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Public proposals, proposal photography, sharing a hand selfie cropped in to show off your new engagement ring up close: broadcasting the proposal experience has become de rigueur for anyone getting engaged at this particular point in history. Friends, followers, and strangers alike get a front row seat to the happy ending, and this is by design because really, anyone who has been through the process knows that the steps leading up to that moment are far less photo-ready.

For the uninitiated, mainly women, there’s a big piece missing from the engagement timeline, but you don’t realize it until your in the thick of it, ready to be ambushed by a proposal: 

How is your partner supposed to know what engagement ring you want if they haven’t asked and you haven’t told? 

I ask you to laser focus on this question, because it’s here that you begin to peel back the curtain to glimpse a rarely spoken of phenomenon: many women pick out their own engagement ring. In fact, picking out your own engagement ring is quite common. But for some reason, when pressed about their own proposal experience, many women will say something like, “I had no idea it was coming! I was SO surprised,” doing a major disservice to women in pre-engagement limbo who grow frustrated that their partner isn’t a secret event planner/fine jewelry expert.

But believing that a proposal will happen spontaneously and magically with the exact ring you want is as delusional as thinking a photographer will just-so-happen to be there to snap instagram-ready photos of the whole ordeal. In reality, It’s all due to careful planning. And that plan typically includes women giving at least some input on their ring, including and up to picking it out and paying for it themselves. How do I know this? Well, besides being a woman who picked out her own engagement ring, I work for a custom engagement ring designer and women are here, every day, having a say in and designing their own rings, or at the very least sending in gobs of “inspo” pics and instructions. Having previously been an un-engaged woman, I also know that this is not evident to most people, including myself. Even though my partner and I had discussed his not being ready to get engaged, and even though he had no idea what I would even want for a ring, some driving force still led me to believe that, at any time, he might jump out of a bush and onto one knee. I’m not alone in this. Women are primed to think about marriage from a young age, but rarely about the chain of events that lead up to it. Fairy tales, books and movies routinely end in the female protagonist’s wedding, but seldomly are there scenes of her deciding between a round cut vs princess cut diamond with her partner. 

I’m also aware of this knowledge gap because of the very niche hard data I have access to: our website traffic and social audiences are largely women 18-34 years old, whereas the much smaller percentage of men that do choose to engage with an engagement ring brand are men in the 25-44 range. Women are thinking about their engagement ring, and by extension proposals and weddings, from an earlier age and aspirationally, before they may even be in a relationship. I also have anecdotal evidence: the frantic DMs to our instagram account where women confide that they love a certain ring, but don’t feel comfortable telling their partner. DMing a brand about this instead of talking to your own partner highlights a blind spot. So I’ll tell you what I tell them, and what I would have told my former self: show your partner the ring you want. It’s not weird. In fact, most women do. It’s actually very common, in spite of not being talked about often. Your partner will be relieved if you give them some direction. It doesn’t ruin the magic. And it’s the only way to guarantee you get the ring you want. Then you can decide what story you tell. You had no idea it was coming, or, actually, you took the initiative and picked out your own damn ring. 

No matter what path you take, having meaningful conversations, or sparking a hint, can be a great way to make sure that you’re working towards what you want in your relationship. 

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