{the lessons} Seven Things I’ve Learned About Engagement Rings

by Rachel on April 12, 2012

Not a whole lot has changed in my life since I got engaged and became a “bride to be.” (Yes, I’m using finger quotes on a lot of wedding-related terms until I feel more comfortable using them.) But one thing that has changed is the appearance of a bit of new jewelry on my left hand and Eric’s right hand. And along with the new bling, I’ve also picked up quite a few lessons about engagement rings.

1. Rings used to be a form of virginity insurance. So says this article recently published in The Atlantic. I find this fascinating.

2. I love my ring…but I would have loved a condo too. Eric and I both liked the idea of doing something special to mark our engagement, but, like a lot of women, I wasn’t convinced that it needed to be a ring. I wasn’t against the idea of a ring — I like jewelry and wear it regularly; I like that it’s an easily-identifiable symbol of commitment – but I was pretty flexible. So, we discussed options. My favorite alternative we discussed was putting money toward property instead of buying a ring. Even the night we went shopping for my ring, we were driving by some of my favorite condos on our way to the store and I said, “Hey, we can totally do a condo instead of a ring. It’s not too late.” But he still wanted to do a ring and because I didn’t feel strongly one way or the other, I was fine with that. Another thing I’ve learned in the past several months is that men have a lot of thoughts on engagement rings — thoughts that can be as steeped in cultural pressure as everyone assumes women’s feelings are — so I wanted to feel confident that we were both on board with whatever we decided to do.

3. Rings are mysterious. When Eric and I decided to go ring shopping, we were pretty overwhelmed. First, I had no idea where to start. A lot of my friends or people I’ve talked to have known for years what they want in an engagement ring, from carat size to cut to baguettes; I am always amazed by this. But how do you know? I always think. I’d literally never tried on any engagement rings in my life; how could I possibly know what I’d want to wear for the rest of my life? I spent a lot of time looking but nothing I was seeing on the web  – whether I was on traditional, trendy, indie, or vintage websites — was doing it for me. (For starters, yellow gold — which is all I wear — gets no love these days!) I thought it was going to be really hard to find a ring that I liked that he liked too, which is why we decided to go shopping together. In terms of what to buy for Eric, the fact that there is less tradition involved in male engagement rings made it both easier and more confusing. He really had no idea what he wanted. He knew what he liked in wedding bands, so we decided to get him something markedly different for him to wear on his right hand, even once we are married. But beyond that, he was as clueless as I was.

4. Seriously though…rings are really mysterious. Neither Eric nor I knew what the “right” amount of money to spend on rings was. (Google it and you’ll get a lot of “that two months’ salary thing is nonsense; do whatever you’re comfortable with!” which is nice, but totally useless.) And we didn’t know how people typically pay for rings. Do they save up and then pay for them in full or do a down payment and then pay them off? We had no idea and we felt weird asking people. Eric was — no joke — basing all his knowledge of diamond sizes and prices on Kim Kardashian’s engagement ring. I eventually talked to some of my good friends, because, well, you can talk to your good friends about things like this without feeling like a nosy asshole, and, in the name of research, they were open about what their rings had cost; still, I didn’t feel like that was a great starting point because all of our incomes and tastes varied so widely.

He asked me what my expectations were but because I didn’t know what I wanted, I didn’t really have any. We looked at rings online but neither of us knew what a carat actually looked like in real life — what if the ring I fell in love with online cost, like, $100,000 when you put a stone that looked proportional on my finger/hand in it? — and then there were all the other factors to consider. Cut? Clarity? Are we getting ripped off? I tried to get out of having to think about that by telling Eric to just give me a budget, that I would be happy with anything. But I think he was afraid that I’d be disappointed by said budget. The night we finally set the budget, I seriously expected him to write it on a legal pad and wordlessly slide it across the table to me.

5. Shopping together helped us a lot. All our questions were finally answered the night we just went ring shopping. We were both anxious about it — going into a jewelry store was kind of intimidating, and I think we both felt pretty shy that night. And, honestly, think we were both nervous that the budget was going to be a problem — that once you put shiny things in front of me, I was going to stop being a rational person. While the idea that all women believe bigger is better when it comes to engagement rings is constantly reinforced in the media and it’s incredibly obnoxious, Eric and I both know damn well that I really love nice things, even when I cannot afford nice things.

That night, I tried on some different styles and settings, but nothing was doing it for us. It didn’t help that everything was white gold or platinum and I couldn’t visualize how it would look with yellow gold. But still, a lot of the styles that I thought I’d like just didn’t thrill Eric or me. After a little while, the saleswoman suggested I try on a solitaire in every single shape, just to get a starting point.

So down the row of loose stones we went. Round. Princess. Emerald. Oval. All of them were beautiful stones, but they just weren’t me. Finally, she gently placed the marquise on the yellow gold setting I had on my left ring finger.

Oh. There. This one is the right shape for my hand and fingers. Eric and I both knew it immediately. Honestly, I never saw that coming. I don’t know anyone who has a marquise diamond — especially one set in yellow gold. It’s just not a popular shape these days. But it was my shape.

Now that we had that figured out, we asked to see more stones. She brought us one that was a bit bigger than the original one I had tried on and once she set it on the setting, it was like the whole store sort of sighed happily. I was loving it, turning my hand this way and that, and then I asked Eric what he thought of it. I didn’t know how much he’d really care about this whole process, as he’s not the one wearing the thing, but I still wanted his opinion. I was expecting him to say, “Hey, if you like it, I like it.” But instead he said very softly, just to me, “I would be very proud to buy you that ring.”

In this whole process, that is the moment that stands out to me. I don’t know why, but that was the moment it was real for me, that I felt engaged, and have ever since. It wasn’t because I was wearing a ring; it was because I knew then, without a shadow of doubt, that we were both really ready and really excited to be engaged.

Also, I think we were both just pumped that the ring we both loved was actually under budget.

