It’s the essential piece of jewellery you’ll ever own, which is why you want to do everything right when it comes to your engagement ring etiquette. From who should do the ring selecting to how much to spend, there’s no shortage of important engagement ring details to consider when getting engaged. And, on the rare instance you end up disliking your ring, how do you play it cool?

Giving and receiving an engagement ring is a time-honoured process that kicks off an exciting time in your life. Getting engaged is also a potentially sensitive time, given the number of expectations and rituals surrounding this significant milestone. Learn the various aspects of etiquette surround engagement rings to help you make the right decision for your particular situation. Looking for an engagement ring? Look no further, Temple & Grace has you covered.

Cultural Traditions of Engagement Rings

Thee engagement ring tradition dates back to Ancient Egypt, where lovers tied reeds or other plants around their left ring finger, believing a vein in that finger connected directly to the heart. The Ancient Romans continued the tradition, upgrading to gold bands. In 1477, Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave the world’s first diamond engagement ring, with a unique design he commissioned for his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy.

Diamonds and other gemstones waxed and waned in popularity until 1947 when De Beers launched the slogan “A Diamond is Forever,” popularising the diamond engagement ring as a symbol of eternal love.

Over the centuries, the prevalence and style of engagement rings have changed with the times. Different parts of the world maintain different traditions, but in the Western world, engagement rings have become a popular rite of passage for couples who decide to tie the Western world not.

How and When to Ask

In terms of how and when to pop the question, there is no right or wrong answer. Tradition dictates that the moment should be a surprise for your bride, and typically, couples wait at least 6 months to a year before deciding to make such a serious commitment. But if the time is right, there’s nothing stopping you from asking whenever you want.

Some couples get engaged in the spur of the moment and then choose to select a ring later. Other couples decide to get engaged and select a ring together, but the guy often still tries to make the exact moment itself a surprise. There’s also no rule saying that the guy has to propose to the girl — we support and endorse all relationships and hope whoever wants to pop the question dares to have their special moment.

The proposal itself entirely depends on your relationship, but a good rule of thumb is to plan something thoughtful, meaningful, and specific to your relationship (maybe involve your hobbies, a callback to your first date, etc.). Be sure to take your partner’s personality into account and do not plan a sizeable public proposal if they are typically shy and easily embarrassed.

It’s up to you whether you want the ring itself to be a surprise or something you select together. If your girlfriend merely drops hints about what she wants or shares her Pinterest inspiration board, it’s a good idea to take your lead from her so you can be sure to select a ring you’ll know she’ll love. If you want the proposal to be a complete surprise, consider popping the question before you ever look at rings, then you can make the choice together on a special outing.

Who Pays and How Much?

How much to spend is an obvious question when picking a ring. Popular (and traditional) rules suggest that a man should spend two to three months’ worth of his salary on an engagement ring. While that is the conventional dictate, the only real rule is that you should spend what you can afford. If dropping two months’ salary on a ring means you can’t make your rent, then don’t make such a great purchase.

Select a ring that’s within a realistic budget for you, and if you feel it’s not adequate, plan to upgrade the ring at a future anniversary. Often a ring in your account but selected with great tenderness and care is far more meaningful than a 10-carat rock — many couples often choose to keep their more simple rings as a symbol of their love and where they were in life when they got engaged.

Traditionally, the man has always purchased the engagement ring as a gift for his future wife (often, this has been because the bride and her family regularly end up footing the bill for the wedding). Nowadays, things have become much more equitable, with many partners splitting and sharing their marriage costs.

With this trend, some have also decided to split the cost of the engagement ring. However, you should only broach this topic if your partner offers or insists — it is not appropriate to ask her if she’ll consider splitting it with you. The cost of the ring is your responsibility unless she suggests an alternative option. Additionally, many couples are now opting for his and their engagement rings. If you go that route, she will also be purchasing a ring for you, so it’s likely you won’t want to split the cost.

Selecting an Engagement Ring

With so many options for engagement rings, it’s essential to consider various etiquette-related factors when deciding what type of ring – if any – is right for your relationship and how to go about making this necessary purchase.


