Now that you’ve determined whether not you actually want to spend your life with this woman with our sound advice, and you’ve got a lot of the groundwork out the way, it’s time to get serious about the process. Get the ring right, and then get it onto her finger with the least amount of terror for both parties.

There’re plenty of guys who will respond to this with, “Buhhh engagement rings and diamonds are a false value construct of society,” or, “It’s just a hunk of carbon.” If anyone says the carbon thing, just remember that most lifeforms are made of carbon. People love to attack diamonds or the diamond industry and pillory girls who want a diamond engagement ring, calling them all materialistic. Your buddy Scrote may say, “Uhh, it’s not about the money, it’s the thought. Engagement rings are artificially forced upon guys,” but don’t listen to him. Seriously.

Guess what? She wants what she wants. It’s a symbolic thing. It may be an expensive symbol, but it is the thing she will have on her finger forever. It’s a beautiful piece of jewelry that symbolizes your love and connection to each other. Many women want a diamond wedding ring. They come in many shapes and sizes; they are not cheap, but there are ways around all of this. As per usual, we’ll let you in on how.

As someone who’s been inside the giant, multi-million-dollar, bullet-proof-glass-lined insides of a true diamond broker… I can wholeheartedly tell you that this industry is a clusterfuck of epic proportions.

The Ring
Find out what the hell she wants. This can be done by subtly having a conversation saying, “Hey, maybe one day, if we ever got married, what would you want as an engagement ring?” It can also be a conversation happening, as it has to me, with another woman, where they’re discussing things.

You can, of course, have an adult conversation with her and go looking at rings together. Find out what she likes at stores, even if they are chains. (Don’t spend a penny though—we’ll get there). Talk to her, Google stuff. It’s a lot easier, and if she gets mad you spoiled the surprise, well, shit, at least you got the ring right. Right?

What you really want to know is her ring size and what kind of stone she wants, as well as what kind of band she wants. There are many cuts of diamond. An increasingly common one is the princess cut (a square). Then there’s the four C’s: color (how close it is to that pure diamond “white” look), clarity (how clear it is), cut (we did that one already) and carat (the size).

Bands can be made of yellow gold (the one that looks like gold), white gold (silver-plated gold), rose gold (it’s sort of pink) and platinum (it looks almost identical to white gold and I’d challenge someone not experienced to tell the difference). They can be plain bands, or they can have pavé (those are the little diamonds all around them, including micro-pavé, which are little tiny ones) which make the center stone look bigger, or they can have two little ones on either side of the center stone (Baguettes. No, really!).

There’s no easy way to map out an exact “this is how you find a diamond ring,” but, whatever you do, avoid an in-person chain jewelry store. Jared, Kay’s, Zales—their markups are insane, their stock is standard, their rings are chintzy, their designs look like ass.

As someone who’s been inside the giant, multi-million-dollar, bullet-proof-glass-lined insides of a true diamond broker, having seen $15 million of diamonds poured in front of me for fun (the guy had a weird sense of humor, alright?), I can wholeheartedly tell you that this industry is a clusterfuck of epic proportions.

You can either be realistic about the strain—that you simply can’t afford that—or you can play the game of “lower the carat,” seeking a 1.8-1.9 carat ring, which is almost imperceptible to the human eye and just as large-looking.

Here’re some general tips:

-If you see loose diamonds, assume that multiple places have access to said diamonds through the various exchanges. There are low margins on them. If you are daring enough to go and buy a diamond then get a jeweler to build a setting, search for a specific diamond on Bluenile.com.

-Find out what she wants and make sure it’s realistic. If she is demanding a 2 carat ring, that’s an expensive gem (anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000) depending on the C’s you’re talking about. You can either be realistic about the strain—that you simply can’t afford that—or you can play the game of “lower the carat,” seeking a 1.8-1.9 carat ring, which is almost imperceptible to the human eye and just as large-looking. 1 carat still looks great, but so does 0.97.

-When it comes to clarity, color and so on, H (or the very edge of I) is generally fine in color, as that’s before it starts yellowing. SL1-2 in clarity is fine. Occlusions will be there, but truthfully they won’t make the thing look gross. I like SL1.

-Whatever cut she wants, she wants. Don’t not listen because you think you know better. She wants what she wants, buddy.

-Don’t bankrupt yourself on a ring. Be mature enough to have a conversation with her if you can’t buy what she wants. If she turns around and says she won’t marry you if you don’t get her exactly what she wants, even if it’ll leave you penniless, I’d advise leaving her, because what the fuck? Yes, if you refuse to save up the money to buy her something reasonable, fine, but if she’s asking for a $23,000 thing because it’s what she must have, with no exceptions, then there are issues there for you to work out.