6. Buying someone a ring can be really fun. After we picked out my ring (and we did go to a few more stores the next day, just to be sure, but ultimately agreed that we would buy a ring the same way we did everything with this relationship — fast and sure of ourselves), we started looking for Eric’s ring. Buying Eric an engagement gift of some sort was really important to me. First, he chose to buy me a ring to symbolize certain things and I felt he deserved the same in return; I felt uncomfortable receiving without giving. Also, I wanted to make clear from the start that this is an equal partnership. It made sense to me to start the official process by saying, “Don’t just ask about my ring. He has a ring too!” (Which I do say, repeatedly, and a lot of people look confused, but whatever.)

We looked in several stores for his ring, but he didn’t love anything we were seeing so we started looking online. I also talked to my male coworkers to get advice and ideas. It was fun and really interesting — I started to get a better idea of what men have gone through for years. We also looked at watches and bracelets, but ultimately came back to rings. I was starting to get nervous that we wouldn’t find something before the engagement party, but then I came across a great ring on Etsy that we both really liked. Loved, actually. I contacted the seller and asked if he could do a “shotgun engagement” and he said he could.

I wasn’t expecting that I would feel so excited when I hit the button to actually buy the ring. I got this huge rush and e-mailed all my friends to tell them I had just bought Eric an engagement ring. I love buying gifts for people, but this one was just extra exciting.

7. Rings still foster competition. I thought we had moved past rating couples’ love or determining how long their marriage will last based on the size of engagement rings, but it turns out…I was wrong. Because of all the mystery involved, I read a lot of articles and online forums discussing rings when we were going through this process, along with talking to my friends and coworkers. Depending on who I was talking to/observing, I saw two different types of competitive conversations taking place. The first is the “My ring is bigger than her ring therefore it is better” conversation. (Then there’s a subset of that: “My ring is smaller than her ring but it’s a higher quality diamond, therefore my ring is still better.”) And then there’s the one I wasn’t expecting: “My ring is teeny tiny/conflict-free/a ruby/only cost $20/Oh yeah? Well I don’t even have a ring and I’ve been married 20 years!!/Well I had my ring finger surgically removed to show my love because a marriage isn’t about a ring!!!!!” Well, no shit a marriage isn’t about a ring. I understand being proud of a ring — or the lack thereof — but I don’t really understand why that pride is so often displayed at the expense of others. I love hearing about other people’s choices, but I hate that we live in a society where women are screwed for both liking and not liking rings.

I’m still learning how to care for the ring (do I wear it to bed? in the shower? to yoga?) and how to handle it when people want to talk about it beyond my comfort level or get competitive, but I’m definitely getting used to it. And I do like it. It’s pretty, it’s shiny, and it reminds me of a special thing that Eric and I did together and of the big things we are planning to do in the next few years.

{ 66 comments }

1 Claire @ Live and Love to Eat April 12, 2012 at 11:23 am

I love the last sentence! At first I took mine off constantly – to apply lotion, shower, etc, but now I leave it and my wedding band on all the time. :)
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2 Lauren April 12, 2012 at 11:33 am

Your ring is beautiful. I love how each of us can have different style and taste. It’s not something that I would pick for myself to wear, but you both are right that the shape looks amazing on your hand! As far as the comparisons go, it sucks but it will never go away. I think it’s rude to pry into cost of rings, and I would steer clear of those conversations. Congratulations again to you both!

Also, my favorite part of this whole post was Eric’s comment about being proud to buy you that ring. Swoon. :-)

3 Shannon April 12, 2012 at 11:40 am

Great post. I really related to your points about engagement rings fostering competition. My fiance proposed with a ring that had the stone from his grandmother’s engagement ring. It didn’t matter WHAT it looked like to me..that gesture by not only him, but his parents, was what meant the most to me out of the whole thing. However, it is a larger stone and a friend of mine felt compelled to start calling it my “Kardashian Ring” (which I thought was rude. IMO slapping the name Kardashian on ANYTHING makes it trashy) out of some sort of warped jealousy she felt. Her ring is GORGEOUS and one of a kind. Her now husband had it made especially for her. I think engagement rings are personal..why compare yours to mine?

And..I was soo careful with mine at the start. Taking it off for lotion, shower etc..now I wear it all the time :-)

4 Lori April 12, 2012 at 11:41 am

Long live yellow gold! Mostly because I’m allergic to everything else.

Original wedding ring and engagement ring were white gold…. until I started to blister. Now a nice simple solitaire on yellow gold, with a yellow gold band.

5 Lorilea April 12, 2012 at 12:30 pm

I LOVE yellow gold! My mom’s band is yellow gold and growing up I always wanted platinum/white gold, until I realized how much better suited yellow gold is for my skin tone. Now that’s all I’ll wear!

6 Nicole April 12, 2012 at 11:54 am

If people talk about it beyond your comfort level, I’d just be upfront. I think you can tactfully say something about how the choices are personal and whatnot and who the heck cares how much it cost as long as you are both happy.

I appreciate that you mention how women are also screwed for NOT liking rings. My husband and I don’t wear rings (which luckily seems to be pretty common with young people in Austin), but I’ve had a lot of traditional people and family members think it’s really bizarre and think that something must be “off” in our relationship (we’re getting separated, we’re swingers, etc). Some just think we’re trying to be different or hipstery or something. When people do actually comment that it’s weird that we don’t wear rings, I’ve just straight-up said, “I don’t like jewelry, so I don’t feel like wearing a ring”, and although they think it’s weird, they usually respect it (or at least they stop asking questions). I think eventually I’ll get some type of little tattoo to symbolize our marriage (thinking maybe two tiny birdies), and I know that will just open me up to a whole new slew of questions/accusations like, “Well what if you get divorced?!?!” You’re damned if your ring is too big, too small, too old, too new, non-existent, or just different.

7 Melanie April 12, 2012 at 11:59 am

I loved this. Buying an engagement ring can be so fraught with emotions. I can remember the first time D and I went ring shopping – they way you described being nervous and shy is exactly the way we felt. Although we eventually bought from Blue Nile, I’m so glad we shopped in person. I thought I wanted a three-stone ring or a solitaire, but it turned out that neither of those looked good on me. I ended up with a princess cut with pave diamonds that go halfway around the sides and top of the band.

