December 4

Ask Etta: Engagement Ring Etiquette

While we dish about the hottest trends and latest designs, we also know how stressful prepping for the big day can be. Meet Etta, our expert in all things etiquette. She’s ready to delve into your every dilemma.

Jana Asks…

Should my boyfriend pick out my engagement ring on his own or is it acceptable for me to join in on the shopping?

Etta Says…

Traditionally the man picks out and purchases the ring but more recently women have been a part of the shopping experience. If your partner chooses the ring on his own it definitely adds to the element of surprise and is a bit more sentimental when he picks out what he thinks you will love. They often also have to find a secretive way to find your ring size so it fits perfectly once he gives it to you. Engagement season has started (Thanksgiving commenced it) and we want to help you feel comfortable and at ease with all of your engagement ring questions.

It is not uncommon for couples these days to go pick out a ring together and some couples even share the cost of the ring. In other cases there can be a family heirloom ring passed down to the bride and it is usually discussed beforehand with the man.

Although a bright sparkler on your left hand signifies you will be getting married sometime in the future, it is not required for an engagement. Some couples choose to put the money aside for the wedding or a possible down payment and purchase a ring later on and maybe even as a one year engagement gift to celebrate.

If you are selecting a diamond or other precious gem make sure to do your research and shop around to do some comparisons if possible. You also want to make sure you are working with a reputable and knowledgeable jeweler and obtain an appraisal if you have any concerns on the quality.

It is also important to mention that most American women wear their engagement ring on the third finger (next to the pinky) on their left hand. According to the ancient Greeks this finger had the only vein that ran directly to the heart and represented a symbol of love. Since all cultures and religious practices are different there is not one single way to wear an engagement ring.

Typically the bride’s parents are the first to find out about the engagement (if they have not already been notified by the groom beforehand when asking for her hand in marriage). After the bride’s parents are notified, it is then time to tell the groom’s family and then friends and the general public.

Lastly – the cost. The “two month rule” is a myth. This myth was started in 1947 when De Beers launched the campaign for “A Diamond is Forever” and stated a man should spend two months’ worth of their salary on an engagement ring and it later increased to three months. This campaign did exceptionally well but in this day and age is not required and is by no means a “rule.” Today there are different averages for the cost of the ring but typically it can be anywhere from $3,500 to $5,000.


Have an etiquette question for Etta? Email us at and she’ll post an answer for you.


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