Diamond Rings and the Working Girl

should-i-take-my-engagement-ring-off-for-interviewThis should be a fun conversation. Reader S wonders what size diamond ring is appropriate for a professional woman…

What size wedding ring/engagement ring is appropriate for a professional office? Personally, I think giant rings are gaudy and tacky. But I overheard a couple of attorneys saying the other day “”Do you ever see a friend posting pictures on facebook about her recent engagement and when you see her ring, you think to yourself ‘oh, honey, I’m so sorry!'”” so I guess rings can be too small as well. What size will keep you safe from the gossip?

I’m glad she asked this question, because I remember some of the comments turned to engagement rings in our conversation on the intern with the Hermes handbag, and there were some fascinating differences of opinion in there. For my $.02, I think that any size ring is appropriate for a professional office, provided that the ring is actually an engagement ring, and not a cocktail ring worn as an engagement ring. (Engagement rings are fairly simple, in part because they’re intended to be worn on a daily basis. Diamond cocktail rings (full disclosure: I own one, love it, and wear it a ton) can be gorgeous, but they’re often bigger (either in length, width, or height), sparklier, and to a certain extent, gaudier, than what an engagement ring is; they should be worn only when the occasion calls for it. I’m right handed, so I like to wear mine on the middle finger of my right hand, particularly if I’m attending a cocktail event where I’ll be holding a glass with my right hand.)  I will say, though, to those of you looking to get engaged, pass this tip on to your soon-to-be fiance: don’t go into debt to buy an engagement ring.  You can always add to the ring later, either by adding diamonds to it as baguettes, by “upgrading” your diamonds (from a less-clear one to a clearer one), or so forth.  (Pictured above:  Acadia Ring Emerald-Cut Diamond Platinum Ring , available at Gemvara for $61,297, also available in combinations of white gold, yellow gold, and almost any other gemstone (for a huge range of prices) — just click “customize”.)

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Now: will people make judgments about you and your life based on what your ring looks like? Absolutely. Small ring? She must have married for love. Ginormous ring, particularly on the hand of a coworker who doesn’t seem that invested in the job? Future soccer mom. Women who wear plain bands have a certain cache about them also — I always think that they send a vibe of competence, of “I can’t be bothered to wear a diamond ring on a daily basis because I’m too busy Doing Important Work and Not Thinking About Sparky Things,” but honestly I love my emerald-cut engagement ring too much to not wear it on a regular basis.  Sometimes a ring can overshoot the mark, too — if your ring is absolutely huge and that doesn’t quite jive with what people know about your lifestyle, they’ll just assume it’s fake.

The really interesting question comes when you think about diamond rings and interviews. If you have an absolutely huge diamond ring on your hand, should you take it off for interviews?  The obvious worry is that employers will take one look at the prospective employee and think, “She’s just biding her time until she gets pregnant or until she or her husband inherit the rest of the money.”  So I think it depends, a bit, both on where you’re interviewing (if it’s a government or nonprofit gig, you may want to take it off), where you are in your life (if you already have kids or are past your childbearing years, it becomes less of a concern), and who you are:  if you’re the slightest bit flighty, the ring is going to work against you.  For a lot of very young women just starting their careers, I probably would advise them to take a huge engagement ring off for an interview.

Readers, what do you think about ring size and the office — have you seen engagement rings that are just ridiculously huge for the office?  If you had a huge rock on your finger, would you remove it before you went in for interviews?  What factors play into the decision?

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  1. I don’t really have an opinion on what’s an appropriate size, but I really want that ring in the picture. It’s gorgeous!

  2. People actually feel “sorry” for women whose engagement rings have “small” diamonds? Oh, for the love of….

    That has to be the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard all day.

    Are you sure this is an actual reader and not somebody trying to troll Corporette?

    • Not Reader S :

      I am unmarried/unengaged, but this happened to a former colleague of mine. Her now-husband is a wonderful man who has a successful business, but he’s the type of guy that will wear a tshirt until it falls apart – totally disinterested in material things like clothes and shoes. We work in biglaw, where most of the women in the office have 1.5 carat plus plus. Meanwhile, her engagement ring is *tiny*, as in one can barely see the diamond, it looks disproportional on her hand, and also looks like one of those promise rings that teenagers give each other. It is smaller than every married woman in the office, including the secretaries.

      She loves her husband, but for several months after she got engaged, she felt so sad about her tiny ring. And then felt really terrible for feeling sad about her ring. She still wishes it was 2-3x bigger, which wouldn’t even put her at a carat. So yes, I do feel sorry for her.

      • Not Reader S :

        Since people are mentioning geography, we are in San Francisco.

        • I don’t even want to know what you’d think of me. I’m married but don’t wear a ring (I find it irritates my finger when I work). Does this mean everyone is sorry for me for not even having a gold band?

          • It sounds like Not Reader S is sorry for her friend because her friend is sad about the ring. Not because Not Reader S is herself sad about the ring.

      • Ewww….

    • It’s sad, but true. Some women are very judgmental when it comes to these things. I’ve met quite a few from South Florida who have this mentality. Personally, I don’t care. It’s the commitment that matters, not the size. But what do I know? I’m just a small town southern girl. :-)

      • This is really sad. We got married at 24, couldn’t afford anything and (100% contrary to our South Asian culture) were determined NOT to accept help from the parents (we thought paying for the big, fat Indian wedding was more than enough help from them).

        So my ring consisted of 3 stones, each being 0.05ct. I could barely see ’em, let alone others. Wore it proudly for 5 years, till hubs insisted on an upgrade.

        Now I wear a 2ct cushion cut ring equally proudly though the tiny-stone ring is kept safe as a reminder of days when we couldn’t afford anything better!

        I don’t care if we were considered “too cheap” previously, or “too vulgar” now. I love my husband & vice versa. sure, I love beautiful stuff too, but I always remember to “cut my coat according to my cloth”!

        • Sorry that was my comment (don’t know why it shows ‘anon’). Anyway I am not sure why anyone would take off their rings pre interview? Seems to be a US thing. Do guys do that too?

          • Honey, guys who don’t have a ring sometimes *wish* they had one for an interview because it connotes stability and financial obligations.

    • My center stone on my engagement ring was only 1/4 caret, and I had a couple of people make comments about it to my face, one person from his law firm and one of my friends, kind of jokingly, but not really. We didn’t want to go into debt, and that’s what we could afford at the time. Oh well, the marriage didn’t last.

      • I hope you don’t mind my q but what did you do with it after the divorce? I had a jeweler use mine in earrings… As one of the first empowering things I did for myself after the divorce came through.

