A Julia Deville ring from e.g.etal. Image by Gold & Grit

Choosing an engagement ring can be daunting for many grooms, after all, picking out a ring is something you may not have done before. Personally, I’d never been into a jeweller prior to buying my wife’s ring.

I can still picture that afternoon.

I was buzzed in at the door, which made me nervous enough, then I was confronted by endless rows of rings shining bright under purpose-built lighting. Where should I start? The only clue I had was that my wife liked simple elegance. Oh, and silver!Two clues. I was like Indiana Jones venturing into the Temple of Doom, only there was no way to know when (or if) I found the prize.

Since it’s engagement month here at Polka Dot Groom, I thought I’d go straight to an expert who can help shed light on the engagement ring process for those grooms who are brave enough to go it alone.

My expert? Emma Goodisir, Director of e.g.etal. – a Melbourne jewellery gallery, dedicated to contemporary designs.

Selecting an engagement ring is “one of the most significant pieces of jewellery you will ever buy”, Emma says. “The intention is for it to be worn for a lifetime and for it to be the piece that symbolises your relationship. So when you think about that, it can be quite daunting.”

Agreed. Ok, so picture a nervous groom-to-be wondering into a jewellery store for the first time. How do you make him feel at ease?

“When a client comes in to e.g.etal, we take time explain the process of buying or commissioning a ring, because we understand it’s most likely something they’ve never done before. We take a relaxed and warm approach, and try to get to know the person and understand their needs. Our staff aim to make the process as seamless as possible – we are the client’s link to the artist, so we take care of all the details, and communicate regularly.”

The good news is, Emma says it’s not as hard as you’d think. “We receive feedback from customers all the time who say, ‘We expected that it would be really daunting, but actually, it was a really enjoyable experience.’ Buying an engagement ring can actually be joyful, fascinating and memorable. Have fun!”

A Julia Deville ring from e.g.etal. Image by e.g.etal

A Julia Deville ring from e.g.etal. Image by Gold & Grit

Emma did note that it is becoming “more and more common” for couples to come in and choose a ring together. “They really enjoy the process of commissioning a piece that is a true expression of themselves and their relationship. Plus, commissioning a piece from an artist is extra special, because you will end up with a ring that is very unique to you.”

But for you would-be grooms who are going it alone, Emma helped me assemble a handy list for when you take those first few brave steps through the doors of a jeweller.

What are the three things you should ask when speaking to a jeweller?

  1. Is this stone suitable for everyday wear?
  2. Can the ring be resized?
  3. If you are giving the ring as a surprise proposal, what is the jeweller’s policy for return or exchange if the ring isn’t exactly right?

How do I know if I’m buying the right ring size?

It’s better to buy the ring that you like, regardless of size, and then involve the partner after the proposal in commissioning the ring in the correct size. This can also give your partner the opportunity to make design changes, such as a different coloured stone or metal, and gives you both a chance to come in together and share the experience.

Mr Houndstooth tip: I checked which ring my wife wore on her ring finger, then took that with me to the jewellers to get the right size!

When it comes to clarity, how do I know if my diamond has flaws?

Don’t worry about flaws! They are natural imperfections, and they are a beautiful reminder of the diamond’s origins and character. A diamond’s ‘flaws’ are its unique fingerprint. They are remnants of the incredible forces of nature, over millions of years, that created the stone.

Mr Houndstooth tip: I never knew there were grades of diamond, but there are. As Emma says, don’t stress too much about it, but it’s good to know they exist going in.

An Emma Goodsir ring from e.g.etal. Image by e.g.etal

An Emma Goodsir ring from e.g.etal. Image by Long Way Home Photography

How do I know how much to spend?

It’s a good idea to have a budget in mind, because that will determine the size and quality of the stone, which is a major contributor to the price. Setting a budget and communicating that to the jeweller allows them to source a stone that will get you the best value for money.

In our situation, the prices are firm. When you buy from e.g.etal, you are getting a handmade piece from an independent artist. Our artists spend a lot of time on design, construction and seeking out exactly the right stones and materials. They set a fair price for their materials and labour.

Mr Houndstooth tip: While prices are firm at e.g.etal, many other jewellers seem to list ring prices in the same way that car dealers list prices. Assume you can get a discount, but be tactful. I find the best way to broach the subject is to ask: “And is this the final price on this?”

How do I select a style of ring?

Go for something that really speaks to you about your partner’s personality. Whether it’s asymmetrical, colourful, delicate, matches their eyes or says something about where you met. For example, the ring might have a tiny blue stone set to one side because it’s your partner’s favourite colour. Or perhaps you’ll chose a ring with a name that reminds you of a treasured holiday. Personal sentiment and meaning is important.

Mr Houndstooth tip: Love this tip from Emma. As I said above, I had a general idea of what my wife wanted, and then I got to choose the ring I thought she would like the most. It makes it that much more special.


Ms Zebra Says: What a decision to make!? This is some great information for Groom’s to remember if taking the leap to choose a ring!

About the author Mr Houndstooth: I am a happily married man. I enjoy a fine whisky, a new suit and swashbuckling around town with my beautiful bride. Looking back on my wedding day always makes me smile, even though it began to rain just as I said ‘I do’.