So You Want to Put A Ring On It: Engagement Ring Shopping 101

First off, congratulations on finding such a wonderful person! Only the people getting engaged can really make decisions about this, together, because engagement (or enGAYgement) is a super personal thing. It’s different for everyone! So I’ll tell you what I did when I started shopping for engagement rings for my fiancée.

How Do You Start Looking?

Originally, I had my fiancée start making a Pinterest board. I did this because we’d already decided we wanted to get married. We’d already had The Talk about how we wanted that to look — and one of the things we talked about was that we wanted to have a wedding and we wanted a fairly traditional (if on the longer side) engagement, complete with a ring. We agreed on all of that fairly instantly. Where we didn’t agree at first was how that ring would be decided on. I was going to be doing the proposing (something that was important to both of us), and I insisted that everything about the proposal should be a surprise. Not just how I asked or where, but the ring as well. That made sense to me — I love surprises and spontaneity. But I still wanted to get the ring right — I wanted it to be something my fiancée would love. So she made a face about the surprises thing (she does not like surprises) and started pinning things to the Pinterest board.

And thank lesbian Jesus we did that, because I might never have realized that I was completely and totally wrong to insist that I pick the ring if we hadn’t. I took a look at the Pinterest board for the first time and holy unicorns, I could not see one damn thing in common between all the rings she picked! It’s like there’s no line that could possibly be drawn through them all. Just about the only thing similar about each piece is that they were all jewelry. So then I got to thinking — maybe surprises are good for some couples, but clearly that wasn’t going to work with us. I wondered where I’d gotten the impression that the ring had to be a total surprise, with only one partner in on it. Oh yeah. That’s right. Traditional straight engagement. Well we’re neither traditional nor straight, so I relented and we started shopping together.

Let me tell you. I highly recommend it, shopping together. First, it’s a bonding experience. Picking an engagement ring together leads to all sorts of other conversations about your future: where you want to live, what you want your careers and families to look like, what do you want out of a wedding and out of a marriage? It becomes a conversation, an opportunity to go out for lunch after visiting a jeweler and just chill and chat. Engagement ring shopping is the most productive date! Second, it takes the pressure WAY off you. You know exactly how she feels about this ring or that, solitaire versus engagement band, diamond versus moissanite. When I tell people this, their first concern seems to be that my fiancée then knew how much I was spending. GASP! Whatever shall we do about the etiquette of gift giving?? GRAB YOUR PEARLS AND HEAD FOR THE HILLS. But we were living together at the time. We had a joint checking account. We were planning our financial future (and present) together — if I was going to spend an amount, she was going to know what amount that was anyway. I found it to be more responsible of both of us if we had a budget talk.

So let’s talk about how to go about actually looking at real, physical rings that you can hold in your hand. Sure, you can go to something like a Kay Jewelers or Jared — we really didn’t want to do that. Both of us have really complex diamond feelings and wanted ethically-sourced gem stones (perhaps not a diamond at all). We wanted to know that the jeweler, the person really responsible for making the ring, was getting paid most of what we were spending (not some big corporation or parent company or whatever). We also wanted to support small businesses and know that we were putting our dollars into a business that supports marriage equality. Bonus, we also found a jeweler run by women. Now that’s not to say you have to do the same — if both of y’all have found the perfect thing right in your budget and it happens to be at a big box retailer, you should get that thing. Everyone is different.

But here’s why I at least recommend looking at some smaller jewelers — many jewelers can work within a budget you give them (and if they can’t, they’re going to be really upfront with you about it). They can give you all sorts of information about what costs are worth cutting and what’s worth splurging on. And the really good ones won’t try to up-sell you because some corporation tells them to; they’re going to make sure you, the two people standing in front of them, are happy with your choice. They’re going to ask you questions to find out what you value and they’re going to suggests tweaks to the ring you found on the website based on the things you tell them. They’re going to get really excited with you when you finally purchase. And all of those “there’s so many options” feelings will start to dissipate when you have your own Willy Wonka guiding you through the chocolate factory. They’ll teach you the words for the styles that you like (oh, so that’s what “cushion cut” means), so that you can speak about them in future. Really excellent jewelers do those things and so much more.