    • i never would have thought about this before – but it also depends on how the girl herself feels. i have a friend (nyc big law) who got engaged/married during law school who recieved a tiny engagement ring that his parents had picked out abroad (cultural reasons more than anything else), she was so embarassed she actually bought a fake and wore that – it was awful that she felt judged for it and was so self conscious when personally i didn’t notice or even think anything of it, but it’s true that even the ring band was kind of bendy if she was rough on the ring (carrying things, etc.) he gave her an upgrade that she loved on their wedding day so i guess that solved all of that

    • I hope I don’t feel horrible for saying this, and I might get slammed, but here goes … I just don’t think tiny diamonds look nice. If you can’t afford a reasonably sized diamond, why not get another type of stone, or a band rather than a solitaire? So I kind of feel sorry when I see people with rings with small diamonds because I think they must have felt obligated to spend money on a diamond that frankly doesn’t really look quite right with the setting, when they could have gotten something really beautiful in another stone/style.

      Ok, so now I feel like I should define small. Like this — just not pretty IMHO: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41Nub7Pj53L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

      • I actually love that ring :-) Though I’m also *tiny* — a carat ring on a size 4 finger looks like something that would be called bling, not real.

        • I like that ring, too, although I think it might be a little too, I don’t know, something, for an engagement ring, which I prefer to be very traditional. I do wear a size 4 ring!

      • “I just don’t think tiny diamonds look nice. If you can’t afford a reasonably sized diamond, why not get another type of stone, or a band rather than a solitaire?”

        That’s an interesting point. I know people who have spent what I considered ridiculous amounts of money for teeny diamonds, just because they felt like they “had to” have the diamond ring for their engagement ring. If they had taken that same amount of money, they could have gotten a really lovely alternative-type of ring. People shouldn’t assume a non-diamond ring is “cheap.” My best friend’s engagement/wedding set is platinum and genuine, natural vintage emeralds, and they could have bought a brand-new car for what it cost her husband. Yet someone actually said to me, right after she got married “he’s a lawyer, and he couldn’t get her a diamond?” She didn’t WANT a diamond. Not everyone thinks diamonds are great, myself included.

        In any case – people should wear the rings they’re given with pride, no matter how big they are or what they’re made of. This will be a controversial comment, but I wonder if the two commenters from the questioner’s office are married themselves. I have found the girls who are snarkiest about people’s engagement rings and wedding dresses are the ones who have never had the opportunity to wear either one. (No, I am not saying all unmarried women are like that.) My experience is that most women would wear a an engagement ring from a Cracker Jack box, if the right man gave it to them at the right time.

        • Frankly, I didn’t even know that engagement rings were “supposed” to be diamonds until I was out of college. My mom’s engagement ring was a sapphire (her birthstone) that was mined in the state my dad is from. I thought that it was such a cool story – and special to the two of them.

          • AnonInfinity :

            What a great story. I think this is perfect for an engagement ring — beautiful and meaningful to both.

          • That’s really sweet. Having a story behind the ring always makes it more special.

          • Kanye East :

            They aren’t “supposed” to be. Diamond engagement rings have only really been around since the beginning of the 20th Century.

        • I have nothing against a ring not being diamond, but it seems like a lot of stones would be odd just because they aren’t neutral. Does emerald jewelry really go with anything and everything in one’s wardrobe? (I’m sure it depends on the person.) I know the whole DeBeer’s brainwashed everyone into thinking it had to be diamonds and blah, blah, blah, but I think a lot of the reason that diamonds have staying power is because they are so neutral compared to most (not all, but most) other stones.

          • It’s definitely a matter of personal preference. I love sapphires and think they go with anything. I have one in my watch and also some in my wedding band. I could see where someone else would feel differently.

          • A friend of mine has a blue and white sapphire ring and I think it’s really lovely. I suppose it doesn’t always match as well as a diamond might, although it does come across as pretty neutral. For them, the stone choice was driven by ethical concerns about the diamond industry, and IMO, they found a really beautiful alternative.

          • Anonymous :

            I’ve got an emerald, and it goes with everything I wear. Admittedly, I don’t wear a lot of reds or oranges or bright blues, which might clash. But black, white, purple, yellow, gray, pink, brown — even other shades of green — yes!

          • My sister has a light blue engagement ring. I think it’s beautiful and I wouldn’t want a diamond because everyone else has one and I think they are overpriced. I definitely do not want a diamond engagement ring. No mater how big it is, it’s just too boring for me. Also, it doesn’t have to match everything I wear. My parents gave me a small ring with my birthstone (August, peridot). I wear it everyday even when I don’t wear green. I rarely take it off.

          • I wear 2 emerald rings every day, one of which is my wedding ring. I’ve never even thought once, “gee I hope this matches my outfit.” It’s a ring, not exactly the same as wearing pants and a shirt that clash.

          • I have a sapphire and emerald engagement ring. its funky and i love it! i think it generally goes with everything (i dont wear a lot of red). i really did not want diamonds because of the ethical issues, the pricing, and i just dont like the look for myself.
            i have noticed disappointment and pity in people’s faces when they have asked to see the ring (when I was first engaged) – but thats their issue, not mine.

          • I have an Alexandrite. It’s between a dark green and sparkly green and an red, depending on the light. I’m not wearing it currently, because it needs repaired. But, I wear it with everything without a secon thought. I love it. And, while it’s not tiny – it’s not like it’s as big as a quarter either, so I don’t think it takes anything away.

            If your ring could double as Kat described a cocktail ring, I guess I could see being concerned about the color. But a small ring? To my mind, it just kind of blends in with life.

          • my engagement right is three stones – sapphire surrounded by two diamonds. no real significance, it was just because my husband loves sapphires, and I thought they were pretty and now I love them too. I never think about whether or not it matches my outfit or my other jewelry. it’s gorgeous and perfect and means a lot to me. and I love that my ring is relatively unique.

            also sapphires are very popular in engagement rings in the UK. as seen by the ring Price William gave Kate Middleton.

        • “My experience is that most women would wear a an engagement ring from a Cracker Jack box, if the right man gave it to them at the right time.”

          Love this! And I think it’s true!

          • Right? My mom has a large diamond (second marriage, late in life, after professional success) and when asked what it’s worth (which happens! Pretty often!) she says “all the love in the world”.

        • As an unmarried woman (never married or engaged), I’m a little offended by this comment. I personally like small rings and find it obscene when people spend huge amounts on engagement rings. Save the money for the honeymoon or put it in the bank!

          Oh, and FWIW, I think I’d like to get a non-diamond ring. A ruby or an emerald would be beautiful.

          My sister has a 1/4 carat ring. My brother-in-law ordered it online and then stalked the post office until it arrived. This was about 10 years ago. They could more than afford an upgrade, but I don’t think they really care.

          On the other hand, my sister-in-law has a giant ring. My brother spent his entire yearly bonus on it. She says now that she wished they’d saved the money, particularly since she’s a teacher in an inner-city school and needs to leave it at home.

          So suggesting that the catty comments came from unmarried women is really offensive…

      • I know exactly what you mean. I like larger stones, but I recognize the prices are crazy. I would be much happier wearing a plain gold band rather than a tiny diamond ring.

