One (new) ring to rule them all.

I finally made a decision to choose a different ring.

It’s going to be the same three diamond set up. The two outer stone will comprise 3/4 carat and the middle stone, which will be raised, will be 3/4 carat. They’re all brilliant round, which is a specific cut of the diamond. They basically look like the photo shown here.

In fact, the ring looks a lot like that. The band is skinnier and I’m going to have them change the setting so the prongs are less noticeable.

It’s going to cost more (about double) but I’m really happy with it. I don’t think it’s too flashy but still an eye-catcher. I haven’t selected the new center stone because as soon as I do I need to start paying it off. I have an idea of what I want it to be, but just haven’t picked out the exact diamond.

So, now the new payment plan begins and I have to think of a different excuse for saving money since I’ve filed my taxes.

Published in: on March 18, 2010 at 11:03 pm  Comments (1)  
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One shot.

While responding to a comment on my last post (check it out) it occurred to me that the reason I’m so nervous about proposing is not because I’m worried about what she’ll say. It’s because the proposal itself is like a one night only performance of a one man show. Doesn’t matter what the critics say the next day or if the audience applauds or boos, you just have to put it out there and do the best damn job you can.

Geeks are perfectionists and we are rarely wrong (at least in our minds). This is the biggest reveal of my love that I’ll ever have and I need perfection.

Geez, will I be this obsessive over my wedding? Do I get that? She gets the “I’m pregnant” reveal(s), so is the wedding a joint “tada”? Who out there has had a joint “tada” wedding, or has someone always taken control of it?

Published in: on February 22, 2010 at 12:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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Passing on invaluable advice.

Whenever I buy someone a gift I never ask them what they want. I think if you’re giving a gift, you generally know the person pretty well and should have an idea of what they will like. The gift shouldn’t be something you’d enjoy, rather it should be a gift that speaks to your relationship with that person or their passions and interests.

So I never really considered asking my girlfriend what type of ring she wanted. I’ve picked up some general ideas when she makes comments about other people’s rings or something she sees in a magazine, but the idea of walking through a jewelry store with her never crossed my mind.

Until she brought it up. With an off-handed comment she offered to go with me to point out ones she liked. It certainly would be invaluable advice but should I cash in on this opportunity?

If I do go with her, it plays my hand. In her eyes the time frame is suddenly shortened from “eventually” to “sooner than later.” It also gets her into a jewelry store with price tags and since she thinks an engagement ring is close to $2,000 I don’t want her stressing over the amount of money I’m spending.

Maybe this is stupid, but I think the cons outweigh the potential wealth of information. Or, maybe that’s just my excuse to reassure myself that I know her well enough to make this decision on my own. Only one thing is for sure: I’m over-thinking the whole thing.

Published in: on February 19, 2010 at 12:49 am  Comments (2)  
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It’s a secret to everybody.

Proposing marriage is arguably the biggest question you’ll ask in your life. Yet, you’re isolated from seeking advice from your friends and family for fear of someone slipping and ruining the surprise. I’ve yet to figure out how I’m going to navigate this alone (though I hope this blog helps at least one other person with these same questions) but I have figured out how to keep at least part of the secret.

I walked away from the jewelry store with receipts, business cards, and specs on the ring I purchased. Where to hide it? Well, it turns out that while Xbox 360’s Monster Madness is a beyond-buggy game, it is good for one thing: A hiding place. I can safely store all this incriminating evidence in the game’s box because no one is ever going to open it.

Published in: on February 10, 2010 at 1:08 am  Leave a Comment  
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We’re going bigger, we’re going better.

With the threat of tax season around the corner, I’ve been incredibly nervous about purchasing an engagement ring. As a contractor my taxes are rarely taken out of my paychecks, rather I pay quarterly or at the end of the year. Needless to say, this can be bad.

Well, I just filed my taxes and, thank The Maker, they weren’t that bad. I definitely feel more comfortable about the ring I have selected and I’m starting to give more and more thought to looking at a ring that better matches what I had in mind. Something a little bigger and a little shinier.

