weddings

"He proposed with a $12 ring." 27 women share the story behind their engagement ring.

When we asked the Mamamia community to share the stories behind their engagement rings, we didn’t anticipate we’d receive so many heartfelt, brilliant and funny stories.

From spontaneous announcements, to meticulously planned projects that were months in the making, each story was as unique as the the rings proposed with.

Some women opted for unique gemstones, while others chose family heirlooms. Then there were the couples who got theirs redesigned in the years after their wedding.

Here are just some of our favourites:

Engagement ring trends through the decades, from the 1900s to now. Post continues below.


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Alena: ‘He proposed with a note on the back of a Ryanair ticket.’

We had discussed the idea of getting married and had decided not to as it wasn’t really our thing. But it seems like three weeks after sailing across the Atlantic, and a couple of close calls changed things. He called my dad as soon as they reached land in Morocco to ask permission and worked himself up to asking as he met me at the airport. Little did he know my flight was cancelled and as my phone wasn’t working I couldn’t let him know, so he waited at the airport all nervous for me and I didn’t turn up. He had to do it all again the next day when I did arrive, but even with the extra 24 hours, biro on the back of a Ryanair ticket was the chosen way of proposing.

The ring itself was a placeholder ring from the only jewellery shop on the tiny Caribbean island he sailed from. He knew I wasn’t into standard rings and wanted to use family jewels, so I got his ring designed using diamonds from my great grandmother’s and grandmother’s engagement rings, based upon an art deco brooch from my great aunt.

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Helen: "These rings are very precious memories of life’s twists and turns."

I proposed to my hubby. He was trying to work up the courage (his mates informed me) so I was very excited when he said yes. We chose a ring together but unfortunately it was stolen along with other precious items. He said he would go with me to the San Francisco jewellery district on a trip we had planned previously.

My hubby loves marquise-cut diamonds, while I like round so we comprised and had this made. He was very sweet and got down on bended-knee to put it on my finger even though we’d been married for 12 years at the time. Now 38 years married, these rings are very precious memories of life’s twists and turns.

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Jasmine: "My partner proposed with a fake ring."

My partner proposed with a fake ring and said we could then have my cousin make it for us as he’s a jeweller. We picked the stone together and had it made. Most recent photo was from my maternity shoot. I just love it though. Centre stone is a tanzanite.

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Image: Supplied / Sara Bresser Birth Photography.
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Janine: "He proposed with just the diamond."

My husband and I had looked at a few rings before we got engaged so he knew the style I liked. So he proposed with just the diamond and then we went in together to get it designed. I love my ring and it's exactly what I wanted. I'm glad that we both got to be part of the process and could choose and design it together.

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Michelle: 'Mine includes a bunch of history.'

Mine originally belonged to my grandma and was an heirloom for her (I believe it was her grandmother’s). It in turn was given to my mum while she was pregnant with me because Mum had toxemia and had swelled up like a balloon. Of course in 1970 no respectable lady walked around pregnant and unwed so Grandma gave Mum the biggest ring she owned so Mum could be “respectable”.

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After I was born, Mum went back to her own rings and put this in a drawer. Years later my boyfriend was looking for a ring and here was this beautiful old world ring that nobody wanted. I had both my wedding ring and eternity ring made to fit in but I love that it isn’t flashy or fancy.

Five small diamonds, 24k gold and a bunch of history.

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Nikita: "I still can’t believe it’s mine."

My fiancé designed and had my ring made all by himself, and I honestly couldn’t have dreamed it up more perfect if I tried. We had jokingly looked at a couple on Instagram but I didn’t think we were at that stage yet so was very surprised when he proposed. I liked the oval shape but never expected three diamonds! He also made the band in rose gold because he noticed all my other jewellery was in rose gold, something I never would have thought of! It’s got a beautiful antique feel to it and even a year after he proposed I still can’t believe it’s mine.

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Sarah: "It was perfect... until I realised it was the wrong one."

I chose the ring with my now-husband from this lovely little jewellery store in Manhattan Beach, LA when we were living there. We had to get married for visa reasons so I could stay in the country despite being together for 10 years and having two children. He then bought THE WRONG ONE accidentally on his own sneakily and proposed to me on this beautiful pier at night with the fairy lights and our baby strapped to his front and our other little one holding his hand.

It was perfect... until I realised it was the wrong one and really ugly. We had to go back the next day and swap.

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Claire: "He took so much effort to get THAT ring."

My now-husband and I met in 2012, in 2013 we were in Tiffany & Co looking around, and I saw a ring that I LOVED beyond words but it was huge and ridiculous. He said "let's try it on for fun" so we did, we got taken out the back, given champagne. As it turns out it was 3.5 carats and $213k.