        • When my husband asked me what kind of engagement ring I would like, I knew I wanted something high-quality and beautiful — and for less than five figures, because that made sense for us financially.

          If you have that mindset, I think a non-diamond center stone is a great idea. I also think just wearing a gold band connotes class and confidence (like Kat mentioned). I myself went for a band with small diamonds all around it (a Jean Schlumberger sixteen-stone ring).

          Here in the South (perhaps this is true other places), the diamonds seem to keep getting bigger and bigger even though people often marry fairly young. I have to say, I love wearing a ring that is unique, stands on its own, and doesn’t say “my husband had to take out a second mortgage to pay for this.”

          • Plain bands alone are so very boring; I do not understand how they convey confidence on the part of the wearer.

      • I have to say, as someone who doesn’t really *wear* jewelry much and likes clean, modern accents, I think that ring is really pretty and would be a great engagement ring for a professional girl.

      • Blondie, Esq. :

        I’m with you Margaret… I think small diamonds don’t look right in the setting and they don’t sparkle! My husband and I waited to get engaged/married until we could get a ring that we both loved. I think it’s infinitely better to buy a different type of stone than a tiny diamond. I’ve had a few very awkward conversations with some friends who got engaged and have tiny diamonds. I always say (as you must) that the ring is beautiful but then they look at my ring (the center stone is only 1.2, which is not huge in my book) and there’s that awkward silence. My ring is smaller than most other women at my big law firm and I would feel uncomfortable with a tiny diamond, whether they would judge me or not.

      • Anything so small as to be disproportionate does not look good. If money is a problem, why not get an alternative stone?

    • I will fully admit to seeing a 1/4 carat (MAX!) solitaire ring on a lawyers finger and wondering why you would even bother getting a ring so small. It in the words of another poster it reminded me of something a teenager would buy at Walmart for a couple hundred bucks.

      If you can’t afford something and it really doesn’t matter, just get a band – that insinuates competence at least.

      Btw – There is a historical purpose to the ring that I believe is still very valid these days and is not materialistic. Its an insurance policy in case something happens to your relationship be it death, infidelity, abuse what have you. If you have a $5,000 diamond on your finger it doesn’t matter who has control of the bank accounts.

      • Eh, the resale market for diamonds means they lose a lot of their value and, also, there’s no particular reason to assume women are coming into the marriage in the worse financial position these days. Certainly I imagine most of the women posting on this site aren’t. If you’re worried about protecting your assets in the case of divorce, get a prenup not a huge diamond.

      • You’re kidding, right? Five grand in the form of a stone on the finger (which, incidentally, could never be resold for anything near the purchase price) is no kind of insurance against or protection in the event of death, infidelity, or abuse. That is the silliest thing I have heard in a very long time. If you like diamonds, fine. If you want a large engagement ring, fine. But own those reasons. And for the love of pete, get ACTUAL insurance if insurance is what you want.

        • Brooklynite :

          I agree with this times a million.

          • WishfulSpirit :

            Me too, though I do think “a’s” opinion about the insurance value was valid 100 years ago or so, when prenups and life insurance weren’t really a thing.

        • You said it, sister!

      • First off, if you’re not yet married and the relationship ends, the law of some states requires that the engagement ring be returned.

        Second, take it from the (recently divorced) woman who knows: the resale market in jewelry is pretty terrible, and counting on your wedding/engagement jewelry as an “insurance policy” is…unrealistic to say the least.

        The more pratical function to me of wedding/engagement rings is as a “don’t bother” signifier to single dudes who might otherwise hit on you.

      • It may also depend on the type of ring. I have 1/4 carat diamond set in a plain heavy platinum band (it was my engagement ring, but I kept it as my wedding band). It does not look cheap, or Walmart-esque, mostly because there’s a pretty hefty chunk of platinum behind it.

        • Related question: I’ve heard so often that the resale value goes down significantly, so I’ve thought about buying a used diamond for my upgrade. We’ll call it “vintage.” :) Anyway, where would someone buy something like that?

          • Craigslist always has a lot of postings — it’s kind of sad because the posters are often emotional (guys turned down, divorce, etc.), but they are remarkably well priced. Presumably most people will have the appraisal from when they bought it, or you could meet them at a jewelry store to get an appraisal before purchasing.

          • We got my ring from a website called I Do…Now I Don’t, where you can buy used jewelry direct from individual sellers. I wanted a used ring for ethical and financial reasons. I Do…Now I Don’t authenticates the ring to ensure that it is what the seller said it is. We ended up getting a 1.5 carat ring for literally 1/4 of its appraised value. I love it!

          • In my town, there is an estate jewelry store that sells vintage diamond rings. This is nice stuff — not at all a glorified pawn shop. The rings are not cheap, but for what you get, it’s definitely a better deal than buying brand new.

            Which I think is awesome because I’d rather have a vintage diamond ring any day. I think they’re classy and more interesting. Lucky for me, my husband gave me his great-grandmother’s engagement ring! It it gorgeous, relatively simple and like nothing you would find today. We actually found a wedding band to “match” at the estate jewelry store.

            I cringe at friends in their mid-to-late 20s who pick out super sparkly engagement rings with loads of smaller diamonds all around the main one, and loads more lined all the way around their wedding bands. Diamonds are beautiful without a doubt, and to each her own (I am sure some would hate a vintage ring) but so many sparkly flashy diamonds on such a young person just seems out of place to me.

          • Go to beladora.com

            You will love her stuff.

      • My 1/4 carat diamond is internally flawless and colorless. I could have bought a 1/4 carat included not-colorless stone for less. I don’t think the size is the only indicator. I think people would judge someone’s huge milky diamond as well as her small clear one.

        • I agree. Size is not the only thing to consider, a bigger stone might still be cheaper than a smaller, high quality one. I’d much rather have a smaller diamond of high quality than a big one that’s not as great.

      • Lawyers just starting out frequently don’t have the resources to buy huge diamonds. Do you expect them all to go into debt on top of school loans? And a 1/4 carat ring can cost you varying amounts, mine was $900 at a jewelry store, not $200 at Walmart. And judging someone based on the size of their diamond hardly demonstrates competence on your part.

      • Your “historical purpose” is actually incorrect. We get the engagement ring tradition from the ancient Roman tradition of the man giving his family’s signet ring to his betrothed once he agreed on the marriage contract with the girl’s father (she of course had no part in this as she could not enter into contracts). She would wear the signet ring as a symbol that she was not eligible for a suitor to ask her father to marry her and that she was promised to her betrothed’s household/family– hence wearing his family’s signet ring.