As far as competition goes, I never judge anyone’s ring, but I always worry that people are judging mine, either as too big or too small or too showy or whatever. But I try to remember that, even if people are judging me, those people don’t matter. D and I picked rings we both loved, and even now (we were engaged for 10 months and we’ve been married 6 months), I look at my rings and feel so, so happy, because they’re beautiful, of course, but mostly because of what they symbolize.

And I had the same confusion in the beginning about when to take it off. I used to take it off even to wash my hands, but I pretty quickly got over that. I do not sleep in my rings – I tend to be a hand-tucker when I sleep and the diamond pushes into my face uncomfortably, plus, I like the feeling of taking all my jewelry off at the end of the day. I don’t wear them in the shower either – they would get caught when I wash my hair. Basically, I put them on in the morning after I get dressed and take them off before I go to bed, only taking them off when I put lotion on at work after washing my hands. I do wear them at the gym, but that’s because I’m not comfortable leaving them in my locker, even though it’s locked. If I go to the gym from home, though (as opposed to after work), or when I leave from home to run, I leave them off.

One thing you probably haven’t considered yet is whether you’ll have your e-ring and wedding ring soldered together. I did not, and won’t, both because the design of my rings isn’t suited to it and because I don’t like the idea of it, but a lot of people prefer it.

Congratulations to you and Eric. I really admire your relationship.

8 emily hassman April 12, 2012 at 12:35 pm

“I would be very proud to buy you that ring”… well, that made my heart melt into a giant puddle. So glad to hear that you came up with a solution that felt right for both of you. That’s what matters most!

But thank you for also recognizing how weird people act about other people’s ring choices. It’s ridiculous. So many women respond to the news of a marriage with “Oh, let me see!” Really? I made a life-long commitment to love, and you want to see if I have adequate jewelry?

I wear a simple band, which I bought on Etsy. I bought it in silver, because I wasn’t comfortable spending several hundred dollars without knowing if I’d like it on my finger. I plan to eventually get the same ring re-made in yellow gold. Anyway, the “oh, let me see it!” women get embarrassed when they see it. I think they’re embarrassed for me; I’m embarrassed for THEM!
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9 Mel April 12, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Your description of your visit to the store together was one of the few depictions I’ve read of a couple ring shopping together that has ever made me think of the act as something so romantic and bonding. I’m really happy it ended well and was so thrilling for you both. I appreciate you taking us through the process because these are things my friends and I have discussed but don’t quite know the answers to yet since taking such a large next step is not on our immediate radars. Also, Eric’s comment was really, really touching. LCHAIM!
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10 Rachel April 12, 2012 at 6:45 pm

I didn’t expect it to be such a bonding experience, but it really was! Also, no one really knew what we were doing, so I think there was even more intimacy as we became co-conspirators. I am not sure if it’s just not like this for most couples or that people don’t really talk much about it. I can’t really think of depictions/descriptions of ring shopping that are BAD…I just can’t think of many period! Maybe this whole experience just gets skipped over in the conversation.

Thoughts? (Anyone??)

11 Mel April 12, 2012 at 7:23 pm

I don’t think I’ve heard any that are bad either! I think I’ve purposely restrained from considering being part of a ring selection because when I’ve heard others give their reasons, it comes off very superficial or focused on the jewelry aspect. (“I want to pick out the ring together because I will be the one wearing it forever! I should really love it.”) It was nice to hear a more sentimental take on the process and it seems a lot of people agree that it was very meaningful. Perhaps the personal part is more private and its pushed a side because many people will just jump to the jewelry portion? Maybe I haven’t had a close friend go through it this way yet so I’m jaded?
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12 erin April 12, 2012 at 12:50 pm

i like how you went about the whole situation. because like us, we didn’t really have a clue as to what to look for in terms of diamonds and all that. but one of my coworkers had bought his wedding ring at a local family owned boutique. and i started looking there, and fell in love with it. so we waited til they had an event and went to it. and i tried on a few other rings before the one i wanted, and it was truly the perfect ring for me. and he even agreed! i always thought i’d get a square diamond but this one is a round one, and it’s in a libre setting – meaning the way it’s set, the diamond still moves freely around. everyone freaks out about the setting, aren’t you afraid it’s gonna fall out. no I’m not!

i don’t usually wear it working out or showering or to bed. or even when i’m swimming. and i’ve had it for 3 years, and still get nervous about wearing it during those things!

13 Savannah April 12, 2012 at 1:19 pm

What a great post! And what Eric said about buying you the ring? Sooo touching and romantic! I am so happy that you have shared so much of your relationship with us, it’s really something special.
About rings: I bought the rings that my GF/Feyonce (love that) wear on Etsy. We’re planning on using the same rings at our city hall ceremony. There are fancier rings that we’re looked at but they may come a little later down the road. Since we’re getting gay married, there isn’t so much ‘squeelemmeseeyouringomgthediamondissobiglittleetc’. Our bands are simple, gold plated, and handmade. Instead of any stones there is an engraving of a lotus on the front and on the inside. I only wear mine when I’m out, it comes off when I take my jewelry off when I get home. I take it off during the day when I wash my hands or play with my hair so it doesn’t snag.

14 Shannon April 12, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Damn, Eric! That line is a panty-dropper! ;)

15 Anna April 12, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Lovely, lovely ring! It was really interesting hearing your story. When we started looking at engagement rings my husband wanted to go to a certain jewelry store that he’d “frequented” growing up, and the first time we went the woman there judged us by our appearance and didn’t show us anything we liked based on what she thought our budget was. The next time we went back, they were having a bridal show and the guy we were working with was much better. I didn’t even think I’d find a ring, but as we were browsing through I put on one and fell in love. Literally, I fell in love with a ring. It was so weird. Blood went to my cheeks and everything and I could hardly take it off, even though it was like five sizes too big. I even got to meet the designer, who was this lovely woman with a scottish accent, and I kind of got a crush on her too. Did we pay too much? Probably, but I still love it just as much. My wedding band is just a plain band because the engagement ring was a bigger deal. I don’t wear them when I’m sleeping but I love wearing them at all other times.
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16 Rachel April 12, 2012 at 7:16 pm

That sucks about the first time — seriously, that was exactly what I feared — but I’m so glad you fell in love the second time around! I know what you mean about that moment too…I didn’t want to take it off either! Even Eric had that reaction and said, “Just take it off now because otherwise I’m just going not let you and I don’t want you to just wear it out of the store.” Did you wear yours home?! :)

17 Maria April 12, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Gah, all of this is so good – not least Eric’s sweet response to your perfect ring.