We’re not talking J-Lo here, not even C-list movie star. However, I think I’m going to look in the 2 carat range. I don’t want something gaudy, and I know she doesn’t either, but I do want it to floor her (and in all honesty, her friends and family too).

I’m thinking size matters… But only to an extent.

Published in: on February 9, 2010 at 12:46 am  Leave a Comment  

Location, location, location.

Who? Check.

What? Check.

Where? Uhh…

The ring selection process will eventually come to an end, so the biggest question on my mind is “Where should I propose?”

We live in San Francisco, so there is a wealth of both natural and artificial wonders to choose from. I want to propose some place private or semi-private: No Jumbo-Trons for me. I like the idea of proposing outside (ignoring the unpredictable weather) and at night. However, that’s as far as I’ve got.

As a kid, I imagined I would propose over champagne at a fancy restaurant. Candlelight, white linens, and a French waiter with a pencil mustache. Sounds romantic, but as an adult, I don’t want to propose only to receive applause from a restaurant like it’s my birthday and I just blew out the candle on a free scoop of ice cream. Incidentally, I’ve decided I hate candlelight at dinner. It’s an excuse for restaurants to cut their electricity bill, I inevitably burn myself reaching across the table, and I can never see the menu in the dim light. Plus, those damn kids and their boom boxes need to get off my lawn.

I don’t really feel as if there is a “special spot” for us. (Hmm… That’s sort of disconcerting.) We met in high school and our first kiss was my college dorm. Neither spot screams proposal. We both love camping, but sleeping bags and dirt don’t satiate my need for romance. And you have to consider the sex.

Let’s be honest, some of the most amazing sex you’ll have in your life together is surely “I just got engaged sex.” The greatest sex is with someone you love, where the physical affection is exponentially amplified by your deep emotional connection. And emotions will be running high after an engagement. Call me shallow or admonish me for “being a guy” but this isn’t a motivating factor in my decision, just something that crossed my mind. Male or female, people think about sex. Get over it.

Recap: Nature or urban view, at night, romantic, semi-private or private, and secondary consideration to the post-proposal sex.

Ideas? Anyone?

Published in: on February 1, 2010 at 12:20 am  Leave a Comment  

/roll on Loot Upgrade.

When I was at the jewelry store the other day, I noticed two separate couples who were “upgrading” their engagement rings. This struck me as kind of harsh and, well, insulting. It’s certainly not the rule, but people do tend to get married when they’re younger, less financial security. I can imagine that someone in the relationship (against stereotypes, probably the male) is unhappy with the size of the ring (see previous post) and now that they have more money, they want to buy the ring they always wanted.

People. This is the same logic that gave us a walking Jabba and Greedo shooting first.

The ring, while shiny, is still a symbol of the love. Was the love crappy in the beginning? Hopefully not.

Yet, there they were. Mutually discussing how to make the ring better. One couple had a baby in a stroller, so naturally I was envious they could afford a kid and a new ring while I’m trying to quit expensive coffee cold turkey to save a few bucks.

Perhaps my desire to avoid this do-over engagement ring is what’s driving me to go bigger and better now. The more and more I think about it, I’m reconsidering the ring I have set aside.

They say it’s not the size of the boat, but the motion of the ocean. (For my geek friends: It’s not the gear you have, but how you play your class.) But who wouldn’t want a yacht?

Published in: on January 25, 2010 at 12:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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Is bigger better?

After yesterday’s post, I lay in bed thinking about my closing thoughts. It bothers me that I’m concerned over the ring’s price point. I’ve never been the type of person who needs to drive a flashy car or wear $200 sneakers. I do enjoy gourmet food and when it comes to tech I usually buy the best, but that’s about personal enjoyment and not showing off.

I think the difference comes from the fact that this purchase, by nature, is about showing off. “Hallmark created Valentine’s Day” conspiracy theories aside, the engagement ring is as much about love as it is about flashiness. Symbolically the wedding rings represent the union of marriage. An engagement ring is the modern equivalent of 3 goats and a sack of flour.