        Over time the engagement ring morphed into an “insurance policy” somewhat as there was an exchange of property between the two families that was customary in most wedding traditions to solidify the binding of the two families, especially because back then marriage was much more focused around family alliances. But dominantly this “insurance policy” has become something different from what you’re suggesting– it’s more an insurance policy for the groom-to-be. An engagement ring is essentially a flashing sign saying, “hey, this one’s taken. Paws off, scoundrels!”. It’s not really helpful to the woman as in many cases, if something happens to the relationship, it’s considered good social etiquette for the woman to return the ring though there are a couple of exceptions. Also, recent research shows that nowadays women who are entering into marriage are as financially stable as their soon-to-be-spouse and even within marriage that most women retain some control over finances.

        I also find it really callous that people look at other women’s rings in judgment. Buying an engagement ring is a personal decision that’s unique to the couple and I don’t think that social forces should have to be factored into it. Your comment,

        “If you can’t afford something and it really doesn’t matter, just get a band – that insinuates competence at least.”

        screamed at me that it really meant, “well, if you don’t really think the ring matters that much then you should at least buy something that I, a person not involved in your relationship and thus irrelevant to this process, will find acceptable because I believe that I am to grant you permission in your material displays of affection.”

        I’m not trying to be a jerk and I don’t think that this line of thinking is reserved to you. As a woman who got engaged last April– and has a great, non traditional sapphire and diamond ring that my partner picked out himself– and married this past August, I will say that the amount of pressure people try to impose on the couple to please everyone else is absurd.

      • Ha! I’d like the hope diamond then please.

      • Liz (Europe) :

        Might just be me but if you love each other, why *NOT* get something for a couple of hundred bucks max, instead investing the money in a honeymoon around the globe you’ll never forget, lose, be robbed of or simply resent (even if your marriage fails, which is quite likely these days, statistically).
        The cheap-ring-big-honeymoon is certainly what I’m planning on doing, if I ever get married (so far I don’t see the point of it, but I suspect retirement insurance policy terms and other legal aspects may change that someday).

        Collect experiences, not things; life’s far too precious to waste it collecting things!

    • Praxidike :

      My mother-in-law’s engagement ring is probably .25 ct and people have said similar things to her. She’s been married to my father-in-law for over 35 years. Yeesh.

    • “People actually feel ‘sorry’ for women whose engagement rings have “small” diamonds?”

      Really?? This is shocking to you? Other women (and people in general) can be judgmental and materialistic. Unfortunate, but true.

      • Small stones :

        I had a 1/4 carat stone but not in a solitare. It is set into a very comfy band- no prongs.

        Since I had three other family antique diamond rings (1/4 carat to 1 carat) I didn’t really need a large diamond, but my hubby wanted to buy me something and what I got was unique. It was my engagement ring and my wedding band both. I still like it 25 years later. I wear my other family rings on my other hand.

        I do think that a 1/4 carat stone set as a solitare with prongs looks small and more “young.” If you’re going to have such a small stone, you should be ready for snide comments. I got comments like that on my small stone, even from folks who had no husbands.

        • Teacher-Turned-1L :

          I’ve been married for almost 7 years, engaged for three before that. My ring is a 1/7 diamond solitaire in white gold. Not purchased at Walmart, as per the poster above, but at a local jeweler for about $250. We were in college and flat broke, but loved each other enough to get engaged (waited until after graduation to marry.) I wear my engagement ring everyday, and it still looks good to me. When my husband started making a significant amount of money, he kept asking me if I wanted a bigger ring, but I still like my “little” ring and I really don’t care what other people think about it. He bought me a 2ct. Journey pendant instead, so I wear that when I feel the need to show off! I think, bottom line, women need to stop worrying about other’s women’s jewelery!

  3. Curious to see the responses here! I think a lot of the variation is also regional – in NYC, rings tend to be bigger, at least among the women I know.

    My diamond is just under a carat with a ruby on either side. We noticed that the price points went way up at 1, 1.5 carat, etc. (my husband did an excel spreadsheet based on bluenile prices) so we bought just under. I love it! It is not set high up, which makes a big difference – looks a little smaller and doesn’t get caught on anything.

    • This sounds similar to what we’re looking at for an engagement ring! His mom had wanted us to get at least 1.5 carats, but because I’m a small person (and prefer something that won’t look or feel distracting), slightly under a carat with two small sidestones seems like it will be just right. Hopefully – we’re still working with jewelers, so this is a perfect time to read everyone’s thoughts!

    • Ha! The spreadsheet sounds like something my SO would do…

      Actually, I wonder if he DID do this. Now I’m going to have to ask.

  4. I love this topic! Thanks so much for posting about it.

    I do not wear an engagement ring, but I do find that I notice women’s engagement rings. Generally my thoughts are limited to “That is gorgeous” or some alternative.

    When I was first married, I wore a sapphire and diamond band only. Recently I added 2 diamond bands to the mix (so I wear a total of 3 rings), and I have received so many compliments from men on the way the 3 bands look together. Women don’t seem to comment one way or the other. I have found that a bit strange.

    • It sounds lovely to me! Although I admit that I can’t remember ever having commented on a woman’s ring unless she was showing it off (as in, newly engaged). I guess I just don’t notice them most of the time.

      • Sorry. I should have specified that I find it odd that the men comment at all. I think it’s totally normal that the women don’t.

        • Maybe the men are just trying to figure out if you’re married since the ring choice is a bit unusual?

          • Maybe. Next time I will make sure to notice whether or not he is wearing a wedding ring.

    • My boss has rings like this, except all three of her bands are just diamonds. She got the first band as a wedding band, then another when her daughter was born, then the third when her son was born. None of the diamond bands have huge diamonds, and she has teeny hands (she is a teeny person, only 5’0″ and about 98 lbs) so it looks great on her. I am sure it looks great on you too. :)

    • I noticed that when I got engaged, almost every married guy, and guys in serious relationships, commented on my engagement ring, while very few other people did (D.C. and Midwest, mostly). I suspect that men who have had to pick out an engagement ring are either traumatized by it or hyper-sensitive so they are more likely to notice and/or comment. Maybe?

  5. The norms on this are both regional and occupational. I managed accounts for a company that sold to institutional equity firms. In NYC, sales assistants and saleswomen alike had large (>1.5 carat) rings. In Cleveland and Little Rock, the rings were more modest. Now that I am a civil servant, modest rings are the norm (govies are notoriously “thrifty”). I wear a stack of 3 rings on my right ring finger and frankly the only time someone comments on them is when I fidget with them.

    • This may sound odd, but the size of someone’s fingers impacts how big the ring is “perceived” to be. The center stone in my engagement ring is widely assumed to be about a quarter of a carat bigger than it is because my fingers are very very small.

      • I absolutely agree with this. I have a friend with very tiny hands/fingers and her ring just looks ridiculously big and gaudy on her hand even though it’s not big based on carats. I feel bad for her because people often ask if it’s fake, but it’s real and she designed it herself.

      • I agree – I have a 1.5 carat stone on my ring, and I think it could be perceived as 1 carat because my fingers are bigger.

