What and what not to include in engagement ring chats can be a bit blurry. This is part one of a blog series on engagement ring questions for “Surprise me”, “hands on” and “hinter” girlfriends. Keep an eye out for the next installments.

Girlfriends have a 6th sense when it comes to engagement ring activity.

You can be as stealthy as a grain of salt – she’ll know something’s up.

We often hear gents boast that their girlfriend doesn’t suspect a thing. They’re that good at getting engaged.

So, when these couples visit us a few months down the line, we usually check in with the fiancée and close to 100% say they knew someone was ring shopping. True story.

We’ll be running our 2018 survey soon, but 2017’s data showed that 89% of women wish to be involved in the design and/or purchase of their engagement rings to varying degrees. That’s a massive number, and absolutely worth taking into consideration.

If you’re on the fence about this chat – do it.

We always advise gents to have some sort of conversation before bringing his rendition of her dream engagement ring to life.

Mmmm… You’re probably wondering…

  • What should I ask her precisely? (I have your important questions list right below – in printable form)
  • Won’t this be spoiling the whole element of surprise? No. You’ll see why in the next segment.
  • How on Earth can this chat be romantic? That’s up to you. It’s absolutely possible and can be a great, intimate collective project on the most important significant gift you’ll ever be able to spoil your wife with.

Girlfriend Type A: The “Surprise Me”.


Sometimes a very light and by-the-way engagement ring chat pops up unexpectedly. Maybe her sister recently got engaged, or she feels “it’s time” for the next level of your relationship. Whatever the reason – this conversation is close, if it hasn’t played out already.

If she drops or spills “I want to be surprised”, there’s more to it than you think;

  • First of all, if she says she doesn’t want to be involved in the engagement ring buying process – she acknowledges that she’s aware of the engagement ring heading her way. She is in fact expecting an engagement ring soon, so your surprise element is already quite low.  But…
  • A “surprise” is usually a good thing and signals a fun approach. The Oxford definition (Feeling fancy today…) defines a surprise as an “impressive or amazing” occurrence. So she knows the engagement ring is coming, and she’s really excited about it. The anticipation is building once she sees you’re onto something ring-ish.
  • You won’t find her ideal ring on a shelf or window display. She wants a custom, personalised engagement ring

As strange as this may seem – chances are excellent that she still wants a micro level of involvement. This “surprise me” comment might simply translate into “put in the work Percy!”. That’s fair…? You’re the eager hunter. 

She’ll be the one wearing this engagement ring all day, everyday for the next couple of decades. And just like her wedding – she probably has that ideal engagement ring filed in her mind. YOU need to find it, decipher the requirements, and make it happen.

That’s where we slide into the picture. 

*If you’ve never, ever had a marriage or engagement ring chat, maybe you should hold back for a few months. This can’t and shouldn’t be forced in any direction.

The Big 5 Questions;

Let’s just recap. She knows the engagement ring wheels are turning, and she’s super excited.

You’re on the right track, and not spoiling anything

Unfortunately, she didn’t hand you a flip file addressing every last element, but this also signals a sense of style trust and a slightly more laid back attitude. Great qualities. 

The pros of this conversation greatly outweigh any cons you’ve cooked up. Trust me.

If there’s resistance to this chat just mention this ring is a big deal to the both of you, and you want to spoil her with a custom dream engagement ring. You need some input to ensure you don’t gloriously mess this up.

These 5 critical questions will give you/us enough to work with, and she’ll deeply appreciate the work and effort you put in when she sees her final personalised engagement ring.

A little information goes a long way, and we’ll help you fill in the blanks.  

We’ve got your back.

Q1: “How involved would you like to be in the whole engagement ring process?”

Most of the time she’ll clarify the issue and say the proposal is the main surprise she’s hoping for – she doesn’t want that spoiled. Design-wise, chances are excellent that she’ll give you something to work with once she understands the pros and cons.

If she falls in the 0,1% of ladies who don’t want to hear a single word about her engagement ring before you’re down on a knee – abandon this questionnaire mission.

Choose a stunning diamond, and have it set in a classic plain solitaire. The single stone engagement ring (solitaire) is, and will always be the quintessential engagement ring. No one dislikes a solitaire… it’s actually a very popular style at this stage. A few nice solitaire designs…

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After her “yes!!” mention that you chose the ideal diamond yourself, but weren’t convinced by any specific design. Tell her she’s welcome to have the diamond reset in a custom design of her choice. Close to all of our work is custom, and she can schedule a session with one of our brilliant designers in Rosebank or Pretoria to create and fine-tune that absolutely perfect design.

