I don’t want her to have a crummy ring

A reader is worried about what kind of engagement ring he should get for his girlfriend when he proposes. There are plenty of options, Carolyn Hax responds.



June 4, 2024 - 1:49 PM

Photo by Alyssa L. Miller / Flickr.com

Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: I am planning to propose to my girlfriend in a few weeks. She knows it’s coming, we’ve discussed it, no real surprises.

I think a ring would be sweet and meaningful, and she loves jewelry. The problem is she outearns me significantly, and there is nothing within my price range that’s anywhere near as good as what she could buy for herself. I know that’s not the point, and she would NOT care, but the gesture loses something if the ring is subpar.

Is there a simple ring that’s worth buying even if it’s not impressive to the recipient? Having creative block is making the anticipation a little less buzzy.

— Proposing

Proposing: Having a ring custom made can be so much more precious than generic-expensive. The materials can be as humble or fine as your budget allows. A girlfriend who loves jewelry has favorite things you can photograph, right? Share them with an artisan to get design ideas. You can include or not include your girlfriend in the design process — there are advantages to both.

Or: Go vintage (again, bring photos to show the salesperson) or resale. Traditional engagement rings sell for way less used than new; it’s just one extra little kick in the chops for people going through a divorce, but good news for ring shoppers like you.

Re: Ring: If you have already discussed marriage, what’s to propose? You ARE engaged.

— Anonymous

Anonymous: Oh, let them do their thing.

Re: Ring: Another option for a ring is a lab-grown diamond ring. Less expensive and ethically sourced and also very beautiful!

— Anothernonymous

Anothernonymous: I want one as big as a Ring Pop.

Re: Ring: For our entire relationship, I’ve always outearned my husband, often by a 2:1 ratio. He bought me an engagement ring he could afford. It’s perfect, and I love it. It matters that it’s from him, and what matters even more is that we’ve been married over 13 years and have survived two cross-country moves, pandemic lockdown with two small kids and irreconcilable agreements over which “Pride and Prejudice” adaptation is better, and we still make each other laugh every day.

— Laughing

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