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Hello, ladies! As I’m guessing you all know, I’m engaged!! Just four short weeks ago we sent out a post all about engagement rings. I wanted your advice, and y’all were too kind to oblige! I LOVED reading your comments about your rings, your pre-engagement searching, and — of COURSE — your proposal stories!

Well, now that I’ve got a ring and a proposal story of my very own, I wanted to be sure and share it with y’all! First, the story, which is simple and sweet. John surprised me with a weekend trip to Beaufort, North Carolina, an adorable seaside town, two weeks ago. Some of our favorite memories from our six and a half years together were made at the beach, and almost all of them happened near the ocean, so even though this particular coastal town didn’t have special meaning to us (yet!), beaches in general did.

We spent the day at Shackleford Banks, a barrier island famous for wild horses and tons of seashells. (Once the surprise trip was announced, I had a hunch that a proposal might be on its way, but nothing happened all morning or afternoon!) After getting cleaned up that evening, we headed for dinner at an ocean-side restaurant. We arrived a few minutes before our reservation (which is HIGHLY unusual, if you know John!), and we decided to take a sunset stroll. On our way back, I suggested we take a self-timed photo, which we’re famous for, since we were all dressed up. It turns out I was playing right into his plans, because instead of setting the camera to photo, he set it to video, and then proceeded to get down on one knee after I thought the flash had gone off! The rest of the evening was a happy blur.

We made a little video from the weekend, which you can check out here

And now, on to the ring! Here she is:

The story: back in January, John and I decided doing some initial engagement ring research would be an appropriate activity for our six year dateversary. (Come on, y’all have one, too, right?) We decided to check out Diamonds Direct Crabtree, since we’d heard good things about them and figured a store with a large selection of different styles would be a good place to start.

I feel as though I have to back up a minute and admit that though I consider myself a wedding expert, I know next to nothing about engagement rings — really! I had heard of the 4 Cs, but didn’t really know what “normal” ranges were for any of them, and didn’t really know too well what style I liked, either. Before our trip I did a little research and had a little talk with my diamond-fiend buddy (and former SW editor!) Katharine, and both were super helpful. By the time we visited Diamonds Direct, I thought I knew that I wanted a very thin, yellow gold band, I DIDN’T want a halo, and I was most interested in oval-shaped diamonds.

Here are a few of the inspiration images I gathered before our big trip:

First row: oval gold engagement ring from Asprey, micropave cushion-cut engagement ring in platinum from Harry Winston; Second row: photo by Whitebox Weddings; Third row: horizontal gold setting from Marvin Katz, photo by Kate Headley

As you can see, I was pretty much all over the place. Happily, though, we happened to be paired with Raj when we stepped through Diamond Direct’s doors, and I think that made all the difference in our shopping experience! He was extremely kind, patient, and knowledgeable, and put us instantly at ease. We looked through many different settings and styles, and quickly realized a few things:

1) As I had heard, diamonds DO look bigger on your finger! Anything over one carat looked pretty ridiculous on my thin fingers. Hallelujah!
2) Ovals were not the shape for me. Surprisingly, I really liked the look of an emerald-cut on my finger, even though I had never been a fan of that cut before.
3) I actually liked halos, I just didn’t like halos that were bezel-set.

Two of the other styles I tried on.

Next we looked at diamonds. For those of you who are wondering…
— I couldn’t really tell the difference between a S1 and and VS1 or VS2 clarity, so that wasn’t the most important C to me.
— I could tell the difference between color, and “I” was too yellow for me. Above “F” was almost too white.
— GIA certification was also important to me.

It turns out that after that one visit John ended up placing the order for our ring (making a few modifications to the setting, which Diamonds Direct does for no charge!), and that was the extent of our ring shopping! We never did end up looking anywhere else. We found something we both loved at a price we both loved with a customer-experience we both loved, and though we could have continued the search for months and months, there didn’t really seem to be any need to.

After January, I truly put engagement rings out of my mind, making everything a wonderful surprise in June!

So now that you know my story, ladies, tell me what you think! Did you go ring shopping for ages? Did you go at all? How do you feel about yellow gold?! I was worried other people would hate it, but I love it, and the reaction has been great so far!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Cyn reply

    LOVE IT! Cute story, LOVE the ring + love the video! So excited for you!

  2. avatar Laura DeBellis reply

    Congratulations!!!! We went to Diamonds Direct Crabtree as well. Amy helped us and she was fabulous! I definitely found that engagement rings are like wedding dresses. You think you will like one style but when you try it on, it’s nothing like what you expected! I ended up with a cushion cut and halo. And I LOVE my ring! Love yours as well! Congrats, again!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Laura: Ha! I think wedding dress shopping is going to be verrrrrry interesting for me, because I definitely have a VERY specific idea about what kind of dress I like. I’m not sure what I’ll do if it looks terrible on me!! :)

  3. avatar Caroline Seymour reply

    So Happy for you Emily! Love the ring and the story was so sweet. Best Wishes with wedding planning :)

    • avatar Emily reply

      Thank you, sweet Caroline! I hope planning is going well for you, too! xo

  4. avatar Lindsay reply

    Really pretty! Such a sweet story. I wish I would have videoed our engagement. Good idea!! Your ring is beautiful. I like that’s the yellow gold is unique. As for us, we went shopping casually one time in the diamond district (we live in NYC) and then a few months later he picked out the perfect ring. Just that one time for me too. Good luck with all your planning. It’s so much fun!

  5. avatar Lara reply

    Yeah yeah yeah! Can we make this post a “sticky” at the top of the blog for forever!? I’m so excited for you and John!!!

