Ring it on: The engagement ring process for men

Tired of your girlfriend continually nagging you to get married? Perhaps you actually want to get married and feel like starting the process yourself. Whatever the case, getting engaged...

Tired of your girlfriend continually nagging you to get married? Perhaps you actually want to get married and feel like starting the process yourself. Whatever the case, getting engaged can be a lot harder than it actually seems.

The engagement ring dilemma

The engagement ring process is an intricate thing. It’s much like an operation. Do it right and the patient (your girlfriend) will survive (say ‘yes’). Get it wrong and you may lose the patient (oh come on, we don’t need to tell you what the result of that is). So how do you go about getting this right? We’re about to tell you. And we would know, Trev and Nick are both happily married with children and I just got engaged. In Trev’s case, he actually had a man cave for some time so he must have done something right.

Step one is perhaps the most important step. Forget about where you are going to propose, how you are going to do it or when you should be doing it. You need to figure out what you are going to do it with. For your girlfriend, that will most likely be one of the most important things.

Like wedding dresses, diamond rings are objects of intimate desire for the ladies. Little bits of stone women often dream about from when they are knee-high to a grasshopper. What can you learn from that? Simple: They know what they want. And you can bet your life you have no idea what the hell they want, so don’t bloody well try to guess! That could be your first and biggest mistake and end your game, and potentially your life, there and then.

The three types of women

Whether you propose with a ring, a diamond, a plastic toy or even a savoury treat, your success rate depends only on one thing – whether or not your girlfriend envisioned that happening in her life the way you are going to do it. There are three types of women when it comes to rings, and your girlfriend WILL sit in one of these camps.

She either wants a specific ring, doesn’t know what ring she wants or doesn’t want a fancy ring. Let’s start from back to front.

She doesn’t want a fancy ring
If she doesn’t want a fancy ring, you’re not off the hook. You still need to find a ring that is nice that she will like, not just any old cheap shit. The solution? Listen to what she says when she talks about rings, watch what she wears in terms of rings and take note of what she looks at when you pass a jeweller. You also need to bear in mind her ring size. This can be a potential minefield. Your best best is to knick a ring she says fits really well – on her ring finger of course. Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it needs to be nasty. This is where we would suggest you go wholesale as you will get a lot of bang for your buck. You may also want to visit the mainstream jewellery place when their sales are on to grab a good bargain. But make sure you still bear in mind the basic rules of the diamond and ring that we mention at the end of this article. They are still key, no matter how much you want to spend.

If you're going to pop the question with something other than an actual ring, make sure she likes whatever it is you're using. The above is not a good idea if she dislikes bagels...

 

She’s really indecisive about an engagement ring
But what if she doesn’t know what ring she wants or she is really indecisive and changes her mind every time the wind changes slightly? This is where you need to pay close attention to her personality rather than her taste in jewellery. If you know what kind of diamond she wants (round brilliant, asscher cut, princess cut etcetera) and you’re comfortable in choosing the right carat size (bearing in mind the four Cs of course), then go nuts and buy her a diamond. Stick in an small box with a glass case (as I did) and propose with that. She will love the fact that you chose the diamond yourself and the fact that she gets to choose the setting and have it sized properly. If you don’t know about the diamond, make sure you propose with something you know she will like or think is funny or adorable. What that is only you know. But you will need to keep your wits about you and be sharp. You want to say ‘be with me for the rest of my life’ not ‘have a laugh with me for a minute and then kick me in the nuts for being an insensitive prick’.

She knows exactly what engagement ring she wants
If she knows exactly what she wants, this is where it can get tricky. While you may think this would be easy, it’s certainly not any easier. Diamonds are like suits. You can buy off the shelf or you can get tailor made. The quality differs substantially and there are so many intricacies in what you can have. Do you want a setting with small diamonds? Do you want four claws or six claws? Do you want a thin ring or a thick ring? Do you want platinum, white gold, rose gold or yellow gold? Do you want a bigger carat size at the expense of clarity or a smaller one with few inclusions? To say the least, it’s a minefield, especially if she’s pointed out specific styles and characters. If your girlfriend pointed out a specific ring, buy exactly that and nothing less.

If she well and truly thinks she knows what she wants and you have to turn all her ideas into a reality, and you still want to surprise her so you can’t ask her outright the precise details, make as many notes as possible and don’t rush the process at all. You need to get this dead on. Throw in the curve ball questions or comments to try to incite more information. “So John just got engaged, did you see the ring? 1.2 carat but a black inclusion. Huh.” See what she says. The more information you can grab, the better, because let’s face it, all those other times she told you, you weren’t listening. She is likely to have spoken about it… A LOT. Pay close attention from now. While it’s easy to tune out, if you’re serious about popping the question, you should be man enough to listen up when she starts talking about engagement rings.

The end?

So there you go. The basics of choosing the right ring. Of course, now you have to go out and buy it and then actually propose. That in itself is pretty damned hard too. And if you’re lucky enough for her to say ‘yes’ you then have a wedding and honeymoon to plan. The tips will keep coming as I bravely (or so I think) step into this wild and untamed world of getting married, so if you’re in the same boat, don’t be afraid to share your tales of wonder and trepidation. In the meantime, memorise the below, you’ll need it!

The basics of engagement rings
The basics to bear in mind when it comes to rings and diamonds:
• Size is everything – know her finger size.
• Remember the four Cs for diamonds. Cut, clarity, colour, carat and familiarise yourself with what they mean. Here is a handy guide
• Carat size increases cost substantially. A 1 carat diamond is far more than double the price of a similar quality (in terms of the four Cs) 0.5 carat diamond. Get your mix between size and quality right.
• Most diamonds have inclusions, a small mark, the majority of which you can’t see. But under a microscope some are more obvious than others. The bigger the inclusion the cheaper the diamond, generally.
• Off the shelf or custom? Off the shelf is far easier. You can walk into Michael Hill and walk out within 30 minutes. But custom may be worth the effort and you may get more diamond for your dollar if you go to the right place. Call around and take the time to visit a few different places. You will need to make appointments with most. But at the end of the day, if her heart is set on a Tiffany ring, don’t get her anything else. Score the easy goals where they appear.

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Lifestyle

Damian Francis has previously edited Australian T3 and F1 Racing magazine and wrote for GQ Australia and Men's Health. Unlike Nick and Trev, he has no kids, no mortgage and no wife, but lives happily on Sydney's North Shore with his girlfriend.
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