Everything you want to know about picking out your own engagement ring

A Q&A, pros and cons, pictures, and other people’s ring stories you might just find yourself in.

“This never happened. You didn’t see anything,” my fairy ring-father, Eddy, slowly shimmered his hand in the air, casting a very desired spell on me. 

We bought my engagement ring. On accident. My eyes followed my future fiancé’s pen as it tapped out his credit card numbers on top of the glittery glass case. This was not romantic. I broke the law. Everyone knows how the story goes: Guy picks out ring for girl. Surprise!

However, the biggest surprise was I loved that I picked out my engagement ring. (Read Part One: the story here!) I wouldn’t change a thing. Though in that moment, I felt like I had cheated. 

This post is for the almost-engaged girls who feel like cheaters too—who feel guilty when you look at rings and fear if you step foot in a jewelry shop you’ll rob the surprise. This also is for the single, dating, been married for 50 years, and me. I hope you fall more in love with your own engagement ring story (or story to come) with the reminder that real-life fairytales, like rings, are never one-size-fits-all, but made custom for your love. I can’t think of anything more romantic.  

I couldn’t find a blog like this before I was engaged, but Eddy found me, our guide at the diamond store, and he told me the secret he learned from years of helping girls find the perfect ring,


How did the ring conversation come up while dating?

The “M” word (marriage) got seriously brought up for us on the first day of January.

On the 3rd day of January we were walking around an Austin outdoor mall when AJ “casually” detoured us into the Tiffany & Co shop. What. I was shocked. We skimmed the displays while he “causally” asked me what rings I liked. From there, I felt open to “casually” bring up what I was thinking about the ring because he opened that door first. Even though I was resistant to it initially, I liked that later AJ scheduled a ring appointment for us to get a better idea of what I liked.

Neither of us ever imagined we’d actually find the ring that day though!

Am I the only one who didn’t let my future fiancé pick out the ring?

No. Not even close. 

I realized this after getting engaged while talking in a suddenly hushed tone to girls about their rings. Most of them had a hand in picking out theirs, though most were slow to admit it at first. I think we all still like to follow the fairytales rules if we can.

I did a poll on Instagram, so it’s not scientific, but it does prove the point. While the tradition still lives on in 32% of you, the majority of us girls (68%) knew what ring they were getting when he got down on one knee. 

I dare you to find a girl with the same favorite flower, humor, stubbornness, strengths, dreams, decisiveness, coffee creamer, and purse on her shoulder (if she even has one). Some girls want him to pick out the ring 100%. Some there is zero chance of that happening. Others, like me, find it on accident. My favorite thing is how the ring so perfectly represents the girl who wears it, down to how it got there in the first place.

Tradition is beautiful. Breaking it is beautiful. Either way you’re in good company.  

The big one: Was it still a surprise? 

Yes. Completely yes. 

I don’t think it’s possible to not be in shock when someone asks you to marry them.

But honestly, the main reason it wasn’t as big of a surprise was because I know AJ pretty well. It happened on the day we first met each other a year ago and at the lake where we first became boyfriend and girlfriend. Even then it was still surreal and beautiful and I was floating. I just agreed to forever! He wants me forever! What is forever! The ring is just very obviously there, reminding you that you said yes, and that yes—this moment is really real (if that doesn’t remind you, your knees might).

Because you have to order the stone, you still don’t truly know what the ring will look like with yours in it. In our case, we didn’t want to go into debt for this diamond so ours shrunk and squeezed into more of an oval-shaped than the original (which I like and I think fits my hand a lot better). So I was going into the proposal expecting a totally different ring! 

The other half of our story is when AJ picked it up, it looked awful—cloudy, yellow, and dull. He said he wasn’t going to ask me to marry him with a ring like that so he went back and him and the manager settled on a diamond that actually sparkled. When I see my diamond now and remember how AJ fought for it and that means a lot.

So even when you know, you never really do.

Was there anything you still kept a surprise?

Just because the ring wasn’t totally a surprise, doesn’t mean that there weren’t other surprises! AJ and I tried to be intentional about them too.

I didn’t see the ring when it came in or know when he was going to pick it up.

I also didn’t know about the whole dull diamond problem until after either.

We tried keeping the total price of the ring a secret. (But had a budget before going in). The rings have little tags on them, so I had an idea how much mine would cost, but not the price including the diamond. We almost had it undercover until Peaches, our ring lady, said the total out loud! But with the switching out of the diamond, it worked out because I still don’t know the total cost. (And definitely don’t want to).

