Well, the holiday season is upon us once again! The holidays can be a stressful time to get engaged, yet somehow it's the most popular time of year to pop the question. Why do so many couples get engaged between Thanksgiving and New Years'? We've heard various versions of this scenario from hundreds - HUNDREDS - of people.
The holiday season presents the annual family check-in time. For many folks, it goes something like this:
You're attending another Thanksgiving event with your significant other. Family members ask the same questions about your life. How's your job? Would you consider it your career path, or is there something else you would like to do? Did you ever finish getting that real estate license? What is the current state of your health insurance? So, you've moved in together? That's nice....will we be receiving a Save the Date soon? You look across the room at your girlfriend / boyfriend / partner and you get that warm fuzzy feeling.
You might not be shocked to hear that 100% of people who reach out to Little Bird are, in fact, planning to get engaged (winky face). Yikes! Well, now it's crunch time. Believe it or not, it can take 4-6 weeks to educate yourself in the field, find the right jeweler, put together the perfect ring and then have it made. If you want to get engaged by New Year’s, you better find that perfect ring ASAP. The problem with this: EVERYONE else is also looking for the perfect ring AND it's the busiest shopping season of the year. Stores hire uninformed holiday help, the lines at the cash registers are almost as big as the bottom line sales goals. It's the most difficult time to receive impeccable service and in the meantime all the coveted inventory is being snatched up. If you're in the market for a specific type of ring, such as a Canadian diamond engagement ring, an oval sapphire halo ring, or maybe a custom opal engagement ring, the least you can do is be prepared.
We are offering our 30 minute Expert Engagement Ring Consultation to help get folks ready for what will be a huge purchasing decision. If future marriage has been on your mind as of late, as the leaves start to turn and the family events start stacking up on the calendar, contact us to schedule AND/OR refer a friend and you both get an early holiday present from Little Bird...check it out here.
An interview with Brent Rose, self described actor, burrito-eater, filmmaker and writer for Wired, Outside Magazine, Gizmodo, Deadspin, Men’s Journal and Men’s Health Magazine.
Little Bird loves to hear from guys in the real world. Sometimes it can be hard for experts in a field to remember what the situation looks like to non-experts. We are constantly optimizing our services to be as awesome and helpful as possible. Brent Rose is a regular contributor for a variety of guy-tailored blogs, so he has a unique vantage point to see consumer trends in the man-universe. Brent is a rare gem in his ability to cut through pretense and ego, and answer questions with the kind of unfiltered honesty that would make most bros run for the hills. His insights were invaluable and really got us thinking...
Little Bird: So Brent, how would you start your engagement ring search?
Brent: I have no idea. Like most guys I would probably start with the internet - because that is where you look for everything these days. I would Google “diamond ring” or “engagement ring” or even search for “how to pick the right ring”.
I might look at places like Zales, the Diamond Center or Jared to try and get an idea of the baseline market. If I did ask any friends, I would try to talk to guy friends that make the same sort of salary as I do and are already engaged or married. If you ask rich friends, you’re opening the door to soul-crushing despair.
Little Bird: Good point. Within every group of friends some are reasonable about budget, and some just spend… unbelievable amounts. So how would you go about calculating your engagement ring budget? Do you think this is how most guys these days come up with a number?
Brent: I don’t know a lot of guys who can afford to spend 2 months salary. Which is hard to face because you are in love, but realistically, you can’t drop 8k on a ring. You have to pay rent. Guys may start with 2 months salary but they usually scale it down.
Little Bird: Yeah, the two months salary deal was from a really different era. It seems like life is just SO much more expensive today. As a guy, what are your top priorities when looking for a ring?
Brent: Well the first phase is usually the budget phase. Then comes the depression phase when you start seeing some of the diamonds that are out there. Closely followed by the panic and anorexia phase [maybe I can't afford food this month]. And then the realistic budgeting and financial planning phase. Next you’d probably go through her jewelry and look at her taste - does she like simple and low profile or BLAM? You are trying to find a design that matches her personality. For some girls a decadent ring might be totally wrong style-wise.
The problem then is that guys don’t know the search terms because most guys have never had to think about them. Even if they had a picture of a ring in their mind, they have no idea what to call the thing they are looking for. It would be great to be able to talk to her, but they don’t want to ruin the surprise. The vast expanse of options is overwhelming.