If you’re curious, our really excellent jeweler is Bario Neal, run by two women with a studio in Philadelphia and a showroom in New York. From their about page:

As a small company, we have the freedom to innovate according to our design vision and our ethical commitments. We use this flexibility to try out new materials and sources, branch into new projects that reflect our evolving interests, and advocate for both global and local causes. We donate a percentage of our profits to many environmental and social justice organizations in whose missions we strongly believe, including Ethical Metalsmiths, EarthWorks, Freedom to Marry, Human Rights Campaign, and Planned Parenthood. Locally, we support Delaware Riverkeeper’s efforts to prevent fracking, as well as being actively engaged within our community, particularly the Philadelphia public schools.

Everything they do is handmade. They are magic people. We plan to get our wedding bands through them, too.

If you’re anything like us, you might go sit in a park the first time you look at your first jeweler in person and breathe deeply over and over again, repeating “that’s the most adult thing we’ve ever done.” Or not. Getting married doesn’t make you an adult, and not getting married doesn’t make you not an adult.

When you’re beginning this phase, know that some jewelers allow walk-ins, and others require consultation appointments. Don’t feel weird about making those appointments: the jewelers know that you’re shopping around and aren’t going to expect you to purchase anything on your first trip. If they do expect that of you, that’s really weird and you still shouldn’t feel any obligation.

How Do You Start Saving?

Yep, engagement rings cost money. No matter your budget, they still cost money. And no matter what we hear from other people (we’ll get to some things you should ignore later), you should go into this with a budget that is realistic to you and your own financial circumstances.

What I did was put money aside in a savings account that I dedicated just for this. I recommend this, because it leaves you with a sense of accomplishment — you can see the money build up. And if you grab an interest-yielding, FDIC-insured savings account, you can keep that around to save for other things in your life once you’re done purchasing the engagement ring. Now how much you stick in the account is, obviously, completely up to you. Pro tip: when you’re ready to purchase and you have the entire amount tucked in a savings account, put the ring on your credit card and then immediately pay the entire ring-amount the same month. Nothing says romance like a boost in your credit score.

How Do You Actually Purchase The Thing?

There are a few things you need to know regardless of whether your future-fiancée is coming with you for the actual purchase.

  1. Make sure you know if she’s allergic to any metals.
  2. Make sure you know her ring size.
  3. And then anything else you may have discussed about rings (this is where the joint shopping trips you took before come in handy).

In my case, we did go purchase the ring together. I already had all the elements of the ring written down — what the setting looked like, what kind of stone it was going to be, what kind of metal we’d decided on — so it wasn’t really necessary to have her come along. But while we were still in the shopping phase, we discovered a really good crêperie across the street, which meant that every single time we went to Bario Neal, we also took ourselves out on a date. So because my fiancée was there, we could get her sized right on the spot. This turned out to not make any difference, by the way, because apparently one doesn’t know how a ring will actually fit until one wears it in their real life. Make sure to check with your jeweler that they’ll do a free or cost-effective resize if the size is wrong the first time.

It might not be worth saying, but you probably won’t take the ring home that day (it’s not like how it is in the movies). If any element of the ring is custom made, or even if they have to resize something you’ve picked that’s already made (or vintage!), someone will have to actually perform an act of artistry on your ring. For us, that took six weeks. Which was obviously preferable, because in six weeks we had a hankering for crêpes again. She came with me to pick it up, too, and eat crêpes.

Here is what we decided on, though — my fiancée couldn’t see the ring when we picked it up. It went right in my pocket and that was the last she saw of it before I proposed to her (a thing I tried and failed to make a surprise, but that’s a story for another day). You might decide differently — your fiancée might put that ring on right then and there, at which point y’all will declare yourselves engaged and go out to dinner. My point here is that you have to talk to each other about what your expectations are in this respect.