  6. avatar Amanda Zerra reply

    Congratulations. Your ring is unique and stunning! I did not go shopping with my husband. I did however have a dream ring in mind, (Standard Tiffany’s Princess Cut) but what I got was the complete opposite. My ring was a complete surprise. A 2 ct. Cushion cut on a white gold pave setting band. I was floored by my ring! My husband took a “Diamonds” course with a friend of his who is also a manager at Mayor’s Jewelery. He ended up finding the perfect stone at a somewhat reasonable price. He also picked out the setting on his own. I can understand how shopping with your fiance is important to some girls, but I was happy to have it all come as a complete shock. I know the gorgeous ring on my hand was found with love, care and research, to me that is so thoughtful!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Thank you so much, Amanda! Your ring sounds spectacular, as well!

  7. avatar madelynne miller reply

    I think you and I had exactly the same ideas in mind when ring shopping! I wanted something unique and simple, and ended up getting a small halo around a nearly 1 ct oval. I loved the plain band with the diamond halo – and I didn’t like bezel set AT ALL! I LOVE the gold, by the way! I have shared a link to our engagement shoot and the third row down is a picture of my ring!

    I think it’s absolutely beautiful! We shopped from June-Sept and he bought my ring in December, and proposed to me on Jan 31st. I was SO surprised by how quickly he popped the question!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Madelynne! Your ring is beautiful! And yes, that is a quick turnaround from looking to proposal — I had to wait much longer! :)

  8. avatar Kristina reply

    Emily, your ring is spectacular! And I love the video, adorable…big fan of One Republic…nice choice!

    I didn’t go with my husband to look for a ring, but he did flat out ask me what I would want (oh so casually of course ;) or so he thought) but I didn’t get the ring til about a year and a half later! lol Although, he did ask me REALLY early on in our dating about the ring (he told his Mom he would marry after only knowing me 4 months). Kudos to you and John both. Wish you the best and I’m looking forward to more planning posts!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Thank you so much, Kristina, and I’m so glad you love YOUR ring! I’m not sure what I would have said if John had asked me what I wanted beforehand! :)

  9. avatar Lori reply

    Congratulations! Your ring is absolutely gorgeous. IOur story was similar- we looked once together and found “the one”… I, too, put engagement rings out of my mind after a few months of wondering when it might happen. I was truly suprised 6 months later when CSB proposed! You are in the ultimate job position to do some major wedding planning- enjoy! :)

  10. avatar Lori reply

    Congratulations! Your ring is absolutely gorgeous. Our story was similar- we looked once together and found “the one”… I, too, put engagement rings out of my mind after a few months of wondering when it might happen. I was truly suprised 6 months later when CSB proposed! You are in the ultimate job position to do some major wedding planning- enjoy! :)

  11. avatar Sydney H. reply

    Congratulations!! What an exciting time for both of you! Such a great story and memory that you will cherish forever. Happy wedding planning :)

  12. avatar Elizabeth reply

    Congrats!! I love the ring it is similar to what I had always wanted but didn’t get. I never went engagement ring shopping. My fiance is very old south where the girl should never know that an engagement is coming and surely no idea what the ring will look like. I got my “something old” from my fiance instead. The center 1.5ct round Harry Winston diamond was his mother’s original engagement ring diamond. His godfather had taken it and some other family diamonds and platinum jewelry to a custom jewelry maker and what they made is to me a true piece of art. It is a mixture of baguettes, small round diamonds and the center diamond. My southern boy truly knew the way to my heart with this one. And I was so surprised when he did propose out of the blue with it.

    • avatar Emily reply

      Gorgeous! Your ring sounds spectacular, and I love that it has sentimental value to you!

  13. avatar Ashley reply

    That is truly an amazing story and a grogeous ring so congratulations! I just recently came across this blog and have fallen in love with it. I have religiously been following it for a few weeks. I actually was proposed to without a ring and that was a year and a half ago! Up until last week I have been an engaged woman without an engagement ring. My poor fiance and I spent an entire year (and going to so many stores I lost count) until I finally cried over one that I slipped on my finger. After shopping for a year and a half and never falling in love with something, I had lost all hope and thought I would never get a ring. I was always displeased with the service at the jewelry stores because not one of the sales associates were listening to me. Granted I didn’t know what the correct terms to use, but I knew what I wanted. Thankfully we met a wonderful lady who has helpful, listened more than she talked and showed me an arrangement of different styles before she finally found me “my” ring. I’m over the moon estatic now! Congratulations again!!!!!!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Holy cow, Ashley! I definitely couldn’t have searched for a year, but I’m so glad you found something that’s perfect!

  14. avatar Corrie reply

    Congratulations! I actually loved the Diamonds Direct experience, too. (Just in Birmingham). My sneaky husband (of six weeks) went ring shopping without me. While I was out of the country he went with my best friend. They knew the style I would like, but weren’t sure what diamond shape I would like. When I got back in town my also sneaky bf told me we should go look “just for fun” for whenever David might “start asking questions”. I only went that one time. We never went together and he did a great job!

  15. avatar Lydia reply

    Congratulations Emily!! Your ring is gorgeous! Can’t wait to have an engagement story of my own someday. Just have to find the guy! ;-)

  16. avatar Emily Plans a Wedding :: The Main Characters « Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] We have SO much to catch up on, wedding-wise. Yes, this is my fault: I dropped the big news and introduced you to my pretty ring, and then left you hanging. But believe me, I’ve been a busy little bee over here! Things are […]

  17. avatar Gemma reply

    Its nice to see you went with a yellow gold engagement ring. Many people opt for platinum these days and feel yellow gold is old fashioned. It does take a certain skin tone to pull off a yellow ring and I have to say that tine of gold really suits you. The perfect choice of engagement ring I say :) Oh .. CONGRATULATIONS

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Reply to:

This edition of Ask the Experts is a little different: we want to hear your expert advice!

Like some of you, I’ve been dating my boyfriend for a loooong time. Now that we’ve graduated college and gotten on our feet a bit, my Spidey-sense tells me that an engagement ring might be coming soon.

