How to Buy an Engagement Ring for Your Girlfriend, James Bond Style

Perfect the moment you ask her to marry you, by choosing a ring that fits.

When a man decides to pop the question, one of the biggest questions he needs to answer is, “What kind of ring would does my fiancée-to-be want?” It is definitely a difficult one, but it can be answered with some simple James Bond-style tactics. You want to surprise her, so you also want to find the answer covertly. If you are planning on surprising your future fiancée, here are some pointers to help you out.

Ask her friends. Asking your girlfriend’s friends is a great idea, but you have to ask the questions with care. The key is to be subtle and nonchalant about the questions. It is also a very good idea to ask only one or two questions about it, so that her friends won’t catch on to your intentions. A good way to get information subtly is to start off by talking about fashion, leading into jewelry, and asking her friends what kind of jewelry they like. The kind of jewelry they like can be a good indicator of what your girlfriend likes. After talking about fashion and jewelry for a while, you might get away with talking about jewelry in the context of engagement rings. Remember, you have to talk as if your questions aren’t personal or pointed, just normal socializing.

Take family members out for lunch. You may want to ask her family member(s) about her ring tastes, if your girlfriend is particularly close to her family. This is a great idea if you are close to her family as well. You may be able to influence them into helping you surprise your girlfriend. People like the idea of surprising other people because it’s fun and can make the person who is surprised happier. Family members would love to see their sister or daughter be swept up in your romantic gesture.

Look at her Pinterest and Facebook likes. This can be a very good way to find out what she likes in jewelry. For instance, on Pinterest you may be able to see what specific jewelry she has pinned. If she hasn’t pinned or re-pinned any jewelry, you may be able to get some ideas from other things she has pinned. If she pins elegant fashion items, then it may be a good idea to stick to a sizable, traditional diamond ring that she can show off to her friends.

For Facebook, it is a similar story. You may not even need access to her Facebook account. You just need to be her “friend.” All you do is go to her profile and check out her Facebook Likes. If any of the Likes consist of certain fashion themes that include jewelry, you have something to work from.

People watch with her. This is a very subtle James Bond/ninja tactic that works well. All you do is go people watching. If you don’t know what people watching is, it’s exactly what it sounds like: You go somewhere in public and talk about people with your girlfriend. You can do this while you are both off shopping for stuff. You can ask her things like, “Do you see that lady’s ring? Do you like that, or is it weird?” More often, she will think that she is playing a fun game with you and won’t think that you are trying to get information for an engagement ring. The trick is not to ask about rings too much. Just ask enough to get the information you need.

Look at her rings. This is a very good indicator and shouldn’t be overlooked. The most important take away when you do this is to get your girlfriend’s ring size. Borrow a ring that she uses on her left or right ring finger. Once you find a ring like this you can bring it into the store to get it measured. If you are afraid that she will notice that her ring is gone, use a bar of soap, some clay, or anything else that will leave an impression when a ring is pressed into it. Once you have the impression, you can bring it in to a jeweler.

Get her ring size. Try checking out one of many ring sizing charts made by Diamond Doctor. Measure your girlfriend’s ring in millimeters for the sizes instead of comparing her ring to a picture. If you do this you may not have the right size. Images may not be at 100% of life size.

Know her style. In addition to size, look at the styles of rings that she likes to wear. If the bands are usually a silver color, maybe go with a silver colored band like platinum, white gold, silver, or titanium. If her rings feature large or chunky stones, think about getting a bigger diamond. It’s also a good idea to look at the style of clothing she wears. If she dresses in a traditional or classic style, get a mainstream ring such as diamond with a gold band. If she prides herself on being different, look for a style that is unique to her.

In a worst case scenario, your girlfriend doesn’t wear rings. In this case it will be very difficult to find the ring size. Try putting a string around her finger when she is sleeping and then measuring the distance the string covered with a ruler in millimeters. Then go to your online measurement tool to figure out what size ring would be best for her.

Once you have figured out what your girlfriend would love in a ring, the next step is to pick it out. There are many different styles in a ring and hopefully by now you will be able to pick the right style. For ring styles, Diamond Doctor has a good variety that you can check out for some ideas.