And then there’s sizing. Even if she has other rings, you never know the right size for her ring finger because women generally don’t wear rings on that finger. You can try to be sneaky, but it almost never works.
(Side Note: Brent is absolutely right about this. Being sneaky about determining a ring size almost never works. Stay tuned for the upcoming blog “Macgyvering her ring size.” with all sorts of 007-worthy ring sizing tricks that actually work.)
Little Bird: What about ethical origins of diamonds and metals? Is that important to you?
Brent: Most guys know to think about ethical origin - but they can’t tell how to actually avoid bad diamonds. Some of the industry terms get really confusing.
Little Bird: You are absolutely right. The definition of “conflict free” the Kimberley Process is very different from what you and I would consider to be “ethical origin.” Luckily for me, our Little Bird Co-Founder, Danielle, is a super-expert on this subject, so I can just ask her.
Little Bird: How much time do you think the average guy is willing to spend learning about diamond grading and the industry?
Brent: It would be great if someone could explain diamonds in simple human terms. If I had to guess... hmm, very little. I mean some people go totally OCD, but most people are willing to go as far as whatever gets a ring that their girl will like. Most guys will try to do some preliminary research, but it gets overwhelming really fast. Someone once mentioned Etsy, but when you start searching around you realize how little you know and you start to doubt your own taste.
Little Bird: You’re the expert on guy shopping, what do you think is another one of the nuanced purchases that guys make? How do they get help? What works?
Brent: I guess the best comparison is a new car. For some people a ring can be just as much. There are a lot of variables when you are buying a car, but you can get a lot of objective information from the internet or magazines. That being said, you are buying a car for yourself and a ring is a gift so you can’t just pick whatever you would like to wear. This is a guessing game with a lot riding on it.
There is this element of judgment with rings. You picture a bunch of girls squealing over a ring because you have seen it on every TV show and in movies. It seems so cliché, but then you see it over and over again in the real world! It shouldn’t matter at all but you worry that it is going to matter to her. You don’t want the ring to be an object of ridicule. There is a lot of stigma for cubic zirconia or other non-gems, so it can be a stressful calculation. You want to get her something that is worthy of her, and of your love.
(Side Note: There is certainly a stigma around cubic zirconia because it is considered a badly done fake, HOWEVER some alternative gemstones - like sapphire - are awesome and should definitely be considered. Check out our post on
How to Get a Celebrity Worthy Engagement Ring at a Fraction of the Cost on Ringspotters for more information on alternative gemstones.)
Little Bird: When guys are uncertain about any part of the engagement ring process, who do they go to for help or advice? Married buddies? Parents or relatives? Her friends? Internet? Is this something that guys talk about amongst themselves?
Brent: Maybe one of her friends that you trusted to keep a secret. Maybe. Ideally one of my own female friends that knows both of us. When you ask a friend you have to trust they would give you an honest response and not spare your feelings. Guys don’t know who to talk with to ask questions, in case something changes or someone gives it away...
Little Bird: Of your guy friends that are married, do you know what their ring shopping experience was like? Have they said anything that sticks in your mind?
Brent: Truth is, guys don’t talk in too much detail. Some have inherited rings, which is not an option for everyone. I know some couples shop together... but that kind of wrecks the surprise. Actually, I think guys don’t talk about this much at all... which is probably why there is so much confusion. Guys want to appear smart and in control and not scared.
If you are worried about rent, you have no idea how you are going to pull this off. It is incredibly stressful. Buying a ring is such a major thing in life and it becomes representative and emblematic of the greater turmoil around asking someone to marry you.
Little Bird: I have to admit, I am a little surprised because I have thought of ring shopping as being so much more fun!
Brent: No. Most guys don’t see this as fun. Guys that are worried about money are not having such a good time.
Guys are really afraid they are getting ripped off. An expert in your corner would give you major peace of mind. You are about to drop onto one knee and you are already freaking out - this is one less thing to worry about.
Check out some of Brent’s remarkable and almost uncanny acting talent, or his Friday booze column for Gizmodo, Happy Hour, OR his pretty awesome twitter feed, all of which are hilarious and fascinating.
Guys: we want to hear from you too! If you have a totally different answer, or a totally similar answer, or a funny story about any of these issues, please get in touch with us. We are dedicated to making this process more fun and less stressful for you.