A Few Things You Should Ignore

Having written for wedding magazines in the past, I am deeply familiar with a little thing called The Wedding Industrial Complex. Weddings are a huge money maker, and they’re getting more and more elaborate each passing year. There is so much pressure and marketing surrounding weddings, and surrounding engagement rings in particular. Here are just a few things I can think of that people get really weird about for no reason other than tradition (a tradition, by the way, that’s just not that old) and the skill of advertisers. I am giving you permission to ignore these things. I know, I’m just some dyke writing this in her living room, but sometimes you just need permission to say fuck it and do what you actually want. If anyone asks you why you and your fiancée didn’t adhere to any of the following “rules,” y’all can just say Autostraddle told you it.

1. A ring should cost three months salary.

Lolololol x infinity. Yeah fucking right. I’m a writer and a graduate student, we’d prefer to eat and pay rent, thanks. But you know, this is actually some 1950’s holdover bullshit that actually still gets said with people’s mouths in the real world. Ignore any etiquette pronouncements about your budget. You and your partner know what you can afford and what you want to spend — sometimes people get confused because “you can afford it.” But that doesn’t mean a piece of jewelry is where your priorities lie. Maybe you choose the way you do and then go on vacation. Or just tuck it away for later, when you think of something you’d rather do with it than buy a big honking diamond. Which reminds me —

2. A ring has to have a diamond in it.

Not so. It was important to my fiancée that the ring fit the current cultural conditions of an engagement ring because part of the fun of it is playing on the jungle gym that is societal milestones. But for us that didn’t mean a diamond — both of us had really squirmy feelings about the ethics of diamonds. We knew going in that if we were going to use a diamond, it would be a vintage resetting (creating no new demand) or we were going to use another clear stone that wasn’t quite so fraught. We chose that latter because moissanite is made from space rocks and that was one million times cooler to us than crystallized dinosaur goo. Just because it was important to us that the ring have a clear stone in it, though, doesn’t mean it has to be important to you. My mother’s engagement ring had an emerald in it instead.

3. An engagement ring should be a ring.

I don’t have an engagement ring that I wear. Let me tell you a bit about that.

Thinking Outside The Ring Box

I don’t wear rings. I did once, but I don’t now. While I plan to wear a wedding band, an engagement ring was just a bit too feminine for my current style. But it was really important to both of us that our engagement symbols be reciprocal: it seemed really weird and territorial for the more masculine of the two of us to put a ring on the more feminine one’s finger and have that be the end of the tradition we were starting for the two of us. So we thought about other fun things I could wear instead. The most everyday wearable thing we came up with was a watch, especially after it came out that I didn’t own a working watch. We started looking and I had a Victorianox one picked out. But life has other plans.

My cat got cancer, which he ultimately died from. His medical bills were high. Our budgets changed. We decided to hold off on the watch in order to be fiscally responsible people, and I wound up proposing to her with the ring we picked out and having no intention of receiving something in return. But we were walking through Provincetown the day after and we spotted a watch in the window. Both of us saw it at relatively the same instant and both of us thought the exact same thing. It was gorgeous. It was in our budget. We went it and bought it from the (lesbian, we’re guessing) shopkeeper. And then we found a patch of sand in the vicinity of the shop to stand on and she proposed to me right back with the watch. It was perfect. Not what we planned, and not what people see as traditional, but it was perfect for us.

I think what I’m getting at by telling you this story is that, in a way, it is easier to break the fake rules as queer people. Legal gay marriage is a relatively new thing, at least in the U.S. While commitments have been happening forever, there were far fewer fossilized or advertised “traditions” surrounding that. So being that our traditions are somewhat less rule-based and that we have comparatively fewer engagement role models than straight people do, people almost expected my fiancée and I to do something a little bit on the weirder side. Not one straight person has made any negative or confused comments about my watch or about the unique design of my fiancée’s ring (the only pushback at all we’ve gotten to our engagement, actually, comes from other queer people, but that’s an essay for a different day). We don’t have to follow tradition because we seem to be inherently less traditional. That’s a really powerful place to be. So make your own traditions. Make an engagement, and later a marriage, that makes sense to and for the both of you. Don’t worry about making sense to the Complex.

