Who it works for: The bold and brazen. You know exactly what you want, without a doubt. How to do it: Find clever ways to show your partner a picture of your favorite setting, cut and style. A web page left open to your dream engagement ring should definitely get the point across. A subtler way: While perusing magazines, point out pictures of rings you like and casually mention what you like about them. Or give the photos to a few friends and let them decide what to do with them. Timing tip: Don't show any pictures before your partner's prepared to buy a ring. If he/she isn't ready to propose, then showing a photo of the exact ring may make for a super-uncomfortable situation. The picture route works best if you've made it clear to one another that you plan to get engaged.
Shop Together for the Ring
Who it works for: The practical one. You'd rather have a ring that suits your style than a big surprise. How to do it: While walking past a jewelry store, casually express interest in stopping in and taking a look. Depending on the store, the salesperson will likely ask if you'd like to try anything on. A bolder option: Decide on a time to formally shop for rings together. Timing tip: If your partner's a traditionalist, he/she may be opposed to shopping for the ring with you. If this is the case, consider going "window shopping" together, so there's no pressure to buy while you're out. That way, he/she can go back and buy the ring without you knowing.
Have a Friend or Family Member Go With Your Partner
Who it works for: The traditionalist. You're too reserved to point out the ring yourself, but your best friend or close family member knows your style, and you completely trust their taste. How to do it: Let your close friend or family member know what you like and don't like. If there's one ring in particular you love, tell your friend. When it seems like your future spouse is fishing for ring hints, you'll be able to confidently send him/her to talk to your close confidante. Timing tip: Let your partner come to you for hints instead of speaking to a family member or friend, which could be intimidating.
Ask for a Surprise
Who it works for: The romantic. You want the Hollywood proposal, and your partner's up to the challenge. How to do it: Mention your favorite settings, cut, color and style in passing to make it clear what you like. Then put the ball in your partner's court by saying you love his/her style and you're sure that whatever ring is chosen will be something gorgeous. And just in case, make it clear if there are ring styles that you would never wear. Timing tip: Patience is the key here. Pulling off a surprise, romantic proposal takes planning, so don't prod too much.
Design It Together
Who it works for: The modern personality. You're not into surprises, and although you don't know exactly what you want, you do know that you want something one-of-a-kind. How to do it: An obvious point, but very important: Make it clear to your partner that you would like a custom-made ring before the proposal. Then come up with ring ideas together and make it a couple's project. Make sure your future spouse has a say too—ask what he/she thinks about certain elements and incorporate his/her suggestions into the overall design. Do research to find a designer you both like, and then commission the ring together. Timing tip: Once the ring is ready, decide whether you want your partner to hold onto it for a formal proposal or if you'd like to start wearing it right away.
Yes, you'll feel great when you've finally found the perfect ring and bands, but don't celebrate just yet -- you've got two very important things to do before you can let that alluring little sparkler loose on the streets: Get it appraised and insured.