-orignally posted November, 2013
Well that didn't go according to the plan...
Cue the sad love songs. Sometimes life does not happen the way we planned. If you or someone you know bought an engagement ring and things didn’t work out, Little Bird can offer some advice.
Option 1: Return
Before you do anything drastic, call the store where you bought the ring. Request a manager to review the specifics of your ring purchase. Some stores have one month return policies, some give you three months. Some stores will SAY that there is a one month policy, but if the ring hasn’t been worn they are more willing to negotiate. Be prepared, some stores charge a restocking fee of 10-20%. If the ring has been worn, some stores will still take it back, minus a refurbishing fee. It may seem like a lose/lose, but it is better than losing 50% if you try to resell it yourself. If this isn’t an option, check our Option 2.
Antique engagement rings are a fantastic choice for a multitude of reasons: they are super unique and one-of-a-kind, they are recycled and therefore make a socially and environmentally sound choice, AND if you're planning to propose during the holiday season (or an any type of tight timeline) they are a huge timesaver. If saving time is a factor in your engagement ring shopping process, then you've likely considering shopping online as well. Shopping online for an engagement ring can be a challenge, and it might feel extra challenging to decipher the visual characteristics and inherent rarity and quality of a genuine antique ring from afar. While there are many online engagement ring offerings, not all of them offer fantastic imagery and details about each ring. Furthermore, perhaps the most important feature of an online collection is that it is curated by someone with an eye for unique, well balanced, beautiful pieces in fantastic condition. Enter: one of our favorite online antique engagement ring shops, Victor Barboné!
Owner and curator Andria is newer to the antique ring scene and has arrived with a stunning collection of both classic antique engagement rings alongside really unique silhouettes, all with extremely reasonable price points. We picked her brain to learn more about her curating process. Check it out:
LITTLE BIRD: At any given time, how many rings are on your site and how long do they tend to refresh? How quickly do they sell?
Victor Barboné: We try to keep a wide variety of rings on our site at all times and are constantly adding to our selection! We add 3-6 rings to our site per week so it is a good idea to get on our email list so that you can be one of the first to see our new additions! I’ve had rings sell within hours of listing and some that have taken MONTHS to sell. You never know which person will connect with which ring! Because all of our rings are one-of-a-kind pieces, we strongly encourage you to move quickly when your dream ring pops up! We offer 90 day payment plans for this reason so that you can secure your unique ring and have up to 90 days to pay for it!
LB: How do you select rings? Do you have a favorite era? And who is the woman you shop for?
VB: I have learned to select rings based on my gut. “Would I wear this ring?” is the question I always ask before I make a purchase. I once saw a ring that I thought was rather odd (the Caitlyn ring) but gorgeous! I thought, no, people will think that it is too weird. But, I just had to have it! So I bought it and it has been one of my most popular and widely shared rings! Once Wed even pointed out that it is their favorite!
LB: What are the most popular antique ring styles you sell? Also, most popular era?
VB: Solitaires with engravings and clusters go the fastest! Solitaires that have delicate, subtle details where it’s all about the diamond are super popular, such as the Lola and Marcella rings. Clusters where there is a central diamond surrounded by other diamonds (not quite a halo) such as the Clementine and Jacqueline rings are the second most popular!
LB: What's your favorite ring in your collection right now and why?
VB: Oh, gosh! My favorites change from day to day but if I had to choose which I would have as my engagement ring, the Vivienne ring as my engagement ring! I love the old cut diamonds and to me the diamond in the Vivienne is the PERFECT example of what makes an old cut diamond special! It has the perfect checkerboard patterns, a good sized culet, and a high crown that gives OECs that cloud-like appearance! I am also baguette-obsessed so I love those tapered baguettes that highlight that stunning 2.60 carat diamond!
Thank you for
Guys, sorry but we are officially in engagement season. It's the time of year when couples are getting ready to see family at holiday gatherings, draw closer for the Winter, and make lifetime memories. It's possible that an engagement could me in your near future. So, how long does it actually take to get an engagement ring in hand once you start looking for the perfect ring? Well, how much time ya got? The lead time can depend on a few things, so we broke down your options in terms of the the time needed to have a ring in hand. Hope this helps!
