In 2009, like many people, I found myself underemployed.  I had been there before. After all, I was a former actor and ALL actors have been underemployed!

The problem was that I was dating this totally awesome girl and I was totally in love! That doesn’t sound so bad, but as we got more serious and I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her, I started getting panicky about how I was going to be able to get her a ring.

Here in the U.S. a ring is not just a ring!  It is the momentous culmination of every loving thing and act that has ever transpired between two people coalescing itself into a conglomeration of carbon molecules that have been pressurized for countless eons waiting for this, THIS moment in time that will forever transcend ones lives and give a visual representation of the depth of the man’s love for his blushing bride.

**Oof, right?!**

Let’s be honest, the diamond industry may get a little out of hand sometimes.  But that doesn’t mean that the emotions behind what you give are any less.  Especially when we see “those people” walking around, flashing rings big enough to blind almighty Zeus himself.

Diamond Envy 1

_

So what is a guy making an honest salary to do?  If it’s too small, will she hate it and never want to show it to people?  If it’s too big, will you go into debt simply trying to “keep up with the Jones?”

It seems every decision is fraught with peril. The first thing you want to do is breathe. Seriously.

As men, we put an enormous amount of pressure on ourselves. We need to provide for the woman, we need to be strong, we need to be confident, we want to make sure our woman is never looked down on by other women, etc.

Many of these things are outdated ideas, but like I’ve said before, we still feel them, even if we know it’s not rational.

The woman you are with loves you for you. Not what you provide for her or buy her.  So, as long as it comes from you and your heart, she will love it. So relax.

Diamond Envy 2

_

DO NOT go into huge debt simply for show.  Your lady may love to look at the larger stones (think of us at Best Buy looking at the huuuuuge TVs and drooling) but that doesn’t mean she wants you to give up the down payment for the house just to try to please her.  If she does, well, you might want to reconsider.

(I had an underemployed friend whose girlfriend DEMANDED a very specific $45,000 ring or she didn’t want to get engaged/married. Guess if they are still together. [Hint: Nope!])

The key is to figure out what her style is.  My now wife loved deep blue sapphires so I used that as a base.  She told me she didn’t want a diamond but I too, am affected by the Diamond Juggernaut so I was still going to incorporate diamonds into it.

Since she had a larger hand (she’s 5’9”) I wanted something that had some heft to it. So, instead of trying to find a big diamond, I got a big sapphire and then surrounded it with smaller diamonds.  That way there are still some diamonds to catch the light but most of the ring will be a bright color.  

Speaking of color, I love colored diamonds.  I used a single black diamond on my own wedding band.  I think people get too caught up in the traditional (**ahem** boring) type of rings.

I would love to meet someone with a bouquet of smaller diamonds of differing colors looking like a burst of flowers.  Or perhaps, a joining of two of her favorite colors.

Remember, there are two main things: the stones and the setting.  You could have more unique stones (either in color or cut) put in a more stylized setting or have some more subtle stones crafted in an eye-catching setting!

My wife has had so many compliments on her ring that even if I could go back I wouldn’t change what I got her.  It sets her apart from just about everyone else, it did not grossly set us back and it’s a ring that is large enough to well, show off maybe a little…  ☺

++++++++++

Hunt Ethridge is a Hoboken-based dating consultant and a fashion writer. Currently, he is the Senior Dating Coach at New York Dating Coach (www.newyorkdatingcoach.com).