Now, I am WELL known in my circle of friends and acquaintances (or, okay, pretty much everyone who’s ever come in contact with me) as a wedding expert. Round v. square v. long reception tables? Mundane points of etiquette? The relative merits of ranunculus versus garden roses? Check, check, and check. I’ve got it all down pat.

But engagement rings? Those are a WHOLE other story. Never really had much interest in them, skimmed over advice articles about them in wedding magazines, haven’t fantasized about a particular Tiffany setting since middle school. So when the time came to actually start thinking about this seriously, I was kind of at a loss!

I’m thinking I’m not the only one. And since we have a lovely mix of yet-to-be-engaged, engaged, and married readers here at Southern Weddings, I’d love for y’all to share your advice in the comment section with those of us who might be looking for some opinions and advice!

Did you drop hints to your gent about what sort of styles you might prefer? Did the two of you go shopping together? Did it make a difference in the kind of ring you ultimately ended up wanting?

Picky ladies: were you worried you wouldn’t like the ring if you didn’t have a hand in picking it out?

Which of the four Cs were most important to you? Cut? Carat? Color? Clarity? Or did (or do) you prefer gemstones? How about the metal — platinum, white gold, yellow gold, rose gold, silver?

Do you have a dream ring? What does it look like?

Do you think you’ll shop online or at a brick and mortar store? A large store or a small, independent one?

Is there anything you wished you had known going into the engagement ring process that you’d love to share with readers?

This is your chance to talk about pretty, pretty jewels, ladies, and give out some much-needed advice to boot. Share, share, share away! Some of us (ahem) will be taking notes :)

Image credits: Southern Weddings V3 spread, Millie Holloman, and Simply Bloom

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar madelynne miller reply

    My fiance and I shopped together. We went to lots of different places to try different styles, and when I found the ONE, we both knew. It really brought us together and got us both very excited about our future lives together. It was tiring and frustrating, but incredibly romantic to know that he spent his hard-earned dollar on a ring for me.

    I had no idea when I was going to get it, so there was still an element of surprise. He proposed to me about 6 months before I anticipated it, so I was sweetly surprised!

    My best advice is to be open to every and any style and go with your gut! I would recommend shopping together to anyone! It was a great experience.

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Madelynne! I love your advice! I also love that your fiance still found a way to surprise you with the timing :)

  2. avatar Amber reply

    I would have to agree, shop together, you will both know once you find the right style! We went twice together to larger diamond dealer type stores. I fell in love with a setting at the first place and when I kept searching for it at the second, we knew that was it. He picked the stone and surprised me with a secret vacation quite a few months later (longer than he anticipated since the ring took so long). I would say all elements of the ring were important to us. It’s definitely not all about carat and you want something that will be worn for a very long time to be the best quality in your price range! Such a fun experience!! :)

  3. avatar Jessica reply

    My fiance and I didn’t pick out the ring together, and I wish we had! While I would have trouble trading in my ring since it does have sentimental value now, it just isn’t my taste. I had my heart set on a certain style ring, but didn’t want to be pushy with my (then) boyfriend. Little did I know how soon he was actually planning on proposing! (I actually asked him the morning of the proposal if we could go ring shopping together!) Now I’m in a delicate position of potentially hurting his feelings and feeling pretty horrible myself for him having spent so much money on a ring that I’m not totally in love with. In hindsight, I wish I had found more ways to communicate that I had a style of ring that I couldn’t live without.

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Jessica! The fact that you asked him the morning of the proposal to go ring shopping is like a little stab in my heart — so close!! As to changing the design, maybe (carefully) suggest changing the setting but keeping the diamond as a 5-year birthday or anniversary present? Ladies, what do you think?

    • avatar madelynne miller reply

      I think that’s a great idea. You could always upgrade to a beautiful blingy wedding band too and not wear the engagement ring if you don’t have the heart to trade it in

    • avatar Jessica reply

      Emily: Thanks for the support! I’ve actually been asking local jewelers if resetting the stone was a possibility. As it turns out, guys picking out rings without a sense of the girl’s taste happens more often than I realized! Their suggestion was to reset the center stone and put in a colored stone in my original ring and wear it on my right hand. It isn’t a matter of wanting a bigger diamond or more bling – I actually wanted something much more simple than what he picked out! So for other girls out there in the same situation. Take heart – you aren’t alone! (And it doesn’t mean your fiance totally doesn’t know you, it just means he really wanted to surprise you and have it be special!)

  4. avatar Ashlee G reply

    My fiance and I shopped together like a YEAR before we actually got engaged. I am pretty type A, my fiance is so NOT. But here is what I learned, he and I liked the same styles and it gave me the ability to trust him to make the decision. Some guys really want to do the picking of the ring and my man is one of those (so don’t assume your man will want you to do all the picking). When he did propose I was so surprised! And my ring? I LOVE it! He picked out something I would have never asked for, because I would not have asked for something with as much bling and fuss. It completely blessed me to see him go above and beyond! He listened to what I liked and then went and made the decision on his own. He went with a chain store because of the warranty. I can take my ring into any of their stores nation wide and they will take care of it (hello lifetime warranty!)

    • avatar Emily reply

      Ashlee G: My guy wants to do the picking, too! Glad to hear it worked out for y’all.

    • avatar AshleeG reply

      Emily: It worked well for us, but we did a combination of looking together, talking through what we both liked, and then me trusting him to pick it out. I was still surprised when he asked me, shocked was more like it! You can know the engagement is coming and then be completely shocked when he actually does it!

