Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

December 20, 2023

Wedding Wednesday: My Ring Shopping Experience. 💍

    Time for my second Wedding Wednesday post! I already know that this whole series is going to be so much fun to write and document over the next couple of years. I kicked Wedding Wednesday off two weeks ago by sharing our proposal story!  The next few Wedding Wednesday posts that I wanted to write included the full story of how Ryan and I met and started dating, my experience with ring shopping and finding my dream ring, and an early wedding planning Q&A. I did a poll on Instagram about which post you'd like to read first, and the full story of how we met got the most votes! However, I know that will be a bit of a longer post for me to brainstorm and write out (similar to the proposal post), so I've decided to put that one off until after the holidays. I knew that today's topic (ring shopping) would be an easier post for me to write, so I thought I'd knock that out for this week! 

      The answer to the big question: Yes, I did pick out my ring myself! And I am so glad that I did. Growing up, I always assumed that my future husband would pick out my perfect ring himself. I imagined that in some point of dating, I'd show him inspiration pictures of what I liked, and then he would just go from there. So romantic and easy-peasy, right?

      As I got into my mid and then late 20s, I realized I had no idea what type of engagement ring I'd actually like. A lot of the pictures on Pinterest of rings that I'd saved in my early 20s seemed to be very outdated styles now. After Ryan and I realized we were far enough into our dating relationship to be having discussions about engagement and marriage, I started getting worried that if I didn't give Ryan any guidance, he'd pick out something that wasn't really "me" and I didn't want to wear every day for the rest of my life. Which would be a tragedy since rings aren't a cheap purchase! But what type of ring was "very me?" I had never tried any on! 

      In Winter 2023, we started talking about me starting ring shopping around March/April 2023 (near our one-year anniversary). I really wanted Ryan to come with me to various jewelry stores and thought it would be so fun for us to do together. Ryan disagreed though and didn't want us to do it together. He thought it wouldn't be nearly as romantic, and also was worried that salespeople might be really pushy for him to buy on the spot if he was there with me. I thought those were fair points! 

     Ryan and I also talked early on about a lab grown diamond vs natural, which I think is an important conversation to have. Prior to ring shopping, I didn't know the diamond cut and style of engagement ring I wanted, but I did know that I wanted a large and very sparkly ring. Dainty and small isn't my vibe for an engagement ring diamond. 😂 I wanted big and I wanted sparkly! And for what I wanted; a lab grown diamond was 100% the most cost-effective option. Lab grown diamonds have come a long way in the past decade. They aren't cheaper alternatives like moissanite or cubic zirconia. They are actual diamonds in their chemistry! Just made in a lab versus from the earth. That also means that they are 100% more ethical as well, since there are no questionable mining processes. And the cost savings is substantial. I knew I could get Ryan to get me something a good bit bigger if I was open to lab grown vs. natural, so it was a no brainer for me to be on board with it.

     The only thing I knew going into ring shopping with 100% certainty is that I wanted a platinum band, so the ring would be silver colored. I love gold jewelry and wear more of it than I do silver colored these days, but I've always known for an engagement ring that I wanted the band to be silver colored. I also knew I did not want white gold, because I have several friends with white gold rings, and they've told me that white gold can tarnish with wear and has to get re-dipped from time to time at the jewelry store, which sounded like such a hassle to me. Platinum is definitely an investment metal, but I knew I'd be saving Ryan a ton of money by being open to a lab grown diamond instead of natural, so the platinum band would be the "splurge" part of my ring. 

     I decided that I wanted to take a girlfriend with me for the first time that I went to look at rings, and then from there I'd probably do the rest myself. But the first time that I went ring shopping was by myself and totally unintentional! Last winter, I tok a gemstone cocktail ring of my grandmother's to get resized at a local jewelry store called Long Jewelers. The sales associate that I worked with was absolutely fantastic. While I was there to drop off my grandmother's ring, I asked her if I could look at a few engagement rings that I saw in the case, and she kindly showed me several. I didn't end up loving any of the styles that she showed me, but that was still helpful because because started to show me what I didn't like. I also liked that the salesperson was very positive about lab grown diamonds. For the record- even though my engagement ring isn't from there, I would 100% still recommend Long Jewelers for local jewelry purchases in Hampton Roads! Although they didn't have any ring styles that felt right for me that day, they still had a lot of styles to look at. And their staff is so nice! They did such a great job resizing my grandmother's ring. I would definitely return here in the future for other jewelry purchases or repairs. 😊

     I then invited my girlfriend Amanda to go with me to another jewelry store for my first "official" day of ring shopping. Amanda is married and a few years older than me, so I thought she'd be able to offer some good "big sister" type advice, and her perspective would be helpful to figure out what type of rings I liked. I am so glad that I had her with me for the next time that I went to a jewelry store, because my second ring shopping experience at a different store was very intense. I feel like the salesperson that we were paired with was a bit too high-pressure. He was also rude when I asked questions about lab grown diamonds vs. natural. If I'm being honest, his blunt nature kind of took some of the joy of ring shopping away. I am so glad Amanda was there because she thought to ask so many good questions and helped keep everything focused! At this store I did find a couple of styles that I liked, but the pushiness of the salesperson kind of turned me away from wanting to give them business, so I decided I'd keep looking around. This was the first time though that I considered an oval halo ring, which had never previously been on my radar!

