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5 Ways to Get the Engagement Ring You Want

Photo: Erica Barraca Photography

We know, we know, you'd be happy with a twist tie as long as you're engaged to Mr. Right. But trust us, he wants to know what you want. Before the cynics unite and say that rings have nothing to do with love or marriage, let's be practical: An engagement ring is a big investment, and unlike most jewelry that goes in and out of style over time, this is one piece that should look and feel timeless. Make his search for the perfect ring easier by dropping the right clues.

Show Him a Picture

Real brides reveal:
"I cut out a picture from a magazine of the Tiffany six-prong solitaire that I love and glued it inside his V-Day card last February. What do you know, five months later, I got exactly what I wanted."
-- Pasaseattle

"I left web pages open with the picture of the ring"
-- obxbride2b

"I left Post-it notes on his car dashboard. I told him what style I liked; I also cut out pics of the exact ring I wanted and left it in his books that he was reading, in his wallet, and around the house. Low and behold... I now have the ring that I wanted."
-- 2gates

Who it works for: The bold and brazen. You know exactly what you want, without a doubt.
How to do it: Find clever ways to show him a picture of your favorite setting, cut, and style. A Valentine's Day card works, and leaving your laptop or phone open on your dream ring Pinterest board or your favorite jewelers’ Instagram feed will definitely get the point across. A subtler way: While perusing magazines, point out pictures of rings you like and casually mention what you like about them. Or give the photos to a close friend and let her decide what to do with them. Timing tip: Don't show him pictures before he's prepared to buy a ring. If he's not ready to propose, then showing him a photo of the exact ring may make him super uncomfortable and reluctant to shop. The picture route works best if you've made it clear to one another that you plan to get engaged.
Timing tip: Don't show him pictures before he's prepared to buy a ring. If he's not ready to propose, then showing him a photo of the exact ring may make him super uncomfortable and reluctant to shop. The picture route works best if you've made it clear to one another that you plan to get engaged.

Shop Together for the Ring

"We went together and I actually picked out the setting and diamond I wanted...although I didn't know he bought it a week after we picked it out."
-- GenaBoBenaBride

"We had discussed getting married, so one night I suggested we go ring shopping because I had absolutely no clue as to what kind of ring would look good. So now he knows (and I know too) what I like and definitely what I don't like."
-- Tracysgirl

Who it works for: The practical one. You'd rather have a ring that suits your style than a big surprise.
How to do it: : While walking past a jewelry store, casually express interest in stopping in and taking a look. Depending on the store, the salesperson will likely ask if you'd like to try anything on. A bolder option: Decide on a time to formally shop for rings together. If you’re primarily shopping online for your ring some companies, like Ocappi.com for example, allow you to select a few rings you like and try them on at home, which can take the pressure of buying right then and there off of both of you.
Timing tip: If he's a traditionalist, he may be opposed to shopping for the ring with you. If this is the case, consider going "window-shopping" with him, so that there's no pressure to buy while you're out together. That way, he can go back and buy the ring on his own.

Have a Friend or Family Member Go with Him

"I told him that if he wanted to knock me off my feet, he should consult with my sister first."
-- msalwhite

"Actually, most of my friends did the work. All of my best friends have been married for a while, and during the four years that my boyfriend and I have been together, it had been them always badgering him about proposing. (They really were anxious for me to join the club.) They pretty much drilled it into him that it should be at least a certain cut, size, band, etc. When he finally did get the ring, he followed their advice on everything but the setting."
-- Urigio

Who it works for: The traditionalist. You're too reserved to point out the ring yourself, but your best friend or close family member knows your style, and you completely trust their taste.
How to do it: Let your close friend or family member know what you like and don't like. If there's one ring in particular you love, tell your friend and tell her exactly what it is that you like about it in case he doesn’t go for that exact one. Prepare your friend or family member with access to your Pinterest account password and plenty of photos so they know what to look for. When it seems like he's fishing for ring hints, you'll be able to confidently send him to talk to your close confidante.
Timing tip: Let him come to you for hints instead of pressuring him to talk to your family or friend, which could be intimidating.

Ask for a Surprise

"When talking about other friends that had gotten engaged, I told him what stone shapes I really liked (and the ones I really didn't like!) and what kind of metal I liked. Then I left it up to him. What he got me was above and beyond what I could've imagined. I trust his taste and it ended up being great for both of us. I didn't want to take the surprise out of it and tell him exactly what I wanted!"
-- soon2bemaryd

"I think the only comment I made was that I wanted a little ‘flair' beyond the solitaire, after seeing a friend's ring...and he knew based on my normal jewelry that I would want white gold or platinum. He used my vague comment and chose the diamond, shape, and setting all on his own...and I'm just so happy with his choice."
-- Kat&Rich

"We talked about it and actually looked at rings a few times. I told him I liked round with channel set on the sides. We had planned on just buying the diamond in a simple setting, and then I could pick out the final setting. But when he was out shopping, he fell in love with my ring and ended up buying it and the wedding band. It's absolutely perfect."
-- love22

Who it works for: The romantic. You want the Hollywood proposal, and he's up to the challenge.
How to do it: : Mention your favorite settings, cut, color, and style in passing to make it clear to him what you like, the best way to do this without it seeming out of place or obvious is to mention friends or family members’ rings so it doesn’t come off like you’re trying to point him to a specific one (remember you want it to be his choice!). Then put the ball in his court by telling him that you love his style and you're sure he'll choose something gorgeous. And, just in case, make it clear if there are ring styles that you would never wear.
Timing tip: Patience is the key here. Pulling off a surprise, romantic proposal takes planning, so don't prod too much.

Design It Together

"I did a lot of research on jewelry, stones, and metals and then found a reasonably priced jeweler. I drew pictures and listed details of what I wanted, then worked extensively with the jeweler until all the details were worked out and his renderings looked like what I envisioned in my head. It took over three months from the start of the process until the ring was finished, but it was worth it to have exactly what I wanted. After getting the ring, Kevin held onto it until he came up with a plan to formally propose, so even though I knew what the ring looked like and that he would eventually propose, it was still a surprise. Best of both worlds, in my opinion!"
-- jinksd1

"We designed it together. We had talked about what kind of ring I wanted, and he kept finding pictures online that he would send to me, but I would always find something wrong with them. After about twenty 'I really like this, except for the way the prongs are, maybe if they were a little...' responses, we decided that it would just be easier for me to go with him to the jeweler so we could design the ring from scratch. He was very happy that I was okay with the ring itself not being a surprise since it took that pressure off of him."
-- jjenni22

"My boyfriend and I actually went to the jewelry store together and designed a custom engagement ring. I found a ring I loved, and he found one he loved, and we basically had the two combined into something we both love. So, yeah, it wasn't really a surprise. But that's all right, because I love it!"
-- crazylucky

Who it works for: The funky, modern personality. You're not into surprises, and although you don't know exactly what you want, you do know that you want something one-of-a-kind.
How to do it: An obvious point, but very important: Make it clear to him that you would like a custom-made ring before he proposes. Then come up with ring ideas together and make it a couple's project. Make sure he has a say too -- ask him what he thinks about certain elements and incorporate his suggestions into the overall design. Do research to find a designer that you both like, and then commission the ring together. A lot of online jewelers like Gemvara even have options for custom designing your ring online so you can work on it together at home or collaborate online while at work if you both have busy schedules.
Timing tip: Once the ring is ready, decide whether you want him to hold onto it for a formal proposal or if you'd like to start wearing it right away.

-- Anja Winikka

See More: Popping the Question , Engagement Rings