  5. avatar Lisa reply

    I’m not engaged yet either, but I’m in the place where we’ve been talking about getting engaged for almost a year. We’re long distance, so I know nothing will happen before we’re in the same city (hopefully soon!!), but we’re still on our way there! He’s known for a long time that I’ve always dreamed of having a Tiffany’s engagement ring, since I was a little girl (I think I saw it in a movie or something, haha :P), so one day when I as visiting him, he took me to Tiffany’s to go “ring browsing”… I got to tell him what I definitely didn’t like and what I loved. I definitely recommend trying stuff on, whether by yourself or with your boyfriend, because one ring I loved online looked really overwhelming on my hand and I changed my mind right away! It was really fun having the time with him, and he had fun too because I was so giddy about just trying on all the sparkly rings! That was in February and I have no clue when he’ll actually propose, so I’m not worried about not being surprised. I also picked out more than one favorite, so I’ll still be surprised by which ring it is! Hope that helps, lovely! :)

    • avatar Emily reply

      Lisa, I have definitely heard that diamonds look LARGER on your finger than they do in photos (a happy surprise, for sure!), so I definitely think trying things on, if only for yourself, is a good idea. That way you can actually give an informed opinion to your significant other :)

  6. avatar Emily reply

    My fiance and I went ring shopping pretty early on after we knew that we were meant to be together. This was his idea. He thought that if we looked around early then everything would still be a surprise when the proposal actually came along. He was certainly right about the surprise, but the early shopping had another unintended outcome: it enabled us to have very open conversations about rings and budget over the months that followed. We never picked out a specific ring / setting together which I also liked because I really wanted to be surprised. In the end he did not choose a ring that we had looked at or talked about, but it is definitely the perfect setting for me: . (it was obvious that he took the time to find something that incorporated all of the things I liked about other rings and avoided the things I disliked). The setting is small, but also allows for a larger stone at a later time if we want. I don’t think I’d change it though, because I have tiny hands and the diamond he selected is nearly flawless – definitely go for quality over size.
    My fiance managed to keep the proposal a surprise by telling me that his mom wanted to help pick out a ring and suggesting that she and I go look around together. Little did I know that he had already made a selection, and he proposed the night before his mom and I were to go shopping. Needless to say, I said yes!

    • avatar Emily reply

      What a beautiful setting, Emily! I have small hands, too, so I’m pretty sure anything over one carat would look ridiculous on me.

    • avatar Emily reply

      Emily: the center stone is only 1/3 carat. I knew from the first time I tried on rings that 3/4 carat was plenty big for me, but this looks deceptively big to me.

  7. avatar Kristen reply

    My fiancee and I casually went ring shopping (as in if we were in the mall, we would browse in a jewelry store… we never went just to look at rings). I gave him an idea of what I wanted – a 1ct. princess cut with an antique band, no side diamonds but ultimately I left it up to him.
    He ended up getting me a 1ct. round cut (he said it was more brilliant) but the setting makes it look like a princess cut so it’s win-win. There are smaller diamonds on the top half of the band and the rest has an antique/scroll work look.
    I probably never would’ve picked this ring but now I couldn’t imagine wearing anything else! He did a wonderful job and I think it shows how well he knows me. I love it :)

    • avatar Emily reply

      Kristen: I love that, and I think it’s so true — in most cases, even if you might have imagined something else, your engagement ring becomes YOUR engagement ring, and THAT’S why it’s so special and beautiful to you.

  8. avatar Brittany reply

    Glad to see there are other readers/commenters in the same boat I’m in! We have been dating a little over 2 1/2 years, and we talk about marriage almost daily (but in a “we want this for our marriage/life” kind of way, not really wedding details per se). He definitely knows that I love emerald cut diamonds, and I always thought I wanted a solitaire on a plain (no diamond encrusting) white gold or platinum band–how’s that for specific? :)

    I would really love to go try on rings, but he’s not crazy about it. We do talk about rings every now and then, and I do trust him to make a great decision, as much as I trust my own judgement about thinking an emerald solitaire is the one for me. BUT, like Lisa, I’m afraid that my ideal ring will look weird on my finger. I have tiny hands and wear a 4.75 ring size, so it could really engulf my hand and look odd. I guess time will tell. Maybe he’ll come around to ring shopping together..I probably wouldn’t try on anything by myself. But if he doesn’t, that’s okay, too! He has great taste and I trust him completely.

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Brittany! This is kind of a random piece of advice, but if you’ve never seen an emerald cut on your finger, you don’t think couple ring shopping is in your future, and you don’t want to go to a fancy jewelry store on your own, my suggestion would be to try on a few costume jewelry pieces at a store like Forever 21, simply to see the shape on your finger! Sounds silly, but it might help :) Good luck!

  9. avatar emily hansel reply

    Yay Jewelry! My fave! I. I’d definitely shop around and let the boy in on your style preferences. We actually got engaged without the ring – b/c it was my grandmother’s and we had to go get it- and then got it reset. And you, Miss Ayer, have some amazing options of independent jewelry stores in this area to check out – there may be some styles that you never even considered, that just scream “Emily! Wear me every day for the rest of your life!” Which is important in a ring ;) But seriously, with all the options out there, I really do think people should look into it, why not see if there’s something out there besides the typical rings you see in magazines and at the big chain stores that’s more you? And then if you look and a simple 4 prong setting is you, you’ll know for sure. I think your rings are a pretty important thing, since you’re going to be wearing them all the time, they should reflect your style.
    ps – here’s my engagement ring

    • avatar Emily reply

      Oh WOW, Emily! That is a beautiful ring! It does not surprise me that a jewelry designer would pick something so unique and lovely :)

  10. avatar Ember reply

    I’ve been engaged since February, and I honestly didn’t expect it quite yet. We never went ring shopping together, which I’m happy about, because it would’ve ruined the surprise of it all. We have very close friends who got engaged a little bit before us, and my fiance used them as a sneaky conversational opportunity. We talked about my friend’s ring in a very vague way, which he thought could get him my general opinion on solitaires. My engaged friend even came up with an elaborate story about how one of her roommates was ring shopping for his girlfriend (he wasn’t), and he was asking her advice. She asked what I thought she should tell him. I am seriously a dunce. Even with these feelers put out, I evidently didn’t give a specific enough opinion, so the fiance went with his gut, a round-cut solitaire. I’m a pretty simple jewelry-wearer, and my ring will never look dated, so he was impressively spot on. I like to think that if you know each other well enough, he can find what suits you. And, even if he doesn’t get a hint, you might actually fall in love with anything the love of your life wants you to wear! But, if you’re still not satisfied, you can always pick out a wedding band that brings out your style or if it’s a sturdy enough engagement band, you can always build that sucker up over time! :)

    • avatar Emily reply

      Ember: I am notoriously unaware about people dropping hints, so I completely understand :) So glad you ended up with something you love, anyway!

