By GRACE JENNINGS-EDQUIST
“My man is a wonderful guy but I hate my engagement ring! It is horrible!!! Everything I said I didn’t want, he did! I wanted square, he bought round. I wanted antique, he bought me modern! I begged for cheap, he went to Tiffany’s! I HATE TIFFANY’S!”Advertisement
…And with that, the bride-to-be was pushed down the garbage chute by Willy Wonka squirrels, where she joined Veruca Salt in dejectedly ruminating on her first-world-problems.
But it seems that this woman’s complaint is not actually uncommon.
On the same online wedding forum, newly-engaged women swap pictures of the sparkly objects of their displeasure, proposal sob stories- and, often, tips for upgrading to the ring of their hearts’ desire.
‘Fall in love with a wedding band that won’t match so that you can get another ring as the engagement ring,’ advises one crafty commenter.
Others suggest finding a wedding band with prominent stones to ‘disguise’ the original ring’s appearance. Or ditching the ring under the pretence of a mysterious ‘metal allergy’.
Or waiting for your first wedding anniversary to tactfully suggest an ‘upgrade’ to the 20-carat cushion cut diamond of your (and Kim Kardashian’s) dreams…
The list goes on.
And since very few of the suggestions are along the lines of, ‘a perfectly delightful man has picked you some jewelery as a token of his undying love- what’s the problem?,’ I figured this dilemma was worth investigating. (Bridezillas, you’re welcome.)
And it turns out that, should your gentleman love drop to one knee with a rock that looks like something Dame Edna would wear, there is a way forward.
Etiquette experts and ring-makers alike agree that it’s not a total faux pas to broach the subject of exchanging the thing- what matters is how you broach it.
According to Jodi R. R. Smith of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, it’s all about the timing. She says:
For those rare occasions when the ring is simply not the bride’s taste, she should tell her groom. JUST NOT DURING THE PROPOSAL.
After a respectable amount of time has passed and the excitement from the initial engagement has waned, during a quiet moment, she should mention that she had always anticipated a ring with [the particular features she’d prefer].
A good groom wants his bride to be happy and will gladly work with her to find a ring she adores as much as she adores him.
Kirsten Albrecht, Managing Director of Melbourne jewelery store Kozminsky, warns that the issue should be broached very gently, as she’s seen one man ‘quite traumatised’ by the rejection of a ring he’d created for her (so, no wailing ‘I HATE TIFFANYS,’ then?)
Albrecht says it’s all in the wording:
When you love the man but not the ring… [the discussion] involves a level of diplomacy and care to assure him that this is not about him. I think one of the really good things you can say is, ‘its something I’m going to be wearing forever, so I’d really like it to be something I adore’- and would he mind if you go back to the store where he bought it and have a discussion about making some changes?
Prevention rather than cure is key, though, according to the experts.
Charles Rose ring designer Andrew Teleki says that around 90 percent of couples now go ring-shopping together to avoid a Veruca-style meltdown- but says that the remaining 10 percent should consider ‘dropping him a hint, whenever you see something in a magazine… constantly keep at it.’
Albrecht agrees that to avoid the dreaded ‘It’s very pretty, but…’ conversation, ‘the woman has to give him at least the shape of the stone and the style that she likes and probably the colour of the gold.’
And if you have your eye on a diamond SO GIANT that your boyfriend could never afford it on his own? Try this nifty trick: Teleki says he knew one sly lady who arranged for a salesperson to misrepresent her dream ring’s real price to her partner- so that she could secretly pay for half of it herself.
A beautiful basis for a lifelong partnership, I think.
Take comfort, despairing brides: At least your ring dilemma isn’t quite as awkward as these weddings:
Would you tell your fiance he’d missed the mark with the engagement ring?
Grace Jennings-Edquist is a Melbourne-based emerging journalist and former lawyer whose everyday interests range from women’s rights to viewing an unreasonable amount of sloth pictures. You can follow her on twitter @gracie_je and find some of her other work here.