2018 Update: We still stand by this advice on wearing diamond rings to the office and whether or not you should remove an engagement ring for interviews — links have also been updated below. You may also want to check out our more recent discussion about when to upgrade your engagement ring.
This 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. (2017 Update: the rings pictured above are no longer available; instead you can drool over some of these gorgeous estate rings at Neiman Marcus.)
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? Would you ever remove an engagement ring for interviews? What factors play into the decision?
Picture below via Stencil.