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.

  21. I’m surprised at how few people have commented on large rings being gaudy. I actually think they are unprofessional to an extent, but again if you have no say in picking it out then what can you do. But somehow telling your fiance that you want a smaller ring doesn’t seem as bad as saying you want a bigger one.
    In law school I went to a professionalism forum and each judge present was asked to say give an example of unprofessional (and professional) conduct in the courtroom. One judge said, “Huge engagement rings” as the unprofessional example. I had been actually interning for the judge at the time and thought there were far worse things in his courtroom. But he reasoned that you want people to pay attention to your intellect and argument in a courtroom, not your ring.

    • What would you (or the judge who thinks gaudy rings are unprofessional) consider huge, though? You make a good point that in many cases, the woman who wears the ring doesn’t get to control the purchasing process. My ring is a 2.5 carat cushion solitaire on a plain band, and while it’s definitely a big ring, I’d hate to think that wearing it makes me unprofessional. Everything is relative, too — I have a size 6.5 finger, so while it’s definitely a large-ish ring, it doesn’t have a kind of finger coverage that it would on someone with teeny fingers.

      • This is curious to me also. I have a 2.5 carat cut solitaire and I’m actually quite petite. I’ve never considered not wearing it to court, but maybe once I get married this summer I’ll consider wearing just my wedding band. Since I’m in big law and my finace is in big law, I sometime get comments about how we can afford a ring like mine with our “double income, no kids” but I see lots of rings the size of mine among other female colleagues so I’ve never given it too much thought.

        • I think what is professional depends on one’s work environment. But your work environment shifts when you meet with a client or you go to court, etc.

          So if everyone in your office is wearing a big diamond ring, that might not raise an eye. But when you go to court, you are no longer in your office . . . so I would consider what is appropriate there, and not nec. what flies in your office.

      • I just read what I wrote and the beginning sounded a snarky- which is not what I intended, sorry. I would definitely say the size is relative to what size your ring finger is- b/c that can make a small ring look bigger (which is my situation, with a 3 1/2 ring size) or a large ring look smaller.

        I think it also depends on your personality. If you are a nice person and professional overall then I don’t think it matters as much and I can’t say that I know what the engagement of anyone in my office looks like. It is just not what I think to look at. Environment is a big part too. I have had situations where I felt embarrassed because I felt my ring was too large and where I thought it was too small. It is all relative.

        I have a dear friend that I lived with before I got married and we actually both got engaged while living together and within a month of each other. Her ring is probably around 3-4 carats. It was mine cut from the early 1900s and in her husband’s family for years. But her personality fit it perfectly and she was such a nice person that I never thought about it… until my husband said something about how large it was.

        Ring size is so much about the man too- but that is another topic. My husband has made comments about wanting me to “upgrade.” But I’m just not interested.

    • Anonymous :

      I do think attitudes about this vary regionally. Where I live in northern new england, large diamonds (as well as other flashy displays of wealth) seem crass.

  22. Is/was anyone not interested in having an engagement ring, diamond or otherwise? I plan on telling my bf that I don’t want one (for many reasons) and although I’m sure he would be on board, I can only imagine that “no ring” is just as much of a conversation topic as “big ring” or “small ring.”

    I plan on having a wedding band, but really just don’t want an engagement ring. Curious if anyone else has gone that route, what your experience was when telling people you were engaged, etc.

    • I didn’t have an engagement ring (see above), so I didn’t wear a ring until we were actually married. That ring is the same ring I wear now, a plain white gold band from Macy’s. It goes with everything. :)

      • I did not have an engagement ring. I actually proposed to my husband, and we were married in a small ceremony a few months later, so we did not have a big engagement, though we did not keep it a secret or anything. When people asked about my ring, and I told them I didn’t have one, they generally responded, “That is so you.” Sometimes the response was snarky and awkward, but in general it was accompanied by a big smile and people said how happy they were for us.

    • punk rock tax attorney :

      I didn’t have an engagement ring (see my post below), and it wasn’t really a big deal. Maybe a bunch of people were talking behind my back and I was too oblivious to tell, but nobody seemed to react negatively.

    • Yes, I tried that. Apparently it was really important to fiancee (now husband) that I wear an engagement ring; he threatened to wear an engagement ring, too, if that’s what it took! The way we compromised is I got a lovely band with diamonds in it and wore it as both engagement ring and wedding band. (He gave it to me “again” at the wedding ceremony.) I’m really really happy with it–not having a solitaire avoids the really stupid “too big/too small” discussion.

      • I think that there are definitely a lot of men who see it as their responsibility to provide a ring, and would hate not to (probably the same men who open the door for you, but then refuse to go through when you open the next door for them.*) Deal with it when you’re ready and, of course, consider your values, but if it made my fellow happy to provide me a ring, I wouldn’t turn it down, even if I didn’t consider myself a “ring” person.

        (* I’m not putting those men down; I find them charming. And I keep trying to open that second door for them.)

      • What a great solution! I wish I had thought of that. (Though I love my engagement ring – it just wasn’t really my cup of tea when he gave it to me)

    • I don’t want an engagement ring, for several reasons. First, it is still difficult to ensure that the diamond is not a conflict diamond. All the various registries that are set up to warrant the “clean” pedigree of your rock are not that reliable, when you really try to establish their source (unless you go for the Canadian diamonds!). I don’t want to look at my hand every day and wonder how many Sierra Leoneans died or were maimed to get to me that diamond. Second, for practical reasons, I think a plain wedding band is much easier to wear on a daily basis (Whenever I type, I have to take off chunky stone rings as they seem to get in a way, and I cannot imagine doing housework without having to take off the ring every time- seems like such a hassle!). Finally, if my partner is going to spend considerable money on a piece of jewelry, I would rather it be a necklace, or earrings, which I would personally get more pleasure out of than a ring. But that’s just me.

      • Superstitious :

        “First, it is still difficult to ensure that the diamond is not a conflict diamond.”


        I love heirloom wedding rings because I feel like: (a) the older the ring, the less chance the stones are conflict diamonds, and (b) even if they are, the decades the ring was worn in love negates the bad juju.

        I realize that sounds ridiculous (superstitious belief that blood diamonds bring bad luck to a new union), but it’s no more ridiculous than the hundreds of other superstitious wedding traditions out there. Something old, something blue…right? Plus, my opposition to conflict diamonds is more philosophical than superstitious. The whole reason I think they are bad luck is the human suffering that brought them here in the first place.

        That said, I am not one to stare at others’ diamonds and judge. Just like I don’t judge people who smoke or drive gas guzzlers. I hope more people will choose to do the right thing for themselves and the environment, but it’s not my place to judge those who take a little longer to get there. After all, I eat meat and live in a not-so-green house. I’m taking forever to “get there” on quite a few things I know I could be better about, too.

        • Just to be clear, you’re opposed to conflict diamonds because you think they are bad luck??

          If people want to wear diamonds thats their choice, I’m sure out of the many commercial things I have/partake in someone is bad, but wearing a ring in love doesn’t negate the fact that people die… unless you are actually saying your problem is with the bad luck and not the suffering..

          • Superstitious :

            This is what I wrote above: “The whole reason I think they are bad luck is the human suffering that brought them here in the first place. ”

            But, like I said, I don’t judge. I’m sure I have (unknowingly) purchased sweatshop apparel and done many things that contribute to the suffering of others. And I know I am not doing enough good in the world. What can I say? I am SO not perfect, but I am trying to be an ethical consumer. Mock me if you really feel like you must.

          • Right exactly… you think they are bad because they are bad luck… I feel like if you are against conflict diamonds it should be because of the bad things that happened to the other people, not the bad luck. . .

      • This is why I want a lab-grown diamond when I get engaged someday. Conflict free and made with SCIENCE! Can’t get much cooler than that.

        Or maybe I’ll go with a ring made from a meteorite. That would rock*, too.