Some Questions to Help You

Okay, so really boiling my experiences down to something helpful — let’s talk about some questions you can ask your sweetheart to decide how to proceed here. This is what I recommend:

1. Is marriage your thing?

2. When would you like to be asked, do you think? Two years in? Two years from this point right now?

3. Do you want a traditional engagement?

4. Do you want a ring? Or something else?

5. Do you want the ring (or the something else) to be a surprise? If so, how would you like me to shop for you? What kinds of questions may I ask? If not, how involved do you want to be in the shopping process?

6. If we are going to shop together, what is important to you about that process?

7. What do you want out of a proposal? Who should propose first, if that’s what we’re going to do? Do you want the proposal to be a surprise? Public? Private? (Example: my fiancée would have run screaming if I’d involved anyone other than the two of us in our proposal.)

8. What kinds of engagement traditions are important to you and/or your family? What traditions are just not your thing or don’t matter to you? How do they fit with my expectations for engagement rings and engagement?

And there you are, on your way to one of the coolest, most edifying conversations you’re gonna have — that is, until you start talking about your wedding and your marriage.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

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A.E. Osworth

A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

A.E. has written 542 articles for us.


  1. moiself is engaged, gf did not want a thing, she got me one of these that I specifically requested:

    I was like “oh yeah we’re having a bracelet made by a Canadian jewelry designer cast from a tree branch” and my brother was like “hur hur that’s the most lesbian thing I’ve ever heard” and I was like “Well you clearly understand how lesbian sex works, yes, I do not want a chunky ring on my finger, glad we’re on the same page.” That shut him up real quick.

    Also, planning a wedding is ridonk. I am the cheapest ever and am currently trying to sell gf on the idea of a baked potato bar at the lawn bowling club, because both of these things come cheap.

    • Mine shot down my backyard potluck wedding idea (“that is the worst idea I’ve ever heard”), but she actually seems receptive to Chipotle catering (???), which I started suggesting in jest and continue to suggest in jest if only to see if I can make a Chipotle-catered wedding a thing that actually happens.

      • aw! that is not the worst idea I have ever heard! but I cannot have a backyard deal because I have like 30 first cousins.

        chipotle sounds fine!

        • Haha, I swear she’s not mean. That particular reaction came about because I suggested it once, got it shot down gently for completely logical reasons, forgot that I had suggested it, and then suggested it two more times before I finally remembered that I had suggested it before. She had to react strongly for it to be imprinted in my memory.

          • I’m sure she’s not mean! Wedding planning is annoying. We are hashing out venues in the next couple weeks and gf is in a flop sweat about will there be enough parking, because in the history of the world nobody has ever pulled the car around. I feel you.

    • I love the idea of a baked potato bar! I’m always trying to brainstorm vegetarian ideas for wedding food.

  2. I’m proposing this Sunday (assuming all goes as planned)! She feels strongly about picking out her own ring, but has also mentioned that she would like to be proposed to. We settled on small “promise”-type rings for engagement and spending money on the wedding rings that we pick out ourselves. I liked the idea of related engagement rings that weren’t the exact same ring, so I went with infinity rings in rose gold (mine) and white gold (hers). There is a tiny diamond in the center of each, but that is just a bonus. Five days to go and I’m getting nervous!

  3. Just got engaged in July…I was over the moon when she asked me…she wrote the most romantic letter ever =) I wanted a very special, small and unusual ring…its perfect =) Its an opal triplet…so many beautiful colours…changing with the lights.
    Good luck to everyone who is about to propose =)

  4. I completely agree with picking out the engagement ring together! I was previously married and my engagement ring was a surprise ring. It had dragons on it. (not that I have anything against dragons… It just wasn’t really anywhere close to what I envisioned when I thought about engagement rings)

  5. When I proposed to my now-wife, I was twenty-one years old. Folks were getting married in San Francisco and it seemed like everything was happening. Watching those people stand up and declare their love to each other made me realize that this girl I’d been seeing was the woman who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

    I bought the ring from a vendor on the sidewalk at my university. I think it cost me all of twenty dollars.