I need an engagement ring within 1 week from now!
There is a 1-7 day lead time for off-the-shelf rings. There are some fabulous "off-the-shelf" engagement ring options. Just because they don't take forever to get in your hot little hand, doesn't make them any less beautiful or valuable. The two main options are...
Antique Engagement Rings - Super romantic. Antique pieces make for fantastic engagement rings. Art Deco, Edwardian, Art Nouveau, Retro... the styles and options are practically endless and you're sure to find something that fits the style and budget you're aiming for.
Favorites: Erstwhile, Lang Antiques, Trumpet & Horn and Victor Barboné
Boutique Engagement Rings - Super cool. There are some really excellent online and brick & mortar boutiques that offer already made, one of a kind, stunning engagement rings. There's a store out there for almost every style you can dream up: clean & classics, modern and streamlines, romantic and alternative, organic and wabi-sabi. What vibe are you going for?
Favorites: Catbird, Shibumi Studio & Gallery, Esqueleto and Trabert Goldsmiths
Pro tip: There's always the "temp setting" option. It's fabulous for nailing a tight timeline once you've found the perfect diamond. This is a blackbelt move, so feel free to buzz us for some free advice on how to tackle this option.
I need an engagement ring in 2 weeks from now!
There is a 1-2 weeks lead time for standard design engagement rings. What does that mean? Well, when a designer or a jeweler offers a standard design then they are able to produce that ring to your exact specifications within about 2 weeks. Think of it this way, if there's a style number or style name associated with the piece, then it's likely part of that jeweler's "standard collection" and therefore they have all the design parameters already laid out and ready. You just have to pick the center diamond or gemstone, a specific ring size and metal type (platinum, white gold, yellow gold, rose gold, etc). There are fantastic in-store and online jewelers who offer fabulous, unique and well-made standard collections.
Pro tip: if you're going this route, be sure to confirm that you have a return and exchange policy. It's customary to offer this option for standard collection pieces.
I need an engagement ring in the next 1-3 months!
Well then! You've got the perfect amount of time to tackle a bespoke engagement ring project if you so desire. Off-the-shelf options or standard designs may still be at the top of your list based on your ring style goals, but if you feel like custom is the route you would like to take then buckle in for a bit of a ride. Once you pick a jeweler and have a basic design scheme in mind your next steps are to select the center diamond or gemstone with the jeweler, and then move to the sketch or CAD design phase. Once you approved of the stone and the ring specifications, the ring will take another 2-4 weeks to be crafted from scratch. Hence, the whole process takes about 6-8 weeks on average.
Need some personalized ring wisdom in regards to your timeline? We are happy to chat with you about the best strategies based on your schedule. And it's free!
Thanks to Chris Easter of The Man Registry & Grooms Advice for warning dudes about the lameness of holiday engagement ring shopping. We're here to help! Drop us a line. xoxo, The Birds
The holidays are one of the best opportunities to research your girlfriend’s jewelry taste. It’s a time we check in with the most important and influential people in our lives. Women will think very deeply about how they will represent themselves at holiday functions. Just like Veuve Cliquot, the holidays are when girls wear “the good stuff.” She may wear feathered hoops to the beach, but keep an eye out for the jewelry she wears at Thanksgiving dinner with your family or toasting to a New Year at your office party. Does she go for classic and understated? Edgy and experimental? Light, delicate and feminine? Artsy?
Helpful hint: Take notes on your phone, or better yet, try to get a good picture. This will help you remember details later, especially if you had a few too many glasses of holiday cheer. If you need help analyzing your photos you are welcome to send us a copy. We will be happy to take a look, ask some questions and point you in a direction.
Jewelry may be the paramount personal adornment to express her style. This is an excellent time to learn about her preferences for important jewelry.
The best part of a proposal is that it marks a pivotal moment in life that neither person will forget. Plan your proposal moment as if you are painting a memory for you and your fiancée to look back on when you are retired and sitting together, hand-in-hand on your front porch.
Let's start with the background. Do you two feel drawn to glittering nighttime cityscapes? Many fancy downtown hotels have rooftop gardens with amazing views of the city at night. Or a stunning forested vista? Camping is always a great excuse to get away from it all and be alone together. Would you prefer a crowd of people cheering when she says yes or the quiet sweetness of a private moment?