The Rules of Engagement Part I

Derek Caron, manager of Madison Jewelers


Guy meets girl. Guy and girl fall in love. Guy asks girl’s parents for her hand in marriage and learns what’s in girl’s dowry. Guy gathers two months’ income and heads to jewelry store where he selects a ring. Guy proposes to girl. Girl accepts. Girl may love the ring. Girl may hate the ring. Girl may envy her friends’ rings and forever wish that her ring were different. Girl will never say anything. Guy will never know.


Guy meets girl. Guy and girl fall in love and discuss marriage. Girl researches online and in jewelry stores for styles that appeal to her. Girl drops several hints to guy. When guy is ready to pop the question, he feels confident in knowing he’s choosing a ring she loves. Guy proposes. Girl accepts. Girl admires ring and shows it off to all her friends, who gush to their guys about this guy’s great sense of taste.

A lot has changed from the traditional proposal sequence. With the general fascination we have with weddings and the endless amount of online resources, it has become easier and more accepted to discuss marriage before the actual proposal. Women who may not be in a serious relationship are planning aspects of their wedding on sites such as Pinterest, and once they are in a serious relationship, they’re having a say in what their engagement ring will look like.

“Nowadays girls are going into the store and picking out their own ring,” says Derek Caron, manager of Madison Jewelers in Virginia Beach. “You’ve got women that have their own unique styles coming into play.” Especially within the past five years, women have been giving hints to their guys about their particular style, according to Caron. 

One fundamental aspect about proposing that hasn’t changed a bit is the timeless question: Will she love this ring? “I don’t think there’s a guy alive who proposes and doesn’t want his girl to fall in love with the gift that’s going to be on her finger forever,” Caron says. “This is a symbol of how much you love her and how dedicated you’re going to be to her. Knowing her style and knowing what she likes encourages men to bring their girlfriend or potential fiancé [in the store with them] because they want to get it right.”

For the couple coming in to look at engagement rings together, Caron advises to practice patience and communication when they’re making this important decision to be sure they’re on the same page.

One thing he doesn’t recommend is popping the question while inside the jewelry store. “The surprise is the coolest thing about a proposal and with that disappearing, it’s kind of a sad moment. I would tell a couple no matter how much you have talked about it, keep the proposal special. Don’t buy the ring with her there.”

So even if the proposal is unexpected, but the girl knows exactly what the ring looks like, does that ruin the element of surprise? “Yes and no,” Caron says. “Obviously if a couple is making a decision about an engagement ring, you know it’s coming. You may not know when. You may not know how. You may think that a walk in the park is just something you do on a regular day, and then a flash mob comes out and starts dancing. It’s still going to be a surprise.”


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