We were floating around in a secluded swimming hole, when my then-boyfriend (now fiancé) reached into the pocket of his swim trunks and took out the most gorgeous (albeit quite wet) ring box. When he popped the "Will you spend the rest of your life with me?" question at his family's property in the Texas Hill Country, I was definitely surprised by the moment—just not so much with the ring. Which was, and let me be clear, totally okay. Actually, better than okay: We created my bespoke ring together, and he was by my side every step of the way. I knew I wanted a classic ring, but not one totally devoid of personality—admittedly a fine line to expect someone to walk when (no pressure) buying me something (a) rather expensive, and (b) that I’ll wear every day for the rest of my life. After all, how was he supposed to know what I would want if I didn’t even know what I wanted?
As all things wedding-related become increasingly nontraditional, let me just take a second to reiterate that buying an engagement ring isn’t a one-size-fits-all process—and just because you two are openly talking about your engagement does not mean you can’t be surprised by the proposal. The story of our engagement begins with a lot of honest discussions, indulgent research, and occasional disagreements, and ends (finally) with a champagne toast and my dream ring on my finger.
If you're anything like me, you know yourself well enough to admit you definitely want some say in the design of your engagement ring (without hurting your S/O’s feelings). But don’t worry, knowing what your ring will look like won’t ruin the surprise when the proposal happens. Here’s how to shop for your own engagement ring with your partner without hurt feelings.
Talk It Out
Although it may be a no-brainer to some of you out there, having open conversations with your partner really is crucial when it comes to shopping for your engagement ring (and staying married, come to think of it). Before you even get to whether you prefer yellow or white gold when you start planning on how to shop for your own engagement ring, start the convo with this cheat sheet:
1. Discuss the awkward financials: Do you plan to share the cost? Are you in the same ballpark in terms of how much you’re thinking is appropriate to spend? Are you hoping for a luxe little blue box, or would that make you cringe?
2. Remember the other factors that might be unexpectedly important to either of you: Maybe your partner is passionate about working with a jeweler who exclusively uses conflict-free gems, maybe there's an unspoken expectation that you'll be the recipient of a family heirloom, or maybe you're both aligned on having a bespoke ring.
Now’s the time to school yourself on different jewelers, discover what types of rings you gravitate toward, and dive deep into the weird world of Pinterest (if nothing else, it’ll be good practice for your wedding planning). Learn the language of engagement rings so you can begin to accurately describe what it is you’re into and translate that into jeweler-speak. Start an Instagram album to save the ring styles you’re coveting (here’s my album of all of the other rings I’d still love to own one day)—and yes, it is totally permissible to DM your beau some of your favorite styles.
Bling It On
Now, the fun part: Get off the internet, go shopping IRL, and try on as many rings as you damn well please. Feel it out. Schedule appointments. Visit jewelers however it sounds fun to you: by yourself, with your partner, with a friend or family member. Maybe you can make it a date with your partner, and enjoy a leisurely lunch after. Most importantly, take notes and photos while you try on rings—oh, and don’t go home without finding out your ring size.
Whether you end up finding the perfect ring online, dedicate hours to hunting down affordable versions of celebrity rings, or design a style that’s your own, here’s some more shameless engagement inspiration to send you on your way.