Engagement Etiquette With Rony Tennanbaum

As more states gear up for and pass legislation that allows same sex couples to legally get married, the Wedding and Engagement jewellery etiquettes are being rewritten.

Roles that used to be “the norm” (man meets woman, man buys diamond ring, woman is proposed to, woman wears diamond till wedding), are now being re-looked at as traditions evolve.

With the addition of “girl meets girl” and “boy meets boy”, new questions about each one’s roles and how this affects their jewellery selections are arising.

Here are some questions I have been faced with in recent years:

How to pick the ring?

Ring selection is typically a simple affair.
Everyone has a taste, or knack for a certain look, whether it be diamonds or plain brushed gold or platinum.

The questions on couples minds these days are what do we select to wear… engagement rings?

Wedding rings?


I am a romantic and a believer in “getting engaged”.

I find the whole proposal, or asking someone if they would marry you to be one of the greatest “rights of passage” in a relationship.

I say get engaged!

Not every engagement ring has to be a large diamond studded ring, but committing to spend the rest of your life with the person you love can be as powerful as walking down the aisle.

On selecting a ring, though I have seen a fair share of romantics want to shop and surprise their loved one with popping the question, I strongly suggest discussing the rings and going out together to see what the other likes and wants.

Make it a mutual shopping event.
It is one of the most intimate moments of your lives, do it together.

How to select diamonds for the engagement ring (what are the options?):

This question is loaded, since the options can be endless.

For those interested in a diamond in their ring, set a budget ahead of time, since diamonds are available for every budget and stick to your budget.

The quality and size will naturally follow the budget you set. Diamond options will start with favourite shapes (rounds, ovals, pear shapes, princess cuts), to the many shades of colour and quality.

Do both partners have to have the same ring?

I do not believe a couple needs to wear matching rings. I always say that as two unique people in the relationship, it is best to maintain your individuality within your couplehood.

What are the common mistakes made?

I don’t feel there is a right or wrong way to select rings.

Everyone has a choice and a taste, and can select what they like.
I do however believe in sticking to a budget and talking it through ahead of time.

The choice for both partners to get diamond rings, or that only one wear a diamond and the other plain gold is strictly an economical or preference choice, not a traditional one.

How to propose?

I probably have heard some of the wildest and most romantic stories of people popping the question to their loved one. I do believe it is a very sentimental moment.

Savour it, even though things may not come out as rehearsed.

The setting will usually set the tone for the proposal.
A couple I know went for a walk on the beach where one partner knelt on a knee and proposed.

Another couple travelling to Iceland hiked up a mountain and in the serenity of the moment, one woman proposed to her soulmate.
How to propose should be personal and have something of each partner in it. Whether its the perfect location, or favourite restaurant, or romantic getaway.

The purpose is asking the one you love to spend the rest of their lives together with you.

Who proposes to Who?

A classic question.

Since today’s couple dynamics includes two women or two men, no “one” person has a defined role for being the proposer or proposee.

Though there are couples where “the romantic” wants to surprise her loved one with a ring and proposal as written in the storybooks, there is no set rule which one in the couple that ends up being.

In the second scenario, couples are more calculated and thought out. These are more the norm. Couples sit down and discuss getting married. They want to get engaged and shop for rings together.

Many times I have had both partners discuss freely with me the rings they want, yet they end up making the purchase of their loved ones ring independently of their partner, in order to surprise them when the rings are ready.

I find many times both partners want to propose by surprising the other.

There is something very powerful in asking:

“Will you Marry Me?”

and having the satisfaction of hearing:


Rony Tennanbaum has been in the jewellery industry for over 25 years and a gay man all his life. He has designed a line specifically for the LGB+ community that embodies beauty, tolerance and pride.



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