“I’m just going to buy a stone, and you can design your own engagement ring.” This was my now husband’s response when we started talking about engagement rings. It made sense. I am a custom jeweler, after all. But to me it felt like an easy out. Where was the romance? Where was the surprise? I wanted to have a ring I loved, but I also wanted him to put in a little effort. He, on the other hand, was terrified to make the wrong choice. Many months — and torturous decisions — later, he proposed. For me, it was the perfect moment, but for him, well as much as he loves me, he was thankful it was over.
I get it. Picking out an engagement ring is nerve wracking at best, and painful at worst. There are a lot of questions to answer. Is this the right style? What can I afford? What metal should it be? Do I have to buy a diamond? Do I have to buy a ring at all? It can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. With this multi-part series, I’m going to break down some of the most common questions I’ve received throughout my career as a custom jeweler, and shed some light on the mystery of engagement ring shopping. Starting with my first question: Does Size Matter?
Does Diamond — or Center Stone — Size Matter?
An engagement ring should be 2-months’ salary and at least one carat. Hats off to N. W. Ayer, the ad agency who created this panic-inducing standard. They really knew how to play off of human insecurity. As a jewelry designer, it’s one of the many things I talk about with clients. When most sit down to discuss ideas, they begin with this notion that anything less than a carat in size is somehow a failure or a slight on the person they are proposing to. Not true, and I’m here to break it down for you.
Size matters, kind of.
My first response when asked if size matters is, “Does size matter to you or your fiance?” No. This is not a Jedi-mind trick. It’s self-reflection. Size only matters, if it matters to you or your fiance. No one else. So, if the response is “Yes, she/he really likes bigger rings.” Then yes, size is factor to consider. If the answer is “No, they’ve never really mentioned it.” Then no, size doesn’t matter at all. It’s as simple as that. Sure, it’s a little more nuanced than that, but that’s the heart of it. Some people like the look of bigger jewelry, and there are plenty of reasons why. Maybe they have larger fingers, so need to cover more surface area. Maybe they are just really into sparkle, like yours truly. Whatever the reason, if your betrothed wants a bigger ring, then you should consider size. If they haven’t mentioned it, or have told you they don’t care, then believe them and cross that worry off of your list.
Oh god. Size matters to them. Now what?
If you fall into the “yes, size matters” camp, don’t panic. This is where the “kind of” part comes in. Even if you’re soon-to-be-betrothed is into bigger rings, this doesn’t necessarily mean a bigger center stone or a bigger price tag. As a jewelry designer, this is where I come in. There are plenty of ways to produce a ring that feels substantial and looks larger without breaking the bank. Rings with halos and accent stones naturally trick the eye, producing a larger look. Also, there are plenty of stones like moissanites and sapphires, where you can get more for your money. Additionally, “big” is relative. What looks large on some hands, will look smaller on others. If you’re fiance has small hands: congratulations, you’ve won the engagement ring jackpot. You’d be surprised how large a half a carat diamond looks on a delicate finger. Trust me, there are so many options to give them the look they want, and none of them require two months of your salary.
So style matters more than size of center stone?
Yes! That’s exactly what I’m saying. From my experience, people are typically responding to the look of something. What they aren’t saying is hit these stats to make me happy. In fact, 99% of the population I’ve interacted with would be none-too-happy if their fiance went over budget in the name of meeting a standard. At the end of the day, engagement rings are simply a symbol of commitment and love. Yes, if your fiance prefers a bigger look, then that’s something you should take into consideration. But the size of the center stone will always matter less than having a ring she thinks is beautiful and wants to wear everyday. So go forth and shop with confidence! And call me if you want some money-saving ideas.