As a yellow-or-rose-gold-only girl, I often wonder how I’m going to find a ring when I start looking. Everywhere I look, it’s platinum this, white gold that. Love that yours isn’t.

Also – I totally understand if this is too personal to share, but you tend to share it all – it would be so enlightening to hear how you guys negotiated a budget, what factors came into play, how you decided to pay and where you ultimately landed. Money is a touchy subject that can bring out the snide comments, which means no one talks about it. Ever. (And thus I 100% get why you kept this vague.) But… what is reasonable? Sure, it varies couple-to-couple, but for two average kids with decent jobs – is $1000 reasonable? Is $20,000? My benchmarks are non-existent and wildly skewed by the insanity of Hollywood… I honestly have no clue where we’d start. :/

Anyway. Your ring is GORGEOUS! Nicest I’ve seen in ages.

18 nic April 12, 2012 at 3:28 pm

There is no right answer here. It falls into the nebulous area of “what you and your fiance are comfortable spending.” It is definitely NOT the two months salary thing that DeBeers says you should follow.

19 Rachel April 12, 2012 at 4:47 pm

I agree with Nic that there’s no right answer, but I also know it’s hard to answer the question of what you’re comfortable with without ANY sort of benchmark. I’d prefer not to go into the specifics in my case, simply because that’s not really MY personal life to share — it’s Eric’s — but I will tell you that he used the two months’ salary + talking to friends + doing some research on diamond prices/quality online (truthaboutdiamonds.com was recommended by a friend and was great!) as a starting point and then he looked at his finances, savings, and personal financial values (he’s not a big fan of financing things; he’s a pay-in-full kinda guy) to get to a final number. And we didn’t negotiate at all; I was totally fine with it.

In hindsight, I think it would have been smart to go shopping FIRST, before we set a budget. A lot of times, we didn’t tell salespeople our budgets, or we said we didn’t know, and they were all cool with that. I think they get that this is new/intimidating for a lot of people. Typically they just told us the price of things as they showed them so we didn’t have to ask, which was nice. Anyway, if you tell them you don’t know what you like, they will probably let you browse/try things on, or they’ll bring you some basic/popular rings to start with and then you get to say, “This is too big, this is too plain, etc.” Seriously, I expected pushy sales people but everyone was SO chill and didn’t make us feel dumb at all.

And thank you for the compliment! :)

20 deva at deva by definition April 12, 2012 at 1:50 pm

I really should write a post about shopping for our rings. We went to two stores. The first one was promising, but had nothing within our budget. The second one was incredibly patient with me/us. I was nervous as heck – I was picking out a ring I would be wearing for the rest of my life! When we went into the stores to start picking rings, we felt like you did – how much could we expect to spend? Etc. I thought I wanted a solitaire ring with a pave band. When I tried on several, they were all too much for me – too much sparkle on one ring, even though they were gorgeous. As the saleswoman at the shop we bought my ring from brought me a few more to try, I finally realized that I wanted a plain, round-cut, solitaire in a white-gold setting. They brought me three and the second one I slipped on I fell for.

The Boy looked at it, and said “I think that one’s perfect.” Like you, that’s when it really hit me that we were getting engaged. Were engaged. We ended up buying my wedding band and his at the same time. He is not wearing a ring, but I’m okay with that.

As for when to take it off, I only sleep in mine when my hands/fingers are swollen and it’s hard to slip off. I have worn it in the shower and while washing dishes, but I take it off if I’m cleaning house or lifting weights. I keep it in its box when I’m not wearing it, so I don’t lose it.
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21 RAIN April 12, 2012 at 2:09 pm

“But instead he said very softly, just to me, “I would be very proud to buy you that ring.”

Oh my goodness how sweet…really beyond sweet and what a memorable thing to say.
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22 Heidi Nicole April 12, 2012 at 2:23 pm

I love your ring. Totally not my style, but it really is beautiful! And I wear my ring everywhere. The only time I take it off is during the winter at night when I lotion/glove my dry hands – its just too much work to clean the lotion out! Otherwise it doesn’t come off…even when making bread or digging in the dirt or mountain biking or anything. All of my diamonds are insured by the jeweler – if they fall out they get replaced for free. My ring has to go in for an inspection every 6 months but its worth it to me.

We went about ring shopping a bit oddly – we randomly went to look at rings and I was dead set on getting a low standing, simple ring. I picked one out, made half the drive home {an hour, we drove 2 hrs away to look at rings, yay for tiny town living!} and I was not happy. Not happy as in crying about how little I liked the ring. I didn’t want it. I didn’t know what I wanted but it wasn’t that. We ended up going back and picked out a sticky outty ring that to this day I still scratch people with. I love it. Its perfect. Its not custom but its mine and I love it.

The ring also spent 1.5 years in the safe before we officially did the engagement thing – then waited another 1.5 years before it got a fancy little wedding band to hang out with it. When people get a little too personal about my ring or when they asked too many questions about wedding planning/etc I would just brush it off while getting sarcastic toward myself and our relationship…its how I handle pretty much everything though.
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23 Melissa April 12, 2012 at 2:24 pm

I’m so glad you were both able to find rings you really loved. That’s fantastic!

My husband and I both have sapphires on our engagement rings and wear them on the “wrong” hand so I am long used to confused looks, but since we went such a different route, there seems to be less competitiveness from others. I also have a marquis shaped ring, just a sapphire. I wear it all the time, but I’m terrible at things like remembering to clean it or take it off, thankfully it seems to be just fine either way. Congratulations again!