      • So true – I have short fat fingers (it is what it is!) and have an inherited non-e ring that is about .75 carats – it does not look very large on me. When a friend with prettier fingers tries it on, it looks huge!

        • I totally agree with this.

          When I got engaged, I wore a size 8.5 ring. My center diamond is 1.25 ct, and is as big as I felt comfortable to go (DH wanted bigger, but I felt it was a bit flashy for where we were in life – we got married young.) I have lost over 100 pounds since getting engaged, and now wear a ring size 6. My diamond looks considerably larger in comparison now as opposed to when I was heavier!

        • WishfulSpirit :

          Totally agree. Mine is a channel set so I can’t knock the stone out of the setting (which I would). Since I have a smaller frame, my ring looks perfect on me.

    • Wait dont women wear it on the left hand?

    • Maggie P. Dixon :

      “In Little Rock, rings were more modest.” Well, of course they were. :)

  6. I think a lot of it has to do with what area of the country you’re in. Working in finance/law/accounting in the Northeast and you’ll routinely run into engagement rings in the 1-2 carat size (for the center stone that is). Whereas rings of that size would likely cause a bit of a stir in the deep south or the midwest. The only ring I’ve seen at work that took me aback was one that had to be about a 4 carat gorgeous emerald cut solitaire ring on a woman in her early 20’s. Very lovely, but honestly I couldn’t believe she was comfortable wearing it on a daily basis!

    • I’m not so sure about this. My 1 carat ring in Houston is definitely small in my law firm. Most definitely run in the 1-2 carat size, if not bigger. I think the biggest differences are based on the career of the man and woman, not regional.

      • agreed. as a nyc transplant, i see just as many- if not more- ginormous diamonds here in TX than i did in NYC. I guess its the oil and development business!

    • I’m not so sure about rings in the 1-2 carat range causing a “stir” in the “deep south.” I’ve lived in the deep south my entire life and my ring is just under one carat and it’s by far the smallest out of my friends in the area. I noticed the rings have gotten bigger the further out of school (college, grad school, etc.) we were when the people got engaged. I think if anything it is worse in the deep south, especially “old south” families.

      • Kanye East :

        In my experience, most people who’ve never lived in the Southeast don’t have a clue what “Deep South” means.

        • Yep. For starters, Texas isn’t in it (in my mind, Texas is it’s own region. It’s not the South, it’s not really the midwest. It’s just Texas). Neither are parts of Florida.

          • There are some parts of Florida that would be considered “southern” – think farther north and farther inland.

          • yea, the “lower Alabama” parts is what I like to call them. But most of the state, no.

          • Ditto this this entire statement (about TX and FL). I grew up in Georgia and Alabama and now live in central Florid and would definitely not consider it the south. We have a TON of snow birds (people who live up north for 6 months and here for 6 months) and a lot of transplants from the northeast. Indiana is more south than most of FL.

        • so true…when I first moved to DC, and would mention that I missed the South (grew up in GA and AL), people would say “but this is the South!”…my reply: “No, I mean the ‘Deep South’ – where when you order sweet tea, the waitress doesn’t point at a packet of sugar on your table.”

          • I laughed when I read this! This happens all of the time where I live in FL. You also know you aren’t in the deep south anymore when you order a Coke and they bring you a Pepsi.

    • I suspect that it has less to do with region and more to do with income level – Manhattan attracts lots of highly paid married folks, but I bet in Buffalo (or Jersey) the rings are generally more modest. In my large Midwestern city, there are plenty of highly paid women and wealthy wives sporting 1.5-2 carat diamonds.

      • Have you ever been to New Jersey?

        • Hahaha I grew up in New Jersey, and it is the gaudiest place ever! Think Real Housewives of NJ and being around high school kids complaining that they got a new Lexus instead of a Mercedes. So happy to be away from those people!

    • “I think a lot of it has to do with what area of the country you’re in. Working in finance/law/accounting in the Northeast and you’ll routinely run into engagement rings in the 1-2 carat size (for the center stone that is). Whereas rings of that size would likely cause a bit of a stir in the deep south or the midwest. ”

      Forgive me while my eyes roll out of my head. I’m in the midwest and routinely run into engagement rings in that size, and there are plenty of women with money with 2 , 3, 4 carat rings. The midwest isn’t just Green Acres, you know. There are Actual Well-to-Do People Here and Everything! Time to get out of the provincial northeast if you really think a ring that size would “cause a bit of a stir.”

  7. a lot of this also has to do with what the woman’s hands may look like!
    I have skinny itty bitty, but long fingers on tiny hands and wear a 4.5 size ring, i had tried on some one carat solitare rings and they looked down right ring-pop gawdy on me, though generally i think 1 carat or so is the norm and looks perfectly lovely on those with more average sized hands – it just wasn’t for me personally, i would not have been comfortable.

    on a daily basis i wear a rose gold eternity band stacked with my yellow and white gold combo yellow and white diamond engagement ring- the center yellow diamond is .5 and the 2 side white diamonds are .5 combined – my experience is that people generally don’t see yellow diamonds so they assume my center stone is not a diamond and they don’t usually have a guess as to how much the ring may have cost, i prefer it this way.

  8. I think this is an interesting topic. I have always taken my engagement ring off for job interviews and often for certain meetings. My ring is just rather large and in Eugene, Oregon, where I live rings tend to be modest and alternative. My ring was my grandmothers and is not a reflection of our income. The reasons I take it off are similar to what was said above. I worry people will think I’m just going to quit and become a stay at home Mom soon, which is not at all my plan, and I worry people will percieve me differently. I also work in a very no-nonsence male dominated field and having a big flashy ring can work against me when people are already questioning my competence due to my age and gender.

    • Just have to say that I love the description of Eugene rings being “modest and alternative.” :)

      • Another Laura :

        Another Laura checking in…I have lots of friends in Eugene in banking.

  9. I’m so out of touch, I honestly don’t have a clue what a 1-carat v. 1.5 carat, etc. looks like. I am odd? My husband and I did not shop for rings together, and he didn’t share what size mine is. Plus, I would never ask someone how many carats hers is. So, as a result, I don’t have any clue. I can recognize what seems to me to be “small” versus “medium” versus “large”, but that’s it.

    • i only have reference because i helped my brother shop for his wife, and she was very specific as to size – so my point of reference is smaller/bigger than sis in law’s – honestly, i couldn’t care less what mine is (or what anyone else’s is)

    • Bk foette :

      I am with you — but I am one of those plain *sterling silver* band wearers only. Even my ring with a stone is a tension set yellow sapphire that would be considered small by most people.

      • I also don’t know how many carats the stones in my ring are. It suits me, and my short fat fingers, just fine. It is larger than most of my friends’, but not ostentatious. However, I stopped wearing diamond eternity bands around it as I felt like that called more attention to my hand than I was comfortable with.