  11. avatar Hillary reply

    My boyfriend and I have been discussing getting engaged for a few months now. We’ve decided to use the diamond from my grandmother’s wedding ring, and reset it in a new setting that we pick together. For us, we love the symbolism of taking something that represents my past and my family, and merging it with something that represents our future together. …The hardest part has been deciding on a band and setting! We both have very different tastes-his is more modern; mine is more traditional and feminine. I want the decision to reflect both of us, but I want to make sure it is something I will feel comfortable wearing every day for the rest of my life. I heard a helpful quote once that said to the man: “Imagine your future wife picking out one shirt for you that you had to wear every day for the rest of your life….Now, imagine you hated that shirt.” I couldn’t have said it any better! ;)
    Also, the original ring already holds a huge amount of sentimental value to me as it is, and I want to be sure if we do alter it, we alter it with respect to its original form and owner. I would hate to look down and see something that isn’t reflective of my grandmother’s taste (which was flawless) and something that isn’t me. ….But, through it all, we are learning invaluable lessons in how we communicate and compromise, and I am so excited about the day when I can look down and see my past and my future wrapped around my finger. And…it takes care of the “Something Old….Something New” checklist! ;)

    • avatar Emily reply

      Love your whole comment, Hillary! I’m sure whatever you two decide on will be beautiful… and that your grandmother would be thrilled. :)

  12. avatar Hillary reply

    We’ve decided to use the diamond from my grandmother’s wedding ring, and reset it in a new setting that we pick together. For us, we love the symbolism of taking something that represents my past and my family, and merging it with something that represents our future together. …The hardest part has been deciding on a band and setting! We both have very different tastes-his is more modern; mine is more traditional and feminine. I want the decision to reflect both of us, but I want to make sure it is something I will feel comfortable wearing every day for the rest of my life. I heard a helpful quote once that said to the man: “Imagine your future wife picking out one shirt for you that you had to wear every day for the rest of your life….Now, imagine you hated that shirt.” I couldn’t have said it any better! ;)

  13. avatar Melissa reply

    My now hubby was adamant that I would not see the ring before he popped the question, but he still wanted to get an idea of what I would like. His solution was to go on 3 different “fact finding” trips to random jewelry stores while we were out and about , like Kristen and her fiancee. We’d randomly go into the store (cue the heart palpitations, haha) and I would try on several different rings that caught my eye. Then we would discuss what I liked and what I didn’t over ice cream afterwards. After our third trip, he smiled at me, and said “that was the last time because I have what I need”. He proposed three months later, and I could not love my ring more! It’s a perfect hybrid of our two very different styles…a classic round cut diamond for him, with beautiful baguette accents to suit my slightly more quirky, vintage-y taste. And he was successful in choosing something I had never seen before, even though I’m terribly nosy and had been trying to search for what I thought it might look like online!

    I’m glad that I actually did try a few rings on, because we learned that quite a few things that I don’t know he would have even thought about. One was (which I saw was mentioned by Emily as well) that stones over a certain size didn’t look right on my hand at all. Another was that I didn’t want anything that sat up too high in it’s setting. Between being clumsy and being a little rough on my hands when I’m working, that would have been a disaster waiting to happen!

    Good luck and loads of happy thoughts with everything…I’m sure it will all be lovely when the time comes! :-)

    • avatar Emily reply

      Melissa, I’m with you on not wanting a high setting! I know some ladies take their rings off often — to wash dishes, shower, sleep, exercise — but I want to leave mine on all the time. A low setting it is! However, I ALSO want a wedding band to sit flush with my engagement ring, so…

    • avatar Kelly reply

      Melissa: Oooh oooh!!! A round cut with baguettes on the sides is my dream ring!!! I always had an idea of exactly what I wanted ( and and but once AFD and I finally went ring-shopping, I kept being magnetically drawn to that stunning baguette-clad estate style! Em, CANNOT wait until you get engaged! Ever since Katharine’s big day, I have been eagerly awaiting yours!!!!

  14. avatar Kathleen reply

    We did not shop together and he actually threw me off course 2 weeks before he proposed by saying he had another 2 years (on Valentine’s Day no less)! Needless to say I was in shock when he did! What he did do was point out rings in windows of small independantly owned shops to ask what I liked about them or didn’t like. He knew I wanted a round stone, that I really did not want anything so small you couldn’t see it and that I wanted it to be a little different than something someone else could just go purchase. He did a wonderful job! I was scared that I wouldn’t like the ring I was proposed to with and I didn’t need to be! My ring was customized designed by a local jeweler and has the same shape essentially of the first necklace he bought me and a pair of earrings he also purchased for me. I also have very thin fingers and my center stone is 3/4 carats, but because of the quality and the setting of the stone it looks much bigger, but doesn’t overwhelm me. :) So, out of all of that I would say-look at lots of rings especially when they are on other people and get an idea of what you like about those-and what you don’t. Also, if he doesn’t ask, but is dropping wedding hints just casually ask him if he would be interested in seeing some rings that you like. That way he doesn’t have to wreck the surprise and you’re helping him out too. Just to answer another one of your questions-mine is platinum and I had no idea I just wanted it to be silver colored-he picked platinum because that is what the jeweler prefered to work with and a huge HUGE thing-EUROPEAN SHANK or weighted ring my ring does not spin at all! It stays centered on my ringer unless I get soap under it. (It just makes the underside have slightly squared corners and it is so comfy.) Good luck! :)

