Today I want to talk about one of the most important pieces of jewelry a person will ever wear. Today, I want to talk about the ever-important engagement ring and how to choose one to suit your style, budget and ring-related needs.
Firstly, my story. I got engaged on May 22 2016 to the love of my life and boyfriend of two
years (at that time), Christopher. We’re both teachers, we’re both sarcastic, we both love to play games, we both love to travel… Essentially, it was a match made in heaven (hahaha). He proposed in a book store with a Harry Potter book while we were in a romantic little town near his cottage. I of course said “HECK YES!” and we have been planning out wedding (coming up soon – July 15 2017!) ever since.
Now, for the really important stuff: how we ensured that the ring he proposed to me with was one that I would love and cherish forever. See, I am not really one for surprises. If you are, god speed! Let your man pick out what he thinks you’ll love. But for my and my guy, that just wasn’t going to fly.
A few months before he popped the question, we started talking about the idea of putting a ring on it and getting married. For us, it seemed like a good time. He was working almost full time, I was teaching full time, we had “enough” money and were looking into buying a condo. It seemed right for us. So we started to shop.
We started online. I did a number of BuzzFeed quizzes that judged my style in rings based on my favourite food and various other unrelated values. We shopped on Etsy. We talked about prices, carat counts, style, colour and more. I had an idea of what I wanted: rose gold with a halo around a classically cut diamond. Then we took our shopping to the big leagues: the mall.
As soon as we walked into Michael Hill, I saw the ring I wanted. It was a 1.5 carat diamond with a thin, rose gold band. The diamond was encircled with the cutest miniature diamonds, and the band had diamonds along the side from 9:00 until 3:00 (half way around). I tried it on, I stared at it. I tried a few others on that were similar, and stared at them too. And then I went back to the original beauty. My fiancee then asked the “diamond guy” for the price… That was not so beautiful.
I left that day with a heavy heart. I knew that there was no way we could afford this ring, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of sincere love that I felt when it was on my finger, staring up at me. My fiancee had taken a few pictures to show our parents. I was lamenting to my mother in law about how I so desperately wanted to win the lottery when she mentioned something I had never thought of before… shopping my stash.
She asked if I had any old jewelry lying around that may have an adequate stone for my ring. If I didn’t, did any of my grandparents? I thought for a moment… my brain then latched onto a ring sitting in my jewelry box: one from my father’s mother, who had once belonged to her great aunt. She told me it was a diamond, but I wasn’t 100% sure… Was it really possible that the answer to my big money problem was sitting at home untouched?
The following weekend Chris and I took my grandmother’s ring to a jeweller recommended by a family friend and had the diamond appraised. It was an old-fashioned cut (which made sense, as it was over 100 years old), but it was just over 1 carat and in near-pristine condition. Then we showed him the picture from Michael Hill… he said he could make the ring, using my diamond, for 1/3 the price. We were ecstatic. My fiancee went back later that week to finalize the deal. My ring would be custom made with my grandmother’s diamond and would look like a million bucks… All for a price we could afford.
I know that this sounds like a fairy story to some, and like we are cheap as **** to others. But for us, this was RIGHT. Now, I have a few tips for you for when you’re picking out your bling – things you don’t even think about until you’re actually in the moment
1) If you’re not comfortable with giving your man/lady free reign, DON’T. I know that the idea of a surprise piece of jewelry is utterly romantic, but in this day in age, we have to be realistic. Would you rather have a moment of surprise with a decent chance of hating what your man presents? Or give him some well meaning hints and get what you’ll really love? Most young couples (hell, and older couples!) can’t afford to buy two rings because the first one just wasn’t up to snuff… If you want a surprise, I totally understand! It’s just something to think about.
2) If a diamond is not in your price range, DON’T GET ONE. Or even if it is in your price range and just, in your opinion, not worth the $$$. Diamonds are classic, of course, but there are so many other options out there today that it is hardly the only choice. My friend Lauren has a gorgeous sapphire birth stone on her ring – it looks amazing on her. Another woman I know has a teeny, tiny piece of morganite because she has petite hands and preferred its sparkle. My cousin Liv has larger hands and wanted a larger ring to compensate – she got a badass, giant piece of cubic zirconia. Pick what you love and what is right for you and your significant other, not what you think you should have because of old traditions.
And of course, if you learned anything from my story, it is to shop your stash before you buy. Oftentimes, grandmothers, mums, aunts and friends have old jewelry that they no longer wear that they may be ready to bequeath to you. Even if they don’t, it never hurts to ask. My grandmothers both have “costume” jewelry more expensive than all of mine put together as they lived in a totally different time. Maybe yours do, too!
3) Choose your metal wisely! If you’re strapped for cash or not a huge jewelry wearer, consider getting a metal besides gold or platinum. My friend Lauren’s husband wears a tungsten ring because he likes the weight and couldn’t be happier with it. If you’re set on gold, make sure you try on all options before making your final choice. I chose rose gold over the more traditional white or yellow because my skin is cool toned; yellow looked greenish and white made my hand look skeletally pale. You needn’t go with the traditional yellow gold just because your mother and grandmother had it. Pick what’s right for you.
4) Keep your lifestyle in mind when you choose the setting. I am not one to work with my hands (I am a teacher), so a higher setting worked for me. If you work in construction or something similar, however, a lower setting more flush with the band maybe better so it doesn’t get caught on things that could potentially hurt you or the ring (and das esspensive!). Also, think about whether you are going to want to wear both rings at the same time once you have your wedding band, as well: a lower setting may not allow for the wedding ring to line up with the engagement ring, leaving a space between the two. This is something you can ask your jeweller about when you’re purchasing the ring – you may choose to purchase a set that fit together perfectly. I chose a higher setting (the diamond is up high in relation to the band – I hope you can see in the picture) so my future wedding band can sort of slide under it. I hope that makes sense!
5) If you don’t want a ring, DON’T GET ONE. I know a few lovely humans who chose to get tattoos instead of rings because it better matched their aesthetic. I have read online about a woman who chose to have an engagement necklace instead of a ring because she didn’t like the feel of rings on her hands. Make the right choice for you, not for everyone else’s comfort. It is hard to remember sometimes, but your engagement is unique, just like your relationship is and your marriage will be. Let it be as you as it can be!