They told me the style name at the time, which I promptly forgot. Fast forward to 2014, and we'd broken up.

But on December 31, 2015, he reached out to me on social media and we ended up back together by February 2016. We kind of talked about getting married and by chance we stumbled across the exact style of ring again in Tiffany in New York in March 2016.

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Finally I had the name of the style again, Tiffany Legacy Ornate! But then they told me that style was discontinued and not being made anymore. It was soooo expensive and we weren’t quite ready at the time so I told him to forget about it and get me an antique art deco ring maybe one day. In September 2016, he proposed to me on the top of Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. I opened the box he had clumsily shoved in my hand saying, “Guess what, will you marry me?” and it was THE ring! (not the 3.5 carat, the smaller version, still crazy though).

I thought he had gone and got a replica made, to which he was very offended, as I knew they were discontinued. No, it turns out he had worked for months with the sales assistant in Tiffany, Brisbane, to source the right ring. They finally found one in New York and had to write a case letter to Tiffany HQ to ask them to please sell it in Australia (as only a certain amount of each style is released in each region) and they had to convince the team to send it.

It finally arrived the day before we left for Singapore. Honestly, I would have been happy with anything at all but the fact he took so much effort to get THAT ring means the world to me and the style is me to a T!

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Aimee: 'It belonged to my late mother.'

My engagement ring belonged to my late mother, it was a gift from my dad for her 50th. He designed it and had it made for her. For me, the ring is a symbol of all encompassing love, representing the three people I hold closest in my heart - my mother, my father, my love.

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Elise: 'It was my mum's.'

My beautiful engagement ring was my mum’s. She passed away after a short battle with leukaemia 12 months before we were married. Growing up, my sister and I always adored her ring and used to jokingly argue over who she would leave it to. As heartbreaking as it still is, everyday I look down at the ring and feel like I have a little bit of her with me.

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Alicia: "My husband proposed with a $12 ring."

My husband proposed with a $12 ring from Lovisa! My then-boyfriend asked for my dad's blessing on Christmas Day 2011 and later that day, knowing a proposal was imminent, Mum gave us "the rock" - a beautiful 1.55 carat diamond ring my pa gave to my nanna when I was about eight-year-old. My mum inherited the rock when my grandparents passed and told my boyfriend she would like me to have it.

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After he proposed I asked why he didn't use "the rock" and I was told he wasn't going to trust anybody with it - the Lovisa ring was served on top of a chocolate souffle!

Mum was happy for us to reset it, and as I adore rose gold, we had the ring reset loosely based on a Cartier ring I'd seen in a magazine. To this day I still ADORE it for its simplicity, elegance and sentimentality.

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Bianca: 'The diamonds are over 50 years old.'

My now husband proposed with his grandma's ring with the notion of then re-setting the diamonds into another ring. It was gorgeous! And over 50 years old! This is the finished product which we then went and designed together. All the diamonds are from the original ring.

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Ariel: "I can’t wait to one day pass it along to my daughter."

My father gave the ring to my then-boyfriend and it originally belonged to my late step-mum. My dad had purchased the ring for her while they were holidaying in Amsterdam. After my step-mum passed away my dad wore the ring on a chain around his neck for a few years, before secretly giving it to my now-husband. He said he wanted it to have another life and be admired and treasured as it deserved.

He gave my hubby free reign to redesign it as he desired (it was originally a solitaire with gold band). My husband had it reset by a local jeweller friend and proposed to me on Valentine’s Day with my dad’s approval. After our daughter was born we got the infinity band to match. I adore it but adore the sentimentally and family history even more. I can’t wait to one day pass it along to my daughter to continue the tradition.

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Emily: "I told him I’d definitely say yes if he picked it."

We went browsing at a jewellery store that had just opened and we were joking around trying some on. I tried the ring on, and fell in love. I told him I’d definitely say yes if he picked it... we left and I didn’t think any thing of it. Then four months later he surprised me with it on his birthday.

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Deanna: "I stalked a pawn shop."

I knew we could never afford big stones, so I stalked a porn shop until some really ugly rings came in with decent stones, cheap. Managed to get three, and gave them to a jeweller who blended them into a design I loved. Hand balled to now hubby to fire when ready. All stones recycled.

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Cheris: "I think he got the memo."

I told my then-boyfriend: rose gold, tear drop and sparkly. I think he got the memo. The night before he proposed (to throw me off the scent) he asked if I really wanted a diamond because he had done some research and thought a stone was more value for money. My heart sank. I was so mad at him.

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The next day I proceeded to complain while he re-enacted our first date (I was still oblivious and grumpy), and had no idea until he was down on one knee! I screamed yes before he could even ask me. This ring is everything and I get so many comments about it all the time.