  15. avatar Marissa reply

    I just have to comment and say 1. I cannot wait for you to get engaged, Em! 2. So, when BDK and I started looking at rings I knew I wanted this certain designer (had known for years!). We looked at the ring and then when BDK went back to get it the designer would not work with a diamond smaller than a carat (he was planning on using the diamond from his Mother’s engagement ring that was a Kloess family estate diamond) and they wouldn’t make the ring smaller than a size 6 (my t-tiny fingers are a 4 1/2). Boo! Anyways, BDK told my FIL and they went to their family’s jeweler and they custom made my ring with a similar design to the original ring (but with the estate diamond). Now on for the best part (besides the fact that I married BDK!), when my FIL + MIL went to pick up the ring to drive it Florida (where we were in college) from Alabama, my FIL saw the diamond and said “no daughter in law of mine will have a diamond that small!” AND, he upgraded my diamond! As much as I LOVED the tradition of the estate diamond, who wouldn’t love some bigger bling?!

  16. avatar Kathleen reply

    Good grief-spelling is not my strong suit. Custom designed instead of customized design and finger instead of ringer! Sorry :(

  17. avatar Amanda reply


    Ever since my boyfriend told me he wanted to be with me forever, I started blog stalking and planning every detail. After a year or so, things started to get more serious. I started asking to get married and saying how much I can’t wait, etc. etc. Well fast forward to 2 and 1/2 years later and I’m always dropping hints. We have been “sorta” shopping, as in, me dragging him into Bailey’s and showing him exactly what I want after I had gone in and looked around, tried on a few things and officially decided what I wanted. I want a round brilliant with a cushion cut halo. He knows what I want, he’s seen it, and I think he’s partially encouraged knowing how much I love clothes, fashion, jewelry, etc. I think ultimately he would never want to let me down with a purchase that large so he’s given into my begging. Now I’m just begging for that day to happen. He’s already told me he wanted to do it awhile ago but didn’t have the money. I think he’s already picked it out from a jeweler friend, which would mean it’s somewhat custom which is exciting too! I can’t wait to have that surprise after all this time of dreaming!!! But I don’t think it’s wrong to show him what you like. After all, you have to wear it and be proud of it. It’s simple to drop hints, show some pictures, point out a ring on someone’s finger and say “I really like that!”. In the end, he’s probably more clueless than we’ll ever be! But that’s what makes it fun!!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Amanda! I hope the proposal comes soon for your sake! :) I definitely don’t think it’s wrong to give hints, either directly or indirectly!

  18. avatar Alexis reply

    Hi Emily! I have been engaged for just over a month! If there was one piece of E-Ring advice I could give, it is: SHOP TOGETHER! If you do not care to pick it out and you want it to be a complete surprise then go with that! But I was not that girl! I started planning a couple months after we started dating because we both knew we would someday be husband and wife!

    The most important issue about the E-Ring is that you get what you really want because you will be wearing it forever! I felt a lot of pressure from my parents and friends and even some wedding sites and magazines to choose a diamond. A diamond just isn’t me and I thought they were kind of boring. I ended up being a gemstone girl! If we had not shopped together or talked extensively about it I probably would have ended up with a diamond like all of my friends! I gave my fiance a few photos of what I REALLY liked and he decided on the blue sapphire with double diamond and sapphire halos on a double diamond band. It is absolutely perfect. I get so many complements! People always say that it is so “me” and that was what I wanted. Congrats on the ring-looking and happy hunting! :)

    • avatar Emily reply

      Congratulations, Alexis!! I have seriously considered a blue sapphire as well. Funny story, actually: my Mom has a GORGEOUS sapphire ring (that she never wears, I might add) that I thought might make a beautiful engagement ring for her loving daughter. :) Well, when I started to hint around to that effect, she put the kabosh on my plans pretty quickly – I guess she’s more attached to it than I realized!

  19. avatar Annette reply

    I cannot wait for you to be engaged!! How fun! I say drop hints in regards to setting (high, low) and shape of diamond. Leave the rest up to him. It’s more fun when it’s a surprise. It will have much more meaning:) I remember making a few comments, but never did specify too much. I lloved my ring, and yes, diamonds do look bigger once on the finger than in images.

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Annette! Isn’t that such a wonderful thing about diamonds, that they look bigger on your finger than in a picture? It would be sad if it was the other way around :)

  20. avatar Brittany reply

    I have had an idea of the setting I wanted forever, which actually sounds similar to the one Amanda described. My boyfriend and I started talking about rings at the beginning of this year, and we went to three different jewelry stores. I think doing some pre-shopping on the internet was a good idea because I was not as overwhelmed when we went to an actual store. But, I would definitely recommend that everyone still go to an actual store to try on rings, because you may end up changing your mind once you see how different styles look on your finger. Originally, the idea was for me to show him some options and then for him to pick the one he liked so that it would be more of a surprise. But things didn’t quite work out that way. The first ring I tried on at the third store was perfect, and I knew it as soon as I tried it on (and the fact that I started tearing up probably was a dead giveaway!) That was the ring he ended up getting, and he actually proposed less than two weeks ago! Although it wasn’t a complete surprise (my dad spilled the beans after my boyfriend asked for my hand) it was still really special, and I am so happy to have my perfect ring!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Brittany! Congratulations!! I definitely agree about the internet research before setting foot in a store. Because I had VERY little knowledge about what the four Cs even meant and what a “normal” range for them might be, it was helpful for me to read up a bit beforehand so I didn’t feel like I was going in blind. Highly recommended!

  21. avatar Anneka reply

    Hi Emily,

    I’m not yet engaged, although after 5 years and 2 years of living together I’d like to think we’re getting close! My Boy knows what I want as Ihave shown him what I want in various jewellery stores. I always knew I wouldn’t be a diamond solitaire girl so my ring of choice is a 1carat princess cut emerald in a micropavé diamond setting set on a diamond shank. It’s low set as I intend to wear it for the rest of my life!