However, it is 3 goats and a sack of flour for the girl I want to marry, so why not the best? When I cook her dinner, I try to go all out because it’s for her, but when I’m alone I’m more likely to grab a few tacos from the truck down the street.

There’s also the thought that she’s going to show it off to people. People I know, people I don’t know. And the TV has taught us, they will care what the ring looks like.

The ring I have on hold right now is a three stone setting, sort of like those “Past, Present, Future” rings. I like the style and she once mentioned that she thought she had fat fingers (she doesn’t) so she wanted a ring that moved outwards and didn’t make them look fatter. The two side diamonds are approximately 1/4 carat each. The center diamond will be 1/2 carat. All “beautiful round”, fairly high quality diamonds. I think it’s a great ring… But possibly too small.

I may shop around more to compare this ring with some a little larger. The nice thing that I found out at Shane Company is that everything is fully refundable or exchangeable during this layaway process. If I put 99% of the money down and change my mind, I get all that back with no penalties. It may sound odd in a world of taxes and fees for everything, but they want you (manipulate you?) to feel comfortable in the purchase. I know if I didn’t have the option to change my mind, I never would have put the ring on layaway a few days ago.

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime purchase. Why not subscribe to bigger is better, if my wallet can swing it?

Published in: on January 21, 2010 at 11:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Mom an’ Pop?

As a kid I didn’t know who Ronald Reagan was, but I sure did like Alex P. Keaton. Capitalism makes sense to me and I have no problem shopping at places like Wal-Mart and Safeway. They provide jobs and offer a wider selection at a lower price, what’s wrong with that?

With that said, why am I feeling guilty about buying a ring from a chain store? Sure, it’s not Kohl’s where everything is always 75% off and the gems are manufactured in a lab using discount petri dishes, but it is a chain. I guess a chain jewelry store is just like a chain grocery store in that it represents a lack of originality. How many rings exactly like the one I’m purchasing are out there? My girl is unique and special to me, shouldn’t the token of my love be just as unique? Does an eccentric, bearded jeweler tucked away in the back room of a small shop like it’s still 1947 create a better ring?

I needed to know so I sought out an eccentric, bearded jeweler who hid himself away on a stool. The window of the otherwise inconspicuous storefront was bordered in a string of glowing red chili peppers. Why? I don’t know, add it to the list of questions I’m encountering. Inside, there was no coffee or umbrellas but there was a table covered with alcohol. No subtlety here, “Come in, get your drink on.” Though I do question why bottles of Jägermeister and Goldschläger populated the table. You have to love college towns – I hear on Fridays the winner of the beer pong tourney wins a cameo brooch.

The U-shaped display counter was about one-fourth the size of Shane Company’s display and one case was filled with turquoise pendants and bracelets. It’s a hippie college town. And that grizzled jeweler, he was in the back after all. Problem is he stayed there while I browsed the cases. I had to call him out of his hole to get a closer look at some rings. I asked to see a three-stone setting similar to the one that was waiting for me at the Shane Company.

“That’s $7,300,” he sighed looking through my sneakers and sweatshirt into my bank account.

“It’s beautiful.” And, he’s back with me. Praising an artist is like feeding a stray cat. Do it once and they’re yours for life.

“Yes, it’s palladium,” he handed me the ring. I nodded in admiration to mask my confusion. Wasn’t palladium the material that Black Panther used to create a temporary shield for Captain America?

“I was looking for white gold.”

A sigh. “This is better than white gold.” Uh-oh, now I’m poor and stupid. Only way to re-hook an artist? Ask them about their art as if it’s actually interesting.

“Oh, interesting. Tell me about the differences, please.”

“Palladium is as strong as platinum, but it won’t discolor her finger.”

“With that green ring?” Thank you, Zack Morris for buying those cheap class rings and turning everyone’s finger green.

“Right.”

“It’s nice, but not exactly what I had in mind. Do you have anything else like this?”

“Nope.”

