In recent years, it has become more common for couples to come in to our store together to pick out an engagement ring. This is not the norm, but it happens. Several times a month, I meet with men who arrive in the store without any idea as to how to explain his girlfriend's style. For many men, the multitude of shapes and styles of settings and diamonds becomes overwhelming. The men really want to propose with a dream ring, but are nervous. Having a general idea of your girlfriend's style and preferences will make purchasing a ring less stressful. In my experience, many men are surprised to learn that women are just as nervous at the thought of their boyfriend purchasing a ring on his own. Women are well aware that the majority of men pay very little attention to ladies fashion and style and no woman wants to receive an engagement ring that she doesn't love. When a man arrives in the store completely clueless about his girlfriend's jewelry preferences, I generally give him a list of tips I have learned after years in the industry to help him pick a ring that both he and his prospective fiancee will be thrilled with.
- Bring in Reinforcements. If you are close with your girlfriend's mother, sister, best friend, or sister-in-law, it may be wise to ask for their help. If the engagement is a surprise, make sure that the person you choose can keep a secret. Some men choose to ask their helper to come in to the store, while others choose to have their helper just write down a list of the prospective fiancee's likes and dislikes in terms of jewelry.
- Pay Attention. When you are considering a proposal, start paying attention to your girlfriend's usual jewelry style. If you would like, you can even take photos of the items in her jewelry box that she wears most frequently and bring them to me. This will allow me to get a better idea of her style. For example, it is useful to know whether she prefers white or yellow gold. If the woman owns birthstone or similar types of rings, I can get an idea of what shape of stone she prefers. I also advise bringing some photos of your girlfriend dressed up for some type of event if you are completely in the dark as to what her style is. By looking at what type of jewelry she wears when getting dressed up, I can better get a sense of her style.
- Pay Attention Even More. You may be surprised by the subtle hints your girlfriend gives you that go completely over your head. I recently had a man come to see me who was planning to purchase a very large princess cut solitaire ring to propose with. I asked him some questions about his girlfriend and started to get the idea that she may not be the type of woman who preferred a very large stone. I asked the man if they knew anyone who had such a large ring, and he replied that his sister had recently received a large four carat ring. When I asked what his girlfriend's response to the ring had been, he thought for a minute before telling me his girlfriend thought the ring was beautiful and she loved the sparkle, but had mentioned that she wasn't crazy about such a large and high set stone because she worried about it getting caught in her hair. The man and I spent several hours designing a pave band with high quality diamonds, and a two carat princess cut center stone. His fiancee (now wife) loved it. The ring ended up costing much less than the four carat ring. In addition, the design decision we made really made the ring stand out, without relying on a large center diamond. If this gentleman had focused a little more on the clues his girlfriend had been giving him, he would have likely never had to entertain the thought of purchasing her a large and expensive diamond and would have understood his girlfriend's ring style a bit more.
- Lifestyle. It is also essential to take into account your prospective fiancee's lifestyle. If she is a nurse, she takes gloves on and off all day. If you think she will want to wear her ring at work, it is important to take this into account. Buying a ring that does not fit with a woman's lifestyle will almost certainly guarantee that she will want to have the ring reset (or she won't wear it much).
- Consider An Alternative. Occasionally a man comes into the store who tells me his girlfriend is extremely picky. If we are absolutely unable to come to a consensus about which style of ring to choose, a popular option is to purchase a loose diamond. This will allow the woman to choose her own setting, leaving out the guesswork.
- Let's talk size. Ring size, that is. I do get many men who come to see me with a strong idea of the type of ring his girlfriend will love. However, when I ask about ring size, I often get a blank stare in response. The good news is, it is easier to figure out ring size then ring style. One of the most obvious ways to figure out her ring size is to sneak one of her everyday rings out of her jewelry box and bring it with you to our store. Another option is to ask her sister, friend, or mother, assuming the person you ask is able to keep the secret. One point to remember is that she will be wearing the ring on her left hand ring finger. There is a chance that another ring worn on another hand or finger will be a slightly different size. Luckily, it is an easy (and free) process for us to modify the ring size if it isn't perfect.
- Just trick her. One of my clever customers called me to tell me he was planning to propose to his girlfriend. He had his married sister ask his girlfriend to come to the store with her under the premise that his sister was considering having her own diamond reset. Once they arrived, I worked with his sister by having her try on a variety of settings. This allowed me to not only meet the prospective fiancee and get an idea of her style, but gauge her responses to different rings. The man's sister was really convincing and even had the girlfriend try on several of the settings so she could 'see how it looked on someone else.' This also allowed me to learn that the fiancee was very short and thin, with very thin fingers. This is something the man likely would not have told me, but something that is important to consider when choosing an appropriate ring. After the visit, I had a perfect idea of what the man's girlfriend wanted in a ring, and she was thrilled when he surprised her with the final selection.
These are just some of the tactics I have either used or suggested over the years. I know some of you have ideas or suggestions not listed here, so let me hear them! I would love to create a longer guide on this topic, incorporating the advice and experience of readers. If you have any questions or need advice picking the perfect dream ring for your fiancee, please call me at 312-920-0075 and I would be happy to assist you and set up an appointment for us to discuss your options.