  10. Some people just suck. If they weren’t dissing someone’s ring, they’d be snarking about something else.

    I actually don’t even have an engagement ring – just a wedding band. Diamonds aren’t my thing; I’d rather have a great vacation, or weekly massages, or pretty much anything else. Seems reasonable, right? Not to some women – I’ve gotten responses as if I’m a traitor to all women for not wanting a diamond engagement ring. It’d be more acceptable if I had a big, sparkly blood diamond. It’s so bizarre.

    • Well, the whole “diamond = mandatory part of engagement” and “size correlates to love” thing only works if ALL of us as women agree that those are the rules! If you start opting out, you ARE kind of betraying the rest of us ;)

      Okay, I hope everyone gets that that was a joke.

      I will just say that it’s kind of sad that something that is so personal should invite anyone’s opinion beside the bride and groom. I guess part of it — insofar as work goes at least — is that we don’t know that much about our co-workers’ lives outside of the office, so we glean “insights” from superficial things like how big the engagement ring is (or the kind of bag someone carries).

      What’s funny is that no one even used to wear engagement rings past the wedding, and that’s as recently as 15-20 years ago. Go back less than a hundred years and diamonds were not even yet a tradition. I think we have all been a little bit brainwashed. Which is fine for any one individual, but sad when it devolves into judging others.

      • The whole engagement-ring-as-a-necessity thing, and the idea that it “has to” be a diamond, is basically an invention of the DeBeers diamond company, and one of the most successful ad campaigns in history. I did a paper on it for a grad-school “marketing and society” class. :)


      • Great comment. And even though I know that diamond engagement rings are a recent phenomenon, I always forget!

      • Got the joke! Although it’s funny because of that shining, sparkling kernel of truth in there. :)

      • Hilarious! That was on my mind, too – why is that people don’t feel technically “engaged” without a diamond? And glad that my soon-to-be-fiance consulted, since he said that he would have bought a far larger diamond on his own. Poor guys . . . they really don’t need to do nearly as much as society tells them.

      • Sadly AIMS, there is probably a woman somewhere out there making this argument!

    • Totally reasonable! I remember talking to one of my male co-workers about how his girlfriend (now wife) wanted a plain band because diamonds weren’t her thing and she wanted to go on a great trip instead of getting a big engagement ring. I thought that made total sense, but you would not believe how many women tried to talk him out of getting the band his girlfriend requested–they all told him that she secretly wanted a diamond.

      • The same thing happened to my husband! He actually put off proposing for months because so many people were telling him, “She’s just saying she doesn’t want one. But deep down she really does.”

        Ann – I know! But many do not want to hear that information. Which makes sense if they’ve already invested in a diamond. But if they haven’t yet…

      • I didn’t want an engagement ring, but when we were getting engaged, I was too young/inexperienced/not thougthful enough to figure out a way to articulate why I didn’t want one. My DH (then fiance) really wanted to get me one because he wanted to be more “traditional.” It’s an extremely tasteful and simple ring (a solitaire just under 1 carat). We are very happily married for 6 years, but I hate wearing the ring, and I’m still afraid that I will hurt his feelings by not wearing it.

        • My mother loves to garden, build things in the garage, and just generally get her hands dirty. She also has a fairly severe allergic response to precious metals. I have never seen her engagement ring–in fact, she rarely wore her diamond wedding band when I was a kid. This drove my dad nuts, until they finally compromised on a ring that was tough enough that she could wear it while gardening–a plain, yellow gold men’s wedding band that they picked out on their 10-year anniversary.

        • Can you put it in a keepsake box and keep it at your bedside, or maybe wear it on a chain around your neck? I too hate wearing rings, and especially dislike most engagement rings.

  11. Have to the echo the “oh, for the love of” comment. I am an old cranky lady and it seems to me girls today spend way too much time thinking about their ring and their wedding and not nearly enough time thinking about their future spouse, and what it’s going to take to make the marriage work. Maybe that’s why “starter marriages” have become so common. Maybe the second or third time around girls will learn to look past the ring to the person they’re marrying. A jerk who gives you a gigantic diamond is still going to be a jerk after the wedding, and will most likely make your life a living hell. And any woman who would make fun of the size of another woman’s engagement ring is a materialistic harpy b*tch, and I’d recommend watching your back around those types.

    In any case, I don’t have a diamond, never had one. My wedding ring is an engraved gold band. Been married 20 years now and not much need for people to feel sorry for me. The girls I knew back then who would have been the type to feel sorry for me not getting a huge diamond are all divorced, some more than once. I would advise any woman who is getting flack about the size of her diamond to smile brightly and give the offensive party the finger when their back is turned. The only thing that matters is marrying the right man; all the rest of it is window dressing. She laughs best who laughs last.

    • this

    • Word! Except I wouldn’t wait for the offensive party to turn their back. :)

    • You know, you can marry the right man, and have a nice diamond ring too! Win-win!

      • I don’t know if I consider getting a diamond ring to be a “win” as you didn’t do anything to “win” it, other than say “yes” to a fairly straightforward question, but to each their own.

      • I agree with this sentiment. Your post makes it sound like you think anyone with a large ring married just for the ring and doesn’t actually love her partner. Just because a ring is large doesn’t mean the marriage won’t be a success.

      • @Sparkly

        Agree completely! Why hate on people who like sparkly rings?

    • Divorce rates have been going down for decades and have recently stabilized. This is especially true for college educated older people.

      So while I agree with the substance of your comment, ‘starter’ marriages have become less common not more common. And people have always been shallow and liked status symbols.

    • Love this! :)

    • KL, would you please comment more often? This made my day.

    • This post is perfect.

  12. I think the comment about adding on later is right on. I’ve been married 15 years. When we were first engaged and poorer we built a ring by purchasing a stunning sapphire and using small diamonds from a piece of my mother’s jewelry. A couple of years ago I purchased two large diamonds and had the whole ring redesigned. What is appropriate in your 20s and in your late 40s can be very different.

  13. Anon in NC :

    If you get an eternity band say at the 10 year anniversary does it replace your wedding band? I did not have a engagement ring and a band – but rather a band with a relatively small diamond I think around 1/3 – I have to admit I have been wanting to “upgrade” for quite some time.

    • It depends on the style of your rings, but I’ve seen quite a few women just add the anniversary band, so they are wearing 3 rings. I think it looks really pretty, just depends on how the anniversary band fits with the others.

      • Anon in NC :

        Thanks for your reply. My initial band is quite wide so I will probably have to only wear one.

  14. I hate the other people care what another person’s ring looks like. I have a gorgeous ring, I think it’s less than a carat, but I don’t know (and don’t really care, either). It’s my engagement ring even though I’ve been married for almost 5 years — I never got a band because I thought the ring was so pretty just the way it is. I get asked constantly when the wedding is, but WTF do I care? Oh, and 1/2 the time I don’t even wear it. I’m a runner and I hate working out with it on — if I’m doing a morning workout, I don’t wear it then and by the time I’m done I’m too busy scrambling to get to work on time I often forget it. I almost never wear it on the weekends and It doesn’t bother me if people see me, my husband, and my new-ish baby out when I don’t have a ring on.