        *I was going to say, “No pun intended,” but I completely intended that.

    • Me!

      My parents are thrifty immigrants, and even though I was born and raised in the US, I wasn’t even aware there was both an engagement ring AND a wedding band until college. (My mom never had either.) I totally lack whatever emotional cultural attachments people have to engagement rings that most women seem to have.

      My objections are: (1) Conflict diamonds. (2) Why does only the woman wear an engagement ring? Why is it more important for the woman to be claimed than the man? (3) General disinterest in jewelry (it’s too expensive, easy to lose, often ugly). (4) My contracts prof suggested the rise in popularity of engagement rings was somehow correlated with the decline in enforceability of agreements to marry, and the thought of an engagement ring as consideration for whatever loss of marriageability I experience for being engaged really skeeves me out.

      • I don’t have a an engagement ring either. Engagement rings are not a tradition in my family or culture, and it seemed that the only reason I would have gotten one is because the movies told me to.

    • Kanye East :

      I wear a band but no engagement ring. Never had one, never wanted one.

      • microentrepreneur :

        I never wanted an engagement ring. We lived together for a long time before we got married, and I decided that I wanted a vintage ring, which we found together, but which I bought (it’s from 1910 and was designed as what we now would call a “cocktail ring.”) It’s unconventional, but so are we. I wear my ring every day and delight in it and have never worried about how it’s perceived.

  23. Has anyone purchased an engagement ring in the San Francisco Bay Area? Any thoughts on good jewelers?

    • I like Steve Padis. He’s in the Jewelry center and in the Gift center. Call ahead to get on the list if you don’t have a commercial license. It’s a wholesaler so you get a great price, their people aren’t on commision, and they have a great selection.They are only open on the weekends in Decemebr though. I think the Jewelry Center location has more engagement rings.

      • My rings are from Steve Padis! We went to a lot of places, and learned about Steve Padis from another friend’s recommendation. Great value and service. It’s kind of a pain to get there and the hours are awful, but it was worth it.

    • We (along with many of our friends) liked Brilliant Earth for their Canadian, conflict-free diamonds and recycled gold & platinum. They have a showroom near Union Square – you need an appointment. Good service & very accommodating.

  24. punk rock tax attorney :

    I don’t get engagement rings. Why do you need two rings? When we decided to get married, my husband and I bought each other matching silver Converse Chuck Taylors that we wore in our wedding. I think that’s a much better choice. We break them out for our anniversary now.

    Also, I never understood why in this day and age, only one person gets a cool engagement present. Never got the whole proposal thing in general — marriage seems like something that ought to be a mutual decision these days. However, I admit I thought it was pretty cool the other day when a guy in my Rotary Club was showing off the jade engagement band his girlfriend gave him that weekend after she proposed to him.

    • Anonymous :

      I offered to get my now-husband a man-gagement ring, but he declined.

    • My Spanish sister-in-law presented my brother with a very nice watch after receiving her engagement ring, as is customary in Spain, so I decided to follow suit. It made the engagement feel more “even” to me – he had something new, nice and long-lasting to wear also. My note with the watch: “yes, it’s time.”

      • I also got my husband a fancy watch after he got me an engagement ring, in return so to speak. I’m glad I’m not the only one.

    • “Why do you need two rings?” is an odd question. Why do you need anything? I have more than one of lots of items. I have multiple rings, necklaces, bracelets, sunglasses, dresses, shoes, bags, coffee mugs. Why do you need two of anything? Its about personal preference and choices. Some people like jewelry. Some people would never wear sneakers to their wedding. What’s important is that people understand that other’s choices are just that and that such choices have nothing to do with *them*.

      • I feel like this post has devolved into a place for women who don’t like engagement rings or large(r) diamonds to judge women who do. How about not judging another couple’s gifts to each other, period?

      • punk rock tax attorney :

        All I meant was exactly what I said — personally, I don’t get those things. They don’t make sense to me. If they make sense to someone else, who am I to judge them? Disagreement and/or lack of understanding aren’t the same thing as “judgment.” Of course, other people’s choices have nothing to do with me. My disagreement with other people’s choices is similarly irrelevant. I’m just some weirdo who wore sneakers in my wedding. Who cares?

  25. I wanted to comment on Kat’s remark about wearing an engagement ring to an interview. My fiance and I paid for the ring together, and he wanted to get a ring that I wouldn’t want to “upgrade” later. That said, it’s over 2 carats and an old mine brillant cut from the early 1900’s and I LOVE it.

    I graduated from law school in 2010 and did many interviews. I have been engaged for about a year and a half, so I have had the chance to wear my ring at many different types of events.

    I wore my ring to one important interview, and the interviewer stared at my ring and I felt awkward since I am mid-20s and she was maybe mid-50s and her ring was noticeably smaller and it seemed like she made it a “thing.”

    I have been working in a non profit for 7 months and I don’t wear my ring at all because it is bigger than all the other rings and I felt like it was not good with my clientele (low income, disabled, elderly, etc).

    I had a super important interview for the new position I’m starting in April. I didn’t wear my engagement ring because I think there is a LOT of judgment associated with what a ring looks like and the fact that you even have one.

    That is what is interesting to me — an engaged woman is potentially a liability. I didn’t want my new employer to have a thought about my commitment.

    And I plan on wearing my engagement ring once I start my new job, since it’s a law firm.

    Thoughts on the interviewing issue?

    • Lots of academics don’t wear their engagement rings when interviewing, for the same reasons you mentioned. Some won’t even wear their wedding bands…

      The idea, I suppose, is to have the focus on the professional individual, not what they’re wearing. Thus, the plain, elegant suit, and simple jewelry.

      • Former MidLevel :

        I understand why academics might not wear a big engagement ring to interviews, but why not a wedding band? I’m not trying to be snarky here–I am sincerely curious.

        • Corporate Tool :

          Young woman with wedding band, but no mention of children means maternity leave/children could be in the future.

          • Anonymous :

            I agree and am very wary of wearing my engagement ring (not because it’s large, but because I don’t want to look like I’m going to be planning my wedding at the office, then leave when I have kids) on interviews. But I am also one of the VERY young looking types (was mistaken for thirteen last year – though not while dressed for an office) and am torn: will an engagement ring signal seriousness and maturity against my (apparent) age or just make me look flightier?

    • If you don’t wear the ring to the interview and they notice you’re not wearing a ring, aren’t you going to look strange wearing it all the time later? Would all the same bad stereotypes apply as when a guy takes off his wedding ring? I have a pretty large ring and had never thought about taking it off for an interview and now I’m kind or torn.

  26. My engagement ring was a small saphire, which I sometimes wear, but it is separate from the ring I got in my wedding ceremony. I have a huge wedding ring. Its a three stone – a total of almost 5 carats. My husband and I married after our careers were successful and could afford it. It was the early 2000’s and excess was “in.” I loved it and wore it with pride. I worked at a computer company in Houston and big rings were everywhere. I definitely did not have the biggest ring in the building.

    Then, I went to work for a non-profit a few years ago and got sick of the snide comments about my wealth, status, etc., and moved to a thick gold band, occasionally with the saphire engagement ring. However, I wore the “big” ring to the non-profit interview. They hired me, so obviously it did not matter to the hiring manager (male). It was not until I was working and surrounded by people (both men and women) who made snide comments, that I began feeling like I needed to stop wearing it.

    Last year, my mother gave me my grandmother’s wedding ring on my 40th birthday last year and it is a 5-stone 4-carat band. I now wear it every day, with the gold band, making it far more presenece on the hand than the original ring and never feel weird at work. If anyone comments, I say its a family heirloom and not another blink/word from anyone.

    I wear the 3-stone only occasionally and quite honestly, feel obnoxious wearning it. I have worn it to work a handful of times, but mostly it is relegated to weekends and evenings. I’ve considered breaking it down into earrings and a pendant, since it lives in a safe. But, who knows… Its very pretty. I love it, it just does not feel like me any more. If I ever went back to a corporate environment, the ring would probably be right at home.