-If she demands Tiffany, well, you’re gonna be ripped off there for the brand. You can get Tiffany-style things from Blue Nile. (Also, I like them because they actually give you a certificate to make sure the thing isn’t a blood diamond). If she wants Harry Winston, well, you’re screwed. Sorry.

Basically, you can customize a diamond ring fairly easily. It’s mostly about the center stone. The rest is gravy.

Unless she wants something different. My girlfriend doesn’t like diamonds. There are some great jewelers out there that make great jewelry with other gems, like Angara for example. This is when you want to find a jeweler in town, perhaps one specializing in vintage stuff. I recommend Trumpet & Horn, who have a fairly liberal return policy if you are proposing within 30 days and she hates it.

First and foremost, don’t open that ring box until you’re done proposing. It’ll make her cry. She will hear none of those words you’re saying.

The Actual Proposal
The pressure here is horrifying, so it’s easy to start with a few key points of what not to do:
-Forget to prepare in advance.
-Share with anyone who will tell her your plans.
-Half-ass it. (But also don’t overdo it if she’s not the kind of girl who likes insane, elaborate things.)

Remember: This is something she’ll be telling people about. So if you end up getting her McDonalds and saying, “Hey, we should get married,” and handing her the ring, or throwing it at her in the car, or some other thing when the ring will “do the talking” (meaning you did fuck all), you’re an idiot.

First and foremost, don’t open that ring box until you’re done proposing. It’ll make her cry. She will hear none of those words you’re saying.

I really recommend you do it somewhere private, meaning not in a restaurant, or a park or somewhere else where someone else can ruin it who isn’t you. Proposing in a restaurant also has the awkward effect of, “Oh shit, we’re going to have to finish this meal after the event has taken place.” What’re you doing, man?

Then again, she may like that. She really may. She may like public displays of affection. Perhaps there’s some sentimental reasoning behind going to that restaurant. In the end, if she loves you, it’ll go well regardless.

However… No funny stuff. Don’t put it in a bagel, or a brownie or a glass of wine. Don’t put it around a kitten’s collar. Don’t carefully place it on a pool cue. Don’t put it anywhere but a damn box. I know, I know, it’s creative. But it’s also a damn risk. What if she drinks the ring? That’s cute on TV, it’s a health risk in reality. You don’t want to wait for your bride-to-be (Hell if she stays with you past her having to shit out a diamond, then you’ve got a keeper!) to pass your expensive diamond ring. Or maybe she chokes to death on the ring.

In fact, fuck it, here’s just a list things that you don’t want to do:
-Don’t give it to your buddy to “look after.”
-Don’t talk to her friends about what you’re going to do.
-Don’t talk to her family about what you’re going to do.
-Don’t do any “surprise” or “prank style” ones, such as faking an accident, calling her and claiming that something has happened to a member or her family, or perhaps you lost your job. Don’t fake your death and then spring out of the bedroom. Don’t pretend to break up with her and then propose, because shit, I’ve seen that happen.
-Don’t organize some grand “surprise” that involves multiple people having to work together to complete an operation unless they are paid professionals and, even then, you do not want someone else to screw this up.
-Don’t propose on the god damn jumbrotron at a sports game.
-Don’t propose through some sort of horrible social media shit.
-Don’t put the ring on a balloon.
-Don’t propose by a cliff or another place someone could drop the ring into, never to be found again.
-Don’t propose while skydiving or doing another extreme sport. In fact, don’t propose during a sport.
-Don’t propose in front of her family.
-Don’t propose on a holiday, on her birthday, on someone else you know who you see all the time’s birthday. Basically, don’t make it a special thing that now combines with another special thing.

Now I know a lot of people love to get proposed to or propose on valentine’s day. My dad did! It’s sweet. However, it is also combines into a double-barreled shotgun of expectations and/or letdowns.

In the end, it’s all about knowing the person and loving them! If you truly know the person as well as you should to actually marry them, you’ll work it out. They may like big, public, stupid shit that would make some girl’s skin crawl. They may want an emerald ring instead of a diamond ring surrounded by sapphires on a bright pink-plated ring, and that’s who she is and what she wants. If you don’t know what you’re getting into with this person—the good, the bad, the horrifying—you’ll at best have quite a few unnecessary arguments or disappointments.

At worst, well, Google “divorce attorney.”

Let us know how helpful you found this!