    Here’s the thing: the ring doesn’t matter. It’s a symbol. You can create your own symbols (like Ali’s watch). But that also doesn’t matter. What matters is the promise you’re making to your spouse.

    Marriage isn’t easy, folks. Sometimes it’s heartbreaking. Sometimes it’s boring. Sometimes it’s frustrating. While I wouldn’t advocate staying in a marriage that’s *always* those things, every long-term relationship is difficult sometimes. Once I finally married my wife, seven years later (because at first we were waiting for it to be legal, but then we got tired of waiting), I knew this keenly.

    Something I’ve seen a lot of – and this goes for opposite-gender couples as well as same-gender ones, but I’ve been seeing the latter more of late – is people getting engaged because that’s the thing to do. (Not saying that’s the case for Ali and Abby, of course – I don’t know them!) I think there are folks out there who feel like now that it’s legal for them to be married that they must go out and marry their partner posthaste. But that’s a big promise to make, all, and a legally binding one these days!

    I’d really love to see an article (or round-table!) about how you know that someone is the right person to marry.

    • I second this round table. I want to know everyone’s insight on our perfect humans.

      I agree that no long term relationship is easy. There are many mountains, plateaus and sinkholes. And yes, the ring isnt important. It is the vows you keep to your spouse.

    • Couldn’t agree more with all your comments. We’ve been engaged now for 3 years. I asked her when it looked like Australia might actually join the 21st century, during our last more progressive government. The Darlin Girl said yes, but the govt said no, so we’re still waiting. We’ve been a couple though for 36 years. During that time we’ve been through, thick,thin and everything inbetween. Fortunately we we not only love each other but actually like each other too.

      Ali, this is a really good article, all the practical and fun stuff covered too.

      I had 2 rings made for us. A pear shaped white diamond (ethically sourced) for her and a pale lemon oval diamond for me. Both simply set in yellow gold, (more flattering to aging skin). At the rate we’re going we’ll be in our eighties before we have to think about wedding bands.

      Congratulations to everyone who is engaged or getting engaged. Just remember, keep talking and laughing together. Best love to us all.

  6. Sent this to my girlfriend. She was already reading it. Her advice to me was “just don’t tell me if you get it at a pawn shop from a dead lady or something unless it has a cool backstory.”


  7. Posting anonymously today because I cant run the very slim chance of my person finding out I will propose in the coming month/s. ITS GOING TO BE A HUGE SURPIRSE PEOPLE. YOU GUYS WILL KNOW IN TIME. Ps. Im planning to record it.

    If youre going for a diamond I would recommend reading up on diamonds the 4Cs. Cut clarity color and carat. It helped me look at diamonds even if Im no expert but I could now understand what VSII and VSI and color G or D meant so even if I was just window shopping I didnt feel obligated to chat with the salesperson who looked like she didnt like lesbians.

    While we had THE TALK a couple of years ago I can never count on her initiating looking at rings because my person thinks too much on how much I will spend. It took me almost 8 months to save up for the ring I chose. No she didnt choose with me. I went with my gut and the knowledge of knowing her. I even knew right away it was the one. Like her [rimshot] I looked at comparable rings at many different jewelers..cheaper ones..more expensive..smaller..white gold..platinum..everything. i must have looked at 100 websites. I even got to know brands I didnt knew existed. But I was always brought back to THAT RING.

    The only way I know she liked it is while we were talking about rings lately I took a couple screenshots of different rings including the one I chose and Im happy to say she said yes to it and one that had a pavè setting but she said that she would rather have the one I chose. So I took that as a sign to go get it.

    Very happy to say that I have purchased the ring. Im waiting til about the end of this month or early next month.