If a gent chooses a solitaire for this reason we always go out of our way to get close to a 100% credit for the solitaire when it’s remodeled with her involvement after the proposal.

It’s a nice perk. 

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Q2: “Do you have a specific style or design in mind?”

Quick pause.

Before you ask this, hop onto her social profiles and see if she has pinned, liked or shared any ring designs. I don’t know what your “phone policy” is, but browsing through her images might also reveal some personal favourite designs. She won’t save engagement ring styles she hates.

This lady obviously loves halo designs with cushion and oval diamonds as centre pieces…

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Anything will help. Even if she gives you a single design or photo – it’s something to work with. Obviously, the more images she supplies, the closer we can get you to her dream/perfect engagement ring.

Q3: “What’s your ring size?

Surprisingly enough, she might not know. Very few dating ladies wear rings on their designated engagement ring finger – it’s reserved.

There’s close to no correlation in size between fingers. Apart from the thumb her dominant hand is usually 1 size larger than the same finger on the other hand.

Jewellery stores have grown tired of being mere ring size measurement operations. If you have her ring measured at 3 jewellers you might get 3 different sizes. It’s slightly malicious. Give it a go if you want, but ensure that 2 out of 3 stores give you the same ring size reading.

First prize would be to stop at one of our studios in Johannesburg and Pretoria and have it properly measured. You’re always welcome.  

Otherwise simply collect a free measuring stick from us. Then you can measure privately, or give stealth one last go.

Tip: Many proposals have been spoiled by mothers, sisters and best friends that can’t keep a secret. In a survey ladies indicated that only 14% of mothers, friends and sisters know what her ring size is (left hand ring finger). Don’t ask them, it’s not worth the risk. Straight from the 2017 Ladies’ Survey… 

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Q4: Do you have a preferred metal or colour?

Although white metals like platinum still dominate our sales, around 20% of ladies prefer yellow or rose gold. Even if you’re the most observant person on earth and notice she only wears rose gold costume jewellery at this stage, that still doesn’t mean that rose gold is her engagement ring metal of choice. Many see rose gold as a fad, and most prefer traditional “white/silver-looking” metals.

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Allergies –  Up to 17% of women are allergic to nickel and the reactions are severe (see a study here). Although it’s been banned in most countries, many jewellers still add nickle to their white gold alloy. It’s not always deliberate. Many jewellers reuse old gold, and there’s a good chance that nickle will find a way into their white gold alloys. We never re-use any second hand jewellery that is traded in (not made by Poggenpoel) because I don’t know what the previous jeweller added to his mix. We only use brand new metal fresh from the refinery.

Copper isn’t a massive allergen, but a few people do get nasty skin reactions. If your girlfriend is allergic to copper, rose gold is a bad choice since it’s 20% copper in 18k form. Allergic reactions to copper are rarely severe, but if the skin under the ring picks up a nice green/blue hue – not so nice.  

Q5: “Is there a family heirloom diamond you would like to use in your engagement ring?”

Some families really treasure diamonds that have passed down generations. Even if there isn’t a “family diamond” she would appreciate the sensitivity of your approach.

Take the guessing and stressing out of the picture. Working with us will get you further than you’d ever imagine.

We work with hundreds of couples per month, and will gladly help you extrapolate and distilled whatever information and photos you have to get to her dream engagement ring. You’ll be nothing short of thrilled with what we put on the table.

I want you to win this whole mission. We only look good when you look great.

Please, save yourself a ton of time and make Poggenpoel™ your first stop. Simply give us a chance to show you what we can do. You’ll be nothing short of thrilled with what we put on the table.

Our studios in Johannesburg and Pretoria have full time designers, and you’re welcome to visit us for a session with one of our brilliant designers – no strings attached and zero sales pressure.

You’ll leave knowing you’re in the best hands.

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For questions, quotes and consultation bookings please feel free to reach out on or get in touch via your prefered channel.

Take care.
Johan Poggenpoel, Co-Founder. 

T; 012 111 0525 (Pretoria) | 010 020 6811 (Johannesburg)