Engagement and Wedding Ring Advice

Since a lot of engagements and such often take place around Valentine’s Day, I thought this would be a good time to talk about my experience with my engagement/wedding ring.

Those of you that know me are aware that I’m generally a fan of tradition (although sometimes with a twist). During my courtship/engagement, we did a few things a little differently. Because of our situation (online at first, long distance, etc), we ended up doing a lot of things in ways that may have been considered unconventional. And the way we picked wedding rings was one.

Normally, the guy would pick the ring for his bride-to-be, often without consultation from her (though hopefully with an understanding of what she likes to help him). This is what you see in movies, hear of your friends doing, and what most people imagine as what they need to do and what is best for them.

We didn’t do that, both because that can sometimes end up with a clash of styles for certain couples and also because we’re very communicative and prefer to do basically everything together. It would have simply been out of character for us to do it the supposedly “traditional” way. Max had asked me what kind of rings I liked and we ended up picking one out together, both searching and comparing what we found.

Another interesting thing is that right around the time that we were looking at engagement rings, my mother had found out about moissanite, since she had to get a replacement for her wedding ring.

Moissanite is a stone, just slightly lower on the hardness scale than a diamond, which also looks almost just like a diamond (better, really, in my opinion). The reflection of light/shine is different (more like a rainbow of colors than just clear shine from what the general descriptions are), but the stone is still clear and beautiful. It is basically a diamond equivalent, but is drastically cheaper. The initial description turned me off a bit when I first looked it up, I’ll be perfectly honest. I didn’t think it was going to be for me, but I hadn’t seen one in person, just pictures on the internet. I highly advise seeing one in person before you decide either way, since that is what decided the matter for me.

Now, I am a pretty serious fan of the classics and tradition. My gut-reaction to using a stone other than a diamond was one of hesitance. But there were three things that sealed the deal on it for me, besides that moissanite is a clear stone and functions just like a diamond in hardness too.

One is obvious: price. We’re not exactly overflowing with cash and didn’t want to spend an exorbitant amount of money on a diamond, when there was a practically identical stone as an alternative. The value you’re getting for your money with a moissanite is amazing, so that was a heavy sway in favor of it, just from a practical standpoint. You don’t need to break the bank for beauty or quality, you really don’t. You can get a rather large moissanite stone, which I know a lot of women like very large stones in their rings, but for the fraction of the price of a diamond the same size.

What really sold me on moissanite stones themselves was when my mother got her ring in. (If you’re interested the image below is mine, my mother, and my grandmother’s hands and wedding rings, which includes both my moissanite ring and my mother’s). The stone had a shimmer that diamonds simply do not possess. There was a beautiful, star-like sparkle. I actually decided this stone was more beautiful than any diamond I had ever seen. Even more so, diamonds within the price range we had were bound to have imperfections, but the moissanite didn’t seem to have any. The star-like sparkle was really what convinced me on the stone itself, though. I think of myself as a bit of an amateur geology nerd; I love rocks/stones/minerals/etc and always have. This was hands down, my new favorite rock. It also reminded me of another stone I adore, which is moonstone. In my opinion, there is a certain way that moonstone reflects light that the moissanite doesn’t just echo, but amplifies.

The third and final point that set me for sure on wanting a moissanite ring was a particular ring design. This is the design we ended up getting. I had never seen a ring design that I loved more. I had spent dozens upon dozens of hours looking for affordable rings and as many trying to find beautiful rings. This met both. (I think the current price has gone up a bit from when we bought it, but it is still relatively affordable compared to a diamond of the same size and quality.). I was and still am absolutely head-over-heels for this ring. The vine pattern filigree is STUNNING and I adore it. (By the way, this website has a ton of great designs, no matter what your style is and the prices are generally pretty great.)

For a lot of people my age, money is a little bit scarce, whether it is because many of us have student debt or low paying jobs or other issues. While my husband and I don’t have any student debt, we wanted to keep spending as low as we could to allow us to save up for other things like eventually buying a house.

So my advice for any of you looking to buy an engagement ring is twofold.

Firstly, don’t feel pressured to do things the way everyone else seems to do them when it comes to picking out rings.

If you’d rather work together to do it, don’t feel like you have to do otherwise. There is no rule anywhere that says you’re doing something wrong if you as the bride-to-be work with your husband-to-be to find your wedding/engagement rings.

I got the impression from a few people that they thought I was some kind of control freak for doing this and wouldn’t let Max do anything on his own. It was like they thought that I either didn’t think he’d get it right or just didn’t trust him to do it on his own.

Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of large surprises usually, which the “traditional” way of picking a ring has built into it. But that was more of a side component to the fact that Max asked to do this together and I wanted to do that as well.

Not to mention, I asked him about it then and repeated the question today as to why he wanted to look for the ring together and he said a few different things: he didn’t want to pick something I wouldn’t like; it is an expensive decision and wanted me to be as happy with it as possible; he likes to make decisions with me and wanted to involve me in an important decision (especially since it affected me); we talk about literally everything and he couldn’t imagine not talking to me about the ring.

There is nothing wrong with not picking ring the “traditional” way. And you shouldn’t be made to feel like you’ve done your future spouse a disservice by picking a ring together.

I’m by no means dissing the “traditional” method where the guy picks the ring alone. This works quite well for some couples. Some girls prefer the surprise and their spouses like the autonomy of being able to pick for them and prove how well they know their taste. BUT, it simply doesn’t work for some people and isn’t a method that should be universally applied. It also isn’t a mark against you if this doesn’t work for your relationship or personality.

It’s not a rule, rather a suggestion. And when suggestions don’t work for certain individuals, they should discard them and figure out what works best for them.

Secondly, don’t feel like you have to be stuck with a diamond. I do still advise a clear, hard stone. When you wear a ring every day, you need it to be sturdy (you don’t really want it to be below a 9 on the scale). Sapphires are another option and there are lab grown clear sapphires, but from what I’ve seen, those are still more expensive than moissanites. I think moissanite is the closest stone to a diamond, both in color, hardness, and beauty, though I currently think it is more beautiful than a diamond. A clear stone is mostly necessary for the purpose that it will match anything you choose to wear, either jewelry or clothes, and will never look out of style. Plus, there is an element of it being a symbol of the purity of your love that I find quite charming as well.

NOTE: There will be people who will judge you when they find out your stone isn’t a diamond, but don’t be too worried about what they think. You did the best thing for you.

I had a few people compliment my ring and then, after finding out it wasn’t a diamond, criticized my choice. This was quite bizarre the first time it happened, since they’d believed it was an expensive diamond the moment before. But this is a lot like an encounter I had at the dentist once: he complimented the condition of my teeth quite a lot, but on finding out I hadn’t been to a dentist in 11 years, went on a tirade about how badly I was taking care of my teeth … after having just said they were pristine. For some reason, the fact that my ring was cheaper because it wasn’t a diamond also was a mark against me somehow. Spending within your means shouldn’t be something you should be criticized for, especially when you can find something just as beautiful or more beautiful than the alternative.

Moral of the story? You can’t please everyone and you shouldn’t try to. You’ll end up not just making yourself unhappy, but loosing yourself in the process. And a engagement/wedding ring would be the most tragic item to do this with.

(Don’t forget, there will be people in AWE of your ring, especially once they find out it isn’t a diamond, since they’re looking for just the kind of solution you found or are just stunned by the beauty)

All in all, don’t give up your identity as a couple just for a perceived tradition and don’t let beauty break the bank, because it doesn’t need to. I know we’d have been in a tough spot if my mom hadn’t found out about moissanite at just the right time, so I wanted to share that knowledge with whoever else may need it.

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