So, who picks the engagement ring design?

Dozens of global and local surveys have broken down survey answers to this loaded question into 3 rather equally sized brackets:

  • ⅓ of ladies wish to be deeply involved in the engagement ring buying process. This includes visiting jewellers as a couple, picking the perfect diamond and fine-tuning her dream design. (We’ll call this group “Hands On”)
  • ⅓ of ladies wish to be minimally involved by merely giving input on the style and design of the ring. You might find a folder full of designs on her phone/laptop and her friends will be briefed relatively well with her likes and dislikes. (These are the “Hinters”)
  • ⅓ of ladies wish to have close to zero involvement in the process. Most of these old-school types won’t even go so far as to help the gent with a ring size. You’re be in for some serious James Bond work, my friend. (“Surprise me”-type)

Knowing into which bracket she falls won’t take a second of guessing work. She’ll tell you during marriage related chats. I really hope you had some of those before stumbling onto this blog.

I would urge gents to stick to her preference – many ladies have dreamt of this proposal for many years.

Dealing with a “Hand’s On”



This can be a bomb if you don’t stick to the script.

We’ve had quite a few “cases” over the years where a gent would try to cook up a ring on his own only to have her insist on a remake a couple of months after the proposal. A vague idea of what she likes is not good enough. She needs to be intricately involved in the finer details of this process.

Try to get rid of the idea of old school chivalry and embrace the fact you’re super fortunate; you’ll know your hard earned cash will get her the perfect ring.

I would say – roll with it and make it a wonderful (and secret) pre-engagement project for the two of you.

The proposal is still yours to plan. The surprise element is far from gone.


Dealing with a “Hinter”



No need to stress here. 

If your girlfriend knows you’ll stuff up the design she’ll shift over to “Hand’s On” and give you one design to use. Don’t feel intimidated. She trusts you – and we’ll help.

The challenge here isn’t to read her mind and select the perfect design out of a million options. She wants you to be involved in picking the ring. She values your involvement in the creation of this piece of jewellery that is so close to her heart.

I can’t tell you when the hints will start pouring in, but it will be hard to miss once you catch on to it. She’ll start commenting on jewellery advertisements in magazines. You’ll be nudged towards some jewellery displays in malls. You shouldn’t be snooping on her phone… but if you do… you’ll see engagement ring photos pop up in her camera roll. Also remember to keep a close eye on her Pinterest and Instagram feeds.

Personally my listening skills rival that of a meatball. If yours do to – it’s time to focus. When the topic of engagement rings pop up – tune in those ears. Take notes on your phone if you have to. A few key phrases like split-shank, halo, no yellow gold, low setting might be all you need. 

Her best friends (also think mom and sister) might also have valuable input. Get some facetime with her closest confidant and you’ll be one step closer to getting it right.

At our jewellery studio we often have some best friend’s (on the girlfriend’s side) accompanying the eager gentleman on his engagement ring shopping adventure. If they’re willing to – tag them along.


Dealing with a “Surprise Me”



We had a very charismatic gentlemen visit us the other day, ready to place an order for a certain ring design. After picking a diamond and running though details like lead-times he hit a blank on her ring size.

We offered him some tips and sent him out into the world with a ring sizer to maneuver at home and get an estimate of the ring size.

Poor chap was caught in the act and had an ecstatic girlfriend when she realised what was happening. She insisted on seeing the design he picked…

…and really didn’t like it.

Moral of the story – Don’t assume your girlfriend wants to be surprised with the design unless she deliberately tells you.

Where Surprise Me’s get tricky; these ladies aren’t necessarily free minded individuals who don’t care how their engagement ring looks. They still have something in mind.  

Although you won’t have an abundance of hints to work with you’re bound to hear micro hints every so often. Keep a close eye on the jewellery she wears and make sure to reach out to a close friend or sister to help you out with design concepts.

Any reputable jeweller will be of great value to guide you in browsing a few of the most popular (yet evergreen) engagement ring designs. You really shouldn’t be looking for anything over the top.

I quite often recommend that a gent opt for a basic solitaire. These designs are timeless no one ever dislikes a solitaire. After your proposal you can always visit us to have it remade into her dream design. This way she’ll get her surprise engagement, you’ll be able to pick a diamond well within your budget, AND you can have the couple’s fun of having it remade into her dream design later on. You can even offer the remake as a wedding gift. We always try to offer the gent as close as possible to full credit for a solitaire when he has it remade into a more elaborate ring. Pretty nice.


Before you leave anything to chance – have a chat with us. At the Poggenpoel Studio we sit down with around 400 couples a month and do our utmost best to see what’s best avenue to get a couple to their dream ring – all within the allocated budget.

Chat soon.

Johan Poggenpoel (johan@poggenpoel.com)

PS: You’re welcome to e-mail me directly with any questions. We’re here to help.