Picking out an engagement ring

I think we need to take a moment and backtrack a bit from wedding planning to talk about the proposal. Naturally, the ring is a major part in that so it is worthy of discussion.

Many grooms-to-be begin this journey clueless of how to buy a ring. After all, many have never done it before and, hopefully, will never do it again. And this is one area where fathers don’t seem to be able to pass on their knowledge.

There was a television news story last year talking about the fact that many modern brides want – no expect – huge diamond engagement rings. The young men featured in the story were perplexed and discouraged because they didn’t have the money for that type of ring.

I indeed felt sorry for them and wanted to scream at the television that they should run very quickly away from that girl.

It is sad that girls today do, in fact, insist on a celebrity diamond ring. The reason for this is simple: they want to show it to their friends and make them jealous. It’s a way to tell everyone they are better than you and, I think, is a sign of insecurity and immaturity.

With that said, a man should strive to get the love of their life a ring that will make her happy. They should put some thought into it and, yes, sacrifice a bit of hard-earned cash.

The idea is that a man is thoughtful enough to give a token of love that matches his bride. Women want a man who knows what they want without them needing to tell them.

Practically, such traditions have always proven to the woman the intended groom could afford a secure life for her. A bit old-fashioned, true, but somehow it is built into our psyche.

The first known recorded engagement jewelry is in Genesis 24. In the story, a servant of Abraham swore to him that he would find a proper bride for Abraham’s son, Isaac. The man traveled back to Abraham’s home country and found Rebekah. He gave her a nose ring and two bracelets, all gold, and asked about her parents.

Naturally, her father was impressed and gave permission for her to marry Isaac. She left her family the next day to travel back with the man to her groom.

The moral of the story is the ring is important if you want a “yes.”

The most important aspect of the ring is to get one that matching the woman’s personality. This is where one must pay close attention because it is crucial, regardless of the size of the diamond. The one thing women want most is to think their guy understands them.

When Chef Mike and I were talking marriage, I had a set idea of the ring I wanted. It wasn’t a certain size or a special designer, but was a certain style. A unique style. Something I hadn’t really seen before.

As we were looking in jewelry stores, I tried to point out some rings I thought were close and described what I liked and what I didn’t like. Mike kept going to one particular style I had absolutely no interest in. It looked like his mother, not me.

After a few days of this, I asked if he had already gotten the ring and if it was that style. He said not really, but after some interrogating I discovered the conspiracy plan.

Mike’s mother had upgraded ring sets over the years and so she had a two or three older sets she no longer wore. His dad had suggested that Mike give me one of those sets, saving money, grief and time.

I was appalled.

My reaction was so volatile that I wasn’t sure if Mike would still want to marry me. However, he felt ashamed after I explained my feelings and apologized.

My thoughts were that to give me one of his mother’s old sets was like giving me  hand-me-down clothes. There was no sentimental attachment to those rings. They were discarded for better ones. The thought that Mike shouldn’t spend any money, time, or thought into picking out my engagement ring made me feel like his family – and ultimately him – thought I wasn’t worthy of the effort. I had waited a long time for marriage and felt I was certainly worthy of more effort than that.

Plus, the style was totally not me and wearing one of those rings would be like wearing his mother’s shoes when I’m a size five and she’s a nine. It just wouldn’t fit.

Mike ended up buying me a ring through a jewelry wholesaler connection. He designed it himself and – bonus – only paid about half of the retail value. Being a frugal person, that made me very happy.

Here are some things to keep in mind when buying a ring:

  • Don’t go into debt over it. You should be able to pay for it in cash. If you need to wait to save for it then wait. Don’t put it on credit.
  • The younger the couple the smaller the ring. You are just getting started in life and need to put some money toward your life together, like a house or furniture. Don’t expect to have everything at 22 that most people get at 40.
  • Consequently, the older the bride the bigger the ring. Older couples have careers, have investments, and savings. An older bride will expect a larger ring because she knows you can afford it. They also feel they deserve it because they have waited a long time. If you chintz, she will feel like you don’t value her.
  • Understand your bride’s personality. Look at her hobbies and that will give you a clue into the style she would want. Her clothes are also an indicator. You are marrying her, you should know her well. You can also get one of her relatives, like a cousin or brother, to help pick out a ring


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