact spot before your girlfriend returns. Otherwise you might have to explain to a police officer why your girlfriend’s favorite ring from her grandmother had gone missing yet ended up in your pocket.
Look to others for help but trust your own instinct
There came a point—about three seconds after walking through the door of the first jewelry store—during my engagement ring information round-up where I wanted to elicit some outside help in picking the right diamond. The two most obvious candidates were Miss Right’s best friend and mother, but I soon learned it might be better to make such a decision on my own.
If you turn to an outside source for help, you also run the risk of blowing the element of surprise that often comes with a wedding proposal. I shuddered at the thought of spending the day with Miss Right’s best friend, finding the perfect ring that will remind her every day just how much I love her, and returning home to find my girlfriend talking into the phone and saying,“I have to go, he just got home, I’ll call you when it happens.” All the while she is smiling ear to ear and doing a lousy job of playing dumb. You don’t want to go through all the trouble of purchasing the perfect ring and planning a great proposal only to be bested by a friend who can’t keep her mouth shut.
“An engagement ring is a sign of love between two people,” says Anat Adi-Atias, vice president of Distinctive Diamonds, a wholesale diamond company that specializes in engagement and wedding rings. “You wouldn’t want your fiancée waking up every morning and looking at a ring that anyone besides you picked out.”
If you don’t think you have what it takes to pick the perfect ring, let me tell you a little secret. While your girlfriend may be opinionated about what is wrong with someone else’s engagement ring, her heart will melt the second you drop to one knee. It is amazing how easily she will fall head over heels for her ring. It will make you both smile to know that the ring she wears is straight from your heart, no need for outsourcing.
Pay attention to her clues
If you are a guy and you’ve been in a relationship long enough to be thinking about a proposal, you’ve also been in a relationship long enough to hear the words, “Are you even listening to me?” spill out of your lady’s lips a couple hundred times. While it is hard to pretend you care even the slightest about her latest shopping trip with friends, you need to pay attention for some subtle and not-so-subtle hints that might be dropped.
While she and her friends were window shopping, she might have noticed a particular style of ring she really liked. If she mentions such an experience, do not ask her for a pen and start taking notes right in front of her. Instead, keep it in the back of your mind until you are alone and can write yourself a little reminder for later. It will score you major bonus points if, on that day you ask her to marry you, she opens the ring box and sees the same style she told you about months before.
Gentlemen, I’m sure you can think of a few times when you and your girlfriend were at a party in which you bumped into a recently engaged couple and her diamond was displayed. I can think of no less than half a dozen instances where Miss Right has said, “It’s so gorgeous!” to the bride-to-be. However, as soon as the couple was out of earshot, I was told, “If you ever get me a yellow gold band, I will not marry you.” So I now know that whatever diamond—or if she gets her way,multiple diamonds—I buy, it is going to be held in place by a white gold or platinum setting. I have a crucial element of her dream ring in place, and I never had to ask a question. All I had to do was listen to her talk a little trash about someone else’s ring.
Know her personality
Another suggestion is to simple know the woman you’re with. Does she like traditional things or contemporary designs? Is she a flashy dresser, or does she take a more modest approach to fashion? Does she usually wear silver-colored jewelry or pieces made of yellow gold?
“These types of answers will usually hold true in all facets of her life,” Andalman says.“For instance, if she is a nurse, she is going to want a diamond that doesn’t protrude; she’ll want the stone protected so it doesn’t get caught on anything. So even if you can’t remember the exact type of cut she likes, as long as you know enough about her, a good jeweler can help you find the right ring.”
Picking out an engagement ring is not something you should hope to bang out in between washing your car and the start of the 1 o’clock Sunday football games. Don’t go out shopping with the determination that today is the day you are buying an engagement ring. When you find the right ring that says “I love you enough that I want to spend every day from here on out with you and only you,” you’ll know it. Don’t be intimidated by fancy jewelry stores; if they are really worth your business, they will treat you with respect and act as a helpful, guiding hand.
The Bottom Line
Above all, make sure you ask questions. It is OK not to know everything about diamonds and engagement rings; that is why jewelers exist. All you need to know when you walk into a jewelry store is that she is the right girl for you. Because after all is said and done, the only two people in this entire galaxy that have to be happy with a particular engagement ring are just one boy and that one girl.