And that was that. I politely looked around at some pearls and sapphires, but as soon as enough time had passed so that my exit wouldn’t be rude, I bailed. I want to look at some other smaller stores, and some more chains for that matter, to make sure I have the perfect ring but this experience has strengthened my love of capitalism. Chains have the overhead and demand to keep a wide variety of items on hand and to provide those items at the best possible prices. Ideally, I’d like to find a medium where I pay a little more for a truly individual ring and support the mom an’ pop shops. I’m just not sure it’s possible.

Plus, what would Alex P. Keaton say?

Published in: on January 20, 2010 at 11:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Shinies.

I placed a down payment on an engagement ring today. Is that even what you call it, a down payment? Layaway? Those phrases conjure images of car lots and 1950s JCPenney stores. For that matter, do JCPenney stores still exist? No, that was Mervyn’s that went under. One day into my marriage proposal plans and there are already more questions than answers.

I got off work a little early and found myself drawn to a big box jewelry store, which is not surprising as I had made the decision to propose to my beautiful girlfriend months ago. Until today, however, I hadn’t acted on that decision. The thought of a trip to Target, a sort of “no need to get her an engagement ring today, let’s find a little something here” attempt, failed to deter my romantic whim.

The Shane Company, for my East Coast readers they are your “Friends in the Diamond Business”, know what they’re doing. I’m not just referring to their beautiful jewelry but to the fact that from the minute you walk in they’re messing with your mind. Loaner umbrellas and coffee by the door greet you, subliminally suggesting that the employees want to take care of you from the moment you arrive into the future beyond their doors. Manipulation angers geeks because our intelligence usually sniffs it out as a scam while our schoolyard scuffles label it as bullying. Thankfully for them, Shane has pretty, shiny things which kick start our A.D.H.D. and make us forget about their subtle tricks.

I walked in with the intention to just look around, but those damn shinies were too much for me.  While they were careful not to ask it right off the bat, it wasn’t long before…

“How much are you comfortable spending?” (Notice they’re implying I’m comfortable.)

“Honestly, I’m not sure.” (I’m broke.)

“Well, we can create something beautiful on any budget.” (Oh, you’re broke.)

“I was thinking around $3,000.” (Actually, I was thinking about a $13 picture frame from Target.)

Why $3,000? Hell if I know. Seemed like a good number at the time. Herein lies the problem, and the purpose of this blog. I’m entering into a situation where I can’t predict the questions that I’m going to encounter, let alone the answers. A geek is used to having all of the answers and suddenly I’m throwing out thousand dollar figures because the shinies are jamming my radar. I can’t be the only person who is clueless about how to propose marriage, so maybe my discoveries will aid someone.

When the shinies released their hold on me I realized I had purchased (layaway-ed?) a two-stone setting and made plans to return and select the center diamond. Now, with my savings cleaned out, I face rent, tax season, six monthly payments of $200, and another $1,500 for the center diamond. All said and done the ring would come to approximately $3,300.

Incidentally, here we see how butchers and jewelers operate on the same principles. You say one pound of ground beef and they give you one-and-a-quarter pounds. It’s an extra $0.73 to you, so you don’t say anything, but when they do that for every customer day in and day out, they’re walking away with thousands of dollars a month. Let’s just say that with jewelers, their monthly upsell could buy a lot of hamburger.

But at least I have (layaway-ed) a ring. The ring that was going to make her cry with joy, the ring that she’ll wear forever, the ring that will ensure she says, “Yes.” Despite the burning questions that lay ahead (where, when, and how to propose) I feel like a burden has been lifted off my back. This is going to happen, this is for real. This is great. Or it was great until I Googled “Average engagement ring price” and the price range of $3,500-$4,000 kept popping up.  I’m set to pay $3,300. In a purchase where bigger is better I now have a puny ring that just isn’t going to cut it. Suddenly, it’s the ring she’s going to show off to her sisters and friends, the ring that my mother has been waiting on for years, the ring that’s going to say, “I got married and all I got was this lousy ring.”

Doubts and fear of inadequacy… At least I have that part of the marriage proposal nailed.

Published in: on January 18, 2010 at 7:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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