Ding ding, get in the ring

So, OK.

Consider the following statements.

“Oh my goodness, it’s so huge”

“Wow. I never expected it to be that big!”

“Lucky, lucky girl”

Sound familiar?

If they do, chances are you’ve either been watching some pretty bad 70s porn or you’re engaged.

My grandmother Joanie recently gave me her engagement ring. To be honest I never remembered seeing it on her finger while I was growing up, but here it was, and it is now mine.

It’s beautiful and petite. I also learned I have the exact same finger size as her. It fits perfectly. Like my other rings, sometimes I wear it, sometimes I don’t.

It never occurred to me to express my disappointment in how tiny the diamond was, or how much something so petite and tiny could possibly express my grandfather Fred’s love for her. Well, he clearly didn’t care considering how small this ring was, right?


My ring (the square-ish one) and my Joanie's ring.
My ring (the square-ish one) and my Joanie’s ring.

When I arbitrarily looked up ‘engagement ring disappointment’ on Google, I landed more than two million results.


I guess there are some pretty unhappy ungrateful ladies out there on the wedding message boards, spewing their ‘I felt a pang of disappointment when I saw how small it was’ melancholy.

The very second The Mister slipped the sparkler on me (the same day Kate and Wills married, my date landmark), I had women snatching my left hand, asking me questions as if I was the mine manager at Argyle Diamonds.

Grabby lady: So what cut is it?

Me: What..?

Grabby lady: The cut, what’s the cut?

Me: The only ‘The Cut’ I know of is a golf course that’s on your way down south in Dawesville. Look, I honestly don’t know, I think when we looked at it the first time they said something about it being a Tycoon cut.

Grabby lady: You mean he didn’t pick it out on his own?

Me: Ah no. I mean, I can’t even work out what T-shirts he likes, so he’s not going to take a chance on a diamond ring. He wanted to make sure that I liked it and he liked it and that it fit in our budget and all that jazz.

Grabby lady: And the carat?

Me: In the fridge.

Grabby lady: No, the carat of the diamond.

Me: I couldn’t tell you. But it’s very modern. I love it.

This particular woman was determined to thrust all her diamond-y knowledge on to me and I just wasn’t going to bite and it was driving her to madness.

Instead of people just saying ‘it’s beautiful, congratulations’, I was now in the ring. Not the boxing ring or an MMA octogon ring, but the passive-aggressive ‘mine is bigger than yours’ ring.

And here I thought this stoush is only usually reserved for willies or norks.

The thing is, I’m a lover, not a fighter. And this weird ‘conversation’ this woman was trying to have with me? I wasn’t buying it. I knew what she was doing.

She was implying that if it’s not the most perfectly cut, pristinely clear, carat-laden (are carats good or bad? I forget) monstrosity of a diamond ring on a platinum band… well he just doesn’t love you and that, well, hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re impending marriage is fucked.

It’s not this woman I feel incredibly sorry for, it’s her partner.

Take this example…

Last weekend he did an amazing job proposing to be and it was not only very romantic, but a complete surprise! Needless to say, I said yes and we are very much in love. Only problem is: he did not get me a ring. He said he thought since I would be wearing this piece of jewelry forever, he would like me to help pick it out. I hid my disappointment and he has no idea how upset about this I really am.  I don’t want to tell him because I think that will do nothing but ruin the engagement and he will feel guilty over something so silly. But I need to know how I can move on from this.

Seriously. I’m not making this shit up, this example was from a popular wedding online forum I used to belong to.

It’s terrible that this girl needs a piece of jewellery to feel validated, so you can imagine the guy that’s burdened with this prospect. I think he did the smartest thing on the planet (other than having the balls to actually ask her what rings she likes?) which was the ol’ empty box trick.

Because he knows he’s screwed either way.

He’s clearly not confident in what she likes otherwise he may have taken a punt, however he probably would’ve got it wrong and disappointed her anyway. Giving his sweetheart an empty box for her to fill with her heart’s desire (and self esteem) is slightly less perilous.

In this Choose Your Own Adventure, he is going to lose no matter how many fingers you keep on the previous page to save you from a bad decision.

We – and I’m talking everyone here, not just the ladies – need to stop trying to get our partners to keep proving their love time and time again.

When someone loves you, they tend to show it in subtle ways. Not usually in Disney-style, Hallmark-dripping grand gestures.

The Mister makes dinner more than I do, he makes sure my bike tyres are pumped up, he gets my car washed, Saturday mornings he buys Coffee Chills and cheesymite scrolls for both of us, he folds my underwear, he always volunteers to drive when I feel like a couple of drinks, he lets me watch the psychic channel as he knows it makes me snort with laughter. I leave him tiny notes signed off with xxxx’s, I buy horrible and expensive dried fruit and nut bars as I know he loves them, I iron his shirts, I always put his Book of Mormon musical CD back in it’s cover rather than chucked in the car console. And I laugh at his jokes, sometimes intentionally.

