You're ready to start engagement ring shopping. Congratulations! But, with all of the options and possibilities that exist, how do you know where to begin? This post is part 1 in a series to help guide you through the engagement ring shopping process.
Part 1: Engagement Rings – Should it be a Surprise?
While some folks still want their partner to surprise them with an engagement ring, more and more, we see couples coming in to pick out the ring together. We recommend communicating with your partner to get a sense of what they want ahead of time. Do they want to be surprised, or do they want to be involved, and to what extent? You could make the entire thing a surprise, have them in on some of the details but not all, or collaborate on the whole process together.
This method requires quite a bit of reconnaissance. You'll want to find out their ring size (or at least get pretty close), what metal they like and any metal allergies (white gold contains nickel which is a common metal allergen), what their style is, and what stone type, shape and size they might want.
Engagement rings and wedding bands (in the US) are typically worn on the left ring finger. Since it's worn on a specific finger, it ultimately needs to be a specific size. And, ring sizes are not something you can just guess. If you don't know their ring size, can you ask them? Or can you ask a friend of theirs who might know? If not, do they have a ring that they wear on their ring finger that you can "borrow" (aka sneak away) to take to a jeweler to find out the size? If you can't sneak a ring away to get it measured, do you have calipers and can accurately measure the interior diameter of the ring?
If the ring you got the size from is worn on their right ring finger, then it may be 1/4-1/2 size off from the size of their left ring finger. But, getting the size of the right ring finger will get you in the ballpark for the left. If none of those options are possible, find out about the possibilities of re-sizing the ring you are interested in before purchasing it – also ask if it is better to size up or down that style of ring.
As for style and materials, you'll want to bring as many clues with you when you come in for a consultation (or have for a video consultation). Here are some places you can mine for inspiration: do they have a Pinterest board with jewelry or engagement rings? Take some screenshots and bring that with you. Ask their friends what they might like, or better yet if they'll go with you to help pick the ring out. Take note of what jewelry they own and wear. What color is the metal? What style is it? Is it ornate or minimal? Classic or romantic? Is their jewelry flashy? Do they wear a lot of stones, and if so, are they diamonds or colored stones? Take photos of their jewelry to bring with you. Are they active, or do they work with their hands a lot? Are they are a nurse or doctor who needs to take gloves on and off all day? Any clues that you can provide as to their taste and lifestyle can help provide direction.
A partial surprise has a better chance of success in getting a ring that fits and that they will love to wear every day. Here are some of the ways that we've seen a partial surprise go down:
- Come in with your partner and have them pick out a few styles, metals, and stones that they like. Then you make the final choice. With this you can keep the logistics of the ring, timeline, pickup, and proposal a secret. That way, you know what they like and what they'll be excited to wear when the time comes.
- Ask them a list of questions ahead of time, and possibly some links to rings they like. Or better yet ask for a Pinterest board. Then you pick out something based on the information they gave you.
- Propose with one of our stand-in / placeholder ring, then go ring shopping together. That way, the actual proposal is a complete surprise, but they get to collaborate on picking out the ring.
- Propose with a center stone like a diamond or sapphire, then pick out the setting together. With this method, you will want to do some sleuthing first to make sure that they do want a stone in their engagement ring, and what size and kind they would want.
- Pick out an in-stock ring that you like, but that can be returned. Propose with that, then exchange it if they want something different.
This one is pretty self-explanatory – you've decided that you want to get married, and you want that partnership to start with picking out a ring together. There are a lot of obvious advantages to coming in together, but this might not be the right way to go if they want the proposal or ring to be a surprise. Often we see couples come in to pick out an engagement ring or rings together, but we only communicate on the details of the order with the person giving the ring. That way, they can still surprise them with the completed ring or an official proposal.
Stay tuned for part 2 in our series on engagement ring shopping.