Subtle, Bold, or Somewhere In Between: How to Make Sure the Ring Your Boyfriend Picks is the One You Really Want

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A few ideas for how to drop hints about what engagement ring you want before he pops the question!


The struggle is real - you have your dream guy, but you have yet to secure that dream ring. You’re sure he’s the one, but how can you be sure he’ll get the right one for you?


If you’re in a serious relationship, and you and your boyfriend have started talking about the m-word*, communicating correctly about engagement rings can be a minefield. It’s, as Taylor Swift would say, delicate.


But since it’s one of the most expensive purchases your fiancé will make and a piece of jewelry you’ll be wearing every day for the rest of your life (!!!), it’s a major decision for your man, and a conversation you need to handle with care.


*Note: If it’s not absolutely clear to both of you that you’re ready to get engaged - if you haven’t talked about building a life together at all, or only in passing - we implore you to hold off any mention of rings or anything wedding related, at least for now! Don’t put the cart before the horse. Marriage is a big deal, and you should both be leaning that way first. Ring-talk has been known to make guys uncomfortable if you bring it up without any context. (We’ve heard a few awkward stories and we want to help you not be one of them!)


That’s why Kadlee’s here to help! We’ve done our homework, and we’ve compiled a list of tips from the experts at the Knot and Style Me Pretty on on how to drop ring hints. We have ways for you to do it if you’re a hopeless, traditional romantic who doesn’t want to ruin your magical, surprise proposal moment; we have ways to do it if you’re bold and practical, and don’t care so much about the surprise factor as you do having a ring you like; and we have ways to do it if you fall somewhere in the middle! We also have one key mandate that we want everyone to hear, regardless of where you fall on the spectrum!



Tips for the Traditionalist


Enlist your “ring squad” - a couple close friends or family members that can give him some direction! Let them in on what you like and what you don’t. Give them tons of pictures, share your Pinterest boards with them, make sure they know what you want and that you expect them to, when the time comes, guide your boyfriend down the right path. If you sense him fishing for hints, or if you suspect a proposal coming soon, make sure (without necessarily being too frank or putting pressure on him) that he knows who those people are and that he can consult them when the time comes. Let him know their opinion means the most to you, that you’ve discussed your dream wedding plans with them, etc.


You can also mention your favorite settings, colors, styles, cuts, and other ring details in passing. Compliment and mention friends’ or family members rings, or point out ring styles that you would never wear. Do this subtly, but make sure he is attentive and listening to what you’re saying. If he’s not paying active attention he may miss it - men are straightforward creatures! - but if he hears you, and is thinking already about buying a ring, he’ll take mental note of what you’re saying and refer back to it later!



Tips for the Pragmatist


If you want a ring that suits your style, one option is to go shop together for the ring. You could casually suggest going in a jewelry store that you’re walking by while in the mall, or you could more candidly express interest in picking a time to go look for rings together (make it a fun date night!). If you go in together, he can get a good sense of what you like and what you don’t like, and it takes a lot of the pressure off of him to make the decision blind! You also may be surprised to find that when you try rings on, your preference is different than what you’ve always envisioned.  


Designing it together is another fun option that allows you to have input and get creative, and it can also be a really fun bonding activity for you and your future fiancé. A custom ring is so romantic and a sure way to guarantee you’ll love it. Make it clear before you suspect that he has begun to shop for rings that you want a custom design. Then, make it a couples’ project: do your research and work with a jeweler to craft the ring of your dreams! Ask for his input throughout the process so that he feels that his opinion is valued. Many online jewelers even have options for you to collaborate on the ring remotely, so if you’re doing long distance or have busy schedules you can still design it together!


Remember, even if you know exactly what the ring will look like, you can still ask for a surprise proposal!


Tips for the In-Betweener


Show him a picture! If it’s clear he’ll be getting you a ring, but maybe neither of you is keen on the more modern practice of shopping together, you can always show him pictures of rings that you like and don’t like! Say something like “I’ve been seeing some rings I think are really pretty! Do you want to see them?” While you’re going through the pictures, give him some simple reasons why you like it (“I like the pear-shaped diamond with a twisted band. It’s modern and clean, but has some detail involved!”). Don’t overwhelm him with the 4 C’s right away.


He will likely appreciate the visual direction and this will help him realize your expectations. You don’t want to be demanding; he obviously has a budget, and you don’t want to make him feel bad about his financial situation or his taste. But if there are certain ring qualities that are more important to you, communicate those gently! For example, if you prefer size over sparkle, or a diamond encrusted setting over a larger center piece, you can let him know, and he would be grateful to know what wishes you have before he starts shopping.




But ultimately? No matter if you’re a traditionalist, a pragmatist, or somewhere in between, there is one thing you should absolutely do:


Trust him.


This engagement ring is a symbol of your lifelong commitment to each other. You’ll be his partner and he’ll be your confidante; you’ll share a home, your dreams, and countless decisions for the rest of forever. Releasing control may be hard for you to do, but don’t be selfish during this process. Communicating that you trust his choice, value his opinion, and respect his taste will speak volumes to him and set a great foundation for your future marriage. The engagement ring is not the main focus - the love you two have for each other is! Keep the big thing the big thing, and this sweet season will be that much sweeter.


What are some engagement rings you love? Which tip did you find most helpful? How did you and your now husband navigate the engagement ring conversation? Let us know in the comments!

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