So, if he or she is standing there, proposing marriage or another kind of forever-ness, I’m pretty sure they love you – ring or no ring. I know a girl (what up, Miranda) who got a violin as an engagement ‘ring’.

And this whole ‘he’s got to pick it out and surprise me’ rule? Bahhhh…

The reason why I love my engagement ring so much is that we picked it together. We had so much fun doing this. We both ended up trying on some of the ugliest rings we could get hold of, and The Mister was eyeing off a few contenders for ‘signet ring on my little finger when he’s in his 60s’.

I picked out six rings that were in our budget that I liked, and then, well, left it up to him. The ring, the proposal, whatever.

At least he had some comfort knowing that we had both given the nod for the ones we liked. And, I didn’t know this at the time, but he put it on layby. I mean, WHO DOES THAT ANYMORE? I’LL TELL YOU WHO DOES, A GENIUS.

I’m not saying that this way is the best and only way for people to do this, but what I am saying is that doing it this way did not feel one single bit unromantic. We came away from this engagement with zero disappointment, zero debt and zero signet ring.

**This scenario can also get you a Get Out of Jail Free card from having an ugly heirloom being thrust upon you. I mean, this may be exactly what you wanted, and if that’s so, well done, but sometimes people can feel uneasy about wearing jewellery that has been handed down (insert the second mention of Kate Middleton here). If you don’t want or suit the handed-down trinket, simply say that you would find it more meaningful to pick out one together. This line can also suffice for anyone getting pressure from well-meaning family members to wear Old Auntie Doris’ one-fingered knuckle-duster that really needs a going over with some Tarn Off. Mention this would be but the start of many joint decisions.

But let’s be frank. The ‘e-ring’ (as so many refer to it on the online wedding boards, I seem to always read that as an ‘EPIRB’, as in the emergency beacon) is loaded with connotations. Basically, it’s like the groom-to-be is one of the more expendable characters in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and it’s his turn to pick out the chalice. He has one chance to get it right and your happiness depends on it. And if he gets it wrong and you end up visibly disappointed, well he ends up being that guy that chose the wrong chalice – he screams, turns into a skeleton and decomposes to dust within about 15 seconds.

Got a small, shitty ring, clearly you have a small, shitty man. If you can call him a man, I mean, he gave you an ugly heirloom ring that’s been in his family for almost a century. What a loser.

It’s just like this online forum member wrote – It’s not right that men, who so often are clueless about women’s fashion choices, supposedly have to make what is arguably the most important fashion choice of their ladies’ lives.


I need to go lay down a sec. BRB.


Right, I just read that sentence again and need to lay down again.


I don’t care if he knows your taste or style or whatev’s, this guy is heading into the snake pit and unless he is armed with your help and guidance, the chances of him getting it ‘wrong’ are pretty much in the bag.

So he gets it wrong and you’re all disappointy…please, why? From reading online forums the only answer I can deduce is that ‘he doesn’t know you’ and that ‘if he gets this wrong, maybe he’s not really the one for me’. There is a difference in choosing an unflattering piece of jewellery and marrying an incompatible human. What if it’s the perfect ring from an incompatible person…?

This has actually happened to me. I was proposed to with the prettiest diamond ring a few years ago. Seriously, he knew my taste and knew that I didn’t wear gold. And there he was, bended knee in my kitchen, over some Wok In A Box in Kalgoorlie. My devastation had nothing to do with this bejewelled perfection. I mean, I was about to break it off with this guy. So would it make sense to accept?

But he got the ring right. That still counts right?

See how silly this sounds…?

*Exhales heavily*

Disappointment in your engagement ring is you simply just not liking a piece of jewellery. That’s it.

Not liking the person on bended knee behind that perfect ring? You may need to reconsider the entire relationship.

So, OK, engagement rings represent a commitment to a promise, it’s not to be confused with actually being those things. Like if you lose it or dent it on the corner of the coffee table, you haven’t lost your relationship or dented your love for the other person.

Your disappointment is the result of the wedding industry taking you for a ride – and you know what? You have choices to stop this insanity.

  • Tell your partner that while you love it, you’d prefer to get one together (I already mentioned that one)
  • Cash it in and get a tattoo on your ring finger instead, just like Pamela Anderson…
  • Choose to not wear an engagement ring (traditionally the bloke won’t either, so why should you?) and be like my friend Miranda with the violin
  • Grow to love that goddam son of a gun (the ring and the husband-to-be)

If you don’t address your disappointment, you run the risk of being one of those two million hits on Google moaning about how your life is over and he doesn’t love you because he gave you something sparkly he thought you’d love to sport on your left hand to symbolise his commitment to you.

Hey, don’t disappoint me.