Ultimately, it is not that big of a deal if the ring is just slightly off because a jeweler can make adjustments for her. But it can make a big difference in the moment when you’ve just asked your girlfriend to marry you, if the ring fits.


Read more in Weddings on The Good Life.

Image credit: Tela Chhe/Flickr

About Gabriel Nelson

Gabriel Nelson is a man of 25 years old. He is the the kind of guy that loves to watch super hero movies, to read Harry Potter, and play video games. Gabe enjoys freelance content writing occasionally and tends to write about his passions. Gabriel also loves water, streams, brooks, lakes and oceans, which is probably due to once being a crab fisherman in Alaska for a couple of years.


  1. Amazing tips. Here are some tips, which will be helpful for buying an Engagement Ring:-
    1. Choose the right band
    2. Choose the right gemstone
    3. Choose the right size
    4. Choose a good jeweler
    5. Fix your budget
    6. Choose the right cut of diamond
    7. Purchase the ring

  2. Very helpful tips. I really enjoyed reading the blog because I agree to most of them. My brother will certainly be happy when he knows about these tips because he is having a hard time popping the question and finding the right ring.

  3. Couple more tips…

    Consider alternatives to diamonds. Not just because of the ethical issues around diamonds, but because other gems are beautiful too! Depends a bit on the woman – if she’s very traditional, maybe only a diamond will do. But if she’s a “dare to be different” kind of person who doesn’t really jive with mainstream trends and fashion, she might be delighted by a colorful ring.

    Consider family heirlooms as potential engagement rings – from your family or from hers. (Goes without saying, do so with permission from the family in question!) My BIL used his wife’s grandmother’s ring to propose and even set off alarm bells because he took it to get resized/repaired before proposing, and she noticed it was missing and panicked.

    And hey, even if that happens – relax! It will make a funny story later.

  4. I know, it is daunting to get married, and to find the perfect ring. But I would have loved to read, that Good Men also worry about the social and economic effects of our traditions. As most of you know, most diamonds (which by the way are truly not rare stones, but whose value has been created by the market), originate from areas controlled by illegal factions that commit human rights violations. Also, Legal Mining companies, and governments incur in human rights violations in the mining of diamonds.
    The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (set up in by the United Nations to impose requirements on Participants to certify that shipments of rough diamonds are free from conflict diamonds) along with other certifications, ensure that your ’till death do us apart’, doesn’t entail the death of others. You can find online many resources for ethical diamonds, socially and environmentally responsible. Plus, they should not be more expensive. In entails care and responsibility, like your future life. In some countries, chemical technology has allowed for the replication of diamonds. And of course, there is always the option of going for something, a bit more genuine, and truly rare, as love should be.

  5. You’re underestimating the alerts that ANY of these activities will send up within your girlfriend’s social circle. Women are finely honed to all indications of marriage intentions – talking about any spherical clothing, especially jewelry, will link her brain (and her friends’ brains) to an engagement ring. If you’re ready to propose, be ready for her to anticipate your proposal, even psychically. Just be sure to chose your confidants carefully and have them sworn to discretion. If you involve others in your plans, remember you’ll have to answer to them if her answer isn’t what you’re hoping it will be. The worst thing you can do is sent up an alert without intention to follow through on it. She’ll spend the rest of your time together holding her breath. Best of luck!

    • I’d generally agree that few women are 100% surprised by a proposal, unless it’s really out of the blue, like before they’ve even discussed the possibility of marriage. Even excluding the involvement of friends, if you’re planning to propose soon, she probably already knows or at least suspects.

      Tangentially related – one of my other favorite sites is an advice column, and there was a letter recently in which the writer described some potentially shady, distanced, withdrawn behavior and she presented it to the jury of commenters for interpretation. The consensus seemed to be “He’s cheating/preparing to dump you, or he’s getting ready to propose,” backed up by many anecdotes about how the commenters’ husbands became all secretive and shifty pre-proposal because they were trying to keep the proposal plans a secret.

      So seriously – even if you don’t deliberately talk to her social circle about it, she’s likely to pick up on other signals anyway, and will probably run these by her social circle herself!

      • Edit: the letter writer was talking about her boyfriend’s sudden withdrawn, distanced behavior. Somehow I missed that.

  6. Love it. Must have been an inside job.


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