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She’s your girlfriend, your life partner, your better half, and she’s also smart as hell. How do you pick out an engagement ring without her knowing? It’s not impossible, trust us. You can secretly figure out what ring she wants, her ring size, and plan a surprise proposal without her finding out, you just need to work smart and follow the steps that we use to help our clients get the ring and get the “yes!” all on the down low.

Determine The Surprise Factor

Is she the type of girl who would love a big surprise party, or would feel blindsided and overwhelmed? Do you or she plan the majority of your date nights and dinner parties? If she likes to be in control of events big and small, she might be the type that would like a say in the ring she’ll be wearing for the rest of her life. If she’s really into fashion, she might want a say in the ring. Is she a romantic deep down? Does she melt when you get her little gifts or surprise her with a spontaneous night out? She might want the old-fashioned, classic, complete surprise proposal. Think about it, and let it determine how much of a surprise the ring will be. We’ve helped countless clients pull off a total surprise and design a ring without her knowing. Still others choose to involve their partner in some way: asking what stones or metal color she likes or having her collect images of rings she likes. It really depends on her personality, her style, and your relationship.

(A proposal mid-hike? She won’t see that coming. Dave proposed to Andrea with a custom lab created diamond engagement ring.)

The Holy Grail: Pinterest

If you want the engagement ring to be a complete surprise and can’t ask her what she wants, find her Pinterest account. 70% of future brides think about what they’d like before getting engaged and 50% create a Pinterest wedding board so you’ve got good odds. Fair warning: many women make these boards hidden (not viewable to the public).

(Proposing in the middle of a desert? Pretty badass. Andrew popped the question with a custom blue green sapphire rose gold engagement ring.)

Listen. Period.

70% of brides-to-be report dropping hints, so you need to zero in on anything jewelry-related she’s talking about. Before getting engaged, most women are pretty vocal about  opinions on friends’ engagement rings, rings on TV commercials, and rings at jewelry shops. She might even point out gemstones she likes, and the ones she doesn’t care for. When this happens, pop open your notes app and get typing!

Raid Her Closet

Look at the jewelry she currently wears. Raid her jewelry box. Look at the hardware on her purse or buckles on her sandals. Is there a common theme in metal color? Women will typically have a strong preference for yellow gold, white gold, or rose gold. Is her jewelry minimalist and dainty or super blingy? Is it quirky and handmade or sleek and symmetrical? Are the stones she wears similar in color? Think about how she dresses. Is she into vintage looks, trendy, or classic? Where does she shop? All of these questions can give you a better idea of her style. When we have clients pulling off the surprise engagement ring, we’ll look at pictures of her and her jewelry to figure out her engagement ring style. As engagement ring designers, we can confidently say that designing a ring she’ll love, that feels like her, without her knowing is totally possible.

Phone a Friend

Enlist one of her friends or family members, but do so only if you can trust them to keep the secret. About 30% of women drop hints to their inner circle about what kind of ring they’d like, so her best friend or sister may have been waiting for this moment to pass along the info. If your girlfriend hasn’t shared her preferences yet, then this trusted person can bring it up in a natural way, by looking through a magazine or talking about celebrity engagement rings.

(Proposing with your dog there: cute. Having your dog do the proposing: epic. Augusta and Leah made it official with a pair of matching diamond and palladium bands.)

Consider Her Day-to-Day

She’s going to be wearing her engagement ring every day so think about what those metal and stones will go through. Does she work with her hands or constantly have to wash them and wear gloves? Does she have messy hobbies? Does she have kids? Does she do extreme sports? If she has a desk job and rarely uses her hand, a solitaire style on a dainty band may be just fine. But if she’s not careful with her stuff and is going to be banging her ring on the daily, a more low profile and durable style is best.

Go Incognito

If you are searching for engagement rings online and trying to read up on diamonds and jewelers, make sure you’re in your browser’s “incognito mode”, one: in case you use the same computer and she searches the history, and two: because you’ll get targeted by engagement ring ads on Google, Facebook, and other sites you or she visits. This scenario has become super common in the past few years, “why am I suddenly getting ads for engagement rings?”

Get Sketchy

One of the most common question guys have is, how the hell are you supposed to figure out her ring size without her knowing? Short of trying to measure here ring finger while she sleeps (we do not recommend) you can bring in a ring of hers. Just make sure it’s not something she’ll freak out about going missing! If you think she’ll notice, you can take one of her rings and place it flat on a piece of paper (so it looks like the letter “O”) and then trace the inside (circle) of the ring and bring it in to us.

Pay in Cash

It’s common for couples to share bank accounts and credit cards before getting engaged. When you purchase a ring, you might not want a paper trail: whether because of the surprise factor or the price. It used to be that you wouldn’t see the purchase until you got your statement the following month, but nowadays many people have purchase alert notifications on their phones. Along the same lines, avoid pocketing any jewelers business cards or print materials that could pop up without you remembering.

Get a Loaner

If you really want the proposal to be a surprise, but are scared of messing up the ring, get a temporary engagement ring. A loaner engagement ring looks like the real deal but is actually a CZ stone that you can pop the question with and she can rock until and she figures out what she really wants for her forever ring. This takes the pressure of you and lets her get exactly what she wants, no guessing.

…Just Ask

The vast majority of couples we work with have talked about getting married before they get to us. If you want to take that a step further and get her involved in the ring, there are fun, romantic, and still surprising ways to do so. Ask her to make a Pinterest board just for the two of you, for a potential future TBD proposal. Tell her to send you images or rings she likes and ones she doesn’t. Have her describe her dream ring and take note. We can have both of you come in for an initial design meeting so we can meet her and have her tell us what she wants, then leave the rest up to us. You can pre-determine budget with us, and decide on how much or how little she gets to be involved. We’ve even had couples who design the ring together, but we’ll keep tight lipped on when it’s actually ready so she doesn’t know when it’s coming.

If you want to pick out an engagement ring without her knowing, you’ve got options! It all comes down to what makes the most sense for your relationship. We work with all types of couples–young, old, high school sweethearts, second marriages, third marriages, straight couples, queer couples, couples that have been together for 10 years, and couples that have been together just a few weeks. Everyone is different and every relationship is different (we like to say that “no spark is the same”). Sometimes the partner has NO idea a proposal is coming. Sometimes couples design the engagement ring as a team. Often, we’ll get somewhere in between– a guy that has his girlfriend’s Pinterest board and idea of what she currently wears, and yes they’ve talked about getting engaged, but no she doesn’t know when. No matter your situation, we’ve seen it before and we’re here to help!