Becoming Bride: Choosing the ring.

My poor guy. If I didn’t know what kind of engagement ring I wanted, how could he?

A couple months before our official engagement, Arran and I had an uncomfortable conversation about getting married.

Specifically, my dear boyfriend of two years chose a quiet brunch on one unassuming Sunday to bring up the fact that he was reluctant to propose. Or, at least, that’s how it sounded to me.

Some of his resistance, he admitted, had to do with fear. He’d been married before. Would it change our relationship? Much, it seemed, had to do with logistics. “I assume you’d expect a ring,” he said, then trailed off.

"Arran and I had an uncomfortable conversation about getting married." Image via iStock. 

When we talk about it now, Arran says he was only trying to start a conversation. If that’s the case, I definitely took it the wrong way. I burst into tears, and so we tabled the discussion. A couple days later, Arran left the country for work. While he was away, my days were divided between freaking out over the future of my relationship and investigating rings.

I did expect a ring. Only, I realized, I didn’t have a single clue what kind of ring I was expecting.

My poor guy. If I didn’t know what kind of engagement ring I wanted, how could he?

If you’re anything like me, you don’t consider yourself a cookie-cutter bride-to-be, and so you might not be satisfied by some cookie-cutter diamond. You want something special.

But you’re not a millionaire, either, which means you might prefer your partner not spend what would amount to a healthy down payment on a house.


"You want something special." Image via iStock. 

When it comes to engagement rings, here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Fuck the rules.

If I know anything, it’s that people trying to sell you stuff are going to tell you that a bunch of things that cost money matter.

I’m here to tell you they don’t.

When it comes to diamonds, fuck the four Cs (Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carats).

Size doesn’t matter. If anybody is looking at your hand and calculating your partner’s yearly salary, they are a terrible, horrible person and their opinion of you is null.

Instead, when it comes to an engagement ring — the thing that will sit on your finger from now and for eternity — think of what actually suits you.

Size doesn't matter? Mariah Carey would beg to differ. Image via Getty. 


Consider your lifestyle: Is a big ol’ rock just going to get knocked around? Some styles and metals are more durable than others. As much as I drooled over a 3-carat vintage Tiffany, did I really want to make such a statement?

A ring may be an expression of a couple’s union, but the amount of money you spend on it is no measure of your relationship’s worth.

2. Be ethical.

I knew from the start that I wanted a ring that was modest, but I also knew it had to be ethical.

If this is important to you and your partner, you have to look for a retailers who are committed to ethical sourcing.

Non-conflict diamonds are generally the same price as other diamonds. There are also lab-grown diamonds, which look the same as natural diamonds, but are grown in a controlled environment using a technological process that replicates the natural conditions that diamonds usually form in. And they cost less.

3. Go vintage.

Another option to ensure an ethical ring was to go vintage.

A secondhand diamond doesn’t increase the demand for mining and all that goes with that. On top of that, vintage can be significantly less expensive.

Women in the Mamamia office share the moment they knew he was the one. Post continues below.

Real talk: Practically my whole wardrobe is from the Goodwill down the street.

I’m not above rocking second-hand shoes — certainly, I have no qualms about wearing someone’s hand-me-down treasure.

I knew that, for me, vintage or secondhand was the way I wanted Arran to go.

Had there been a ring in his family worth passing down, that would have been perfect. I’ve heard that brides-to-be will reuse a family stone or settings. Whereas vintage rings are sometimes as delicate as new ones, others are particularly sturdy — especially many rings from the 1930s.

I definitely wanted a ring that wouldn’t break or lose its stone. Top on my list was a vintage ring that had withstood the test of time.

4. Remember, stackable rings are always an option.

If I haven’t already done so, here’s where I reveal myself as a serious newbie when it comes to jewelry of any kind.


In my search for the perfect ring, I discovered that stackable rings are actually not uncommon.

The option of wearing multiple rings takes the pressure off the engagement ring being the be-all-end-all statement piece.

5. Try gemstones instead of diamonds.

The diamond on your ring doesn’t have to be the focal point. Lots of people prefer a colored stone surrounded by diamonds; some go with no diamond at all.

Whereas I preferred to follow the tradition, it was cool to be reminded that I had a choice.

By the time Arran came back from his work trip, I was prepared for our next talk, but it never happened. Instead, the following weekend, we took a weekend trip to Beacon, NY. It was unseasonably cold and I felt particularly lazy.

Our last night there, when we had planned a nice dinner out, I wanted to stay in. I suggested we go for tacos instead, but Arran convinced me to make the slight effort.

On the way back from the restaurant, I didn’t want to stop and ogle the waterfall. I asked if we couldn’t jump in a cab.

I’m telling you, I couldn’t have made it more difficult for him.

When he proposed — in front of a special little spot he had picked out earlier on the trip — I was literally shocked.

I cried tears of relief. Not only were we getting married, but somehow all on his own, he’d picked out the perfect ring.

This story by Melissa Petro was originally published on Ravishly and was republished here with full permission.

More from Ravishly:My Big, Fat, Fake Engagement Ring. 
10 Grown Up Things We Learned From Getting Engaged. 
The Baseball Game Proposal: Is It Worth It? 

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