I recently experienced the joy of getting engaged.  It’s a moment you can’t help but dream about your entire life and when it actually happened, it was surreal and wonderful and exciting and right – all of those things I’d hoped for. And guess what?! I knew it was coming because we decided to choose an engagement ring together. Trust me – that made it no less special.

If you are a woman who wants to be surprised or has more traditional points of view on how to seal the deal, then this post and our way of making the important decision to get engaged and choose a ring together is not for you. But if there is a part of you that is curious about how to weigh in on what you want to wear forever, then keep reading!

When Evan and I decided together that we were ready to be engaged, the next step was to talk about a ring. Evan knew that, as a woman who obsessively analyzes every single ounce of clothing, shoe, accessory, makeup and hairstyle to the nth degree prior to putting it on her body each day, I would probably want to have a say in the ring. He also didn’t want to carry the anxiety of hoping I would like what he chose on his own. So he simply asked me if I wanted to be part of the process, and I immediately and without hesitation said, YES.

So where did we go from here? In short, we found the perfect ring in my hometown at a local jeweler my parents know. Not only was it within budget, but it was completely different from what I ever imagined I wanted. I still can’t look at anything else when it is on my hand – it is truly mesmerizing to me. In long, here’s a breakdown of how to do it:

  • TALK TO THE TRUSTED PARENTAL FIGURES IN YOUR LIFE – This might feel outdated or too traditional, but it was very meaningful to my father and to Evan to have a conversation about our intent to get married. Gaining my parents’ and Evan’s mother’s blessing allowed us to cross a t and dot an i on our lives as single people in order to move forward together. It’s cheesy, but it’s worth doing and it’s respectful to the people who raised you.
  • GO SOMEWHERE YOU TRUST –  I’d been too overwhelmed by the idea of searching the vast internet for the perfect ring. Luckily, we happened to be travelling in the south at the time we were ready, so I suggested we head to Aurum Studios in Athens, GA. It’s the place where my dad bought all my mom’s jewelry growing up, and I felt an attachment to it for that reason. I also studied their collection online before we went, so I knew they might have something I’d like. And if they didn’t, at least I’d be able to rule out what I didn’t want.

  • SET A BUDGET – Since this was a new experience to us both – and knowing we might have the expense of a wedding or potential job changes or even a cross-country move in our future (all TBD) – we talked very openly about what was reasonable for Evan to spend. There are many, many schools of thought on what to spend and who should pay for it, but I don’t buy into anything other than what feels right for you both. The only thing I do recommend is talking about it. Having an estimate in mind will automatically narrow down or open up the options you can and cannot try on. And that’s really helpful when you’re in the moment.
  • BE OPEN-MINDED – Evan and I chose a 1.3 carat oval-shaped sapphire, surrounded by a halo and band of 36 small, round diamonds in white gold. When I walked in there, I thought I would want a very simple round-shaped (brilliant cut) solitaire diamond with a plain platinum band. But, as we tried things on and looked through the cases, our eyes landed on the sapphire ring at the exact same moment. We both said, “Oh, look at that!” I tried it on and was immediately transfixed by how unique it was, how sparkly it was and how ME it was. It was nothing like what I’d imagined I’d choose, but it seemed like it was made for me when I put it on. My point is – try on everything you think you might be remotely into. You could be surprised!
  • KNOW YOURSELF – While you might end up liking something you never expected, I do think it’s important to know yourself and what kind of ring you can handle going into your search. Think about the size of your hands, the clothes you wear, the job you do and ask what kind of ring makes sense for your life. For example, I have teeny tiny hands so a gigantic 2 carat diamond would look garish and like costume jewelry on me. I dress up a lot so a super-sparkly piece goes well with my wardrobe. I spend a lot of my time at a computer so I am not hard on my hands and don’t need to worry about damaging a ring each day. These were all things I considered when trying on different pieces.
  • TRY IT ON AND TAKE PICS IN THE NATURAL LIGHT – This is critical. Jewelers have very warm, bright lights shining down directly upon you for a reason – to make everything sparkle and shine as much as possible. Everything looks beautiful when you’re sitting at the case, so ask the jeweler if you can step outside. They will go with you, but they will definitely let you view the ring in the daylight. Take a look at the setting from all angles, and snap a few pics with your phone so that you can view them later.

Try it on in natural light Try it on in natural light Look at the setting from all angles Look at the setting from all angles

  • MAKE A DAY OF IT AND THEN SLEEP ON IT –  I often find that I make decisions that are best for me after I’ve given myself sufficient distance and perspective from the object. We did not buy a ring that day. Instead, we walked out and went to lunch to talk about the choices. Later that evening we looked at the pics again and in the morning we both shared which ring was still speaking to us.
  • TEST IT WITH A WEDDING BAND – Though we woke up still set on the sapphire, I did have some concerns about whether I would regret not having a diamond engagement ring. My sister gave me the best advice which was to return to the store and try on all of the options I was considering with the matching wedding band to see how the set looked together on my hand. This made all the difference in our decision-making process because the sapphire with the diamond wedding band looked killer to me. They were a match made in…Athens!

Test it with a wedding band Test it with a wedding band

  • MANAGE THE ROMANCE – Now is the part where I stepped out of it – literally. We found a ring that we both felt really happy about, and then I left the store so that what happened next would still have an element of surprise and romance. And it did! I had NO idea Evan would propose when he did, and when the moment came, it was so special and so meaningful – and boy did that ring sparkle!

Ultimately, this is your life and your relationship and your decision. There is no right way or wrong way to choose an engagement ring. No right stone or wrong stone. No right size or wrong size. Some people love surprises and traditions, while others (like me) don’t. This was my way, and I wish you luck finding yours!