89% of girlfriends want to have some involvement in the engagement ring process/exercise.
That includes your girlfriend.
She knows it’s engagement ring time (at least according to her), and has no problem hinting at what she likes and dislikes with any engagement-ish thing you cross paths with.
You’re in luck. Engagement rings aren’t cheap, and with her solid feed of input and hints you have an excellent chance at selecting and proposing with her absolute dream engagement ring.
I’d say most girlfriends fall into this "Hinter" bracket. Times have changed, and you should keep in mind that she’ll be wearing this ring all day, every day for a few decades. Her input should weigh heavily on your choices and final selection. She’s been dreaming about this ring for years, and… you haven’t
Although the hints are obvious, having a good solid chat is easy. I’d still make a bet that 100% involvement isn’t what she’s after. She would have made that crystal clear.
If I simply recommend a blanket “have a chat with her”, I’m not really adding value. But by giving you the questions for this chat - that’s a cheat-sheet.
You’re probably wondering...
- What should I ask her precisely? (I have your important questions list right below).
- Won’t this be spoiling the whole element of surprise? No, I’ll explain in the next segment.
- Is this “normal”? 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 B: The “Obvious Hinter”.
You don’t have to try being stealthy. That’s a good thing.
When she drops another hint, casually suggest that you have a conversation. Emphasise that you want to spoil her with that dream engagement ring - and you need some information to get it just right.
She’ll be on it like a fat kid on a cupcake. She’ll clear her calendar - I kid you not.
When those hint-bombs start dropping this is where you’re at:
- She wants to get engaged to you, and thinks the time is nigh. Great! But she knows you’re engagement ring shopping or browsing. Believe me.
- She has a specific design in mind. Unless she drags you to a jeweller and points directly to a ring and authoritatively and categorically states: “That's the ring. Literally that one” she wants a custom ring you put some work into. Although she’s hinting, the importance of your effort can’t be overstated.
- You’re not spoiling any surprises. She’s obviously having fun with this.
The "Big Five" Questions.
We tackled the most fundamental questions in the “Surprise Me” blog, and they’re just as applicable here. If your ears have been in tune to her hints, you might have these basics covered. You need answers to these 5 questions...
Q1: “How involved would you like to be in the whole engagement ring process?”
It’s clear that she wants some involvement, but just clarify how deep this goes. Would she like to visit jewellers with you? Maybe just send you some images and critical information? Have a word with one of our designers for ideas and fine-tuning?
Just get on the same page.
Q2: “Do you have a specific style or design in mind?”
You’re in luck here. She’ll probably give you quite a few images and photos of designs she likes with some basic notes.
Before your chat, scan her social profiles and look for any images she’s liked, pinned or shared. You’ll get some tangible bonus points for your initiative and effort.
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.
First prize would be to stop at one of our studios in Johannesburg and Pretoria and have it properly measured. You’re always welcome here.
Otherwise simply collect a free measuring stick from us. Then you can measure privately. Ring sizes change up to 1,5 sizes in a day so measure a few times and see where the average is.
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.
The images she supplies will also reveal the preferred metal of choice, so you might be able to skip this one with your hinting beloved girlfriend.
You can find a great breakdown of the metal pros and cons here: "Platinum vs. Palladium vs. White Gold"
Q5: “Is there a family heirloom diamond you would like to use in your engagement ring?”
Some families really treasure diamonds that have been passed down for generations. Even if there isn’t a “family diamond”, she would appreciate the sensitivity and sincererity of your approach.
Next Level Questions for Your Hinting Girlfriend:
Answers to these deeper and extra questions will take us much further than just the Big 5 listed above. Girlfriends rarely comment and hint on these important issues, and often just focus their energy on “I WANT A RING NOW THANK YOU” - hints.
Q6: “Let’s talk about a few lifestyle considerations”.
Certain jobs and recreational activities are just plain HARDER on engagement rings and result in above average wear and tear. Apart from that, certain styles and trimmings are just not paired well with certain professions and might become a drag.
This is far from exhaustive, but a few examples include:
Doctors and nurses change pairs of latex gloves a few times per day. Certain prongs can catch onto the latex and easily create small tears. These tears compromise the whole fundamental idea of latex gloves (protection and sterility), and eventually the ring just becomes a hassle and is taken off for work. She would love to show off her brand new engagement ring, and we can bypass most “doctor” issues with lower settings and less protruding prongs. We know how.
Teachers. Their hands take a beating with moving chairs all day long, cleaning boards, carrying all sorts of heavy things around and off course juggling them youngins. Overly dainty rings have a good chance of bending, and rings crusted with small diamonds might have you playing a more expensive version of Where’s Wally? - Where’s That Small Diamond?
Crossfit. Warrior race. The Purge. If she’s super active - good for you. But loads of these activities will damage engagement rings. They’re not indestructible - even in platinum. Unless she swears an oath to remove the ring before any hardcore activity, we need to make the ring more sturdy. But she still can’t do weight training with her ring on. You need to emphasise how important due care is regardless of the style of engagement ring.