    • Agree with this! When I got married I was very young and had no money. I didn’t want a big diamond because I (1) run a lot and don’t like exercising with it on and (2) have always had lots of dogs and knew I always would, and I just didn’t think a huge diamond goes with petting and taking care of my pups. I got a thin band w/ 3 tiny diamonds in it — perfect and flat. I also wear a gold band over it that is engraved. So together it’s just one silver and one gold band and I’ve always been happy with it. Married 10 years and started work at Big Law and definitely notice the looks and the judgment. But then again, I feel it’s the same with most of Big Law, if they don’t want to know why you don’t “upgrade” your diamond they’re asking you why you haven’t traded your car in for a BMW or a Lexus. It never ends. Much easier just not to care.

      • This. I have a perfectly lovely engagement ring that I love, but these days I find myself only wearing my wedding band for all the reasons mentioned above – working out/pets/running around getting dirty. Plus I generally don’t wear it when we travel to Europe, it feels very odd to be the lone American with the “big” (by their standards) engagement ring.

  15. Living your life to avoid gossip is not generally a good game plan- I agree with Kat, get what you like, don’t spend too much. If people want to talk, let them.

    That said, when I got married, I was still in college and *very* low maintenance. Plus, I was living on scholarship money and p/t min. wage work, my husband-to-be was making 24K working at the mall. I have tiny, tiny hands, and rarely wore jewelry, so it seemed logical to get a very small ring. It’s a nice ring, good quality diamond, cut nicely, but it is only a 1/2 carat.

    Now that I’m in law, and work around people with a lot more financial resources, and larger jewelry is more *in* now (which I know will change, as it does), I sometimes find myself wishing that I had a somewhat larger ring. Not a big deal by a long shot, I’d probably much rather have a new pair of shoes or earrings, but still.

  16. My husband and I were in college when we got engaged nearly 13 years ago, and he went ring shopping with his Mom, who picked out my “engagement” ring. It consists of one very, very small diamond surrounded by five even smaller diamonds (arranged to look like a flower). The style was never anything I would have liked, but I was getting engaged to him, not a ring.

    I wore it for a couple of years during my early 20s, but later just put in a drawer to save for my daughter. Now I just wear my very thin gold wedding band, plus a thicker plain silver band that my husband gave to me for Christmas a few years ago. (I was pretty specific about that one – he’s accepted the fact that he shouldn’t shop for jewelry without my guidance or my sister’s input!)

    Right now we’re raising a family, restoring a home, and paying back law school loans, so a new diamond ring is out of the question. My husband keeps saying that someday he’ll get me a nice ring that I like, but I don’t really want him too. There are so many other things I’d rather have – a nice long trip to Europe or Asia, for example!

    • Been reading this blog for awhile but never commented – this topic struck a chord with me. My husband and I were children when we married 30 years ago (OK, we were undergrads still in school). Very blue collar upbringing, no money to speak of, paying our own way through school. I knew the kind of diamond DH could afford (very small) and decided that I would rather have a simple gold band that I liked, rather than a diamond I might be less than enthusiastic about. DH always said he’d buy me a diamond “someday.” It was never a big deal to me – grad school, a house, our daughter all came along and were far more important – to me. On our 20th anniversary, he put his foot down and told me he was going out and spending $10K on a ring – I could either go along and pick it out or he would do it for me. So now I wear a emerald cut, three diamond ring on my right hand, ring finger that is just under 2 carats TW. I get plenty of looks because it is kind of flashy (and a few people ask if it’s real), but people love the story (minus the price information). The gold band on my ring finger will always stand alone – it’s classic and simple and reminds me of our simple comittment to one another – it’s forever!

  17. I’m actually looking at rings with my boyfriend… was is the color grade you think is appropriate? clarity? I don’t need the best of the best, but I still want quality, and I’m really unsure of what means!

    • Also, how do we feel about yellow gold bands? That’s what I’m leaning toward, but I notice that almost no one has them. They seem more classic to me.

      • Get what you think you’ll like — I’ve never been a big gold fan, so platinum was a no-brainer for me. But if you like gold, get it!

      • Totally agree with JCC. Get what you like. My only caution is around white gold (i.e. yellow gold that is covered in white gold-covered probably isn’t the right word, but you know what I mean). My mother has given me a few pieces of jewelry that were white gold. I love one of them and wear it almost daily. The white part rubs off over time, so I have to take it to my jeweler to have it re-dipped. I would imagine the same thing would happen with a ring that you were everyday, so if you like the look of white gold, platinum might be better in the long run.

        • Kanye East :

          The color depends on what metal the gold is alloyed with.

        • I’ve been told that once platinum tarnishes, it can never be properly restored. On the other hand, I have a nice white gold band that cleans up just fine (when I take the time to clean it). Can anyone comment on the platinum thing?

          • Personally, I like the look of aged platinum. I think it adds a lovely patina to a ring. That being said, once it does tarnish, it is more difficult to bring back to that mirror shine.

          • Platinum tarnishes? I didn’t know that. I commented above that I have my husband’s great-grandmother’s ring that is about 100 years old, and it is not tarnished. I have it cleaned 2-3 times per year, but that’s because the diamond collects dirt, lotion, etc., not because of the platinum. If it has changed in color, I haven’t noticed it. (I’ve had it five years.)

          • From my understanding, platinum does not technically tarnish (oxidize) over time…however, it does develop a patina of sorts as it experiences more wear. It is difficult to restore the mirror shine it had when brand new (although personally, I like that patina and have never wanted to “re-shine” my platinum wedding set)

            White gold is often dipped in Rhodium to give it a super white look – this can age and wear off over time, turning the ring slightly yellowish. When you have a ring “re-dipped” by a jeweler, they are restoring that rhodium finish.

      • I really love my gold band. Not many people have a gold band; I like that it is unique yet classic. As I’m sure you’ll find out as you shop, gold does wear faster than platinum so that’s a consideration. There’s also the price difference–when I got engaged, gold was significantly cheaper than platinum, but I’m not sure what prices are at now.

      • My friend has a gold band with an emerald cut diamond. I have a platinum setting, and I wish I had gone yellow gold actually. It looks really nice! I wear mostly gold jewelry, and I know everyone says your ring metal can mismatch with the rest of your outfit, but I wish it matched everything else I wear.

      • Praxidike :

        Well, yellow vs. white gold vs. platinum is a personal choice. I will say, however, that you can get a “lesser quality” diamond if you choose yellow gold because some discoloration of the diamond will tend to disappear next to the yellow of the gold. On the other hand, if you opt for white gold/platinum and then choose a color grade that’s closer to K/L/M, your diamond may look a little “yellow” next to the whiteness of the band.