    There was a time when I thought we could do the watch route coincidentally. We decided that the watches would be an anniversary gift in the end.

  8. I proposed to my fiancée with my great-grandmother’s engagement ring. My grandfather gave it to me on my sixteenth birthday, and he cried as he did it. I didn’t know her, but I’ve known of her for years. Everyone who knew her agreed that Grandma Winnie was an incredibly special lady, one of the kindest souls to ever walk the earth. And the ring is beautiful, too. Original 1919 setting, tiny stone but the setting makes it pop.

    I didn’t want a ring at first, but after a while it felt strange. People saw her ring and immediately asked if she was engaged, but there was no way for anyone to know with me. And besides friends and family, I’m not inclined to talk about my social life (or to talk at all… I’m quiet). So I wanted a ring so people would know and I could have that conversation starter. She picked out a tungsten carbide ring for me, just a plain band, that most people actually think is a wedding band. But I like the dark color and as an engineer I appreciate its material properties.

  9. Aww this post is really heart warming because Ali is sharing advice and also a big part of their love story <3

    I feel like my wife and I tend to go towards the traditional way when it comes to life milestones. While we have no agreement about who should propose I think it goes without saying that I would pop the question. I think that we tend to toe traditional because she seems to look for something she feels is familiar or something that looks socially acceptable which is fine with me. I just know I want her happy.

  10. We looked at hundreds of rings together. I purchased one that we both loved, patiently awaited its arrival, and when it finally arrived, it was SO wrong. We returned at and went with the very first ring(s) we’d ever looked at. They were both perfect, and I paid about 25% of what I had paid for the first one. The local artisan who made them works out of his home. The money we saved is going toward IVF treatment, but it wasn’t about the money. We could not be happier with our rings.

  11. Mine was and wasn’t a surprise. :) My wife (then-girlfriend) and I had discussed getting married in advance. We went ring shopping together and bought everything at once — two engagement rings and two wedding bands. We wanted our rings to coordinate but not be too matchy-matchy. For an engagement ring, I picked out a large square-cut solitaire diamond set in white gold and for a wedding band, I picked out a thin band of square-cut diamonds also in white gold. My wife has a matching wedding band, but for her engagement ring she got a (much) larger version of our wedding bands. (She works outdoors and works with her hands a lot and didn’t want a feminine ring with the ‘height’ of a solitaire.) We bought all four rings at one time… and then my wife hid them and I had no idea when I would see them again. :) It worked well for us. She proposed a few months later on Christmas Eve and gave me this gorgeous carved jewelry box with my engagement ring in the top of it. She didn’t get on her knee, thank God, so it wasn’t anything corny. I, of course, accepted and after I had the ring on, she opened another compartment of the jewelry box and there was HER ring, which I then gave to her.

  12. And now very single me is going down the rabbit hole of engagement ring Pinterest boards. If I’m not back in 24 hrs send a search party.

    • Terrifically Single Me has browsed all these sites and has fallen in love with no less than 5 rings. This could be a problem to my bank account/fiscal responsibility.

      • I started pinning rings about six months ago and keep thinking “I could just buy that for myself now!” Luckily, I like very simple rings, which wouldn’t cost me an arm and a leg.

  13. Our original promise rings were Celtic knotwork from a jeweler on the isle of Skye. When we were legally married, we moved them from our right to our left hands. They are slim, and definitely do not get in the way of anything. However, my wife’s eventually wore out (!), so we returned to Skye, had our old rings joined, and had new white gold ones made (our old ones were silver). We offered our old rings to the ocean from the castle ruin where we had originally exchanged them nine years previously.
    We decided to create a tradition, and every nine years we will return to renew our vows to each other, and thank the elements…so in 3 years we will be wending our way back! Next time we are considering having our symbols engraved on the inside of our rings.
    The best traditions seem to me like ways of noticing, of being aware, of saying “this matters”. Whether you create them, or recreate them, the intention is their aliveness.

    I love hearing all your thoughts and creations – thank you!