An engagement ring isn’t required to propose; some couples get engaged and then shop for the ring together so that the woman can choose her own ring. Other teams get swept away with a spontaneous proposal long before a ring is purchased. Waiting on a ring is a good idea if a team wants to save money for a unique ring but doesn’t want to wait to get engaged. Of course, there’s also the option of preceding an engagement ring altogether. While these types of rings are traditional, they are certainly not necessary.

Paying for the Ring

Traditional engagement etiquette dictates that the groom buys the engagement ring. However, some couples decide to split the cost. Men should consider their fiancée’s personality before suggesting she contribute to the ring payment, as even some very modern women expect the man to buy the ring. If the woman is generally a romantic, it is highly likely she expects her fiancé to carry out this tradition. When couples decide to share the cost of the ring, planning and budgeting can be an excellent opportunity to get insight into one another’s economic viewpoints long before the marriage, which can help form the basis for a healthy financial future.

Stone Selection

While traditional engagement rings are set with diamonds, newer rings can be charged with any gemstone or a combination of gemstones. Classic looks can still be maintained by having a central diamond framed with different accent gems, or consider a more modern or bolder look of a colored gemstone surrounded by diamonds. The most important thing is to feel comfortable with a ring that suits you.

Reusing a Ring

While ideally, each engagement would lead to weddings, and each marriage would last “until death do us part,” that is necessarily the case. Broken concentrations and rising divorce rates may mean that one party may already have an engagement ring on hand. The decision to reuse a ring is an intensely personal one: the wearer may simply like the style of ring and see no need for another. On the other hand, one or both partners may wish to have a fresh start with a new ring unassociated with past relationships. This should be a mutual decision, and previously-used rings can always be reworked or slightly reset in order to be renewed without extensive renovations.

Traditionally engagement rings feature diamonds, but you can select whatever gemstone fits your preference (and your budget). Many couples nowadays are opting for less traditional rings with sapphires, pearls, and more, in place of diamonds.

When it comes to reusing a ring, this is a delicate issue. If you’re using a family heirloom, that is generally a beautiful gesture that gifts a ring full of family memories and traditions. You’re including your partner in your family history of love and commitment, and that’s a beautiful thing.

However, we would advise against reusing a ring from a broken engagement or a past marriage. Typically couples like to start fresh and don’t want the ghost of a failed marriage/engagement or tragedy along with their engagement ring. On a similar note, if you break off a meeting, it is considered polite to offer to return the ring (barring extraordinary circumstances).

Family Heirlooms

Heirloom engagement rings are not only symbolic of the giver’s love; they are also full of tradition and family memories. Ensure other family members agree with the decision, so there will not be familial strife over who possesses the jewellery. Also be sure to make provisions for the ring to be returned to the family in the event the relationship does not work out.

Men’s Engagement Rings

While most men wear only a wedding band, some want to wear an engagement ring to symbolise their impending nuptials. Men’s engagement rings vary significantly from women’s, but there are many options for style preferences. If the man does choose to wear this type of jewelry, be aware that conservative family members may assume it means the wedding has already taken place. The couple should be prepared to explain their preferences.

Wearing the Ring

While the final decision on where to put your engagement ring ultimately lies with you, it’s a good idea to be aware of traditional ring placement before, during and after the wedding.

Ring Placement

Modern tradition dictates the engagement ring be worn on the ring finger of the left hand. With jewelers advocating right hand rings without relationship affiliations, this is the best way to indicate your engagement as well as follow proper etiquette. Check out our extensive range of engagement rings at Temple & Grace.

After the Wedding

The wedding band is traditionally worn closest to the heart, with the engagement ring on top.

During the Ceremony

At the wedding, the groom will slide the wedding band on the bride’s finger, so there can be a dilemma as to what to do with the engagement ring during the ceremony. There are no specific rules that have to be followed. Some women simply leave the engagement rings on their fingers and switch placement later. Others wear their engagement rings on their right hand until after the ceremony. Some couples have the bridal set soldered together before the wedding; in this case, the groom can place both rings on her finger during the ceremony, in the proper order.

Dealing With Potential Problems

While everyone hopes for a smooth engagement beginning with a ring and ending with another, it doesn’t always work out that way. Learn to handle the most common problems as they arise so you can take them properly.