  27. I sometimes turned my ring around or didn’t wear it for interviews while I was in law school. I have no idea why, I just wasn’t sure if it would seem gaudy (even though it’s not outrageously sized) or if the interviewee hated diamonds for social reasons, WHO KNOWS?! I think it depends on the interviewee whether it makes a difference. For my current position, being married was an asset–the town isn’t exactly hopping, and my boss didn’t think a young single lady would want to move to a family-friendly but socially lacking place on her own. She’s probably right!

    My good friend didn’t wear an engagement ring at all. Her band is solid gold and passed down from a grandparent. She just isn’t the sparkly, ostentatious type, and she has a conscious conflict with diamonds no matter where they are from (except antiques). Some people will judge no matter what–too big, too small, not at all. And I swear, other people will never even notice. (Particularly men. I was helping interview interns and commented afterward that one candidate didn’t wear a suit, which I thought was odd for a law student. Neither male c/w noticed.)

  28. I got engaged just prior to our company’s holiday party. My boss pulled up my hand as we were talking to a coworker and started showing off my engagement ring. Eventually staff and committee members asked to see my ring. And they were sweet and made nice comments–probably realizing I’m a very private person and hadn’t really discussed this at all if it hadn’t been for my boss’ taking the “initiative.”

    Then at one point, one of the committee members said: that’s small, you must have bought it yourself. I said: nah I would have bought a bigger one, completely different, and at Tiffany. Then laughed and turned my back to him. He felt bad and said: I was just kidding that’s a nice ring.

    Thankfully, I have the skin thickness of a rhino in these situations, so that all just trickled right off my back. But you have to wonder sometimes, what gall people have in the workplace. They seemingly forget we have complete lives outside of 9-5 that have absolutely nothing to do with them, whatsoever.

  29. I found this article really interesting. I am a young professional with 8 years of work experience since straight out of college. I have been married for the last 2 and a half years and I have a pretty impressive diamond ring for NYC standards (2.6 carats). I wish I had thought to take my ring off for my last job interview (this is the first time I was interviewing since having the ring), because I am convinced I did not get the salary I deserve as a result. Ladies with large rings going on interviews- TAKE THEM OFF.

  30. Praxidike :

    My ring is a 1.5 ct princess cut solitaire. My wedding bands were made to fit on either side of the solitaire, and each have about .5ct in a sort-of faux infinity band. They are soldered together. I quite like them and I don’t think the set is overly obtrusive or loud.

    FYI – my husband is from the midwest, I am from the east coast, and we live in the midwest. I do love jewelry (my grandparents are jewelers and own a store) and so quality was more important to me than diamond size.

    I admit that I do judge people on their rings, but usually only when it appears that the ring is an example of extremely conspicuous consumption.

  31. Anonymous :

    I love the idea of wearing just a band, but also love diamonds, so like the eternity bands like the one Joe DiMaggio gave Marilyn Monroe have always appealed to me. In those cases–do you wear them when you get engaged or married? If married, do a lot of people ask about the ring?

    • LLM in BsAs :

      This might be region specific, since solitaire or three stone rigns are not usual in Buenos Aires, but I have an eternity band for an engagement ring (actually a half-eternity) of emerald cut diamonds (no idea the .ct count). I wear it as engaement ring, and then added a plain white gold band for a wedding ring, that is identical to my husband’s. We got them engraved on the inside with our names (I have his, he has mine) and our wedding date. I wear them together with the engagement ring closer to my fingertips.
      Maybe that’s a way to do both?

    • I don’t have an engagement ring but my (antique) wedding band has seven small stones set in the top and I adore it. It’s got the sparkle of diamonds (which I love) but without all the drama. I only wear the one ring.

  32. Eek, I have a biglaw second interview tomorrow and never even considered taking off my ring. I’m a mid-level associate looking to lateral and the stone is 1.75. Do you really think I should take it off?

    • Yes. Better safe than sorry. It really shouldn’t matter. But why risk it?

    • This is a tough one. What state are you interviewing in? I think in professions where salaries are much higher (law, finance, etc.) than in the corporate beauty and fashion industry where I am, where it’s also very female-driven, I think 1.75 carats is acceptable. I don’t think you’ll need to take yours off :)

    • Do you have a connection to the area apart from your fiance? I left mine on when interviewing for my current job because the firm is in the state where my fiance grew up, but I had no other “personal” connection to the state. I fully expected the “why here” question, and I figured that if I was going to answer “because my fiance and I want to move closer to his family” it would look more credible if I was wearing the ring, whereas if I wasn’t, the interviewer might think I was not actually engaged and thus less tied to the area.

    • How long have you worn it? I noticed after I started wearing my engagement ring that I moved my hands differently, fidgeted, sometimes couldn’t fit my hand into my purse, etc, and that would all be distracting in an interview. I think I probably would still remove my rings since I fidget with them, but otherwise wouldn’t worry about it at all (I’m a lawyer, working in a law firm, and have a medium-to-large stone for my hand size).

  33. SF Bay Associate :

    Does anyone have a moissanite ring or seen Moissanite in person? From moissanite’s (probably misleading) product info, it is supposed to be almost the same as a diamond, but much cheaper. Since the thing I like diamonds is the sparkliness, a sparkly moissanite would suit me just fine.

    • SF Bay Associate :

      Ugh, sorry. the thing I like *about* diamonds…

      • If you want a Moissanite ring for ethical or economic reasons, then go for it! I personally think its a really cool type of stone, and they’re certainly very strong and durable.
        But if you intend to try to pass it off as a diamond, you should know that in the larger sizes (1.5 carats and up) it definitely looks sparkly enough that most people assume its fake. Moissanite is generally *so* sparkly and *so* clear that its pretty easy to guess that unless you had say $30k lying around the ring isn’t real.

        • SF Bay Associate :

          I have no intention of passing off! I plan to freely state when asked that my 1-1.5 carat stone is moissanite – I just like sparkly things and would love to find something as sparkly but less expensive than a diamond.

          • I’ve seen it and it did look like a diamond to me. My husband was adamant I have a “real” diamond though.

          • Ekaterin Nile :

            I wanted large diamond earrings for a long time and finally, on the recommendation of a friend, bought a pair of Crislu drop earrings at Macy’s for $75 to see if they satisfied my urge.


            I’ve been happy with the fake diamonds, and my husband and I spent the money we could have spent on real diamond earrings on a two-week Mediterranean cruise instead. Worth. Every. Penny. Don’t really care if people think my earrings are genuine or fake. So if you like sparkly things, go for it!

        • Ha, I have a moissanite…. It’s perfect (and as stated above, small, but I’m a *tiny* asian woman…. you’d think I have a rock). I had some fun comments — lots of people thought my husband lied to me and it was real, and one annoying girl told me of course it’s a fake, real diamonds are white, not clear.

          My ring is fantastic, fwiw, and I can indeed at this point in my life walk into a store and drop $50K for whatever ring I feel like, and I have less than zero desire to do so.

      • I have a .75ct round brilliant moissanite engagement ring that my fiance gave me just this month. At my ring’s size, I notice a slight difference in the sparkle factor between it and a diamond only in low lights, where my ring sparkles more. Larger stones will pick up more light, and sparkle more.

        The other thing to consider with a moissanite is that as the stone gets larger, it also becomes less colorless. Some moissanites pick up yellow tones, and some pick up green or gray tones in larger sizes. I haven’t noticed these color differences with my particular stone.

        All in all, I think my ring is perfect (though I’m still adjusting to what feels like a huge center stone to me with my size 5.5 finger). The moissanite is gorgeous (and cost us about 1/10 of what a diamond of its size would have), but more importantly, it was given to me by my very best friend in the world. I hope that you’re equally as happy with whatever ring you decide on!