        So, in the past, I’ve seen women able to spend a lot less on larger diamond (if that’s what she wants!) by choosing a yellow gold band.

        • Lawyering Mom :

          I have a 1.25 carat diamond with a gold band. I do like platinum, but opted for gold because I could get a better diamond that way (better clarity, larger stone). I figured that it would be cheaper to upgrade the setting compared to the diamond. Now that I’m a Mom, I know that was the right choice. No matter how much you make as a lawyer, wtih kids money is tight. There are so many things I’d rather spend money on than a ring. I actually get a lot of compliments on my ring, even though it is yellow gold (less stylish than platinum). My one caveat to this comment is that we got my ring in the diamond district from a diamond merchant (family at the time). We chose the setting and the stone separately.

          Anyway, my basic advice is get the nicest diamond you can afford. Skimp on the setting – pick a plain one or yellow gold. It is much cheaper to reset a ring than get a new stone.

      • I have a yellow-gold band. It was the classic choice for a long time, then white-gold / platinum became the rage and yellow-gold got seen as more old-lady. Nonetheless, it’s classic. Since you can mix metals in other jewelry if you so prefer, I say go with what you like. Personally, yellow-gold is better for my skin tone than white-gold.

      • 6 years ago when I got engaged, white gold/platinum was all the rage (and I guess still is) but I have always been a classic girl, and yellow gold is timeless and classic to me. Out of all my friends, I am the ONLY one with a yellow gold setting and I LOVE it! I usually mix metals, but did get a cheap silver/cz band to wear when I’m all decked out with silver for an event or public speech.

        Ultimately – like others have said – get you want. You’re the one that will wear it everyday, so buy what you like and don’t worry about everyone else! Plus – like all fashions, yellow gold is getting some attention again. ;-)

    • Hi Emma! I went through all this about a year and a half ago with my now-fiance. It really all depends on your personal preference. You want to make sure to always prioritize the CUT first — a great cut is what makes a diamond sparkle. You can get pretty low in the color grades while still looking quite white (mine is an H and unless you’re holding it right next to a whiter D…it looks pretty much the same), and likewise, be flexible on clarity. My stone is an SI1, which is about as low as I’d feel comfortable going — you just want to make sure the stone is EYECLEAN (i.e., you cannot see visible inclusions withthe naked eye).

      I highly highly recommend conferring with the ladies at pricescope.com if you have any questions — they have all the knowledge and are amazing!

      • Fantastic! Thanks for the info. And apologies for all my typos… typing too fast.

      • Seconded! Pricescope is the best! The commenters there are very knowledgeable and love to help.

    • Also check out bluenile. They have some general information, and you can sort diamonds by the “C”s to figure out your ideal price/quality ratio.

      • Also be sure to try them on! You’d be surprised by how different different cuts and styles of bands can look when you try a ring on.

    • Kanye East :

      re metal, I agree 100% with those who say get what you like. A few more thoughts, from someone who makes jewelry, knows jewelers, and works with metals:

      Platinum has been trendy in the last 10 years or so, but I’m starting to see more gold again.

      Platinum has been significantly more expensive than gold in the past, but the price of gold in the last year or so has been through the roof. The upshot is, price-wise, gold and platinum are very close.

      Platinum is stronger than gold (yellow or white). For most people and most rings, this makes very little difference. But depending on the setting(s) you like and the stones you choose (prong set, channel set, extruded prongs, etc.) your stones will be more secure in platinum.

      A good jeweler will spend time educating you and answering all your questions. Take your time shopping; don’t let anyone rush you or hard sell you on something you don’t love.

  18. My husband and I were in school and very, very poor when we got engaged – we actually went to a pawnshop and bought a very “modest, alternative” ring with no stone of any kind. It was lovely, but it was cheap and didn’t last. The marriage did. We’ve had 20 years (so far), three kids, lots of travel, and eventually a big beautiful home, but I never did get around to a diamond ring, and now I’m not sure I want to. Sometimes I look at other women’s sparkly stuff and feel a little envious, but when it comes down to actually spending the money on a diamond, I never can justify it. Lizzy and Kristen’s comments above about resale value are something I think about: diamonds are pretty, but also a racket. I wouldn’t feel sorry for a woman with a small diamond, unless I thought the smallness of the diamond meant that she and her fiancee felt obliged to participate in the diamond-ring ritual but really couldn’t afford it. That is a shame, and a waste of money.

  19. No offense, Kat, but I don’t think this is an especially useful conversation. I think the only rings that are actually inappropriate for the workplace are the ones that are incompatible with one’s work place — for example, a large diamond worn to work by a doctor, nurse, or vet that is always having to come on or off lest it snag the latex gloves. Everything else is personal preference and personal prejudice.

    You can’t please everyone. I was aware that I was the target of pity or worse when I wore a plain band after my engagement. Some people expect to see rocks and don’t know how to have a conversation with a newly engaged woman if they don’t have the focal point of a diamond to talk about. But I loved my ring, and still wear it. It is sentimental, it is aesthetically “me,” and it is from the man I love most in this world. I am also aware that my instinct is to judge women who wear big sparkly rings. I think they are often not that attractive and are a frivolous waste of money. HOWEVER, I am also aware that these are MY preferences and prejudices, and that they say far more about me than they do about the woman in front of me wearing the big sparkly ring.

    Since any engagement ring (or lack of engagement ring, for that matter) will raise SOMEONE’S eyebrows (and for inconsistent or even incompatible reasons) I don’t know what could come out of a conversation like this, that focuses on what women should wear. To the extent that I think it even makes sense to talk about work-appropriateness and engagement jewelry, I think it makes a lot more sense to talk about how to ask about or talk about engagement jewelry in a work-appropriate way. Because unlike the ring itself, I think (1) it actually is possible to agree on norms about what is and is not appropriate for the workplace and (2) there is an awful lot of failure in this area.

    Personally, I don’t ask about or even look for the ring unless the wearer brandishes it in talking about her engagement. If that happens, it seems kind of rude not to remark on it. But I usually try to say something like “ooh, that ring is just perfect for you, did you help shop for it?” so they can talk about how no, they designed it together, or he just knows her so well, or it was an antique, or yes, she helped, and it’s just what she wanted, etc. I mean, who cares if it’s a ring I like? I’m not wearing the ring, and I’m not marrying the man, you know?

    • D’oh! … nor am I marrying the woman, as the case may be! Though I have to say, I envy my lesbian friends who don’t seem to have to deal with this issue. One of them theorizes that it’s because her coworkers are too busy trying to figure out who would be the diamond giver versus the diamnd giftee to even comment on it.

      • What to do if you’re a lesbian in the law firm workplace involves a whole host of other thorny topics that this blog has never even ventured to address.

    • Kanye East :


  20. I feel strongly that engagement and wedding rings should be out of bounds. Will people judge? Yes but they will be absolutely and totally in the wrong.

    Cosign to everything Kristen said as well.