The Ring's The Thing

I am engaged and thrilled—love my fiancé, love his family.

Love that my family is happy our families will be joined, and

That his family feels the same way.

In fact, they were so happy, they gave him his grandmother’s

ring to pass on to me. 

Not so thrilling.

For one thing, it’s set in gold and I never wear gold.  (Not yellow gold, anyway,


I am a silver and platinum girl.  Gold makes my skin look green….)

For another thing, the setting is old-fashioned—lots of carving and curlicues and filigree.


And I like a very clean, modern look.

I love that they think enough of me to want to have Grandmama’s engagement ring, but quite honestly—it’s so not me.

What are my options?

 Goldie (not)

Dear Goldie:

The offer of the ring was a lovely tribute to you and how your family feels about you, but if you really don’t think you can stand looking at it on your finger, you have a few options.  Most involve (gently) telling the truth:

1)    “Sweetie, I am so honored that you’ve given me your grandmother’s ring—I know how much you loved her.  I’m wondering how you feel about combining the past with the future: Can we take the stone out and put it in a setting that will match our rings?”


2)    Or maybe you set the stone in a completely different way: “It’s a beautiful ring, but I wonder if we can think about taking Grandmama’s stone and putting it in a pendant?  It’d be like keeping her close to my heart…”

Stress how touched you are that his family has entrusted Grandmama’s ring to you.  Point out that you’re not rejecting the thought—you’re just trying to incorporate it into your own style.


Or you can wear it for a few weeks, and gently ease him into the idea of doing something else by, um, stretching the truth, if you’re comfortable with that:

3)    “I’m not sure why, but something in this setting makes my finger itch.  I thought it might just take a couple of weeks to get used to, but it seems to be a real allergy.  How would you feel it I had the stone set in a metal I know I can wear?”


Finally: you know they loved Grandmama, but how did they feel about the ring?  Some subtle sleuthing might yield a surprising answer.  I knew someone who’d been presented with her future mother-in-law’s engagement ring, and dutifully wore it until she and her fiancé’s mom spent the afternoon together bonding. 

“I’m so glad you like it,” his mom told her, picking up the bride-to-be’s hand and inspecting it.  “I didn’t have the heart to tell his father how much I hated it, so I wore it every day and hated it every day.  I was so glad to be able to give it up when you got engaged, and replace it with an anniversary ring!”


 She looked at her almost daughter-in -aw’s stricken face—then they both burst out laughing.

 “Oh my God—you hate it, too!”

 That was the moment they became friends for life.

 And yes, mom's original ring went in the drawer in case future grandchildren wanted it, and thanks to her mother-in-law’s lobbying, the groom presented his bride with a ring she loved.


 Sometimes it pays to ask.

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).


Have a great ring story?  Send it to us at Remember that your letter may be published unless you request that we not.

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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