Engagement Rings

What is the best place to look? I just started looking online about 10 minutes ago and everything looks really ugly. She wears earrings often and I know the style she likes, and I know she prefers silver to gold.

I’m not sure she’d want a solitary diamond - she’s more a fan of color. A ‘pretty’ ring I guess is what I’m looking for.

One day she sent me this


and I seriously don’t know if she was dropping hints or what. I have much more than $97 (the closing price on that auction) to spend and I want to do this right. I also want to avoid getting screwed, and getting caught by her. I know the ring is supposed to look a certain way and is categorized a certain way but I think that’s a load of hooey.

I think this is nice but it’s a little too plain.

Last link was meant to go here

I recommend a store. If you live near a Beldens, I’d recommend them. That’s where mine came from, and we bought our bands there last weekend.

I’d suggest finding this out for sure. She may like color for everyday jewelry and have her heart set on a diamond. Or she may have just seen the movie “Blood Diamond” and will be rabidly angry if you present her with a diamond.

I know you want it to be a big surprise, but trust me, figure out what she wants before you go shopping, at least in general terms.


Seconding the idea to pop the question with a big fake ring and a promise to go shopping together for the real one. I’m not a big diamond person, but even I enjoyed our excursions to find what I wanted (channel-set anniversary ring).

Odds are she’d rather choose it herself. Just give her a budget.

Assuming you’re talking the diamond’s Four C’s, it’s (mostly) not hooey.

  1. Cut. For some women, it’s a huge deal that they get a round cut, or a princess. Or maybe she’d throttle you to death if you tried giving her a baguette or a heart. Having her hate the ring you gave is not hooey. Not to mention (far more importantly) that a ring cut too shallow will look like a mirror because it just reflects all the light, and a diamond cut too deep will look like a dull rock, because all the light falls through it, with no fire or brilliance. A reference.
  2. Clarity. Just for kicks, have a jeweler show you a VS1 (a good, mid-rated clarity) and an I1 (pretty poor) diamond in the same cut, same color, same carat. If you have a sharp eye, you’ll see the imperfections in the I1, the flecks of carbon that did not become diamond, with no magnification. If you use a loupe, it’s repulsive. The VS1 will be hard to see imperfections with the naked eye, but easy enough with the loupe. Something like an IF will be expensive, but quite clear, even with the loupe. A diamond with a poor clarity does cut down on the diamond’s fire, as there are obstructions to the light within the diamond. You don’t want a diamond looking dull, or it’s just a little chip of rock.
  3. Color. Now we start getting into the hooey. Anything between D and J is pretty indistinguishable if you don’t have a reference stone to see its color. Beyond J, you’ll probably notice the yellow, which makes the stone look dingy, and as such, not as brilliant (see a theme here? It’s all about making a lump of rock seem like it’s on fire from the inside.). I think I may have even bought an L or M, without much trouble to its color, for El Perro Fumando’s engagement ring. This is one you can cut corners on a bit.
  4. Carat. Here’s the hooey, and where stores can really make a killing under the pitch that bigger is better. This is where you should really go by the size of her fingers. If she has dainty little hands, a half carat will look quite nicely proportioned. If she has large hands, then a one or even a two carat may be what looks best. Personally, I think that too many guys get suckered in to buying, and most women look absurd and ostentatious, wearing a diamond too large for her hand.

From your links, it sounds like the both of you prefer the look of a diamond setting, as opposed to a solitaire. Find out what kind of look she wants, and use that as a guide.

Depending on whether she expects to be surprised or expects to get exactly what she wants, whether she’s anticipating a proposal or not, you have various courses of action.

If she’s not anticipating a ring any time soon, or she hasn’t explicitly stated what she wants, you’ll have to be a little sneaky. Look at the rings (and other jewelry) she already owns. Lots of solitaire pieces, or lots of multijewel settings? A predominance of understated (other diamond, white pearl, muted colors) or vibrant (brightly colored jemstones)?

If she is expecting a proposal soon, or you know exactly what she wants, make an event out of it. Take her to a jewelry store and let her play with settings and stones, talk to the jeweler, herself. Be there to guide (possibly to something that doesn’t entirely repulse you, possibly to a budget), but let her choose exactly what she’d want.

Ultimately, none of it is hooey (that really is a fun word), since this is ideally going to be a centerpiece jewelry item for the rest of her life, and she should have something that she will be happy with. The ring itself: yeah, hooey. Making her happy, and having something she’ll want to keep and wear for the rest of her life: not at all.