  14. Oh I’m so excited to see this article. I’m working as an apprentice jeweler right now in a sweet independent shop, and its so great. Its also crazy to be learning so much about the industry as a whole. I would also highly recommend finding a local jewelry store rather than going to a large brand like Kays or Jared. In the industry, large companies like this are pretty well known for having thin and lesser quality pieces that cost more. At a small shop, we can make you a nice piece, incorporate your design ideas, for way less.

    Also, if you do go to a medium to large store, most places will build in a discount. I would feel weird asking for a discount, but I promise y’all, at the last place I worked we always gave at least 20% off when someone asked if we “could do any better” than the tag price.

    Wow jewelry! Thanks for the article!

  15. Awwww this is cute!

    We didn’t do engagement rings (too busy politi-justifying the whole thing, haha!) but literally three days before our civil partnership, Em and I were like ‘shit, are we gonna exchange rings??’ and decided yes.

    Found an AMAZING woman on Etsy who custom-made them for us in super-fast time and sent them special delivery. I love mine so much.

  16. Just got married 2 months ago and this is giving me all sorts of warm fuzzies. Props for your list of suggested questions – we talked about marriage and weddings kind of excessively for years beforehand, but I definitely felt a lot better about where we were when we finally did get engaged. Going through one of those pre-marriage counseling checklists is also helpful. Jointly planning joint decisions > complete surprises.

    If you’re interested in traditional type rings and want conflict-free, we had great experiences with Brilliant Earth. No problems at all ordering online/having rings shipped, though it freaked us out before we did it.

  17. This was cute! I’ve always wondered: why propose if you’ve already talked about it, decided you’re getting married, picked out rings together, etc? Is it the ritual/milestone aspect, or that it’s romantic/fun? I’m not at all criticizing it, I just don’t really understand it, and I’m curious. Y’all do y’all!

    • For us, it was about the milestone/tradition thing. It was also the “at what point do we tell our families that we’re totally getting married?” thing. Like, the logical answer to the question of when to call my father and tell him was “well when I stick a ring on her finger I guess?”

      I did call him the next day. His response was “oh, good on you.”

    • For us, it was about the formality of it. It’s one thing to talk about getting married, but it’s another thing to do…something…that shows your commitment to the idea. It’s a day you can pinpoint and remember. It’s when you can start announcing that yes, you’re engaged and planning a wedding. Otherwise it’s just like a noncommittal, “Um, yeah, we’re going to get married one day. Sure.” I don’t know if that makes sense but it does in my head. :)

    • I just like the romance of it, and the surprise factor. And besides, she said she wants to be proposed to, so that’s what I’ll do!

    • I’ve wondered this for myself because I’m comfortable without any gestures or formal moments, but a recent conversation with my gf revealed that she wants to have a specific memory of taking our relationship to the next level.

  18. Hello Autostraddle! Can you please do some sort of ‘it’s the holidays and I’m totally fucking depressed because my wife left me’ article? I love all the things that you all write of course but all of my googling has brought me naught in terms of how to deal with the the gut wrenching pain of impending divorce. And if anyone could produce something beautiful and poignant about how to face christmas etc with a broken heart, it would be someone in your team. Thank you x

    • I’m so sorry – I’m not one of the team, but I wanted to send you warm thoughts (and consensual hugs if you want them).
      The holidays are often particularly difficult, I really hope you have some good friends nearby, especially if you have some that aren’t in relationships that you can spend time with.
      Planning things can be helpful – whether it’s a trip next year (if that’s possible), finding some kind of group that does something you’ve always been interested in, or creating something that will take a while to complete. Obviously these can all be good things in their own right, but I also think that it helps to have something to draw you forward, to look forward to. It also helps to clear energy, and in that regard cleaning with water, repainting (if that’s an option), all help change your environment.
      Sometimes it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed, and I think that getting up and doing something, anything, can help to change how you feel.
      I wish you the very best. You will come through the pain, you will wake up to beauty and happiness again – hold on! And come to Autostraddle when you feel down – all the amazing peeps here will help every time.