24 Sarah April 12, 2012 at 2:46 pm

When you first told us about your engagement and how you wanted to give Eric something too, it really got me thinking. I know my bf is going to propose soon (maybe even next weekend if my suspicions are correct!!) and I decided he should get something too. We didnt pick a ring out together but I gave him an idea of what I like. So the ring and when/where are going to be a suprise. I debated getting him a ring or a watch but I just couldnt imagine him wearing them. And then….I had the brilliant idea to get him the digital slr camera he’s been coveting! He has no idea! Now I feel like Im in on the suprise too and that makes me happy and I think the sentiment reflects the equality of our relationship. I was so excited when I first made the purchase and told a bunch of people. Most thought it was a brilliant idea, but I was suprised at the reaction of one of my coworkers…the look on her face said disgust, but she kept her words to herself. I’m a pretty sensitive person so it hurt my feeling at first. But then I thought about the look on my bf’s face when I suprise him and I could care less what she thinks. I’m so excited!

25 Rachel April 12, 2012 at 2:52 pm

“Now I feel like Im in on the surprise too and that makes me happy and I think the sentiment reflects the equality of our relationship.” That is a GREAT feeling! That’s how I felt too, and how I felt planning the party for our parents. I’m thrilled to hear you found a way to surprise him and a gift that he will love. That’s a huge bummer about your coworker. I kinda wonder what her issue was but then I suppose it doesn’t much matter, right?

Keep me posted on his reaction!

26 Sarah April 12, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Not sure what the coworker’s issue was…she is very conservative…so I guess Im just too “modern” for her or something. I’m already almost 32 and living in sin and now Im changing a tradition to fit my own beliefs….I think its all just too much for her. Meh…its great for me!

27 Kristin April 12, 2012 at 3:15 pm

We picked out my engagement ring together. I tell people that all the time. I love that it was a joint decision; the first big one we made together.
I take my ring off A LOT. Sometimes I don’t even wear it at the gym because I hate when it gets all sweaty and smeary.
You will have to decide whether you want your band and e-ring soldered together. I originally did not. However, when they are separate and rubbing against each other, the stones can become loose. This is what happened to me so I had them soldered together and I’m really happy with my decision. With yellow gold, you don’t have to have the rhodium re-finished so that’s one point for yellow gold…We send our rings away every year or so to be re-finished.

28 Meagan April 12, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Love this! Congratulations again!

I had the same feelings about going ring shopping. I’d never had an e-ring before and had no idea what would look nice on me forEVer. I mean, all the diamond rings are pretty, but it was really great to find the one that made me go, “oh yes, that’s MY pretty.” Our mission was made easier since my husband had a diamond from his grandmother. It really took some pressure off.

29 Rachel April 12, 2012 at 4:53 pm

“I mean, all the diamond rings are pretty, but it was really great to find the one that made me go, ‘oh yes, that’s MY pretty.’”

Love that!

And thank you!!

30 nic April 12, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Love Eric’s comment at the jewelry store! Very sweet.

Ring politics are so crazy. I never wanted a knuckle duster engagement ring because it’s just not the way I was brought up. My mother’s engagement ring cost the equivalent of $100 and my grandmother’s engagement ring was cubic zirconia. I did want some kind of a ring, though, because I liked the symbolism of it. I just didn’t want my now husband to go into debt for it. So after I gave general hints to the hubs of what kinds of styles I liked, he picked out a ring for me that was well within his budget at the time and he paid cash for it. It is not huge but it is perfect. Still, I definitely felt the judgey-ness when I was engaged and people were constantly asking to look at my hand. For the friend who has a $20k ring, it was “Oh, that’s a sweet little ring.” For the friend who wore no engagement ring at all, it was “Huh, way to fall victim to DeBeers brainwashing.”

Ring ridiculousness and all the politics, etc. subsides after you get married. At least it did for me. Frankly, all the crap you think is so important leading up to your wedding just doesn’t seem important after the big day.

31 Sarah April 12, 2012 at 3:48 pm

I have been really disappointed in your entire series on you engagement. Just because you’re putting things like bride to be in quotations does not make it any less real. You’re engaged now. Why don’t you own it like you do everything else. Because that? Is not okay.

32 Rachel April 12, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Hm, I’m not 100% sure what you mean about making it less real or not owning it. I’m happy and excited that it’s happened and I think/acknowledge that it’s real. That said, I’m just not comfortable saying “fiance” yet and I’m definitely uncomfortable with “bride to be” because it feels like a label that marketers use, not a label I would give myself (I’m not planning a wedding; am I really a “bride to be”?). So is it that you just don’t like how I feel about the labels? Or something further? Just trying to clarify!

33 Sarah April 12, 2012 at 8:01 pm

It’s definitely something further. I feel like if you decided to get engaged you should be comfortable calling Eric your fiance, it’s part of the process. No, you’re not planning a wedding right now, but that is what being engaged leads up to so yes, you are a bride to be. I don’t understand why you’re having such a hard time putting labels on this when you have no problem labeling yourself as biracial or a sorostitute. I’m having a hard time understanding why you’re treating this whole engagement as something you’re not incredibly excited about. I remember when you did a post on how to be happy for your friends who are engaged when you’re not. I don’t understand how that translated into this whole we just decided, nothing romantic.

34 Rachel April 12, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Hmm…I don’t think it’s fair to say I “should” be comfortable calling him my fiance; a lot of people commented on my first post saying they never got comfortable with it the whole time they were engaged. The thing is, it’s been two weeks since I was “supposed” to start using these terms — it took me a lot longer than two weeks to start using the other labels you mentioned regularly. I expect that I’ll accept the new labels in time.

In terms of me not being excited enough, I think it might be in part because all this really happened for me three months ago. Maybe I just got it out of my system; ask someone how excited they are to graduate college three months after the fact and I’m sure their reaction will be totally different than what it was the day of graduation, or during the weeks leading up to it. I am excited, but I think the excitement you might be expecting is just something I experienced a while ago, and mostly privately. I was really excited to tell our parents, which I think I made clear last week, but again, it wasn’t the Most Exciting Thing Ever. I don’t know why it wasn’t; I can tell you that you aren’t the first person who wants me to be more excited about it though. Do I think it’s romantic? Absolutely and I shared what I felt was the most romantic part of all of it in this post. I don’t know quite how to explain why I’m not more gushy about it except to say that this isn’t the end-all, be-all for me, or even for my relationship. It’s a milestone, yes, but it’s one of many.

