I’m at my parents’ place this week, visiting my family for Christmas. Shortly after I arrived, my mother presented me with an engagement ring. The ring belonged to my great-grandmother, who got married 80 years ago in the fall of 1928. This past summer, when I last saw my mom, I told her my boyfriend and I were talking marriage, and I asked if she could get the ring out of the safety deposit box so I could try it on at Christmas. Eager to see me married ASAP, she was more than happy to comply. Now that I’m able to see the ring, I’ve got a few things I need to decide. First, of course, is if I like it enough to make it “the” ring. As the oldest of five granddaughters, I was offered the ring long ago and told I could use it as my own engagement ring if I wanted. I’m a big fan of vintage jewelry, so that works out well for me. The ring looks very similar to other Art Deco rings of the era that I’ve been looking at online, but I can’t say I love it, exactly. Still, I think it could grow on me, and I do love that it has history and it’s a family heirloom. Plus, I’m not really a ring person, anyway — I don’t like the way rings feel on my fingers, and I can’t remember the last time I wore one, so I don’t really see the point in spending money — or, rather, my boyfriend spending money — on an item of jewelry I may not feel like wearing. I guess it makes more sense to use my great-grandmother’s ring while I’m engaged and switch to a small wedding band after I’m married if I don’t want so much bling on my finger.
Regardless of whether I stick with my great-grandmother’s engagement ring or not, my tastes are too particular, and this is too big a decision to leave the choice up to my boyfriend. So all this brings me around to the notion of actually getting engaged. The whole proposal thing seems peculiar to me; it always has. On the one hand, I feel like if two people have already discussed marriage, and they know they’re both into it, why does one need to officially ask the other? I mean, both parties already know the answer is yes. On the other hand, I like the gesture of it. I’d like for my boyfriend to choose a romantic way of articulating (again) how he feels about me, what his intentions are, and what it would mean for him to make me his wife. And I’d like the opportunity to respond in kind. For someone who isn’t terribly traditional, this is a tradition that seems important to me, if maybe a bit unnecessary (but aren’t most traditions totally unnecessary?).
The problem is: How do I go about giving him a ring to then give back to me without totally ruining the romance of it all? I mean, it all seems so calculated, right? Like, “Hey, here’s the ring I’d like for you to propose to me with. So, you know, when you feel like popping the question, here it is! I’ll just be over here … waiting. So, you know, let me know.” It seems … awkward, right? Or kind of corny? Or maybe I’m having trouble wrapping my head around the idea of such an antiquated tradition being important to me. At any rate, I’m torn over how to proceed from here. Have any of you been in this position before, where you have your engagement ring picked out before the proposal? And how did you handle it? Advice and suggestions are welcome!