Shopping for Engagement Rings Before the Engagement? Controversial, But Highly Recommended

The first time I faced the reality that I might be moving towards an engagement was a year and a half ago, six months into my relationship with my current partner. I’ve had serious relationships in the past, but there was something this time around that set my spidey senses alight just weeks into the relationship—it was so easy it actually made me nervous, and I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. It never did.

I’m 33, but with parents who got married in their mid-30s, so there’s never been any pressure to get engaged. Ever the non-traditionalists, my mom and dad eloped in Italy, skipping the convention of ring swapping altogether, so growing up, there wasn’t much importance put on the idea of an engagement or wedding at all.

All of this is to say that up until recently, as friends around me began to get engaged themselves, I never thought much about what my ideal engagement ring would look like. So here I am, finally ready to do a little sparkly sampling. If Victoria Beckham has found 15 engagement rings she likes enough to own, surely I can find at least one.

When I first proposed (ha!) to my boyfriend that I’d come and do a first stab at ring try-ons, his reaction was a sigh of relief. “Oh good!” he exclaimed “You can help me, since I know I’m going to be stressed about it.” I’d gauge that dating a fashion writer doesn’t come with too many stressful moments, but for him, picking a ring for someone who is extremely picky—yeah, that’s going to be difficult.

To do a full-on pre-engagement try-on, I would start with an appointment somewhere known for classic ring silhouettes. I chose Graff, the luxury jewelry house whose gems have adorned the wedding fingers of royal families and Hollywood royalty alike. But, as I headed from my apartment in Brooklyn to the swanky streets of the Upper East Side, I realized I didn’t fully know just what I was getting myself into. What ensued was an adventure that involved discovering Graff’s long list of frankly insane-looking famous diamonds, trying on multi-million dollar rings (perhaps a little outside of this writer-artist couple’s budget), but also, to my relief, discovering more about my own sensibilities when it comes to rings.


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