So I have owned that I’m engaged and I can also own that it’s not as big of a deal for me as other people might like it to be.

I hope that clarifies a bit but let me know if you still don’t understand where I’m coming from!

35 Hannah April 13, 2012 at 8:58 am

My mom never called my dad her “boyfriend” when they were dating. It was always “the man I’m dating” (or so I’ve heard–I wasn’t there). I’m not sure about her using the word “fiance”, but it’s a comfort thing. I dated a guy for a few months and I wasn’t comfortable with the boyfriend/girlfriend labels. It’s all just a comfort thing, that really has nothing to do with the status of one’s relationship.

Also, Rachel has made it pretty clear that she and Eric knew where their relationship was going for a while (like years). Moving across the country. Living in sin. Adopting puppies. Like she said, the ring was more of a public admission of intent, since she’s felt engaged for a while.

I kinda feel like there’s some young/modern stuff involved. My cousin is getting married to her BF of over 8 years this summer. They weren’t ready to get engaged or married until this point in their lives, despite the fact that pretty much everyone knew they would tie the knot at some point. My other cousins knew after a few months of dating in high school that they would get married when they graduated college, and planned to get engaged at the start of their junior year. It kind of bothers my mom (who’s totally old school BTW) that people have long engagements, or put off getting engaged/married in favor of waiting and living together, but I just think that society isn’t pushing the marriage thing as the ultimate goal in life anymore. Not bad or good, just different.

36 Nicole April 13, 2012 at 10:16 am

I think it’s totally okay to not feel super gushy about this. I was also excited about my engagement, but wasn’t so, “OMG THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!” because really, it just wasn’t. There are so many other moments that I have with my husband that I consider better (or equal to) the day we got engaged and even the day we got married. it was cool, exciting, fun, beautiful, a great bonding moment, all of that, but it’s not like everything in your world totally changes when those things happen. I felt exactly the same the day before I was engaged, the day after I was engaged, the day before I was married, and the day after I was married. I think if you have a strong, loving relationship, there probably isn’t any huge, “OMG MY LIFE IS SO MUCH BETTER NOW” because you’re probably already working on making every single day the best it can be.

Honestly, I’m kind of sad when people say, “Oh, the day I was married was far and away the best day of my life!” because it’s like, “Really? Can’t a trip to the grocery store or a rainy day playing video games or a night at the movies be just as awesome?” I just feel like so many people forget to live the day-to-day and only live the milestones. Sad.

37 Melanie April 13, 2012 at 3:15 pm

I was pretty excited to get engaged, and it still took me some time to switch from calling D my boyfriend to calling him my fiance. And guess what? I was thrilled to get married, too (and it really was the best day — so far — family, friends, dancing, champagne, committing to each other for life, D’s voice breaking when he said his vows), and it still took me some time to get used to calling him my husband.

I don’t know why Sarah thinks there’s some rule about when you’re “supposed” to be comfortable with things, or exactly how thrilled you’re supposed to be about getting engaged. There isn’t. And just because Rachel’s not gushing puffy hearts all over her site doesn’t mean she isn’t excited and happy and thrilled.

Also, contrary to a lot of people I’ve talked to, I did feel differently once we were married. We lived together and everything beforehand, but it was still different – it just feels more solid and grounded. I’m not good at explaining it, but knowing that we’re a team, officially, is something special to me.
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38 Rachel April 13, 2012 at 3:27 pm

I think I’ll feel different once we’re married, but I’m not sure at what point I’ll really feel it. When did you? At the reception? The next day?

And I love what you said about why it really was the best day for you; that’s why I loved our engagement party. A lot of people said I looked really happy, but the engagement was only part of it. Honestly, having all my people in ONE PLACEW for once was just amazing!

39 Sarah H. April 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm

**Though I share the name, I am definitely not the girl who started this thread.

I remember when my husband (weird. We’ve been married for about weeks and its still weird for me to call him that) proposed to me and we got engaged. I remember feeling really excited, and I asked him during the whole thing “is this real life? this isnt a joke? you’re being serious, right?”

But afterwards, after that first initial day it took me a little while to feel comfortable with everything because I was waiting around for the dynamics of our relationship to “change”. However, like you and Eric, we were solid in our relationship, we knew thats where we wanted to be, but I just kept thinking that this was all going to overwhelm me or something. Also, I referred to him as my “feyonce” as well and I said it in a silly voice with a terrible french accent.

The weeks leading up the wedding, I started to get nervous that everything would “change”, like maybe it was supposed to happen when we got engaged and it didnt so I thought the wedding/marriage “change” would be twofold. However, nothing has changed. We are still the same people, we are still the same, except now we are legally bound to each other. We are partners. I feel much more comfortable calling him my partner rather than my husband. Equal playing field. Actually, one thing has changed — I feel safe. Like, really really safe and secure. Good thing, right?

Sidenote — I currently have been catching a lot of flack for refusing to change my last name. Does that make any less of a partner in our relationship? I don’t think so. It’s no one else’s business what I do with it, and my partner is totally fine with it. We’ve owned it.

Congratulations on your engagement Rachel! I’ve been a long-time reader (like since you were shedding it and getting it!) and I am truly thrilled for you, Eric, and the pups!

40 Melanie April 17, 2012 at 6:48 pm

“Actually, one thing has changed — I feel safe. Like, really really safe and secure. Good thing, right?”

That’s exactly what it is for me. And it’s not that I didn’t feel safe before, or that I worried that he was going to leave me or something. It’s just that there really is something profound about marriage that makes the feeling of safety and security much more “tangible,” I guess, for lack of a better word.

People think it’s weird that I say that – “I felt safe before; nothing changed.” Good for you. For me, it did, though, and I’m glad it did.

41 Rachel April 17, 2012 at 7:38 pm

@Sarah H.