    • I have one. I’m also in the no engagement ring camp and I have a platinum channel set ring with 5 smallish moissanite stones in it. I love it – it has the sparkle I wanted without any guilty associations and at a lower price point. Plus I work in IP and I thought it was pretty cool that the process for making moissanite is patented (yes, I’m a patent geek).

      You should be able to go into a jewelry store to look at them… when I was looking, if they didn’t have the stone I wanted, they could order it in for me to see before buying.

  34. I love the idea of a band you share with your SO symbolizing to the world your commitment to each other, but I just don’t get engagement rings. Plus I read this slate article years ago: http://www.slate.com/id/2167870/

  35. When should you take your rings off after separation? My husband ran away and broke my heart 8 months ago and while I know he has moved on (in fact has wedding plans made) I am still a bit lost and sad. I have a beautiful 3ct diamond solitaire and 5 stone diamond antique eternity ring which I love and quite frankly want to keep but which look strange on my right hand. What have others done in this circumstance?

    PS Funny story- one of my clients once asked me to take my rings off for a meeting with his bank because it looked like he used an expensive legal firm and he wanted to appear broke!!! Bye bye client after that admission!!

    • I’d take them off now. Someone who runs out on his word only to get married in less than 8 months isn’t worth remembering. Have the stones reset in a different ring or necklace at some later point if you’d like, but time to get rid of the rings he gave you.

      Good luck moving on.

      • Gotta concur with this. I can’t imagine you would ever look down at the rings and not remember the rat bastard that gave them to you :) I also think that it might cause some trouble if/when you begin dating and get questions – “What’s that ring?” “Oh, my ex-husband gave these to me”… not sure that gives a great impression about moving on. With that size/number of diamonds, you could get some nice studs made and a necklace to match. I would seek out a good jeweler in your city and see what they can do for you. Good luck, and sorry about your ex-husband.

    • Sorry to hear that. I am recently separated and took off my wedding band when my husband moved out. I had only been wearing a plain white gold band, so many people still have not noticed, although its been over a month.

      It sounds like your diamonds are quite substantial, and could be reset into a necklace or something. Best wishes.

    • Maybe have a pendant made from the 3ct solitaire ? Or something that is totally different ? Just throwing it out there….never been in this situation and sending best wishes your way, whatever you decide.

    • My strategy was to wait for a moment when I wasn’t particularly sad and then to take them both off and throw them in a drawer. Like you, my husband left me (it was a surprising and unwanted turn of events, in my case), so taking off the rings was a moment of sadness, not of freedom, celebration, etc. like it might be for someone who chose to leave a bad marriage. Not making it a big deal to take them off helped me – I forced myself to treat it as an afterthought, like “Oh! Better get rid of these” rather than letting it drag me down into the whirlpool of sadness again.

      They’re still sitting in a drawer, but I plan to resell them soon. If I get even 10% of value, I’ll be able to take myself out for a very nice spa day…or a super-fancy dinner with my best girlfriends.

      • Anonymous :

        I remember not wanting to walk around without my engagement ring and wedding band after I left my husband because I thought people wouldn’t take me seriously if I were “just a young, single woman.” (I live in a very conservative, wealthy, women-who-play-tennis-in-the-middle-of-the-day area.)

        I eventually removed them and replaced them with a ring I bought myself with a center stone that is my birthstone. I bought it at the NY jewelers mart on 47th street when I was there for business, so it was not too expensive.

        Good luck. And you are well quit of him.

  36. I have a decent size ring–I think 1.25 or something and it’s a high quality stone, set in platinum, and I am quite petite. I never take it off, but when I travel to places where it might put me at risk, I rotate the stone so it points towards my palm.

    I waited to get married quite late in life, and ended up with a small wedding because my Dad had just died. We decided together that since our marriage would be relatively short in years, we would enjoy every single little thing about married life, and I wear my rings with joy. I can’t imagine judging anyone’s ring beyond admiring (or not) the style. I hope that the poster who said that what matters more if you are a nice person wearing the ring is correct, and that people at work who see mine are thrilled to see me happily wed!

  37. My engagement ring is a wonderful piece of ethnographic art–which my DH and I picked out together. We wanted something we could share (and later, found a matching piece that shows a mom and child–after we had 2 kids). My wedding band is a variant of a simple gold band, as is his (they don’t match, by the way; we each picked out our own). We’ve been married now for 27 years–and today is our anniversary.

  38. I mostly just feel like I have gigantic fingers now – size 9ish – after reading about everyone’s petite fingers. :) Oh well, helps with the piano playing…

    • You must have lovely long fingers. But can I argue that playing the piano makes one’s fingers fat? Because of the muscle being built up or something? My fingers are stubby (no more than a 9th interval for me, and that’s a painful slight-roll), but fat. I’ve been playing piano regularly since I was 6, hours per day when I have time. I’d like to think that the two are related so I can pass off my thick fingers with pride. :)

      • Another Sarah :

        I’ve thought exactly this! Let’s pass it off as true even if it’s not, ok? :-)

      • I always attribute my splayed-out large feet to years of dancing, so no reason why the same doesn’t apply in your case! :)

  39. My 2 cents on the interview question: I do OCI interviews for my firm, and I would probably see a very big engagement ring on a law student as a possible indicator of a person who is marrying a wealthy man or comes from a wealthy background, or both. It would create a little question mark about how committed to hard work this job candidate might be, a few years down the road, when quitting would apparently be a financial option for her. I know it’s not fair, and some folks with money at a young age worked like crazy to get it, or were raised by workhorses and take after their parents, but that would be the question in my mind. It wouldn’t stop me from giving a favorable review to an otherwise very qualified candidate; it would just be something I’d take note of, and wonder about.

    • Would you feel the same way about a man wearing, say, a Rolex watch? If so, fair enough, but I have to say that most people I have encountered with this attitude really have a double standard and would not think twice about a guy wearing a really nice watch or suit.

    • While I completely hate to perpetuate the stereotype, several of my law school classmates have 2+ ct rings and very, very little commitment to actually practicing law in the long term. They are also smart enough to take off the rings for their interviews, because they don’t want the employer figuring this out (and they have said as much to me).

    • Anon for this comment :

      That is unfair but a fact of life. I have no need to work but I LIKE to work, am good at my job. I think that shows I’m just as committed, if not more so, than those who need to work for whatever reason.

      Not judging here, just saying that different stuff drives different people.

      I have developed a thick skin by now but it still hurts when people look at stuff and go “wow, lovely bag, great husband for buying you that…”…

      hello? i earn more than enough to buy my own stuff.

  40. I’m fascinated by the interviewing questions/answers. I interviewed before I was engaged/married, so it wasn’t an issue for me. I don’t remember noticing rings on women who I have interviewed.

    My field is male-dominated, and many married men (in my company and my clients) don’t wear wedding bands. I have often wondered about that.

  41. Wow, this conversation is so much less snarky than the Hermes purse thread a while back.

    Just for my two cents, I am a very petite person (3.5 ring size) and have a 2.5 carat round solitaire. It is beautiful, and I love it. However, I would never judge anyone else’s ring. Frankly, I don’t even notice other people’s rings. I am definitely aware that other people in my firm notice my ring (and possibly talk about it when I’m not around), but I don’t really care. You can’t live your whole life worrying about what other people say or think – I love it, the man I’m about to marry gave it to me, and that is all that matters.