    • So sad to hear that and I send you the warmest of hugs. Im almost sure someone on the team will see this. They keep their promise of reading all the comments really well.

      Im sorry your holidays wont be as bright as they should be. Believe it or not when this very bad situation happened to me read:break up it was like 2 weeks before Christmas. It TOTALLY SUCKED. I really didnt enjoy the holidays because I spent so much fucking time brooding on shit I couldve done or is it my fault whatever you know.

      I think its okay to let yourself be sad and emotional and eat a whole tub of ice cream or whatever. I mean youre going through a rough patch. Your whole world is being shattered and lets face it you can barely stand happy people..I just remember it being so DIFFICULT and those holidays just sucked. To be honest I camt say a lot of things to make you feel better because it’s a rough spot to be in. But always reach out to your friends or family or whoever you can trust and give you support. Thats what I remember doing..telling people that something happened…it made me feel validated and I think you are super duper brave for sharing with us.

  19. My partner was given a really atrocious antique ring from a family member and had a opal taken out of it and reset into a much, much more elegant setting (that was the point of the gift, the family member was not hurt, EVERYONE recognized that the ring as it was was terrible). It took a few visits to different jewelers to find one that gave good design advice. I had given a few requirements on the ring (silver-toned metal, a list of stones I liked, no diamonds) but was otherwise very happily surprised. Finding a jeweler who gave good, reasonable advice (the bad advice veered towards the too-too-much) was the most important step.

  20. There’s an organization called Ethical Metalsmiths that has lots of info on material sourcing and even writes up profiles of different jewelers that follow good sourcing practices, if anyone wants to explore that on their search for a ring.

    They did a profile on one of my favorite designers recently! She is not cheap, but because she’s running her own small business she definitely has the dynamic going where you can really talk through your specific interests and price bracket.
    The profile is here:

  21. My partner and I almost never wear jewelry. Mostly because we’re both broke and I tend to lose small things. I was thinking of skipping engagement rings and just exchanging simple and not too cutesy wedding bands…Any cool etsy suggestions for those? :D

  22. My engagement ring is the most beautiful piece of jewelry in the whole entire world. My fiancé did it as a surprise – after showing me some similar ones by the same jeweler.
    We are in Adelaide, South Australia, so if anyone is looking for a great jeweler, try “utopian creations”. My large centre diamond is an antique from the early 1900s and the small stones are Australian diamonds, so no blood diamonds, which was important to us. The gold is also recycled. It was a tiny bit more expensive than getting something off the shelf in a mainstream jeweler, but worth it.
    My partner did not want an engagement ring (I bought her a watch) and instead is getting a large ornate wedding ring. It has some of the same elements as my ring, which is cute but not best friend-y.

    Although we had talked about rings a lot, it was a total surprise when I received it. We were already engaged, so I wasn’t really expecting a proposal moment especially as I had been told we had an appointment with the jeweler the following week.
    But we ended up going to a beautiful and favourite winery and she have me the ring there and I nearly spilled my wine and died of shock. Partly because the diamond was giant compared to what we had discussed, but also just the general surprise.

  23. I sent this to my fiancee and she responded, “did you write that?!” Totally spot on. For informational purposes: we found a jeweler who custom made both of our moissanite rings, and they are amazing. We’re in Boston, and I’d be totally willing to dish if anyone’s interested. Yay gay!

  24. I think a mix of shopping online and also visiting a few stores when buying a ring is a pretty good way to shop. You get the best of both worlds by seeing and trying some rings as we did with my partner. It’s nice to try a few rings and look at the diamonds close up. We were quite new to all this so we studied up online first about diamonds and the properties, features to look out for, this free eBook was helpful for learning the ins and outs of diamonds too.

  25. Thank you for sharing an amazing article.
    If are you planning to propose to your girlfriend or boyfriend, and want to make that moment special and unforgettable then purchase love wedding bands, and diamond rings from Whitten’s Fine Jewelry store. They will provide the best quality bands and rings at affordable prices.

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