1. French accents TOTALLY make it easier.
2. Name changes…oh man, talk about being screwed no matter what you do. I can’t even start thinking about that now or I’m 99% sure I just WILL NOT get married in an effort to avoid it.
3. Thank you for this comment and your good wishes!! :)

42 Melanie April 17, 2012 at 7:00 pm

To be honest, it took me about six weeks or so to really “settle into” marriage. I had a huge amount of anxiety going into it, and sealing the deal didn’t ease it. (For the record, I was always 100% sure I wanted to marry my husband, it was just difficult for me to wrap my head around the enormity and finality of marriage.)

When I finally did settle into it, it was around the time “husband” started to not sound funny coming out of my mouth anymore (before I met my husband, I really thought I’d never find anyone to marry), but I’m not sure what else precipitated it. Probably just time to get used to it. Day to day, nothing changed, but emotionally things felt different for both of us.

43 Rachel April 17, 2012 at 7:34 pm

@Melanie: This is really good to hear: “For the record, I was always 100% sure I wanted to marry my husband, it was just difficult for me to wrap my head around the enormity and finality of marriage.” The enormity of it is definitely intimidating and it’s been on my mind since getting engaged. It’s hard to explain, but yeah…it’s intimidating and scary and yet it goes hand in hand with being excited and happy.

I’ve been trying to relate the whole situation to going away to college in my head to help me adjust. I was really excited for that but I was definitely freaked out at times (and often at the same time). It took me a while but eventually, college and sorority life felt like home to me. I hope that’s what happens with engagement/marriage. Do you think it’s a similar situation or am I way off?

44 Melanie April 17, 2012 at 8:02 pm

I think that’s just about it and a good way to help yourself through it.

The problem is, no one talks about the anxiety. I found that all anyone wanted to know was how wedding planning was going and if I was “so excited” about it. It made me feel like I was alone, like I couldn’t say anything because people would think–even if they didn’t say it–that I shouldn’t get married if I was that anxious about it. I thought every other bride was just full to the brim with confidence and excitement ALL the time and that something was wrong with me because I wasn’t.

When I finally wrote about it for a group blog (Band Back Together), someone commented that she’d felt the same way before she got married. She said, “I didn’t tell anyone because I thought they’d tell me I shouldn’t get married if I wasn’t’ sure. I *was* sure, I was just scared.” When I read that, I felt like I could breathe again. I wasn’t alone, and I wasn’t crazy, and that was such a relief.

So I want to tell you that it is totally normal to feel both excited and anxious or scared, and it doesn’t mean you don’t love Eric and it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t marry him. Personally, I think it shows that you’re acknowledging and coming to terms with the enormity of the commitment you’re going to make. I think a lot of people, women particularly, get caught up in planning the wedding and give the actual marriage short shrift. You do not have that problem.

45 Megan C. April 12, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Eric’s comment at the jewelry store made me misty eyed that was so sweet. I think the route you guys took is perfect for you. And the competition that comes with rings is just silly but it is there none the less.

I wear my ring all the time except when I get manicures. I shower with it, do yoga with it, workout with it, etc and I’ve never had a problem.
Megan C.´s last post ..Please Won’t You Be My NeighborMy Profile

46 K @ The Chic Teach April 12, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Man, this just makes me think “the CRAP I’m going to have to deal with if I ever get married!”. Seriously…people can be ridiculous, ya know?

By the way, I stinking love your engagement ring. I couldn’t imagine a more perfectly fitting ring for you :-)
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47 Bridget April 12, 2012 at 6:23 pm

I cried at what Eric said to you. It’s those unexpected moments that make you realize you picked the right orange :)

48 Nikki April 12, 2012 at 6:51 pm

I loved reading this. I’m glad you found rings that you both love, and congratulations (although for some reason, I think I’ve heard you’re NOT supposed to say “congrats” to the bride…but the sentiment I mean is a happy one!)!

49 Melanie April 13, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Right – you say congratulations to the groom and best wishes to the bride. Supposedly, “congratulations” is like, “Great job snagging her” and it would be unseemly to suggest that a lady pursued the gentleman!
Melanie´s last post ..(Mostly) Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

50 Nikki April 15, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Ahh, thanks for the clarification!! I knew it wasn’t something I just made up! :)

51 Rachel April 16, 2012 at 7:29 am

@Melanie — So interesting! My boss asked me if he was supposed to say congrats and I had no idea…I assumed it was fine since that’s what everyone typically says! Of course, it IS fine, but it’s still interesting to know the reason behind this tradition!

52 Andi April 12, 2012 at 6:52 pm

My husband knew before he proposed that I don’t like to wear rings (I can’t even wear them at work). He still thought it important to get me one, but he kept it relatively inexpensive. When we’d discussed it beforehand, I told him he should save that crazy two months salary and take me on a nice vacation.
Andi´s last post ..Intro to CrossfitMy Profile

53 Jacki April 13, 2012 at 9:30 am

Oh, man, Eric’s comment made me tear up. And, even though I don’t usually give marquise cut stones a second glance, your ring really DOES suit your hand. It’s beautiful!

Engagement ring competition in all its forms really irks me. Personally, I love big shiny stones, but we don’t have a big shiny stone budget. So we’re talking about moissanite. I can get the big shiny stone in the real, high-quality setting, without the diamond price tag. Maybe someday I’d replace it with a diamond, or maybe not. And if anyone has a problem with that, well, it’s not MY problem … it’s theirs for caring too much about the jewelry on another person’s body! :)
Jacki´s last post ..insta-addictedMy Profile

54 Arlene @ Adventures in Weight Loss April 13, 2012 at 10:31 am

Gorgeous ring. For the record, mine (which I just got a couple of months ago) is marquis-cut, too. The cut and white gold were my only specifications.
Arlene @ Adventures in Weight Loss´s last post ..Burning the candle at both endsMy Profile

55 andrea. April 13, 2012 at 10:42 am

Oh my goodness, Eric’s comment was perfect. What a guy. :)

Anyway, it’s a beautiful ring, Rachel! I’m curious about what you plan to do for a wedding band. I have an emerald-cut engagement ring, which I LOVE LOVE LOVE. (I always knew I wanted I wanted this style ring — we even had it custom-made because I wanted it to look like a ring my grandmother used to own (THAT I LOST) so it was really important to me.) But now I find myself really stuck on the band part of the equation. Unless I get something custom-fitted, I’m going to have a gap between the engagement ring and the band, which I don’t really love. The other option seems to be to switch my engagement ring to my other hand once we’re married. Or possibly to not do a band at all? Just wondering if you guys had thought that far ahead yet.