Broken Engagements

Some states’ laws dictate that the ring must be given back because it was a gift. Other states agree that if the man broke off the engagement, the woman has the right to keep the ring. Other states look at engagement rings as unconditional gifts that the bride can stay in despite the circumstances. If the ring is an heirloom, there may be a question about the ethics of returning the ring regardless of what the law allows. In general, it is in good taste for the woman to offer to return the ring after a broken engagement, while the man is free to refuse it. For very expensive or heirloom rings, couples may want to have a prenuptial agreement drawn up before the wed for a very expensive or heirloom ring.

Disliking Your Ring

This could be a problematic dilemma if you didn’t have any input on your ring style, but your fiancé spent a lot of time selecting it or if it is a family heirloom. To avoid hurt feelings and hidden resentments, be honest and discuss the situation. Make it clear that you don’t question the emotion behind the gift but that the style simply doesn’t suit you. It may be possible to restyle the ring, using the stone but changing the band and setting, or you may wish to return the ring and select a more appropriate one together.

Engagement Ring Symbolism

An engagement ring is more than just a sparkling piece of jewellery. It is a symbol of a couple’s relationship, and it should be treated with all the proper respect due to that relationship. When it comes to engagement rings, a good understanding of etiquette is critical to honour both the ring itself and the commitment it represents.

Engagement Ring Etiquette You Need to Know

Ahead, we’re providing answers to all your most pressing engagement ring etiquette questions to help make this exciting process feel way less stressful.

Can I Help My Partner Pick the Engagement Ring?

Sixty-two per cent of couples now go engagement ring shopping together. If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, be sure to communicate those feelings to your S.O. Simply tell them that you don’t want to make a joint shopping trip because you think it’s more romantic to be surprised. Then, show your mom, your sister, and your BFF some photos of rings you like and ask them to share some guidance. At Temple and Grace, we have a huge range of engagement rings Sydney.

Can My Sister Help My Partner Pick the Engagement Ring?

Absolutely! You want someone who already knows your style to be at their side steering them toward the rings you love and away from the rings you don’t. Feel free to be as specific with your sister as you’d like. If you’re obsessed with emerald-cut diamonds nested in a perfect ring stack, tell her. If you’ve been spending every lunch break shopping for rings online, send her links to all your favourites.

If you’d rather have a bigger diamond with a few flaws than a smaller diamond with none, slip her that little nugget of info, too. With your sister involved, your partner will get a sounding board, you’ll get a ring you’ll adore, and she’ll have the thrill of being part of one of the biggest moments in your life.

How Much Is Too Much to Spend?

The answer depends entirely on your future spouse’s financial situation. It’s a widely held belief that they should shell out about three months of their salary, but this is actually a misconception—your partner should spend whatever they feel comfortable with. For instance: If they’re heavily in debt or concerned about job security, they may want to consider scaling back. Worried your S.O. will be tempted to go overboard? Let them know that in a casual conversation.

What If My Partner Doesn’t Know My Ring Size?

If you don’t already know your exact size, check out our extensive ring size guide for an accurate measurement. You could also get your ring size professionally measured at a jeweller and have your mom or sister pass the info along to your significant other if the proposal is under wraps. Or, if you own a ring that you frequently wear on your left ring finger, conspicuously leave it out for your partner to steal and take to a jeweller for size comparison.

What If I Don’t Like the Ring?

If your partner took the initiative and went engagement ring shopping entirely on their own, then props to them. Give them some credit where it’s due, but at the same time, know that this endeavour can be challenging if you end up not liking the ring (worst-case scenario). So, what’s a girl to do? First, at least sleep on it. The ring might actually grow on you. If not, be honest with your future spouse. Start off by explaining how much you love them and highlight parts of the ring that you do like, then express how it’s not exactly what you envisioned or doesn’t match your style. If you’re worried about hurting their feelings, you can keep quiet. At the end of the day, you’re marrying the love of your life and that should ultimately overshadow any ring woes. Just make sure you get a say in the wedding ring.

An engagement is an exciting time! Not only for the couple but for their family and loved ones. Once you are engaged, the first thing everyone wants to see is the beautiful ring on your finger. (That may also be why about 30% of brides-to-be get a manicure if they suspect a proposal is about to happen).

While toting around a stunning and unique diamond has its perks, there are some common engagement ring questions many couples have to figure out along the way. Luckily, we’ve got you covered with this guide all about the best etiquette for engagement rings!


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