You don't need to be an Inception-style hypnotist or master of the subtle hint to get an engagement ring you love. If you and your partner have decided to get married, or you've had enough conversations to know a proposal is coming soon, there are some easy next steps when it comes to picking out and buying a ring. Whether you're after a did-not-see-that-coming shriek or you plan to low-key team up for a visit to the jewelry store, these eight engagement ring shopping tips will help make that big moment anxiety-free and unforgettable.
1. For a Total Surprise Proposal, Enlist an Engagement Ring Ally
If you or your partner are really hoping for a total surprise in the future, then tell a friend or relative all your preferences. We've had clients visit our showrooms with moms, dads, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, cousins, and best friends. Hint: Your partner really wants to get this right. By clueing in someone close for "when the time comes," you can lend your support in a roundabout way. Read on for the what/how on sharing details.
2. Make a Pinterest Board of Engagement Rings
When you think perfect solitaire engagement ring, does our Avens Radiant Diamond Ring come to mind? Then Pin It! It's totally OK and normal to talk to your partner about the ring you might want, but sharing in this way can be a helpful way to jump into the process. Add pictures and links of ring designs that speak to you or capture you and your partner's love. Inspiration will take shape. A Pinterest board is useful if you're trying to work out what you like too. It's totally OK if you don't have a detailed pictured in your head of a dream engagement ring.
If you don't want to be on hand for engagement ring choosing, email your Pinterest board to your partner, or to the Bario Neal team directly. We'll tap into your behind-the-scenes help and find an engagement ring from our collections, or custom design one, that fits your style.
3. Email Subject Line: Engagement Rings
If you're not into pinning, no worries. Share your ring ideas over an email to your partner (think of it as a kind of modern-day love letter), or someone your partner might turn to when planning an engagement ring surprise. All engagement rings on our site have a button that allows you to send an email link easily. Even if you decide you'll pick out your engagement ring together, browse rings on our website before visiting and share your favorites with the Bario Neal team so we can narrow down the choices at appointment time.
4. Take an Engagement Ring Scouting Trip
The internet's a great place to start when you're looking for an engagement ring, but there's a big difference between buying our Kalmia Diamond Oval Ring and adding a pair of kicks to your Zappos cart. We believe that seeing rings up close and even slipping a few on, while talking to the Bario Neal team is super useful. (It's also fun!) Make an appointment to visit one of our showrooms, in New York or Philadelphia. Come solo, or with your partner, a friend, or a relative. (Plan a whole day out with this guide to our Philadelphia neighborhood.)
- If you can't visit our Philadelphia or NYC showrooms: If you love Bario Neal's jewelry designs but aren't able to visit us, we'll make long-distance engagement ring shopping feel really personalized. We successfully work with clients around the country (and world!), and they're constantly expressing surprise at just how easy it is to get exactly what they want without ever stepping foot in our showrooms. We can model engagement rings and take photos and videos to share with remote clients upon request.
- About shopping for an engagement ring with your partner: There's varying degrees of surprise when it comes to marriage proposals. Some couples pick out or custom design an engagement ring together, but the actual question-popping is a surprise. Finding this special piece of jewelry as a couple can be quite romantic. Go with your instincts. We love how this Cosmopolitan writer put it: "Picking out and buying a ring together made me feel like a partner in a practice that has historically been a little sexist and one-sided. Having gone through it the way we did, there's no other way I could have imagined it." Plus, her husband-to-be still pulled off a totally unexpected proposal. At the end of your appointment, we'll ask who we should include in email communications - and this is your opportunity to let us know if only one partner should be involved in the next steps!
5. Write Down Your Ring Size
Most rings can be resized, but if you know you're not going to want to part with your engagement ring after the proposal and your partner is headed to the jeweler without you, make sure your ring size is public knowledge. Ask a jeweler to size your ring finger on a scouting trip (see No. 3 on this list), or DIY. There are several ways to figure out your ring size at home, including our at home sizing guide, but our favorite is using a ring you already wear. You can also buy inexpensive ring sizers on Amazon. Keep in mind that most folks do change their ring size at least once, so if you do need to change it up later, that's totally normal.
6. Share Specific Engagement Ring Preferences
Some of us are choosier than others. If you aren't a generalist when it comes to jewelry, make sure to get into the nitty-gritty details when creating your Pinterest board, emailing links, or giving the lowdown to a friend who'll be your partner's guide.
- Metal color and finish: You're probably a jumble of mixed signals if you go by what has collected in your jewelry box over the years. Your partner might not know rose gold from platinum, or matte from polish anyway. If you pin or email a link to a platinum ring because you like the gemstone setting, but you really want it in 14k yellow gold, make a note!
- Gemstone type and shape: You might love lots of gemstone shapes, but when it comes to an engagement ring that you'll wear every day, you probably have a more exacting look in mind. A helpful graphic on our Custom Design Questionnaire will help you (and your partner) sort princess from round from cushion. Pass along gemstone wishes too. Your partner can be forgiven if he assumes you want a white diamond because so much wedding ring marketing is about diamonds. If you most definitely are into color, like our Lash Solitaire Blue Sapphire Ring, make sure to telegraph that. Now's also a good time to talk to family about or mention to your partner heirloom gemstones you've dreamed of incorporating into an engagement ring. We've crafted many personalized rings, like this Custom Heirloom Emerald and Morganite Cluster Ring, using gemstones passed down through generations.
- Jeweler: Love Bario Neal's aesthetic? If you're drawn to a small studio that designs and handcrafts jewelry like we do, that's a great hint to drop. That way, you're more likely to get a design that matches your taste and make the process easier for a partner shopping solo. If you care about ethical and sustainable metal and gemstone sourcing, that's an important tip to be clear about too.
7. Have That Budget Talk
Not only is it totally OK to talk about your ring designs with your partner, take this chance to talk money too. If you already have joint bank accounts and share your finances, this might even be necessary, because you'll see the purchase. You'll do your partner a favor by confirming that the cost of the ring is not what's important. You don't want your partner feeling societal pressure to spend a certain amount of money when the engagement ring that will make you happiest is our Aira Mini Diamond Ring. If you want a big standout gemstone but you think lab-grown moissanite, like the ones in our Custom Moissanite Linear Cluster Ring, is just as pretty as a diamond, that's advice that will lead to your partner spending significantly less. Some couples share the cost of an engagement ring. Your budget is personal, and we work with budgets of all sizes! Whether your partner visits us without you or you're fully part of the process, having a budget in mind will help keep a ring shopping appointment on track. We're happy to talk budget and have no expectations. Those jewelry stores that give off the "if you have to ask, you can't afford it" vibe? That's so not us.
8. Ask Your Partner: Hey, Do YOU Want an Engagement Ring?
There's an icebreaker! One of the whole reasons Bario Neal exists is to challenge the heteronormative stereotypes around jewelry and that definitely includes engagement rings. However you and your partner identify in terms of gender and sexuality, if you're excited about finding and wearing wedding jewelry, feminine or masculine, we're thrilled to be a small part of your story. We don't have a strict definition about what makes an engagement ring, or who might wear one. So before you load up that Pinterest board and start dropping hints about your ring size, ask your partner about wearing an engagement ring. Who knows? You might end up surprising each other.
Your proposal story, that first time you look at that engagement ring together, is personal and you write the rules. It doesn't have to match a scene from a movie. Hopefully it will be one you'll want to share with people you love. The most important thing: You and your partner get there without a lot of stress or outside expectations. And you end up with an engagement ring that's meaningful and that you love.