  42. just karen :

    Ooh! I am so happy to see this post, because it gives me the excuse to ask for shopping advice I would never otherwise post on this site! My fiance proposed with two ring boxes (which totally tripped me up and almost ruined the proposal because I didn’t “get” what what was going on). The first was a 1 carat solitaire set in white gold. Beautiful, but better yet, the diamond came from my grandmother’s ring and he didn’t go into debt. The second box held his grandmother’s ring, which he is pulling four small diamonds from for me to use to design whatever I want (he found a jeweler who can theoretically make anything from scratch with enough pictures). The four smaller diamonds are about 7 points each (2.6mm in diameter), and I’m not sure what to do with them. I love detailing in the gold on bands, but not sure I can pull that off with the smaller stones – and how to use the smaller stones without them just being lost in the band. Any links to rings people think might work would be MUCH appreciated! (I have fairly small hands if it makes a difference – size 5 on an otherwise totally average sized body). We are open to also buying more small diamonds to make something work. (BTW, after all this ring talk, let me say that yes, I absolutely would have worn a cracker-jack ring if it symbolized my match’s pledge to me).

    • What about using the smaller stones in your wedding band, rather than adding them to your engagement ring?

      • just Karen :

        I’ve thought about that, and we might end up doing it, but the idea of using stones from both of our families in one ring really appeals to me (I also have a ring that’s a setting from my mom’s family and a stone from my dad’s family, and it means the world to me).

    • The plantinum example at this link is my engagement band:
      I can’t remember the size of the diamonds, but I think they might be 10 pts each? I have larger fingers (size 7), but you might be able to do a skinnier band with your smaller fingers.

  43. Well here’s my question, and perhaps I will sound like a weirdo, but here goes:

    I am a very private person and in a serious relationship. I am young in my small office and most people assume I am single because I never talking about my relationships at work ever. One reason being because I have heard so many young female co-workers at various workplaces always going on and on about “my bf this and my bf that…” that I have grown entirely tight-lipped in general for fear of sounding like them. I also don’t want my coworkers asking me my bf’s name and/or where he works and then googling his firm bio, etc. etc. Call me crazy.

    I also don’t think that when the day comes that I do get engaged that I would even want to make that announcement to my firm (because again, they would ask who the groom is and also awkwardness with wedding invites). I feel like I would hide the ring or turn it around or something.

    Do you Corporettes think this is all nutty thinking /behavior?

    • You have every right to keep your personal life to yourself. Every workplace has a different environment about this stuff. At my office it’s not unusual for someone’s spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend to stop by happy hour, so many of us know each others’ significant others. But, by all means, don’t feel pressured to reveal more than you’re comfortable with.

    • I think you could wear the ring without having to make an announcemnet. People will probably see the ring, and ask about it, but you can be vague and say “we’ve been together for a while and decided to make it official, so we are looking forward to a small ceremony with our families” without actually telling them anything specific about the who the groom is and letting it be know that wedding invitations will not be cirulating the office. Keep in mind that if you are both attorneys, you will need to disclose his name and firm at some point because they will need to need to create an ethical screen in the event your firms are ever opposed.

    • I was so annoyed when everyone at work started commenting on my ring and on my engagement. I didn’t even wear the ring to work for the first few months for that reason – just didn’t want to deal with comments. So, I totally hear you.

  44. I’m not in law (like many here are), but I haven’t seen anything ridiculously large at my nonprofit. Since we serve higher education, we have many students working here, some of whom are married as well, and they tend to have smaller rings. I will admit I certainly notice rings, but that’s because I love sparkly things.

    I wouldn’t put too much judgement on a large or small ring in the workplace. You never know what their circumstance was when they made the purchase or what it’s actually worth. When my husband and I got engaged 5 years ago, we were both graduate students, and he opted to purchase a smaller, higher-quality stone (about 0.6 carats) set in platinum rather than going for a larger, lower-quality stone in gold or white gold (gold often contains traces of nickel, which my skin is extremely sensitive to). He followed the old adage of “two months salary” when setting his budget, but for him at the time that wasn’t very much. It would have been completely not worth it to go into any kind of debt for a single item of jewelry. The most important part is that the style is totally me.

    In my experience, those with gaudy rings are also likely to have gaudily huge bags, shoes, etc., so it really isn’t a judgment based just on one item.

  45. Anonymous :

    I agree you need to be careful not to wear a large diamond to a job interview.

    When I got engaged to my first husband, I was 23. We used my grandma’s Art Deco 1930s engagement ring: a 1+ carat round diamond, flanked by pave and baguettes, set in platinum. (I am small: 5’2″, size 4 dresses, ring size 4 1/2.) For my wedding band, we had an eternity band made in platinum with princess cut diamonds all around.

    Four years later, when I was 27, I was interviewing (Southern California, top 20 law school, AmLaw 100 firms). I always took my engagement ring off for interviews and wore only the band. This was 1993/94 and there was a recession going on; I did not want to look like a dilettante/future soccer mom who wouldn’t be serious about the job. Once I started at BigLaw, I wore both rings. I later made partner, totally unrelated to the rings, I assume.

    Many years later, when I got engaged to my current fiance, we had a a ring made in the style of the Cartier Trinity rolling ring design. Three bands, channel set round diamonds all the way around all three bands, set in platinum. It is currently my engagement ring, and when we marry it will also be my wedding band. I wear it to all meetings (including recently to an interview) because it is not a big stone. Although it was expensive and is quite elegant, it is not flashy and I feel comfortable wearing it both with BigLaw colleagues and government employee colleagues. (Unrelated to professionalism issues: I love it and get compliments on it constantly.)

  46. People who stones other than diamonds: what are your thoughts in terms of lasting quality? I would love an aquamarine on an engagement ring, but I have an old aquamarine ring that was my great-grandmother’s (probably about 80 years old at this point), and the stone has been worn completely smooth, so I worry an aquamarine wouldn’t hold up to everyday wear. What stones last?

    And on another note, how have people gone about finding antique/vintage rings? I love art deco/1920s style, but how do you find one and assure you’re not getting ripped off?

    • SF Bay Associate :

      Mohns scale of mineral hardness –

      Part of the reason I’m keen on moissanite is that it is so hard. Diamonds are “forever” because they are a 10 on the Mohs scale. Aquamarine, according to Wikipedia, is a Beryl: 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale. I love Tanzanite, but the Mohs is only 6.5, which apparently isn’t tough enough to withstand daily wear in a ring setting.

    • Doyle & Doyle is a reputable store in NYC that also has an online store. They will also work with you to find something specific, and while they have many very expensive things, they are very good about working with your budget. I got my wedding band and wedding necklace there and highly recommend them.

    • If you want to see some cool engagement rings with stones that aren’t diamonds….check out this site.


    • Former MidLevel :

      Rubies and sapphires are both hard enough to wear everyday.

    • Erie Basin in Brooklyn has beautiful vintage rings and is run by a very nice man. My engagement and wedding bands were purchased there. Their online shop has a small sampling of their jewelry selection. http://eriebasin.com/shop.html

    • Anon in Ny :

      You can also check out smaller jewelry stores – a number of them have collections “inspired” by antique/vintage styles. The Clay Pot in Brooklyn and CatBird (also in Brooklyn) have a number of options.

  47. This is timely for me. Married 8 years, we were broke at time and also I am not for diamonds for a host of reasons- generally support older used stuff when possible so as not to create demand for mining etc.; don’t like the marketing nonsense; don’t like the expectation and conformity aspects, or the complicated judginess involved; don’t like them, too sharp and boring looking (sorry, diamond lovers, just one person’s view). He knew that and got me a very simple opal ring which I have worn for 8 yrs with a simple band. Several years ago I decided to upgrade and had a lovely emerald band made, but it’s too uncomfortable to wear every day.
    I work in a fairly high level corporate setting now, so felt like I should look fancier. It’s not that I care about the chicks’ viewpoint- it’s that I honestly think image impacts how you advance career-wise. So decided to get a stupid diamond after all even though I predict I will scratch myself and ruin sweaters with it. First I went to antique shops- I LOVE the old platinum art deco rings. Then I asked family, and was able to get a ring from my Mom who doesn’t wear that one anymore. It’s .6 carat but my finger is size 3 so looks fine actually, not small or big. It’s a gold ring so I am going to get a white-tone setting somewhere, hopefully art deco vintage. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet:) but enjoyed reading all this input.

