The man manual to buying an engagement ring

Man and woman's hands holding snowball, forming a heart.

In spring, a young man's thoughts turn to “Oh sh*t, I was going to propose. I better find a ring.” Yes men, if you're going to propose, do not go empty-handed. Every woman expects a ring. And it takes more than a bagatelle or bauble to bowl over Betty.

Until now, buying an engagement ring was not for the feint of heart – kind of like marriage itself. Until now, entering the realm of rings daunted the most steadfast of men. Until now, there wasn’t the Man Manual to make men Lords of the Ring.

Here are a few tips from Disegno’s yet-unpublished guy-guide:

  • Diamonds are forever. This ad line was commissioned by De Beers and dreamed up, late night, in an end-of-her-tether-deadline-looming moment by young American copywriter Frances Gerety in 1947. Sure, they're (virtually) forever (apparently so is advertising) but these days other gems, beautiful coloured gems, also say “I’ll be yours until we're talking cataracts and constipation.” More and more, women want coloured stones. It worked for Charles and Diana (sapphire), worked again for William and Kate (same sapphire), the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson (ruby), her daughter Princess Eugenie (padparascha sapphire). For my money, padparascha hands down . . . gorgeous pink-orange like the lotus it is named after. Meghan and Harry? The un-traditionalists went with traditional diamonds.
  • Presenting the gem alone and not the finished ring is a great option if you’re immobilized by 'getting it right’. Choose the gem and let her be part of the custom design of the ring. Kind of like your driving: women still want their hands on the wheel.
Custom made engagement and wedding rings by Disegno Fine Jewellery.

  • Choose the engagement ring with the wedding band in mind. A curvilinear engagement ring makes matching the wedding band with those wavy sides a tough job. Make sure to check out wedding band options and the future availability of that band when you buy the ring. Back to Meghan again, and who am I to criticize the Royals, note the constant gap between the wedding and eternity bands with the engagement ring. There are simple ways to keep the cluster a homogenous set. Think of designing a house with the forethought of a future extension. Maybe a granny suite. If you plan from the get-go it’ll look seamless and not like you’ve relegated your mother-in-law to the shed.
  • 18k gold is 75 per cent gold and 25 per cent other metals. Depending on how you play with the recipe, those other metals can result in colours other than yellow. Oh, sure, you’ve heard about white gold, but you’ll wow her with a knowledge of rose and green gold. That’ll get her attention. Note: 14k gold is only 58.5 per cent gold and 10k a mere 42 per cent gold. Just sayin’…
  • If ever there was a metal perfect for setting gems and for longevity, it’s platinum.  And if ever there was a time to buy platinum jewellery, it’s now. You could always consider platinum jewellery as being waaay more expensive than gold. That’s changed. As of the first week of February when this article was written, platinum sat at about CAN $1290/ounce and gold almost to the penny at $1000 more per ounce. It’s the best for settings, never wears out, and is a whiter white than white gold. It weighs more and takes a bit more to polish so labour costs will be higher than gold. Still, now’s the time for platinum.
  • Engraving is a final touch to make the ring and bands truly yours. The wedding date is a good obvious choice but snippets of poetry, pet names (no, not the name of her cat), and symbols are possibilities. I once engraved the figure of a coquettish baby goat on the wedding bands of a Canadian couple who married in an Africa country where tradition dictates that a man presents a goat to his fiancée on the wedding day. No kidding.
  • Buying online from a catalogue. Listen, even Princess Diana chose her blue sapphire from a catalogue.  Okay, so the catalogue was Garrad’s, the then crown jeweller, but the ring was available to anyone for £47,000. Two important notes here: often, the gem in the picture you’re looking at is not necessarily the gem you’re getting. Secondly, choosing a diamond simply by finding the best price for that clarity grade overlooks a major fact of those grades: there is a wide range of inclusion types, size, location and thus risks within the included grades.  Obviously Flawless being, simply, flawless avoids the issue.  Of course, at a price.

Custom made engagement ring by Disegno Fine Jewellery.

  • Custom designing also allows you to, well, customize the ring. Met her at the bowling alley? Share a passion for snow peas and soup?* A little nod to these secret connections can be subtly included in the design of her engagement ring and both your wedding bands. No one needs to know but you two. I once created a ring for a man by the last name Fysh. The obvious pun was picked up with very subtle lines of the fish tail lashing around the bezel-set sapphire. To any other eyes, the ring simply had a beautiful relief and flowing lines.
  • Custom made rings will not break the bank account. Done properly, it will address her wants and your wallet. And it'll really say "Honey, you’re too special for no-name; you're the president's choice."

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