I was initially hesitant to share my experience choosing an engagement ring because this is not a story where I look at Etsy and see all the pretty rings there and I go look for something similar in store or the mat goes to a jeweler to get it custom-made (that’s what my dad did for my mom’s wedding ring). But it’s also not a story where money is tight and I have to give up my dream ring. It’s a story that I haven’t seen online (at least among Malay BTBs) which made me have my reservations putting it up on the Internet for everyone to see.
It’s been 5 months since I got my ring so I’ve gave it some thought and I think it would benefit some people who end up in a situation like mine.
When the mat and I started seriously talking about getting married, we didn’t see the need to get engaged. To us, an engagement only means “I chope you” but it didn’t change anything else. “I chope you” could have been important if I had a pesky suitor who didn’t know the meaning of no (looking at you, Malaysian dramas that think that a man’s refusal to say no is supposed to be romantic) or if he had some girl throwing herself at him every other day, but it was just the two of us doing our own thing. So the initial agreement between the both of us was each of us gets a wedding ring.
And then the parents got involved and were appalled because their children didn’t even know meminang was a thing and that led to me needing to get an engagement ring. It’s not necessary but his mother wanted me to have a ring. So I figured okay, let’s look for engagement rings.
Personally, I have never seen the appeal of a diamond engagement ring. Growing up no women I knew owned a diamond ring. My grandmother has a plain gold ring. My mother’s ring was inspired by Cartier’s Trinity ring. I saw a lot of gold rings (some with coloured rocks, some without) in the Malay community. To me, the diamond ring was more of a rich Chinese thing, a mat salleh thing.
As I grew older I learnt about blood diamonds, that a diamond’s value drops drastically once you buy it, that the concept of a diamond ring to show your love only got popular in the early 1900s thanks to DeBeers’ iconic slogan for their campaign to get people to buy their diamond rings. And I was like WELL THEN I might as well get a ring with a pretty stone that I actually like.
So that’s what I planned. We set a budget for the ring, I went to Etsy, and after a few weeks I pretty much had the top 5 rings and we were at that point of “to buy on Etsy or to get a jeweler to do something similar?” We were concerned that the ring might not fit me right but I had read online that many people went to get their ring finger measured at a store and then provide the Etsy seller the ring size. He was searching how much it would cost us to resize the ring if shit happens.
He told his mom about our plans and she was weary about ordering the ring online because she was afraid we’d get cheated. After that discussion, she gave him a catalogue. I asked him if she wanted us to buy from that specific store and he had said “No la just a suggestion. We can still look around.”
We decided to consider looking for/doing up a similar ring. We found a company that could customize the ring and my colleagues chipped in about how much we should be paying.
And then one day he tells me that his mother wanted me to specifically have a diamond ring and she was going to pay for it. She had been going around looking at diamond rings and she’d seen some that she wanted me to try on.
I’m going to pause this story to say this: This is legit proof that you cannot rely on your fiancee to interpret what your future MIL is trying to say. Ladies, trust your damn gut. Your mat will not realize what is going on until it slaps him in the face.
She wanted me to have a diamond ring because she had one and she feels that it’s a must-have. She wanted a ring that would last me decades, like hers, and it had to be of some standard. The older generation still see diamond rings as a big deal, and she had decided that her future daughter-in-law was not going to buy her ring from some shady seller online. No, she was going to buy a ring with a certified diamond that was going to impress everyone who sees it.
Was I upset that I now had to go look at rings that I had no interest in and eventually had to pick one? Yes. I’m not going to lie, I was frustrated. But was it something that I was going to have to swallow and make the best of it? Yes.
Now at this point, I know a lot of people are going to be like “Oh my god what??? Gurl you can’t just accept it it’s something you’re going to wear for the rest of your life!!” And I could have done that but then it would have soured my relations with his mom. And you might disagree but having a decent relationship with your mother is law is important. Unless you are only going to meet her once a year at a family gathering and she doesn’t have any impact on you or your spouse’s life for the other 364 days, you cannot have a screwed up relationship with your MIL. It will affect your relationship with your spouse because it’s his/her mother. She will always have an influence on them.
The second reason why I kowtowed was because she meant well. It might not be what I want, but if it is that important to her to the point that she went to look at rings during her free time and take down the models that she thought were worthy to be put on my finger…fine. It wasn’t as if she asked me to downgrade. In some ways I guess you could say it was an upgrade.
That being said, I am certainly not suggesting to be a pushover. Some things you can kowtow and agree, but some things you might have to take a stand. The mat’s mother was not a happy camper when she found out we wanted to book The Landmark, and my mother was not a happy camper when she heard we wanted to have a wedding dinner, but it was something that the both of us really wanted and they would just have to deal. And they have. You just gotta figure out which fights you want to go all out for.
Eventually we went to two jewellers: Meyson Jewellery and Poh Heng. I got my ring at Meyson for the following reasons:
- Price. A diamond at Meyson vs a diamond at Poh Heng had a price difference of about $2.5k. PH’s rep told us that they use only D grade diamonds and was very proud of this, but frankly unless everyone is going to inspect your ring under a magnifying glass the human eye is unable to tell the difference between a D, an E, and an F grade diamond.
- The reps at Meyson were very informative. They explained everything, like they had actual charts. A device that lets you look at the serial number of your diamond. The mat asked them about princess cut diamonds and they explained that while pretty, the cut didn’t show off the brilliance of the diamond. You couldn’t shine your ring at someone’s face and blind them.
- To me, there was a better selection at Meyson. If you want a massive two carat ring then go ahead to Poh Heng cause that’s where it’s at, but the one I went to had one 0.5 ring and the rest were 0.7 and above. And the rep was pushing me to buy a 1.5 carat ring that I could legit use as a weapon. I didn’t even bother to ask the price.
It came down to two rings that looked almost identical, just that one was a slightly smaller D grade and one was a slightly bigger G grade. The G grade was almost $800 cheaper, and I couldn’t tell the difference between the G and the D. Even the rep was like “To the naked eye there’s no difference”, and joked that a few years down the road I could ask for an upgrade for my anniversary anyway.
I got the G grade diamond. It might not be the D grade that Poh Heng bro boasted about but it’s still pretty damn shiny, it can probably scar someone who tries to attack me, and it even came with a magnifying glass for anyone who wants to inspect it up close.
More importantly, I’ve gotten used to it. Today I’m not thinking about that emerald that I saw on Etsy, or those engagement and wedding ring combos that form a beautiful design when worn together. I’m okay with my ring. Weirdly enough, there is some sort of higher standard when you wear a diamond ring? Someone once asked if I was going to get married at a void deck and another person said “Void deck? Have you seen her ring?” Which is problematic but you know, you..uh… take the backhanded compliment (?) and then educate them about how expensive void deck weddings are these days.
And I guess what I’m saying is that you might not be able to have everything you want during this process, and that’s okay. We deal, we move on.