Lord of the Ring

My boyfriend wants to give me an engagement ring for my birthday, and I’m all with it—except I know it’s going to be too small. He’s an understated kind of guy in general, and he makes a really good salary—but he hates being flashy. So I’m pretty sure the ring is going to be tasteful. And teeny. Is there a polite way to tell him to bump it up a couple of carats?

Sparkle Plenty

Imagine that—someone who wants to live within his means!

OK, I’m finished marveling.

Here’s the problem: If he likes being tasteful and understated, he probably wants his wife to be that way, too. So going all Candy Spelling on him is probably going to make him uncomfortable.

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I suggest you two spend one afternoon at a couple of jewelers looking at rings, trying on rings, and generally getting a feel for what you each are thinking. If you’re truly poles apart on what you each think looks good, survey says you get to choose (within reason) even though he’s buying it for you, because you’re the person who’s going to be wearing it. (Just as if you were buying him a watch, you’d want him to have what he likes—even though you’ve always hated, say, that rubber-and-titanium look…)

If you two can compromise, you might both be happy. He can get you a bigger ring (assuming you’re right that he can afford a larger one), and you can tone it down a little: a good-sized perfect solitaire in a pristine setting beats gaudy any day. And since you’ll be living happily ever after, there will probably be plenty of occasions when you’ll be able to luxuriate in your Elizabeth Taylor-sized anniversary baubles. 

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Karen Grigsby Bates is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News and co-author, with Karen Elyse Hudson of The New Basic Black: Home Training For Modern Times (Doubleday).

is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News and co-author, with Karen Elyse Hudson, of The New Basic Black: Home Training For Modern Times (Doubleday).

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