    All I need now is for it to appear on my finger!


    P.S – Cannot WAIT for you to get engaged! x

    • avatar Emily reply

      Awww, thanks, Anneka! I can’t wait, either :) Your ring of choice sounds lovely!

  22. avatar Ashley reply

    I got engaged last March and married in November, and our engagement came as a complete surprise to me! Coincidentally, a couple of months before my husband started ring shopping, his sister and I got on the topic of engagement rings. I sent her a couple of ideas that I liked, and she happened to send them over to him a couple of months later. But…he hated all of them! He didn’t like any of the rings that I had picked out, so he decided to design his own. The ring I ended up with is completely different from what I had ever envisioned, but it’s so much better than anything I could’ve asked for. Plus, it means so much more to know that he put in the time and effort to design a ring just for me! :)

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hey Ashley! That is TOO funny that your guy hated all your picks! I’m so glad to hear you found something you both love, though!

  23. avatar Kristyn reply

    My fiance and I went shopping together and ended up designing a ring to combine my favorite and his favorite into the most perfect ring. He knew that the ring was something that was really important to me. I actually had a dream once when I was dating a previous boyfriend that he proposed and I hated the ring so much I asked him to take it back and get me something else. LOL!

    He knew he didn’t want this to happen so we looked a couple times and I’m so glad we did because what I thought I loved (halo) ended up being something that I really didn’t like when I looked at it on my finger. (though I think they are gorgeous! just didn’t look right on me).

    The first ring I tried on ended up being my ring, I wore it around on my right hand comparing another probably 50 rings to it. There was one part of it Jeff wasn’t crazy about it so we were able to work with the jewelry store’s designer to make it perfect. Since you are in the triangle area like me – I definitely recommend Diamonds Direct at Crabtree Mall and specifically Sylvia! She is amazing! And they definitely have the best prices, we looked everywhere!

    I could not have dreamed of a more perfect ring for me. I have a few pictures of it on my blog here:
    I know a lot of girls who love the surprise and specialness of having their fiance pick it out. We learned a lot about the C’s of diamonds but when it came down to it, looking at something one step up in color rating or clarity rating wasn’t something I could tell the difference between.

    I hope that a ring is in your future and that it is everything you ever hoped for! If you want any more information about diamonds direct here in the triangle, I’d be happy to answer any questions for you! Just shoot me an email: [email protected]

    Good Luck!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Kristyn! That’s so funny, because one thing that I think I do NOT like is the halo style. Who knows, though — that may change! I’ve heard great things about DIamonds Direct, so I’m glad to hear you had a wonderful experience! And congratulations on your engagement!!

  24. avatar Amy C reply

    I have been engaged for just over 48 hours–wooohoooo!! Tony and I knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, and I sort of knew that he’d been ring shopping, but the proposal and the ring were complete surprises! We never discussed what type of ring I would like, we never shopped together, and I never dropped any hints……but he picked the absolute perfect ring for me. I can be a bit of a detail freak, but I’m so happy that he did this on his own and that it is exactly right. I think that shows just how well he knows me! Tony said that the instant he saw this ring, he knew it was “the one.” I love that!!

    A funny sidenote: like I said, this was all a surprise to me. Little did I know, however, that every single time my fiance’ went to the jewelers, I called him while he was in there! Including Wednesday afternoon when he went to pick it up. Ha!!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Congratulations, Amy!!! I can’t even imagine how you must be feeling! So glad you love the ring he picked — that makes me happy! :)

  25. avatar Jamie reply

    I’m from Canada, but my fiance plays professional hockey in Northern Florida. We ring shopped together in Canada, but never really came close to finding “the one”. I never thought he would have much of an opinion, but a lot of the rings I liked he didn’t care for at all!

    One afternoon we were out shopping in Alabama, and I came across “the one”. I was never really a solitare girl, but eyed a perfect round brillant cut on a very thin white gold band. I fell in love! It was simple, classic, and timeless. I showed my fiance who gave it a quick “that’s nice sweetie” kind of retort.

    Two days before Christmas we took a trip to New Orleans for the first time. It was December 23rd and we stopped on the top steps beside the Fleur de Lis Christmas tree across from Jackson Square. It was night time and all the Christmas lights around the St. Louis Cathedral were lit up. My fiance proposed with THE round solitare we had seen in Alabama about a month earlier. I had to stop and ask him “is that the same ring?!”

    I was so happy he chose something we both LOVE. I still catch him grabbing my hand and checking out “our” ring every now and then. For us, choosing a ring together just seemed “right”.

    I think it’s extra special as it commorates a very special time for us living in the South :)

    • avatar Emily reply

      Love your story, Jamie!! I love very thin bands, too :) I want a picture!

  26. avatar Ilana reply

    I was fortunate enough to be able to work with a small town jeweler and have TONS of advice! My fiance and I decided to look for rings together (I was still completely surprised when he popped the question!). I have a sensitivity to nickle and we discovered that white gold is plated in nickle to make it “white.” Since we were restricted in that department I did some research and discovered palladium. It’s mined with platinum and is of the same strength and beauty, but of the ore that’s mined, ~80% is palladium and ~20% is platinum so it’s loads cheaper. I always knew I wanted a princess cut diamond and we learned that it’s very important to have the right setting for the diamond shape. Most round diamonds come with a six point setting so if one of your prongs breaks you don’t loose your beautiful diamond! Since there are only four prongs to hold a princess cut it’s important that each prong cradles the diamond and the only prong style that accomplishes this is the chevron setting. It holds the diamond nicely in place – think of your grandmother’s photo album and the triangle-shaped corners that hold the photo in place – kind of like those. Finally, we decided to go with a company that makes bands where individual heads can be fitted into the band. We were able to choose a band I loved and also a head setting with chevron prongs to securely hold my diamond!