The first oval halo ring that I found and liked! I knew this one wasn't it (since I didn't have a good experience at this jewelry store, and it was a little TOO big), but it made me want to start looking at more oval halo rings.

     A couple of weeks later, I tried out a different jewelry store by myself. Unfortunately, I didn't have the best experience here either. I didn't have a good salesperson, which can truly make of break a shopping experience. This time I didn't have a friend with me so I felt even more intimidated.

     Thank goodness that I didn't give up.... because the next jewelry store was it! I went to Adele Diamond on a random rainy afternoon in April. The place that I did physical therapy at this spring for my hip bursitis was near Adele, and I decided to stop in on a whim. And from the first few minutes in the store, I knew this would be a different experience. The salesperson working was genuinely nice, and I could tell that he didn't have a weird agenda. I mentioned lab grown diamonds within the first few minutes and he responded so positively about that. (I sadly don't remember this guy's name, but he was great!) What I really loved about Adele Diamond is that they have three large tables with hundreds of engagement ring models out in the open on display, so you can just play dress-up with all of the rings that catch your eye and have fun! It's not the stuffy experience of having to have a salesperson take out certain ones from behind a locked counter. (All of the model rings are cubic zirconia and sterling silver, so they are totally safe to be left in the open).  

     I tried on tons of rings since it was easy to try on as many as I wanted. Near the end of my visit, I found a pretty oval halo and tried it on. I was immediately in love. I knew this was the ring that I wanted to wear for the rest of my life!! My only complaint? The center stone was a little smaller than I liked. 😉 Hahaha. But I knew if the center stone was slightly bigger, it would be perfect! Below is the first photo of me trying on my ring (ignore that it's not properly on my finger, the model rings were all very tiny and didn't fit my ring finger at all). I was also pretty sure on the first visit that I wanted the engagement ring band to have diamonds in it, instead of a plain band like the model ring was on. 

First time trying on my ring at Adele Diamond!

     My mom was here visiting in early May, and I thought that taking her to see the ring that I liked might be fun. Ryan had told me pretty early on in our discussions about getting engaged / a future together that he likely wanted our proposal to be very private and not have our friends/families there. Since I knew my parents probably wouldn't be there the day that I got engaged, I thought that showing her the ring I liked while I had a chance to would be nice.  I also wanted to see my favorite ring one more time to see if I still liked it as much as the first time. 

     My second visit to Adele with my mom was the best! Dare I say even better than the first time? The first guy I worked with wasn't there, but we worked with another sales associate named Dan who was also fantastic. Dan is the one that ended up helping Ryan get my ring later on! I tried on a bunch of different styles on the second visit as well but was still absolutely in love with that pretty oval halo ring. It was also on this visit that I started loving the ring as-is on a plain silver-toned band, and not thinking that it needed to be set on a band with diamonds in it. I decided that I would leave the band up to Ryan. He could either go plain platinum, or a platinum band with diamonds in it. That would be the part of the ring up to him! 

My second visit to Adele Diamond, and my mom getting to see the ring I wanted!
      Ryan went to Adele Diamond and ordered my ring back in the summer. He decided to go with a plain platinum band instead of one with diamonds, and I'm so glad he did! It really allows the beautiful center stone to shine and be the center of attention. Because I was open to a lab grown diamond, Ryan was able to do a bigger stone than the model ring, just liked I hoped he would! Below is a picture of me really reacting to how big and sparkly the ring was. 😉 Just like I dreamed and wanted! 

Me realizing that the ring Ryan proposed with was indeed bigger than the model ring at Adele Diamond, just as I hoped it would be. 😉

     Thanks so much for taking the time to read about my ring shopping experience! As you can probably guess, I 100% recommend ring shopping if you're likely getting engaged and aren't sure what you want! I do think it is so risky to have your fiance pick out the ring without any input. It's something that you will hopefully be wearing every single day for the rest of your life, and it's an investment purchase! It should be something that you're super excited about. I would also recommend being open to lab grown diamonds- I'm so glad I was!

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese


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