I didn’t include this in my engagement ring story, but AJ had a whole surprise party planned for us afterwards. I had zero idea and I don’t know how he was able to put it all together. Same with Wisteria, our photographer, who he had sneakily taking photos of the proposal. I didn’t know that was going to happen either! That was just enough surprises for a girl to handle in one day.

Did it drive you crazy knowing it was gonna happen?

Yes and No. 

The fact is if you’re getting engaged, you’ve already talked about. There are those did-this-just-happen pre-engagement conversations where you basically say yes to marrying them before the proposal. There was one night on the porch, mid-deep convo, when AJ asked me, “So if I were to ask you to marry me right now, would you say yes?”  They aren’t always that straightforward (Thanks Aeej), but you have to know you’re on the same page with a decision that big (I said, “100% yes.”) I imagine rings aren’t very fun to return. 

Between ending leases and deciding on the season for the wedding, there is already a timeline being sketched for you so you know roughly the time it should happen. I had about two months between getting the ring and the unknown engagement day. For 60 days I’d wake up and wonder if that was the day my life would change—that’s what really drove me crazy.

Knowing what the ring looked like did add an element of cement. Like, oh. This is REALLY going to happen. We just bought a solid thing, the thing, the ring. The countdown has begun. It does add that finality which can make you more impatient as the days drag on, but for me I would’ve been that way regardless. 

It also doesn’t help that you can’t really talk to anyone about it because then the secrets out. The inability to talk it out is what really will drive a girl crazy.

Did it ruin the fun?

In the end, it really didn’t. 

For me, it would’ve ruined the fun most if I didn’t love the ring. If it didn’t feel like it belonged on me or something was off about it. Unfortunately, it’s hard for me to look past those tiny details. That would’ve been the least fun thing EVER and I’m grateful I (and AJ) was spared during a moment so special. 

Doing it together was fun. Engagement ring shopping was fun. Finding the ring was fun. Keeping a secret was (sometimes) fun. Even the waiting was kinda fun because you’re waiting for something super fun.

Any fun was mostly ruined by my expectation of how it was supposed to go and worrying we were doing it wrong. I wish I hadn’t done that so much.

Were you worried about having the same ring as others or nervous that it wouldn’t be special?

When I finally decided on my ring, I had the strongest urge for no one ever in the world to have one the same one.

I am someone who compares and hates the idea of having anything the same as someone else, so when I looked at rings I really tried to think only of me and what I wanted to represent our love on my hand. If someone else has it, so be it. It doesn’t change the fact of the ring being mine, given to me by AJ, and even if 100,000 people in the city of Austin have the same exact ring, it’s special. Plus, it’s very rare that anyone’s rings are ever put side by side.

When AJ and I had our ring appointment I realized on that exact date a year ago, I journaled that Jesus had taken me ring shopping. Which was extra odd in 2020 because I wasn’t dating anyone—I hadn’t even met AJ.

God was thinking about your ring long before you were. He is the author of your engagement ring story, and he’s written some pretty good ones (see bottom of this post!).

Take him with you and trust he would never let you miss it.

What do you say to people who ask about the ring?

“Wow! He did such a great job!” People exclaimed with my fingers pinched between theirs, complimenting AJ for his taste in woman’s jewelry.  

To keep the engagement ring fairytale alive in the beginning I smiled, nodded, and let them keep talking. If I couldn’t do that, I tried not telling people a lot. I would say, “It’s so beautiful” or, “I know, I love it so much” and keep the conversation moving. Normally that worked because there is so much more to talk about when you get engaged, but if people really kept asking, I’d just tell them. 

Now that we are married, I’m less self-conscious to tell people I picked it out (proceeds to write two whole blog posts about it hahaha). I see God’s different-but-better plan in the ring on my hand and I love getting to tell that story.

The Pros and Cons

Here’s some pros and cons to help you decide how to find your ring. Save it, show your boyfriend, deep-dive and discuss with a friend!

Your ring stories

Disclaimer: My engagement ring experience isn’t everyone’s.

I wanted to end with people who shared their engagement ring stories with me. These stories complete this post in a way I never could because I am only one person. This bucket of seashell stories so vast and novel; I love just picking one to admire the color and different details that comes with being an almost-engaged couple. If you don’t relate to my story, I think you might see yourself in one of these.

The most fairytale advice I can give you about finding your engagement ring is to follow your heart—whether you pick it out or he does. You’ll know when you get there what is best, but I hope this helps you sort it out and at the very least, stops you from feeling like you’re breaking the law.

As for the ring, yours will be yours—however “illegally” it got there. Because as long as it gets you to ‘I do‘, it doesn’t really matter.

What’s your ring story? What thoughts do you have on knowing what the ring will be? Any pros or cons that I missed? Have anymore questions? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

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Read part one: My engagement ring story

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