56 Rachel April 13, 2012 at 11:36 am

I’ve thought about it a little bit and I really have no idea! I think it will depend on how I feel about the engagement ring in a few years…perhaps at that point, I’ll want something without a big stone, you know? I think it will probably be both a practical and sentimental decision!

57 Janet April 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Congrats on getting engaged to your “Feyonce”. The good news is that eventually it does get a little more comfortable to call your significant other fiance, but dont even get me started on transitioning to husband.
When I got engaged we shopped for my ring online together. I thought I wanted a big fancy designer setting but in the end, did the right thing by focusing on the diamond. We bought my engagement ring for cheapo at bluenile.com but they were a rip off for wedding bands. My husband and I spent a month and a half searching for the right ring and really got a great education about diamond shopping.
Janet´s last post ..Bridal Trend: Mad MenMy Profile

58 AshinMT April 13, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Everything in this thread is so lovely and the most “real” conversation i have read on the internet about cost, the weird boyfreind-to-feyonce transition and etc. As always Rachel you are such a pertinent and gifted writer. Thank you! However… i did want to share my “when i knew” moment as well. My family offered Case a family ring which was my Great Grandmothers (with whom i was very close). It was missing one small diamond and desperately needed other repairs, but he accepted whole heartedly because it had meaning for us. When he proposed, as i stood their shaking and stunned he said, also while shaking… “do you know who’s it was?” which i didnt because i was under the impression that she had been buried in it. It seems like not a very “big” question but it was such an ernest one. He was so proud to be able to offer me her ring, and I think it meant a lot to him for my family to have offered it. Just wanted to share… and also on the competitive front… people act like they feel sorry for me that he didnt buy me a “new” ring. Like someone said up above… i feel sorry for them.
After all this rambling… i would like to say that you and Eric’s story is a beautiful one. Congrats!

59 Joy April 14, 2012 at 6:47 am

What a great post!
I have an engagement ring (a beautiful marquis as a matter of fact) I don’t wear it :-/ even after we were married I wore no ring, I am the daughter of an abusive alcoholic jeweler, after he was a jerk I got bling… One day hubs and I were at the Franklin mint (of all places) and saw a tiara ring (actually a replica of princess Diana’s – who in obsessed with) I oohed and ahhed and we left – well on our anniversary I opened that ring with a note that said you were queen for a day but you’re my princess for a lifetime. I put the ring on my “wedding ring finger” and haven’t taken it off (other than for repairs or cleaning) since. Is there any competition with my ring? No, it’s perfect (for me) and I can look at other people’s rings as both a jewelers daughter (and admire the 4 cs) and as a friend (and admire the story)

That said – your ring IS stunning but what he said is breath taking
Joy´s last post ..Thursday bugMy Profile

60 Nicole @ Giraffelegs April 18, 2012 at 9:36 am

I love the ring you chose. It’s understated, which I think is best because too much bling is kind of tacky.

61 Nagehan April 18, 2012 at 10:17 am

I started reading your blog not too long ago and this is my first comment. I totally agree with what you’re saying how the whole ‘ring business’ with women needs to stop being a factor of competition of who is better, wealthier, or who has better taste in jewelery. To each is their own and it’s all about being happy in your relationship/marriage and not letting the ring/wedding getting bigger than the love two people foster for one another. My boyfriend and I just bought our rings and mine is a RUBY center stone. I’m defying the diamond engagement ring expectations of society. xo

62 Rachel April 18, 2012 at 10:54 am

Hearing how happy you are about doing what makes sense for you two just put a big smile on my face! And congrats!!

63 Anna S. April 28, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Ring shopping seems really stressful. I think this will be a great post to reference in the future.

This is only related to a small portion of this post, but my mom has a marquise cut diamond with yellow gold. She still loves the cute. I also have a friend who has a marquise cut diamond with yellow gold. It’s a beautiful cut, and it is great that it is a little different.

64 Alane Jewel September 11, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Love your ring and this post. My girlfriend and I had been hunting for rings for the last year, it was really important to us to make sure our ring solidified our commitment to each other for our families. You wouldnt think a ring would become so meaningful to represent our struggle to be together as a couple. Finding a company that we felt completely comfortable purchasing from was key. We found the perfect ring through Brilliant Earth, non-conflict and embraced who we are as two women starting our lives together. http://www.brilliantearth.com/gay-and-lesbian-ring/

65 Liv March 8, 2013 at 3:18 pm

This helped. I have been shopping with my fiance, it has helped. First I went alone, to get a feel for it. I never dreamed about my wedding as a little girl. Before I even met my fiance I never wanted to get married. But when I met him I wanted everything I had wanted before and more. With his encouragement I went and looked, I mean to me it’s a life long purchase… and I wear no jewelry. I mean none, my only accessory besides my shoes are my glasses and that is it. But I really have a hard time making a decision, I know I want a pear with a halo and diamonds on the band… but I can’t pull the trigger on any I try on. As well as with a band, I know I want rose gold but I keep second guessing myself. This is a huge purchase… I guess I am afraid I’ll hate it later. Thanks for the advice!

66 Jaye Bennett September 6, 2013 at 3:04 pm

My other half of 10+ years told me he was gonna marry me (totally out of the blue, and seriously unexpected as he was SO anti marriage, as in real arguments), just before I went to see my sister in Boston. I went to an Ultra Diamonds outlet and found my perfect ring. I had no idea what I wanted before this. Searching 2 days before I left, I had Greek Key designs in mind as we spend a lot of time in Zakinthos. I then found my perfect Princess Cut White Gold Engagement ring, Wedding band and His matching wedding band in the same place. Engaged 4 years now and can’t wait to match all our bands. Just sayin’!!!

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