    Can’t really stand the whole diamond thing- but in I shall jump I guess. If it’s an heirloom stone and vintage band that helps me accept it better. Those of you feeling unsure, it’s just hype, don’t worry about the details.

  48. Anne Shirley :

    Can I just say- sigh! I know I’m supposed to be living my life to the fullest etc etc, but I want a ring. And a fiance. And a husband and children and maybe a cat.

    • Well, why can’t living your life to the fullest involve getting yourself a cat and a ring? The fiance part might have to wait but not the others. Only I advise two cats so that they keep each other company.

      • lawtalkinggirl :

        I’m with Anne Shirley, though I’d settle for just a nice boyfriend for right now. Allergic to cats; already have two dogs.

    • lawtalkinggirl :

      I’m with you, though I’d settle for just a nice boyfriend for right now. Allergic to cats; already have two dogs.

    • I absolutely concur.

  49. You ladies rock (hah, no pun intended)! I think it’s so interesting how many different approaches you all have! Though I have an engagement ring (which I love), I tend not to wear it much because I work from home and am very active when I’m out and about. My husband has problems with his knuckle joints and rarely wears his wedding ring. I thought we were really weird until I read this thread! That being said, I always wear my ring in professional settings – I never would have thought that I might be perceived as a liability (isn’t that illegal , anyway?). I do have a modest engagement ring (one larger stone and two smaller stones, maybe 1.25 carats total) with a tiny plain wedding band, so maybe it’s not that noticeable. Anyway, thanks for opening my eyes to the many, many opinions on this!

  50. Does anyone have particular thoughts about women who don’t wear engagement rings, only wedding bands? I’m a young associate in Biglaw, married shortly before starting the job. I wear a gold wedding band with inlaid diamonds — basically, 1/2 of an eternity band.

    I tried wearing the engagement ring with it, but they didn’t lie well together; it wasn’t comfortable. We’ve talked about getting it reset into a band of matching profile but I still don’t know I’d find it comfortable, or feel like wearing both, so no action on that front.

    There’s also no tradition of wearing engagement rings in our families, though that’s atypical for many of the people I work with. My family is from a poor area of the country — I never saw female relatives wearing engagement rings — and men and women in his family until 1.5 generations ago didn’t wear wedding jewelry for religious reasons. So it’s simply not any part of how I ever envisioned my hand would look day-to-day as a married woman.

    • All the married female partners in my office wear only a wedding band. The associates are about 3/4 engagement ring and band. 1/4 only band.

  51. Personally, I think it’d be tacky to wear diamonds before I’m forty.

  52. A lot depends on the size of your hands. When my fiance and I chose to become engaged we had the choice of two heirloom rings from his family. I, being a silly 22 year old at the time, chose the larger. Now, a few years later I’ve actually “traded” and gone with the smaller.

    I have tiny hands and a 3 ct. ring looked RIDICULOUS on me. I actually stopped wearing it because it just looked silly; similar to a little girl playing dress up with mom’s rings. I never wore it to interviews. I always took it off and hoped I wouldn’t have a telling tan line on my finger.

    The smaller ring, center stone a little over a ct., looks so much better on me. I actually get tons more compliments on the smaller ring and my closest friends who know the size of the ring are always amazed at how large the stone looks even though it’s very much an average size. I’m interviewing right now and I proudly wear this one to all interviews.

    BTW – From NY but live in TX for work.

  53. I am amazed that there are still discussions about removing one’s engagement ring for an interview. I was engaged while in college (yeah, yeah, I know) and my career counselor advised me to take off my engagement ring (1.25 carats, solitaire, plain yellow-gold setting – so nothing that could be construed as flashy) because I wouldn’t be seen as “serious.” Of course I said screw it and wore my ring anyway, since I wasn’t going to pretend to be something I wasn’t, and what did getting married have to do with my commitment to my career? Anyway, that advice was straight out of the 1980’s Dress For Success navy-business-suit-and-floppy-bow-tie era, and I thought it died years and years ago. I’m rather horrified to see that that advice is still around. It’s so incredibly dated.

  54. I have a 1/4 carat diamond ring – its not an engagement ring – my mother turned a pair of diamond earrings my dad gave her into rings for my sister and myself. I love the ring, I have a size 8 ring but the setting is so gorgeous you can still see the diamond. I don’t think its the size of the diamond but the quality, cut and style of setting that can make all the difference. That being said – I think I would be dissapointed if my S.O. proposed to me with a 1/4 carat diamond ring – but thats mostly because if we were that broke we could just move the ring I already have to the other hand!

    Also – there is NO way I would go with a sapphire engagement ring right now – stupid Kate Middleton (and I guess by proxy Princess Di)

  55. realistic person :

    Oh come on! You’ve got to be kidding me! Why should you care what other people think about such a thing. Don’t we as women have enough to worry about like: Are my shoes too high? Is my skirt long enough?
    And now you want to add the size of your diamond into the mix? How about we spend less time worry about such trivial matters and more time beating the competition. In other words be more like dudes

    • Dudes dress for success. The reason this site is so popular and there is not a male equilivant, is that there is a long tradition of men in the workplace. Fathers took their sons suit shopping for generations and generations. My mom was very proud taking me to get my first suit a few years after my acceptance to a t-5 law school, but she also has never been in the business world. A son might grow up looking at his father or uncles and internalize things like strong handshake, no flashy ties, always have a crisp dress shirt. For women, its rather new. (not women in the workplace, but the generation to generation tradition of women in high powered workplace.) My future daughter might need corporette at all, I think I and my sister and my friends will be great resources for her. My biggest pet peeve on corporette is the “would men do this.” Men have plenty to worry about in the workplace. They worry about the right watch, the right suit, and the right first impression, being masculine enough, etc.

      • Totally agree. My boyfriend is also an attorney and didn’t learn how to dress from his dad (grew up poor in the rural part of our state) so he definitely worries about having the right shoes/socks/watch/tie. I was lucky that my aunt is a consultant who used to be a VP in a Fortune 500 business, so she came along when I first went suit shopping. Most women do not have that family member to look to and give them advice on what is and isn’t appropriate.

        I also think TV does a much better job showing men how to dress in law or business than it does for women.

  56. I always thought that the reason women take off their rings for interviews was because employers might think that they will want to start a family and be on maternity leave soon after their are hired. Men, on the other hand, seem more stable and committed if they are married. Also, if the men are going to start a family soon it is more likely that they will not leave their job because they will have a family to support. Just the stereotypical ideas about men and women and family responsibility.

  57. I have a big ol’ honking ring — 2.5 carats, and I wear it to the office, and I wore it to interviews. I know it’s a little unrealistic, but if an interviewer looks at my ring and assumes that I’m unmotivated/spoiled/soon to be a soccer mom, then it’s not the place for me. The interviews goes both ways — they have to pass my test, too. Luckily, I work in a place where the people are supportive, unmaterialistic, and generally don’t comment on each other’s appearance.

  58. Seventh Sister :

    This post makes me realize how much I like my engagement ring! It’s really simple – .9 carat diamond, 6-prong setting, plain platinum band. I wear it with a plain platinum wedding band. I have smallish hands and don’t wear a lot of other jewelry. The color of the stone is very, very clear.

    While it’s not the biggest, I see a lot of bigger stones (1.5-2 carats) that just don’t look as pretty. As a two-lawyer family, my husband periodically talks “upgrade,” but there are so many other things (and frankly, so many other pieces of jewelry), I’d rather have in my possession.

    My MIL was appalled at the ring – so plain, so small, I didn’t pick it out,* etc., etc., but I’ll take mine over her obviously flawed, very large yellowish pear diamond in a 1980s yellow gold setting. Her engagement ring reminds me of “Designing Women,” and not in a good way.

    My all-time favorite engagement ring is my maternal grandmother’s – it is a tiny diamond in a big setting, which she wore for 40 years after the death of her husband. Kind of the only sentimental thing about her, may she rest in peace.