Not applicable in any real way, but just look at this:
Learn more about lifestyle considerations in these 2 posts;
Q7: “Would you like a wedding band with that?”
Two or three years ago there was a strong movement to rather spend more on a single ring, and waive the wedding band altogether.
For a wedding band to sit snugly next to the engagement ring, there are certain things we need to incorporate in the design phase. We actually recommend and always prefer that the engagement ring set is designed in one session. We merely keep the digital design of the band on file, and when the wedding draws near you simply give us the go-ahead.
Important Note: Not all engagement ring styles work well with wedding bands, so if she’s expecting a wedding band and has a specific design in mind for the engagement ring, reach out (or preferably visit) one of our studios to discuss possible solutions.
Q8: “What’s your favourite diamond shape?”
As strange as this might sound, even if she gives you 5 images of designs she loves, they most probably won’t be set with the same shape centre diamond. It’s often overlooked when she’s scanning for the type and “feel” of engagement ring that appeals to her.
Our favourite and most popular shapes including pro’s and cons. shapes and some basic information on them:
Q9: “How important is the size of the centre stone to you?”
Larger diamonds aren’t by default more expensive. There are tips and hacks to stay in budget and increase the size of the main diamond.
Nothing upgrades the look of an engagement ring more than a larger size centre diamond.
We have a very neat system for optimising diamond size without compromising the visual appeal of the diamond.
If you need to brush up your 4C framework head over to: "The Ultimate One Page Diamond Buying Guide".
Our basic optimisation method:
- Cut: This refers to the quality of craftsmanship when the diamond was cut and polished. Never compromise on this and stick to “Excellent” and “Very Good” cut grades. It's the most important "C".
- Clarity: This is measured under 10X magnifications by gemmologists. Unless she’s walking around with a magnifying glass to torture butterflies, just ensure the diamond is 100% eye-clean and free of impurities and inclusions when viewed with the naked eye. VS2 and better is always a safe bet on clarity. If the diamond is under 1,00ct in size some SI1’s might be eye-clean.
- Colour grades are expressed in alphabet letters from D (colourless) - Z (obviously tinted yellow or brown). Most visitors to our studio find J and K colour diamonds surprisingly white, and I agree. Visit us and see what’s the “lowest” colour that still looks white to you, and then we increase the size till we hit the ceiling of your budget.
*If you’re after size - this is a fantastic, no compromise approach. This chart is overly harsh but here you go...
Side Note: We’re positioned towards the higher end of the market. Many jewellers will claim even M colour diamonds will be ice-white. They’re not. Some people prefer the richness of a very slightly tinted diamond, but if you’re after pure crisp white “M” is too low.
Diamond colours are hard to explain and internet colour charts are horrible. Do yourself a favour and visit one of our studios in Johannesburg or Pretoria to see these colours lined up next to each other.
Q10: "The overall “bulk” of the engagement ring."
You can have similar designs in essence, but some are just more sturdy and fleshed out in the best possible way. It’s mostly personal preference, but there are practical issues to consider.
*This is our Leila halo design. The version on our website is the medium volume variation.
2017 was the year of “it must be as fine as possible”. It was a massive trend. This year we’re hearing it a bit less, and I’m glad that’s the case.
Some lifestyles & professions we mentioned earlier don’t work well with overly dainty rings.
In the US the prefered design bulk is much larger than we see in South Africa. To ensure the engagement ring will stand the test of time and can trickle down to future generations, a bit more “bulk” is a great idea.
Warning on "Price Matching Jewellers". I'm sure you can see how easy it would be to trim down the volume of any ring, without telling you a thing or raising suspicion. This compromises quality and the longevity of the piece without question. We've seen rings flow through our hands for remakes where jewellers literally used half of our minimum widths at key areas. You can find more on the absurdity of these “guarantees” here (link) - simply scroll down to the "Shady Guarantees" section.
You have a solid shot at getting this perfect. Let’s get you there.
Even if you have the whole design figured out, we love bringing the X-factor that just sets your design apart and leaves you with an amazed fiancee. Take a look at our designs - they’re just better executed, have a more natural flow.
We remake a few rings per month (that weren't purchased here) and the most common reason - “we saw the quality of your work on Linda Brown's (any name) ring and the work was just superior”.
That’s always great to hear.
I want you to win this engagement ring mission. We only look good when you look great. That’s our main motivating driver.
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, and we’ll save you lots of hours as you cancel appointments with other jewellers.
Our studios in Johannesburg and Pretoria have brilliant full time designers, and you’re welcome to visit us for a session with one of them - no strings attached and zero sales pressure.
You’ll leave knowing you’re in the best hands. And you are - you have my word.
For questions, quotes and consultation bookings please feel free to reach out on firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via your prefered channel.
Johan Poggenpoel, Co-Founder.