The MANual: Engagement Rings
The Perfect Engagement Ring Shopping Partner
Shopping for rings with your fiancée makes things a lot simpler, but that doesn’t mean it’s a complete cakewalk. There are a few awkward moments and potential land mines you’ll need to avoid.
Remember Socrates? He was famous for being aware of the knowledge he didn’t have. When it comes to shopping for rings, be like Socrates. Recognize that, as men, we probably:
- have no idea what we should be looking for;
- have no idea how much it should cost;
- have no way of telling a “good” ring from a “bad” one.
What we do have is a perfect shopping partner, an expert to whom the world of diamonds and settings is an exciting playground to explore: our girlfriends.
There are pros and cons to asking her to ring shop with you.
- You’ll immediately tip her off to the fact that you’re going to propose;
- You’ll have to dance around the subject of money, and how much you can spend;
- There’s always the possibility that seeing all those rings will make her want a nicer (i.e., more expensive) one than she did initially.
On the other hand, there are advantages–the most important one being you know she’s going to love the ring you eventually buy. Keep these best practices in mind and you’ll be fine.
Best Practice #1: Just Browse
The secret to shopping for a ring with your girlfriend is to realize it’s not shopping, it’s just looking. Think of these forays into ring-land as a recon mission–an information-gathering session that will leave you with a better sense of what she wants.
The actual buying of the ring will come later, when you’re on your own (see below).
Best Practice #2: Keep Your Money off the Table
The less you bring up money with your intended, the more romantic this will feel for her. This is not to say that you ignore money completely, just don’t make it the center of the conversation.
Obviously it will come up. One of the first things the jeweler’s going to ask you is your budget. They’re simply trying to gauge what to show you: “Are we talking platinum or white gold here? Do they want to see options under a carat or do I need to get the big boys out of the vault?”
Don’t be vague. If you can talk to the jeweler beforehand, or while your girlfriend is distracted by a display case across the room, all the better.
Best Practice #3: Pace Yourself
In order to avoid burnout–you’ll probably be looking at a lot of rings, after all– you should take the same kind of precautions that young parents take with their toddlers to prevent meltdowns:
- Stick to weekends–Don’t go shopping after a long day at work–your brains will be dried out and crusty, and unable to absorb the information you need to learn.
- Avoid hunger and thirst–there’s a reason parents are always stuffing their toddlers with crackers and juice. Eat something before you head out, and make sure you drink a lot of water. Your girlfriend, too.
- Limit your targets– don’t hit more than three stores max on any one day. More than that and you’ll start getting sloppy.
Best Practice #4: Defer to Her
As the one paying for the engagement ring, you’re entitled to an opinion on the ring, but remember that she’s the one who’s going to be wearing it for the rest of her life. When it comes to things like metal color and setting style, have your say, then let it go.
This may be something she’s dreamed about doing all her life—don’t be the guy that ruins this experience for her.
Best Practice #5: Buy Alone
Whatever you do, don’t buy the ring in front of her. Return when you’re alone and haggle with the salesperson then.
We’ve heard horror stories about guys who bought the ring in front of their girlfriends, then turned around and proposed in the middle of the store. That’s not hot. Imagine her face thirty years from now, as she tells the story. “Yes, he proposed in the middle of Zales, then we went and got a couple of pepperoni slices at Sbarro’s.”
Come back later to make the purchase, then put some planning into actually giving it to her.
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Let’s Talk Rings