    *My husband offered to exchange it and/or let me change the setting, but I liked it just fine.

  59. My engagement ring was picked out by my hubby and paid for in cash. It is 1/4 carat square suspension set in white gold and is beautiful. But I’m a big girl with big hands and hard on my jewelry, so for my wedding ring I designed my own ring – a 1 carat radiant cut diamond flanked by 2 triangular sapphires, each one bezel set in platinum. I wear it for everything except exercise and housework. It provokes many comments, which I find flattering, because it is unique and certainly isn’t ostentatious or gaudy. Because I wear it alone, and it’s not “traditional,” I’m often asked if I’m married!

    But at the end of the day, none of the comments or questions matter to me – I’m more proud of what my ring represents than what it is or how big it is. And on special occasions, I pull out my engagement ring and wear them together because my engagement ring is so special to me.

    As for the DH of over 10 years – I bought him an engagement watch that I have since upgraded, and now I wear the watch (it has a sapphire colored face!).

    And for the record, I’m a partner, but not BigLaw, and have certainly seen my share of rings at work and in court. I admit that I often find jewelry (and shoes, clothes and purses) lends itself to forming judgments – an ugly truth but I admit it. But ultimately it’s the quality of the person that counts, not the wrapping. (Remind me of this next time I’m on the way to the mall….)

  60. Two comments:

    1. Diamonds are to most women what penises are to most men.

    2. There is this beautiful scene in Up in the Air where George Clooney’s character’s sister shows her engagement ring at an engagement party. Her diamond is small, but when she showed it to Clooney’s character, you can tell she had so much love for it because it came from the man she loves. The scene is small, maybe a few seconds long, but it actually brought a tear to my eye.

  61. Liz (Europe) :

    Here’s a thought. Why not wear it under your shirt on a necklace if you want to keep it around and yet can’t wear it to work (because you work in non profit or whatever other reasons)?

    • Do people who work at nonprofits look down on marrieds and/or diamonds? Funny, I would think the nonprofit circuit would have MORE trophy wives than biglaw — not fewer.

  62. as a trial lawyer, i worried about this more from the point of view of how jurors might react to my ring. when i got engaged (about a million years ago), i stuck to a small but very high quality 3/4 karat diamond flanked by small sapphire baguettes. i have very small hands and didn’t want to be overpowered or flashy. although my inlaws expressed concern when we came home with the ring (in 10 years you’re going to want diamond earrings and you’re going to want them bigger than this and it won’t work — my inlaws loved me and always looked out for me), i have to say that in 25 years of wearing it, i’ve never felt the need to take it off for anything. i really like it, although i do agree with the comment about how a woman who wears a plain band comes off.

  63. I did an experiment during on-campus interviewing in law school. For one set of interviews, I wore my engagement ring and wedding band (as I usually do). For the other, I did not. I got exactly the same number of call backs from each set of interviews. Go figure.

  64. Guilt Free Mom :

    I don’t have a strong opinion about e-rings in the office, but do think it’s better to not wear a big diamond to a job interview – better to keep jewelry understated so as not to draw attention away from your skills/experience. However, this post has inspired me to start looking for a fun cocktail ring to purchase!

    • Even if it’s your engagement ring, though? I’ve always thought of those as exceptions to the coco chanel “put it all on, then take one thing off” jewelry rule — it’s more of a default than a situational embellishment. No?

  65. Not Campbell McCoy :

    My engagement ring is probably something Corporette would say verges on a cocktail ring: it has a 3.5 ct center stone and a great deal of art deco style embellishment, topping out at almost 6 carats worth of diamonds. It’s the most opulent thing I’ve ever owned and it’s also the most treasured, in large part because it’s a family heirloom. I do wear it at the office — in fact, I’m, terrified to *ever* remove it, lest I lose it — and the reactions are polarized. Some high-level partners have taken interest in me, and in one of these instances I’m pretty sure the reason was because the partner thought I had blueblood connections that might bring in business. I get invited to pro bono galas and similar events with more frequency than most of my peers, despite my median appearance and lackluster social skills.

    But I have strong feeling that many around the office are dismissing me as someone who will retire in a couple of years for a life of UES brunching. The ironic thing is, I have much less soccer mom propensity than most girls I know: I’ve got no interest in having children, and would sincerely like to make partner. I think that as I age, the ring will be less eye-catching on me, since I see young female partners and other professionals in their 30s and 40s sporting similar jewelery with more regularity.

    I’ve thought long and hard about what I would do with the ring if I interviewed. While removing it seems like a safe, easy option, the upside of wearing it for the right audience can be surprisingly salient. Some highly-placed people respond very favorably to indicia of inherited wealth.

  66. Engagement Rings :

    I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here! It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained! I’m sure you had fun writing this article.

  67. This is an amazing post and i have been looking for such an information for quite some time. Thank you for writing this as this would help me in solving my questions.

  68. It doesnt matter! :

    Tell me this. If rings werent made, and the symbol of being married was something else…people would still be judging you on other things.. BRAND of clothing…or whatever it was. ITS JUST PLAIN DUMB! A ring is a ring! Its a symbol of love! Otherwise it would be just be a big diamond ring without the love and meaning behind it. YOU BE THE JUDGE!

  69. Nice blog…

  70. Panda Oso :

    When we got engaged my fiance and I were already homeowners and both over 30 years old. I grew up as a “have” while my fiance grew up as a “have not.” Of course this was just a coincidence of birth, but it is what it is. My desires naturally lean more high end in every way. I say this to openly admit I have higher expectations than some, also I’m from Los Angeles. I have always been an avid ring wearer (many on each hand constantly). When we discussed getting engaged I felt sad to give up all my other rings to wear just one for life so I was secretly hoping he’d knock my socks off. My fiance had given me many other stones in jewelry over the years, so I had no desire for a non-diamond ring. My fiance didn’t want to upgrade the ring later (nor did I, we are very sentimental). When he gave me the ring he said it is a promise of the life he will provide, it is his heart in my hand, it is his expression to show me that he views me as a queen and will always treat me as such, the way my beloved dad (deceased) would have wanted. That means so much to me! It was a sacrifice for my darling to get me my 4 carat iceberg, but he saved and budgeted for it. I did not want or request such a ring, but I love it immensely! I thought 1.5 carats would have been terrific but he felt the need to go bigger, and that’s his choice. I know what that means coming from a humble guy like him. And for that reason I would never stop wearing my E ring just because someone else was jealous/catty/insecure about it. I feel a little sorry for anyone thinking a large E ring is about showing off to others. It is a *personal* gift. It’s not (or shouldn’t be) about anyone else.

    Only once has someone commented that they though it looked fake (an admittedly poor man who was drunk at the time and also trying to hit on me). I have noticed married men’s eyes bulge out when they see my ring even from a distance. And I have seen women literally turn their rings around simply because they’re in line behind me at the grocery store. I have seen older women huff and scoff ( I still look 20 yrs old so that might have something to do with it). I have had friends timidly ask if I’m going to wear it everyday (yes even to work) or if I’m afraid I will get robbed (no). Because my stone is bezel set it never snags anything and is comfortable to wear even while running (which I do a lot), doing errands, dealing with pets, cleaning, typing, etc. The only negative thing I have to say is this: you don’t realize how materialistic *other* people are until they feel they have less than you. I know one girl who caused the break up of her 4 yr relationship because she demanded to get engaged immediately and it better be a nice ring too! She later admitted to me this was because of her coveting my ring. It takes cajones to wear a large ring because others want to judge so quickly (why judge at all, what’s it got to do with you?). When I see a girl with a teeny speck of stardust or a sapphire or a huge CZ on her band I just figure that’s her style. I don’t jump to assumptions about her financial status and how that relates to me.