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Lisa Marie: "He went through my jewellery and found a common theme."

It was a complete surprise! He went through my jewellery and found a common theme with my pave rings, and pendants. He took it to the jeweller and together they designed the ring. I absolutely love it. 110 more days until the big day.

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Elly: "It cost $237 altogether."

I really didn’t know what I wanted, so I picked something inexpensive for my husband to propose with. He said he wanted to propose with a ring, but it didn’t have to be ‘the’ ring. Then in the lead-up to the wedding, I still didn’t know what I wanted, so I chose some simple bands to go with it. As all my jewellery is mixed silver and gold, I absolutely love this set... and it cost $237 altogether!

The engagement ring has a lifetime guarantee. The bands are plated and will eventually need to be replaced. At this point, I’m really glad he didn’t drop thousands on a more expensive ring. I tried on a similar looking ring that was $6000 and actually preferred this one, which was $99. I sent pics of both to my mum and sister and they had no idea which one was the price of an overseas trip and which one was the price of a night out.

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Jess: "I just loved that that was what he chosen for me."

I had absolutely no idea that my boyfriend was planning on proposing. In February 2018, he purchased a ring – I had never mentioned what kind of designs I liked, so people are always weirdly shocked when they find out that he picked the ring out himself.

He ending up showing the ring to my parents, my best friend and our entire friendship group but we didn't get engaged until November 2018. I don't know how so many people kept the secret for so many months. I loved the ring straight away. I've honestly never had a particular style or design in mind – I just loved that that was what he chosen for me.

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Bianca: 'My best mate was in on the act.'

I had shown my best friend a pic of what I liked ages ago, as she asked me, and we gals do talk about what we like. About a year later my now fiance picked her up and took her out for lunch and they went and had it made for me together! I had no idea!

He even went to show my dad and ask permission. Was perfect and very thought out for someone who isn't typically 'romantic'. Proposal was on one knee on our seven-year anniversary last January, and the ring fit perfectly!

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Nikita: "He used my birth stone."

My fiance kept the entire thing a surprise! He designed the ring himself, and based it off Princess Diana's. He used my birth stone and later told me he wanted me to have something one of kind, so I wouldn't see another girl with the same ring. The only thing I had altered was the size, and I wouldn't change a thing.

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Jessica: "It still takes my breath away."

My mum was eyeing off some diamond earrings and they went on sale whilst she was overseas. I went in to purchase them for her, and laid my eyes on this beautiful ring and fell in love.

The jeweller encouraged me to try it on and I was like sure, why not, even though my now hubby had no interest in getting married and joked that one day my pigs might fly. She kindly wrote down the details of this ring, size, style, diamond clarity and said you just never know. I kept this card in my jewellery box and two years later, he asked for my hand in marriage whilst I was travelling around Europe.

My mum turned my room upside down for this little card of information as they went to the jeweller and knew the ring was no longer sold (not a chain jeweller). Mum found the card, gave it to hubby and got it remade for me! To this day, it still takes my breath away and I love love love it!

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Kate: "I wanted a pearl."

My husband chose my ring but I told him I wanted a pearl. His male ego struggled with that but I have always had compliments on it and I think he chose well. Also 22 years on, and I don’t feel like it has dated.

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Sorena: "I thought I didn’t want a ring."

I thought I didn’t want a ring. I was going through a minimalist stage, and didn’t feel like I needed the sentiment of a ring, just him. But then when he proposed I really wanted the sentimental aspect of it! We looked at rings together but I got overwhelmed and he said he knew this one would be the one! The emerald centre is his birth stone and the surrounding diamonds are my birth stone.

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Shannon: "It was nearly identical to the one I had lost."

Eight years ago, I bought the only valuable piece of jewellery I’ve ever owned - a beautiful antique ruby ring - whilst backpacking in Nepal. I had bought it hoping I’d be able to give it to my future kids one day! To my huge dismay, it got lost when I moved house, and my partner has heard about it a million times over.

When he proposed this year, he pulled out a beautiful ruby ring he had designed himself. He had known I loved rubies, but by sheer luck it was nearly identical to the one I had lost even though he had never seen it. It’s so special to me that it was personal and he chose it - but I’m also so glad I didn’t have to decide!

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Larissa: "He knew I loved gold."

My husband completely surprised me with this beauty in 2018 from Nader Jewellers. He knew I loved gold and had it custom made. A few months later I picked the wedding band and went with the double pave design. We were together for over five years before he proposed and this ring means so much to me! I fall in love with it more and more every day.

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Alexandria: 'We bought it together four years before he proposed.'

I bought my engagement ring with my now fiance four years ago in Dubai. I thought he was joking when he said it would sit in the safe for a considerable amount of time. I can now confirm he was in fact telling the truth.

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