What Your Engagement Ring Really Means To Him

An insider's guide to what buying an engagement ring really means to a guy (nerves and all!) straight from a groom who's been there, done that.

by Rebecca Hanley

Author and groom Alastair Smith fills us in on the nerve-wracking (and love-filled!) process that is buying your engagement bling…

Ah, engagement rings. An offering from a man to a woman to signify his permanent devotion. An enduring symbol of commitment and love. A reminder of the terrifying challenge that all married men have taken on and bravely conquered.

Image: Getty

When a man decides that he is going to ask the lady that he loves to marry him, it’s an exciting time. There are tingles in the stomach. A constant nervous buzz. He has a secret, albeit a wonderful one. He’s about to declare publicly that he is ready for the ultimate commitment, for them to take the next step and spend the rest of their days together.

But, before he can ask the biggest question of his life, he first needs to overcome the one small thing standing in his way: one small, shiny, circular thing.

“It’s way outside our comfort zone!”

Choosing jewellery is tough for guys. We try, we really do, but a jewellery shop just isn’t our natural habitat. Hardware stores? Yes. Sports shops? Hell yes. Overly lit and strangely sterile environments with teeny tiny pieces of sparkly metal and rock hidden away in glass cases where we have to ask another person for help? Not so much.

And now we’re expected to choose the one ring that our better halves will wear every day for the rest of their lives? And it’s going to cost the equivalent of a small second-hand car? Whoa.

But we commit. We research. We become temporary experts on diamonds, settings and precious metals. Although we may start off not knowing the difference between a solitaire setting and a steak sandwich, after a few weeks of searching, even the manliest of men will be able to comfortably talk you through the relative advantages of a pavé or a channel setting, and explain why you need to be careful when you’re quoted ‘total carat weight’.

TIP: If your guy is acting shifty and you think that he might be taking more than a passing interest in your favourite jewellery style, then don’t call him out on it – it’ll just make it more awkward for both of you. And don’t let him know if you find something incriminating in his internet history. Sure, he might have visited the Tiffany’s website, but he’s doing research undercover to make it special for you.



Image: Tiffany & Co.

“We don’t know what you want.”

Learning about rocks and rings is the easy bit though. Most guys actually enjoy nerding out and digging deeper into the details. It’s the unknowns surrounding the ring that really make choosing an engagement ring difficult.

Questions like whether we should consult you on the ring or go it alone. Whether you have a dream ring that you’ve always coveted. What you personally value when it comes to a stone – should we go as big as possible, or dial down the bling to get more quality?

After all, you’re going to be the one wearing it, #sharingit, and showing it off to friends, family, and most probably strangers on the bus too, so we want to make sure that we get the right ring for you.

Tip: If there’s a particular ring style that you’ve always had your heart set on; make sure that he knows it. How subtly you do this is up to you. Guys aren’t known for their nuanced communication skills, so make sure that your subtle hints aren’t flying way over his head.


Image: Tiffany & Co.

“Don’t leave us hanging!”

Let’s reverse the roles quickly. If you had to pick your other half’s fantasy footy team without any help, would you be confident to do so? What if it was the one fantasy footy team that he would use for the rest of his life?  Not so easy, eh?

Guys want so much to get the ring right that once we’ve committed to the idea of proposing, we’re listening out for any and all hints that you might be dropping. If someone shows you her engagement ring and you offer an opinion, we’re listening. If you hint that you might possibly want a stone other than a diamond, we’re taking mental notes. And if you mention there’s a particular jewellery designer that you like, then you can bet your bottom dollar that we’ll be logged on to their site and checking it out before the day is done. We want to get you the ring you’ve always dreamed of.

Tip: If you’re shown a friend’s engagement ring, although you are legally obliged to tell her that it’s lovely, make sure your other half knows your true feelings afterwards. If you genuinely do love it then tell him that it’s the kind of ring that you’d like to receive. Equally, if you actually think it’s hideous then let him know so that you don’t end up with a carbon copy yourself.

“What the ring really means to us…”

Buying an engagement ring and nailing the proposal is guys’ big chance to channel our inner-Clooney and do romance right. Something that most of us aren’t always brilliant at, I admit. And to some extent, it’s our chance to feel like we’re beginning to provide for you – like we’re reverting to hunting and gathering. Only, rather than returning triumphant with a handful of nuts and berries, we’ve foraged a platinum halo-set round brilliant diamond with ruby accents, presented in a ruched velvet-lined box.

We’re prepared to scrimp and save and sacrifice to buy you your dream ring. We’re willing to put the time in and research and make sure that we get everything right. We’re even willing to step into a jewellery shop and ask a perfect stranger for help to find out more information.

We do all of that because we want the ring and the proposal to be what you’ve always wanted. We want to kick off our engagement (and marriage) in the best possible style, and for us, getting the perfect ring represents the beginning of a perfect partnership.


Alastair Smith is a Sydney-based Brit who’s cracked the code to buying an engagement ring. His website HowToBuyAnEngagementRing.com and book How To Buy An Engagement Ring is helping guys all around the world get the ring his dream girl dreams of.


Tell us, Knotties, did you know your groom was planning to propose?




by Rebecca Hanley


  1. Hi Amber,
    Thanks for your comment and for making a good point – we will endeavour to be more representative of all types of beautiful partnerships in future :)

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