An engagement ring may not be the biggest or even the most expensive piece of jewellery you ever give her, but it is the one she will wear the longest and remember forever. And when you propose it will be one of the most significant and memorable events in your lives together. Getting it right is all down to preparation.
Read on - or Download Chapter 2 as a pdf to read at your leisure.
• To find the perfect ring you need to understand her style and know what she loves. It’s all about the thought that goes into it, not how much you spend
• Get the ring size as nearly correct as possible – there are ways to do this and tools to help
• Many rings can be resized, but some designs cannot and would have to be completely remade. You need to know which is which – if not for now, then for the future
• In the end, the success of the final result depends upon excellent preparation.
KNOWING HER STYLE
When you really start to look at rings you might conclude that making a decision on the right one is almost as hard as deciding who you want to marry. Getting a handle on her style and what she likes is the key. We all know how hard it is, and we appreciate the thought and care you put into it far more than any amount of money you might spend.
Many of you will have a very clear idea of what your partner likes and wants. If that’s you, skip to the section on ring sizes right now.
For those of you who are less sure, here are some ideas.
Research Tips. There are three levels of research which may require increasing degrees of subterfuge:
Level 1 – Basic. Check out her wardrobe. You could casually compliment her on what she’s wearing, ask her where she got it and why she likes it. Or you could offer to take her for lunch and a shopping trip one Saturday. Take photos on your phone of the things she tries on. For that matter, take more photos in general, especially when you go out together. They will create a visual record of the colours she wears and the styles she favours.
Does she have a different style of clothes for work and play? Look at what she does actually wear – some of her wardrobe may never see the light of day.
Level 2 – Intermediate. Take a good look at any of the social media she shares. Pinterest is a very useful social media resource where people gather and share images of the things they love. Women use it a lot, men less so, but it’s a great place to collect design ideas, whether for a ring or a new building project. If you can, you should find a reason to get her to show you her Pinterest boards, or any other social media she may use to share ideas. Do they reflect her values and the things she cares about, whether it’s saving the planet or the latest from the catwalks? Is there a clothes designer she loves but maybe can’t afford? Look at her ideas for interior design and decoration.
Level 3 – Tricky. If you can, take a look in her jewellery box, or make a point of noticing what sort of jewellery she wears – photos are useful here again. We all have some old jewellery which is only of sentimental value. Does she wear silver or gold, plain or full of colour? Is her jewellery small and dainty, or big and bold? Does she like traditional or modern; simple or elaborate; conservative or flamboyant? Does she wear much jewellery at all?
Aim to get a feel for her overall style. The more you look at what she loves and actually wears, the more you will develop an instinctive feel for her style, and the more confidence you will have in your choice of ring.
If you’d like a structured approach to the task of research, Download your What’s her Style checklist
to record her style and preferences.
As long as you update it every so often, not only will it help you decide on the right ring now, it will also help with many other decisions in the future. You’ll never be lost for ideas for birthday, anniversary and other special occasion gifts.
GETTING THE SIZE RIGHT
Sometimes finding out her ring size is the trickiest question of all. If you want the whole proposal to be a complete
surprise, you may have to resort to subterfuge to answer this one. There are ways to get round the problem, which I will outline first, followed by an explanation of the technicalities of getting her size right.
You may already know her ring size from previous experience, which would be very helpful. Or you may have to play detective. Whatever you do, make sure you are getting a measurement for the correct finger and you are absolutely sure which finger you have a measurement for.
‘Borrow’ a Ring. If you can, ‘acquire’ a ring which you know she wears from her jewellery box. This is a good start, but make absolutely sure you know for certain (a) that she still wears it, and (b) which hand and which finger she wears it on. If she wears it on the ring finger of her right hand, she’s right-handed and it fits well, it is probably about a half to a full size too large for her left hand. Your ring size will need to be adjusted accordingly.
The Wrong Finger - a Salutory Tale
Andy B was adamant that his partner wore the ring he’d ‘borrowed’ on the ring finger of her right hand. So I made adjustments by one size, but it did seem quite large for the woman he’d described.