    We were also very fortunate to work with a jeweler who makes a yearly pilgrimage to Antwerp, Belgium to a diamond sale in the Fall. My fiance discussed the type of diamond he wanted to buy and our jeweler was able to buy directly and save us a lot of money. If it weren’t for that I would have a very different ring!

    We had a wonderful experience and hope this helps some of you!

    • avatar Ilana reply

      Ilana: Oh a few more things! I completely agree that you should do some research ahead of time. I know that I am kind of rough on my hands so it was important to me to get a setting in which the diamond was flush with the band. This helps avoid knocking it and potentially dislodging it or damaging one of the prongs. The other thing is I wanted to share some care advice our jeweler gave me: 1) get your prongs checked every 6 months at least! 2) there are several situations that you shouldn’t wear your ring, and this might be a little shocking. To bed – the fibers in the sheets can pull on the prongs and weaken them over the life of the ring. Doing dishes – over years, dish soap can damage the finish on your ring. Cleaning – harsh chemicals can also damage your ring, but if you wear dish gloves that won’t matter. Yard work/sports – it’s extremely easy to knock your hand on something hard. I even managed to scratch the band picking up a cast iron pan! The most important thing that I learned was to get the RIGHT SIZE! It might feel a little small, but you get used to it. The last thing you’d want is to take your gloves off in January and your ring to go flying into the gutter because your hands shrink in the cold! Yes, I’m long winded, but I learned a lot while we were shopping and I am so excited to be able to share this information! please email me with any questions: [email protected] xoxo

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Ilana! No apologies for being long-winded — we’re all ears for advice! Though I must admit, I am still not planning to take my rings off while I sleep… my Mom has managed okay for 30 years, and as long as I get my prongs checked once a year, I think I’ll be okay :)

  27. avatar jessica reply

    I wanted to marry this man that was more amazing than anything I had ever dreamt up. Whatever ring he picked for me was the one that I wanted. I got lucky :) He picked something that I’ll be proud to wear for the rest of my life, and I feel even luckier that I’ll be standing next to him.

  28. avatar Lauren Frances reply

    My boyfriend and I have been discussing rings since our fourth month together and we’ve been out shopping around at small jewelry stores (like Goldworks in University Mall). A few months ago Justin found himself in the same boat as thousands of Americans and was laid off due to out-sourcing jobs overseas. He found another job (that pays almost double, lucky) within a month but while out of work he had to use all his ring savings to pay rent/bills and gas for the 3 hours of daily travel to and from his new job. One day he let it slip that he had found another ring for me, his Great Aunt Minnie’s, a woman who played a large role in raising him and his sister. After a day of honest discussion and many tears we came to the decision that it wasn’t the right choice for us. Minnie had passed a few months after we started started dating and I had never really gotten a chance to know her and the ring would always be known as her ring, not mine. The story behind the ring is very sad, her fiance proposed before being shipped out to fight in WWII and he was killed in the Pacific right before the end of the war. Since the ring is very important to his family and his original thought was that it would finally make its way down the aisle, I have decided to wear it on my right hand or somehow attached to my bouquet the day of the wedding. He is now saving again for the Hearts on Fire ring we had initially chosen together and we no longer discuss rings because we both want it to be a surprise from here on out!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Lauren Frances! I agree, I think an heirloom ring can be gorgeous and perfect, but not in every circumstance. It sounds like y’all are making the right decision for yourselves!

  29. avatar Katie reply

    My finace had been promised his grandmother’s ring since he could remember so we had never talked about rings before. Unfortunately when he asked her for it when we had been dating for a year she had changed her mind. (ugh) He hadn’t saved much money for a ring since all he would have to do is pay for a new setting. He then asked what I liked. I sent him a picture of what I have always wanted but told him that I would be thrilled with a sapphire engagement ring instead of a diamond. He surprised me 3 months later with the exact ring I had asked for, a three stone ring with a diamond in the middle and sapphires on the sides.

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Katie! I love sapphires! As I told Alexis below, I would have been happy to have been proposed to with my Mom’s gorgeous sapphire ring (not her engagement ring), but she was having none of it :)

  30. avatar Kelly reply

    Hi Emily! My fiance proposed with his grandmother’s emerald cut engagement ring. It’s so timeless and classic, I love it. Since the emerald cut is a more unique shape, there weren’t any “ready made” bands that would fit it. We decided to get my band custom made. First we went to Jared’s. I wanted two bands, one for each side. My ring is platinum. When we got the pricing from Jared’s, it was almost $2,000 just for the platinum-totalling about $5,000 with diamonds for the two bands. The lady at Jared’s also told us we could NOT do white gold, because the difference would be so noticable. We then found a local jeweler here in Richmond who had been in business for years. They were wonderful to work with, and were able to do it for a little less than half the cost of Jareds. Since they aren’t a chain, there wasn’t all this ridiculous inflation. We ended up doing the bands in the white gold, and you can’t even tell. The bands are small prong-set diamonds all the way around, so you don’t even really see much of the metal. The time they put into it was amazing-so my recommendation would be go to with a reputable local jeweler, vs. a large chain-especially if you want something custom!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Kelly! Thrilled to hear such a great story! And thrilled to hear you love the solution you found, too :)

  31. avatar Southern Style :: Marrying Sweet Home Alabama « Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] looking for more diamond inspiration, check out the newly engaged Emily’s post on engagement rings 101. Save Facebook it Tweet […]

  32. avatar Thomas Jackson reply

    Jewellery can say a lot about a person and knowing what your jewellery says about you is vital in any setting especially in a professional one. It may seem shallow that an interviewer would base his or her decision on what earrings or watch a potential candidate is wearing but the truth is much of the hiring process is done subconsciously and so conveying the right impression can go a long way towards securing the job. In an interview or position of employment you are being evaluated as a whole not just by what is coming out of your mouth.

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