    I hope every lady gets the ring of her dreams, whatever style or size that may be. I hope we can all be happy for each other finding great guys and having eternal love. And if my workplace doesn’t support my individuality with jewelry maybe that’s not somewhere I’d like to work.

  71. When I was initially job-hunting a friend providing an informational interview commented that I’d do best to down play wearing much jewelry so as to 1) look like I genuinely needed the job (I desperately did!) and 2) not appear too jazzy/call attention to myself needlessly. (I wasn’t wearing a lot – 1.5 carat diamond engagement and wedding rings with two plain gold guard rings on my right hand, as I was divorced.) I never forgot that good advice – and never wore the diamond engagement ring to interviews, but did once I started working as I’d been wearing it and the others for years. A “signature”. ( I dress simply in plain dark business suits at all times in the office, so that was my only accessorizing. No necklaces or loopy scarves and only simple pearl or gold ear studs.) Now I’ve remarried so don’t have an engagement ring (engagment rings for repeat marriages are a recent conceit), just a lovely gold band with small diamonds that I wear with a couple of guard rings (one being my mother’s wedding band) – and for social events, my grandmother’s three-stone ruby and diamond engagement ring or similar – but again, would only wear my own wedding band to an interview. While I like to stack a few simple rings and have some nice ones, I’m careful where I do so. And like another commenter, turning any ring with a noticeable stone inwards towards my palm when on the subway or walking in “iffy” areas is a long-ingrained habit. (Or gloves in cold weather!) Better safe than sorry – and simplicity is always best for an office environment. In my profession, we’re not there to call attention to ourselves.

  72. Anonymous :

    When was sls saphire get engagement ?

  73. Leia Amidala :

    This is what I have to say about all this: get a ring you like or design a ring you like and wear it. Period. Stop worrying if you are “professional” or “not-professional” or what people will think of you. Just be yourself, respect whoever you are dealing with and that’s that. Many people (regardless of socioeconomic status) truly aren’t looking for a person of a certain appearance. They are looking for people who respect them and value them as people while being themselves. That is what stands out regardless of what size rings you have, if you are wearing jeans or a suit, or whatever your hair style is. What matters is if it is YOU. People who can’t respect that shouldn’t be in your life.

    If you feel pressured to have to change what you like to “fit in” to whatever environment you are in then maybe it’s not a healthy environment. Consider that. Be yourself, accept others, go to places that accept you for who you are, and good things will come to you. Stop changing yourself to impress people…just be you!

  74. I’m so glad I found this discussion! My boyfriend and I have just started the process of looking for engagement rings and this whole endeavor is beginning to be a bit stressful for me. Frankly, I have always been a bit oblivious to rings (three of my closest friends got married over the last couple years and I couldn’t describe any of their rings if you paid me) and I’m very uncomfortable with the realization that whatever my boyfriend and I choose will be judged by so many people. You see, I am in my mid-thirties, have been practicing law for about 10 years and I now work in government but for both my boyfriend and I, we simply can’t afford to spend a lot of money on a ring. The budget is somewhere between $3k and $4.5k. While I think there are some good options out there for that price, I’m nervous about choosing a smaller diamond (at this point I prefer a diamond rather than any of the alternatives, but that could change) that I know my lawyer colleagues will judge. One other thought is that because neither of us is “just starting out”, a smaller, more inexpensive ring may raise questions.

    So here’s my question: what is the norm? Given my career details (government attorney), is 1 carat the norm? Oh, and for context, I live and work in the DC area and have relatively small fingers (size 5 last time I checked). And again, I hate the idea of having to ask this question but I just want to make sure I’m ready for whatever comments/judgments are made. Thanks!

  75. I know I’m years late chiming in on this, but all of this judgment being passed on an engagement ring is just…. life. People are ALWAYS judging you. Ring or no ring, and no matter what size. When you walk out the door people judge the way you dress, the way you style your hair, your hygiene, your car, where you live, the way you speak; everything. The ring is no different. It’s all well and good to say: ‘people shouldn’t judge my ring, I don’t care what they think so I’ll wear what I want’. But if you’re jumping through 20 other hoops a day to present yourself as acceptable to your circle or to society (even if you don’t realize you are) then that point kind of falls on deaf ears.

    Yes, I’m young, and yes, my FI is getting me a larger ring. I want a larger ring BECAUSE of said judgments. But I don’t want it so that I’m not teased at work or to feel good about myself, or because I’d be embarrassed by a smaller ring. I want an impressive ring because HE is impressive, and he can afford it. I love showing him off, but I can’t take him everywhere I go (work, college,etc.) However I CAN take the ring. Realistically I know that no one else in the world, not his friends, parents, or anyone will ever know him as well as I do and know how wonderful and amazing he is. But damnit, if someone catches a glimpse of my ring they will at least know then and there that there is a man in my life who is there for me, and who will work hard to give me what I want and need.

    On topic: Your co-workers should be doing their jobs, not looking at your ring.

  76. About not reader S. I would suggest that she talks to her husband about it. Honesty is the best thing in a relationship. He could always buy her a anniversary ring lots of women get new rings after there anniversary tht replace their original ring. It’s doesn’t mean anything bad. I had something similar happen to me after I talked to him he had no idea I wanted something like that. So we went ring shopping and I showed him what I liked. It was the best thing at Christmas I got a new ring and I loved it!!!! Sometimes honesty is the best policy! She needs to not worry about what he will think. That’s what he likes not her. Opposites attract if he loves her he will want to make her happy. Guys are clueless to our feelings unless we tell them. She could even wear her original ring with a new one. Or even a past present future ring is a great ring for that sort of thing. She doesn’t even have to mention the engagement ring mention what she really wants. Doesn’t hurt to ask. Good luck! From NY

  77. Oh and I have a 6 k diamond ring now. Not what I picked out but I love it.

  78. Anonymous :

    I love, love, love my gianormous diamond. We live in the D.C. metro area and I have a 2.31 solitaire Tiffany ring. I really wanted a 3 carat ring but the mark-up of Tiffany’s makes me happy with my 2.31. Size really mattered to me and although my husband is a more low-key guy …he knows that I am materialistic. We are both professionals (me 37 and him 45) and it’s our first marriage. It matters and I do judge people on their rings …just as people are judged by what kind of car they drive.

  79. I also work for a big company. I would NEVER take off my ring for a interview! I think that’s ridiculous that someone would suggest to take of their engagement ring in a interview! So what if you have a big ring! I’m the only female boss in my company and all the guys make jokes saying just don’t let my wife see you with that ring. They have never said it was inappropriate or thought I had money falling out the back of me and not for one second think I was a soccer mom waiting to get pregnant! That too me is offensive to even say something like that! We live in 2013 not the 60’s! I’m a strong independent proud women with a masters degree! Not once did anybody in a interview mention or think I was just taking a job just to pass the time! I have a gorgeous 6 K ring that I could of probably bought a house with but that doesn’t mean nothing! It’s what I like and he could afford it. I have a good amount of jewelry a lot of it is made too, I like unusual jewelry that no one else has. It’s all on what you can afford and who cares if you could buy a car or house or whatever with the amount of what you spent on the ring it’s up to you and your man. I have seen guys put a ring on hold and make payments on it to give their women a nice ring. It’s no ones business and if your not happy you need to say something marriage is about communication without that it will never work. I’m not saying he has to buy you a 6 k ring but if you have a tiny ring and don’t like it say something or while your shopping some day bring him into a jewelry store just to “look” around :) and show him what makes YOUR eyes sparkle! Just a thought. I get compliments on my jewelry all the time and I have never been asked if its real c’mon ladies we can tell what’s real and what’s not. Good luck

  80. Anonymous :

    I think if one can afford it, get whatever you want. I have a modest, yet gorgeous antique ring and I absolutely love it (and was well within my fiances budget). My friend has a massive ring. However, while we have money to travel and do things… she and her husband do not. So I guess it’s what you place higher value on… a giant rock? or a lifetime of traveling and actually doing stuff.

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