The love of your life finally pops the question! But when the ring box pops open, the diamond ring is, well, far from the love of your life. With the upcoming HBO Max Sex and the City revival, And Just Like That…, on the foreseeable horizon, we can’t help but wonder: can the wrong engagement ring still result in the right relationship? Or is it an omen for a Carrie/Aidan-like split? What are you supposed to do when you simply don’t like your engagement ring?
To get the answers, we went straight to the experts on the front-line of all-things engagement: Marci Bailey, curator of Bailey’s Fine Jewelry Antique and Estate Collection; Olivia Landau, CEO of The Clear Cut; and Stephanie Gottlieb, Founder and CEO of the eponymous jewelry house.
According to Landau, there is still hope for disappointed proposees. “At the end of the day the people in the relationship make the marriage work—not the piece of jewelry!” she says.
Bailey agrees, pointing out that buying a ring is a huge and difficult decision. “Megan Markel changed her ring. If even Prince Harry doesn’t get it right on the first try, it’s okay if somebody else doesn’t too,” she says.
But Gottlieb shows a bit more reservation about things. “[The engagement ring] symbolizes the start of a new chapter, [which is] all the more reason that both people should be on the same page about what it will eventually look like,” she says.
Luckily, these days, couples are more in tune with each other than ever when it comes to ring shopping; the surprise element of yesteryear has been replaced with couples embarking together on pre-engagment diamond ring shopping trips and appointments with jewelers, plus regularly exchanging Instagram DMs regarding design inspiration. “The surprise is often saved for the proposal itself, and perhaps some unique personalized details that get added to the design,” says Gottlieb.
What to Do When You Don’t Like You’re Engagement Ring
Although it’s becoming rarer for one partner to dislike the ring they receive, all of our experts attest to the fact that it still definitely happens from time to time. “It is not uncommon for a newly engaged client to request a new mounting or tweak an existing mounting,” says Bailey.
If merely broaching the subject of altering your engagement ring with your partner makes you cringe, you’re not alone. However, there are certainly ways to do it tactfully. “It will be a conversation you can’t take back,” says Bailey. “So rather than having an emotionally charged conversation when you first see the ring, it may be easier to sit with it for a few days and have an intentional, thoughtful conversation later on.”
“Some partners could be hurt by this admission,” warns Gottlieb. “In this case I would suggest to just wear the ring occasionally, and plan to pick out a wedding band you really love! In a few years, it might be easier to mention that you’re interested in changing the setting, or upgrading the style altogether.”
Upgrading Your Engagement Ring
Speaking of, upgrading is most certainly a ‘thing’. “The reality is financial situations change and so do tastes,” says Bailey. Often, couples decide to step up their engagement ring game at a milestone anniversary year.”
Gottlieb tells us that enlarging your stone size is becoming more and more popular; many of her clients do that when celebrating a decade of love.
“If you receive a lab grown diamond and don’t like it, you can replace it with a natural diamond,” says Landau. “A large part of [what makes a natural diamond engagement ring so special] is that its stone was formed billions of years ago; that is what makes it so rare and valuable. Natural diamonds have inherent value and can be passed down for generations as heirlooms.”
Of course, if your ring is too sentimental to play with, there are other tricks of the trade for giving it an updated look. “A stack can definitely change up the look of an engagement ring,” says Gottlieb. “Bands with a unique design or fancy shape stones can help to add a new element to the engagement ring style.”
How to Tell Your Partner What Engagement Ring You Want
For those who are not yet engaged and hoping to avoid a massive disappointment—or super awkward conversation—, communication from the get go is key. “If you have your heart set on something very specific, and you don’t want to be disappointed, make sure you’re very direct and specific on what you want that to look like,” says Bailey.
“Sometimes we need to be a little bit shameless to make sure our partner knows what we like!” Gottlieb says.
Also, it’s important to remember that the ring recipients don’t always know better. Just think: if Carrie Bradshaw had just accepted the engagement ring that Aidan picked out for her—a pear-shaped diamond on a gold band, which was at the time considered très un-chic—she would be in good company with today’s most stylish women. Which raises a new question: can the right engagement ring still wind up in the wrong relationship?
For that one, we’ll respectfully bow out with a TBD…