I forgot to say (and my time limit for editing ran out), that this is where having a physical store with a large number of unset diamonds, and the ability to set on-site, really helps. Your average Zales or Kay or whatever is at the mall will not have much selection, and really run on a “you take what we have” mentality. Something like Jared or The Jewelry Exchange (where I bought mine after being able to look at three or four diamonds rated roughly the exact same across the Cs, but examine them myself with a loupe) will have far more diamonds to compare and contrast, so that you get exactly the one you want.

Get a nice but reasonably priced ring (like the one she linked you, for example) for the big moment and present it with the information that the two of you will go shopping for the actual engagement ring together at a later time.

Keep in mind you’re talking about a piece of jewelry it’s likely she’ll be wearing daily for the remainder of her life. She’d probably appreciate some input in selecting it, you know? Also, depending on the style she prefers and the sort of wedding band she’d like, she may be interested in a wedding-band/engagement ring set, which is tricky to manage as a surprise and difficult to find out about without tipping your hand if you want your proposal to be a surprise :slight_smile:

Colored stones are making a comeback in engagement rings, FYI. Diamond ones aren’t really that old of a tradition - Victorian, I think. Personally I’ll want a sapphire.

I echo the “take her to the store” theme. My wife loves the design I picked out for her engagement ring, but we had talked extensively about it beforehand, so I knew what her tastes were. Sacrifice the surprise for the satisfaction of a correct choice.

Considering I’m mentioned in this thread, here’s my advice.

It sounds like your beloved is not like me. I didn’t drop hints, I threw them at OMD’s face at a high velocity and yelled “THIS IS WHAT I WANT.” Not to mention, I dragged him into a jewelry store to know my ring size.

Anyhow, it seems that she may respond well to a shopping trip with you. Figure out a way to make the proposal memorable, then take her shopping right away. Of course, scouting out the store ahead of time is a good idea, maybe even having a few pre-selected in your price range so she has an idea of what she’s allowed to choose.

Humorously, I heard a jewelry store misattribute the first diamond engagement ring in a commercial just yesterday, saying that (IIRC) Archduke Ferdinand of Hungary (or was it Austria? Or was it Austria-Hungary at that point anyway?) presented the first diamond engagement ring to Mary of Burgundy in the 15th century. Close, but it was Maximillian of Austria (though Mary of Burgundy and the date (actually 1477) were correct). The commercial meant to imply a long, fine history of diamond as a symbol of engagement.

But you are right that it’s far newer. Actually, even more so than Victorian*. De Beers was founded in 1888, but it wasn’t until mid-20th-century advertising (“A Diamond is Forever”) that diamond became then “it” jewel.

*Personally, I think the Victorian Regards ring (example) and Dearest ring (example) are pretty neat ideas.

Even Tiffany offers non-diamond options.

I agree with those who recommend you ask her. Perhaps use a “symbolic” ring when you pop the question. Then, go shopping.

Many ladies might prefer colored stones to diamonds–for political or esthetic reasons. Engagement rings have a long history but the “Diamonds Only” requirement was added by deBeers in the 1940’s.

http://www.bluenile.com has a ‘build your own ring’ feature that’s fun. You might want to sit your GF down in front of that (after she’d agreed to become your fiancee, of course) and play with that awhile to get an idea of what’s out there.

My husband and I found our rings here:

We bought the stone separately from a trusted jeweler (we went with a sapphire for me in a white gold setting).

If nothing else, it’s a great site to browse around in and get ideas.

I may be proposing in the next 6 months and need to start working on getting a ring. I don’t want to start another thread and I hope the OP doesn’t mind me asking it here.

Is it extremely cheap to want to spend less than 1,000 on the engagement ring? My GF mentioned getting a set, but if it is too expensive (I only have 1,000 dollar line of credit and I am a poor college student, so no paying cash at this time), I might just have to get a ring that can fit in a generic (not in cost or looks, but not custom made for the eng.ring) wedding band.

I’d hate to spend more than 100 bucks on a symbolic ring and just have to buy another ring later, but I am open to this option (as long as it is under 300 or so), but might talk to her about it.

I had the diamond set into a simple solitaire setting on a white gold band. I think the band and labor cost something pretty insignificant, a whopping $60 or so. Some jewelers will more or less throw in a gold solitaire band with the purchase of the diamond.

Give her a ring from a gumball machine or a cigar band for your “symbolic ring” with which to propose. It’s cute and funny.

A lot depends on what kind of ring your GF wants. A grand won’t buy much in the way of diamonds but could buy a nice stone of another kind. Also, don’t be in a hurry to get engaged if you don’t have to be. You don’t want to start a marriage off with financial worries, that’s for sure. Wait until you can afford something you both like.

And you don’t need a symbolic ring. My husband just asked me - no ring. We got one later. If you want to give her something, get an empty ring box and put a coupon in it that you’ve made, telling her it is good for one engagement ring. :slight_smile: