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Buying an engagement ring is the ultimate romantic act — but there are a lot of practical considerations that go along with it.

Whether you’re a by-the-books pragmatist or a die-hard romantic, an engagement ring purchase will take you out of your comfort zone.

The engagement ring purchase intertwines pure emotion with plain ol’ practicality. You’re choosing a symbol of love and commitment for the woman who has transformed your life. But you’re also spending a lot of money on an object that you don’t really understand, and it has to last forever.

Check these five practical considerations off your list so that you can concentrate on the emotional (and even fun!) part of your engagement ring purchase.

Practicality #1: Her lifestyle

The engagement ring you choose will be on her hand every day for many years, if not for the rest of her life. Most women don’t like having to remove the ring for work, sports or hobbies — so you have to think about how the ring will fit into what she does each day. For example:

  • Does she work in a job where she takes care of people (teacher, nurse, physical therapist) or works a lot with her hands (chef, landscaper, welder)? If so, you might want to think about a ring that doesn’t have elevated diamonds (in prong settings).
  • Is she athletic, playing team sports or engaging in activities such as skiing, swimming or yoga? Think about how she uses her hands, handles equipment and wears gear in her sports, and whether she’ll have to remove the ring you choose when she plays.
  • Does she like to get her hands dirty, in the garden, the kitchen or the art studio? A solitaire in a prong setting is actually easy to clean.

Explore more practical recommendations for finding a ring that fits your fiancée-to-be’s lifestyle.

Practicality #2: Her personal style

What does she choose to wear to express herself — at work, in social settings or just hanging out at home? Look at the fabrics she chooses, the colors and patterns she tends to wear, the kinds of shoes she prefers and the jewelry she most often wears. While most women tend to pick and choose, your fiancée-to-be probably has a style she gravitates toward most often.

Check out this article on choosing the right engagement ring, and this quiz about your bride-to-be’s style, to help guide you in the right direction. Once you’ve figured it out, a jeweler should be able to help guide you toward ring designs that fit her style.

Practicality #3: Your budget

If you haven’t researched engagement rings before, prepare for a surprise: the cost is always more than you think it’s going to be. Luckily, there are engagement ring options for every budget, and sometimes finding the right ring for the right price is a matter of prioritizing different factors.

Determine what you can spend without breaking the bank. Remember that, especially if you plan to finance the purchase, you’ll need to live with this expenditure long after you’re engaged and even after you’re married. It might even be the first big debt of your married life. Don’t put your finances at risk with the engagement ring purchase.

Practicality #4: Her ring size

This seems like a small detail, but it can be a really big deal. Depending on the kind of engagement ring design you choose, it can be very difficult to have a ring re-sized. It can also be disappointing, and somewhat anticlimactic, to have to send the engagement ring back to the jeweler for re-sizing after the big proposal.

If you need to find out her size without her knowing, try borrowing a ring she often wears on her left-hand ring finger and compare it to this handy ring-sizing tool. Sometimes people push a ring into a piece of clay for a more precise measurement.

Another idea, especially if she doesn’t wear rings, is to try measuring her finger with a piece of string while she sleeps. And another way might be to ask one of her friends to casually show off one of her rings, encouraging your fiancée-to-be to try it on and then judge how it fits. Get more tips for determining her ring size without spoiling the surprise.

Practicality #5: Protection

Buying an engagement ring is a considerable investment, and one that will last. You wouldn’t buy a car without a warranty or insurance — and you shouldn’t buy an engagement ring without protection either.

Especially with something so small and valuable, you must consider possible loss, such as theft, damage or strange disappearance (bathroom sinks are well known for devouring beloved diamond rings). Insist on buying a ring from a jeweler that offers a warranty, and wrap the cost of insurance into your budget.

How to Wear Promise Rings After Your Engagement

Promise rings have traditionally been viewed as pre-engagement rings between romantic couples hoping to get married someday. Usually, this is replaced by an engagement ring, but what happens to the promise ring after that? There isn’t really a specific etiquette to promise rings: some people put the ring away, while others continue to wear it. It all depends on the meaning of that promise ring for the person who wears it. There are many reasons why people may wear a promise ring after engagement, whether it’s the ring that came first or even a ring that came after the wedding! Here are just a few occasions:

Matching Your Rings

Since promise rings are most associated with a pre-engagement, many people buy the engagement and maybe even the wedding band to match the promise ring. This is especially true if the original promise ring is a family heirloom, with sentimental value just as strong as any eventual engagement or wedding band. In this case, the other two rings are added as the engagement gives way to the wedding, building on the promise ring as the couple builds their lives together. Even if the styles don’t exactly match, a woman may choose to stack the three rings on the same finger—a growing trend in the past few years. Other options for everyday wear of a promise ring include wearing the ring on a different finger or hand, or even putting the ring on a chain to wear as a necklace.
Matching Your Rings.

When Using It As A Wedding Band

Sometimes promise rings are so treasured that they become the subject of the biggest promise of all! Some people opt to use their promise ring as their wedding band. Since the promise prior to the engagement is so important to the couple, re-using the ring as a wedding band is something couples consider when the decision about the ring comes. Since promise rings are often more simple than engagement rings, they are well-suited for this purpose.
When Using It As A Wedding Band

Anniversaries or Renewing Vows

A promise from the engagement can be used to symbolize the remembrance or renewal of the same promise. Couples have been known to use their promise rings in ceremonies to renew their vow; this is often a less formal second wedding, so it is more traditional to use a simpler ring. A promise ring reinforces the vow and is worn like second wedding band. Other couples do not need a second wedding to use their promise rings. An anniversary, especially a meaningful milestone, is a great reason for wearing a promise ring after engagement.

Anniversaries or Renewing Vows – Another Special Promise

Sometimes the couple is already engaged, but one of them wants to make another kind of commitment to their beloved. Maybe the promise is to quit a bad habit or achieve a specific goal, and the ring is a symbol of that promise. Examples include a promise to quit smoking for their partner or to buy their first house as a couple.

This is not to be confused with a purity ring, which is a ring that is given from a parent to a teenaged child (usually father to daughter) as a promise to keep chaste. A purity ring is a specific type of promise ring, but a promise ring can represent any promise.
Another Special Promise

Celebrating a Promise Fulfilled

Rather than giving a ring at the start of a promise, a married couple can celebrate the fulfillment of a promise to each other and display it proudly with a new ring. For example, after attaining a lifelong goal of visiting Ireland, for example, couples might buy Claddagh promise rings to commemorate their trip. Couples going through a rough patch that successfully resolve their marital problems with therapy may get inscribe their renewed commitment on an engraved promise ring. These types of rings serve as a reminder of not just the life you’ve promised to live with your partner, but the life you’ve already lived and beautiful moments you’ve experienced together.

Conventional practice may claim that promise rings are pre-engagement items only, but as society changes, so do traditions. Promise rings after engagement are becoming more and more common as people make more diverse promises to themselves and each other. No longer do those pretty promise rings need to languish in a drawer after the engagement!