Well, she loved her ring. But I had to reduce it four whole sizes, which is a lot for any design, because in fact she wore the ring he’d borrowed on her middle finger – much larger than the ring finger.
It is not always possible to make such drastic changes without remodelling the ring completely, so it’s worth taking extra care to get the size as near as possible.
The best friend option. Another ruse is to enlist the help of your future fiancée’s girlfriend, with the obvious caveat that she be super trustworthy. On the pretence of looking for a ring for herself, she can find out all sorts of useful information if they go ‘window shopping’ together.
A Little Help From Her Friend
Ian C’s sister Amanda was not only very friendly with his girlfriend, she was also hoping to be engaged in the near future. So Ian asked Amanda to take his girlfriend with her when she went window shopping for rings. (He even supplied the champagne lunch to make it more fun.) The information he got from that trip was priceless in terms of helping with the design of his girlfriend’s ring, and we went for a yellow sapphire with diamonds, which he would not otherwise have considered. That champagne lunch turned out to be a very good investment.
An Educated Guess.
An experienced jewellery designer should be able to take an educated guess at your fiancée’s ring size from a photograph of her. A full profile photo, together with a close up of her hands if possible, is most useful. Even if you have managed to purloin a ring, this can help confirm the estimate. It may not be a perfect size, but it is better to get it approximately right than completely wrong.
Every Picture Tells a Story
Kieran described the love of his life as ‘short and quite cuddly’ and estimated her ring size at about N. He took some photos with his phone when they were at a family party, and as a result I could see that she had beautiful small hands with fine fingers much nearer to a size J. So we went for J1/2, and luckily her ring fitted perfectly.
If all else fails. It is not the end of the world if you get her size wrong. Most engagement rings can be resized, and if you are having it made for you, the designer should warn you if resizing will be a problem.
Resizing is only really tricky if there is filigree, an applied or engraved design around the whole circumference, shank stones in claw settings or on more than half the shank. Then the ring might have to be partially rebuilt to make it larger or smaller, which may be costly.
Generally speaking, for a more straightforward band it is easier to make a ring smaller than it is to make it larger. When it is done properly, resizing always requires cutting, shaping, soldering and re-polishing the ring. So it is easier and less expensive to take a bit out than it is to add metal, especially if there is engraving, stones or an applied design on the band.
UNDERSTANDING RING SIZINGSizing Conventions.
In the UK, ring sizes
A standard UK ring size for women is around M or N, with H being very small and S being at the larger end. A lot of women, especially younger women, might have ring sizes of J to L. For men, standard sizes are around R and S, size P for slim hands, and greater than Z is possible.
It is worth knowing that the difference in diameter over one full size is less than half a millimetre, and half a size can make a big difference to the fit of a ring, especially if it has a large stone (as it will turn more readily). This is why using a piece of string or wool is not going to work as a measuring tool!
Measuring Size. There are two principle ways to measure the size of a ring (as opposed to the finger). These are (a) to the leading edge, and (b) to the mid-point. The first measures the ring size at the point where the edge of the ring will go no further down the sizing stick. The second measures the size at the point of the middle of the ring shank on the stick.
Given the small tolerance on size diameters, this difference can be significant, especially for wider rings.
Wide rings typically need to be larger than narrow rings to fit properly over the knuckle and sit on the finger comfortably without squeezing the fleshy bit into the finger-equivalent of a ‘muffin top’. This also applies when a group of rings is worn on one finger.
A third consideration is the fact that fingers do go up and down in size during the day and depending on the weather. If you measure her finger on a hot summer’s day, it could be out by a whole size or more.
Just be aware of these factors if you do get a finger measurement.
Doing the background research on her style and the correct ring size is something only you can do, and it is the first and most important step in getting her ring just right. This is true whether you are buying a ring off-the-shelf or having one made, and it is the one crucial step which people often miss out.
Preparation is key, and there are tools to help. Whether it is in sport, in business or just redecorating the house, the success of the final result depends upon the preparation.
Read On – Chapter 3 is All About the Money. Getting value is still a key issue even for something of such emotional importance as an engagement ring.