Tying the Knot: Size Really Does Matter

By David Pitlik
from "Ungroomed"

I knew what it was going to take to satisfy my fiance. I knew it would have to be the biggest. The hardest. The most impressive one in the neighborhood. And anytime another woman should step into our home, she’d better notice it right away and instantly become jealous.

Talk about your performance anxiety. But I figured I was enough of a man to deliver.

C’mon guys, we know what a woman really wants from her man. They say that personality is more important than anything. They claim a sense of humor is everything. They even tell us that being emotional and sensitive are what’s really attractive. But the honest, down and dirty truth is that all they really want in the end is to be wearing the biggest diamond!

Oh, they’ll never come right out and say it. No, no, no. They’ll be reasonable and rational. They might even tell you it’s not important at all. "Your undying love for me is more important than any piece of jewelry, sweetheart." Don’t you believe it. If you don’t deliver on that stone, you’re dead meat.

My treacherous journey into Engagement Ring Land started off innocently enough. Things were getting pretty serious between Karyn and me, so I decided it was time to pop the ol’ question. Now, being a bit of a traditionalist, I wanted to have that diamond engagement ring in hand for the big occasion. I could just picture the moment in my mind’s eye:

The two of us are sitting on a blanket on the beach on a beautiful, balmy summer evening, watching the golden yellow sun dip into the silvery water. Sipping red wine, we listen to the gentle sound of the waves lapping at the shore. Then, summoning up all the passion in my soul, I ask her the question. And before she can even catch her breath, I reveal the glistening gem stone and slip it on her finger. She has no choice but to say yes, yes, yes, as she melts into my arms.

If only it had been that easy!

I wanted to pick out the ring myself, you know, to surprise her with my good taste and impeccable style. My first trip to the local jewelers brought reality crashing down on me like a ton of fourteen carat bricks. I was way out of my depth here. As soon as the salesman started asking me about my preferences for cut, clarity, color and carat, my eyes began to glaze over. But a quick gander at the price tags snapped me back to attention, much like taking a fast ball to the groin. When the blood returned to my brain and I discovered my lips were once again able to function, I quickly gave the salesman some feeble excuse and bolted out the door. The long walk home in the brisk autumn air really gave me a chance to think about the importance of this very considerable investment. It also reminded me that I had just left my car some thirty blocks back at the jewelers.

Several days later, I returned to the scene of the crime, having realized my initial experience had been an overreaction. Yes, this was going to be an expensive purchase, but it was, after all, an engagement ring. The most important ring of them all. The ring that would represent my commitment and love. So, with my trusty salesman as my guide, I once again ventured forth into the mysterious world of inclusions, feathers, facets and color scales.

I won’t attempt to regurgitate the entire education I received, but suffice it to say, buying a diamond requires a post graduate degree in gemological sciences. Like snow flakes, no two diamonds are alike. The only difference being that snow flakes fall from the sky and cost absolutely nothing, where as diamonds come from deep underground and cost absolutely every last penny you’ve got. And since snow flakes melt quickly at room temperature, they just don’t make great engagement rings. Trust me, I asked.

If you haven’t done this yet, here’s just a gist of what choices you’ll face. First you must pick a shape. Will her finger look best with an oval, a radiant, pear, round, marquise, heart, princess, emerald... and the list goes on. How about clarity? They’ve got their own language for this. From flawless to imperfect: FL, or VVS, VS1, VS2, VS3, SI1, SI2, SI3, I1, I2... you get the picture. And then there’s color. Which means everything from colorless to slightly yellow. Finally, and most importantly, is carat. That’s the term used for the weight of the stone. Needless to say, the fatter the diamond, the thinner you’ll be because you’ll have no money left to buy food. These things shouldn’t be called precious gem stones, they should call them outrageous gem stones. Let’s face it, these suckers are expensive.

Well, after looking at dozens of loose diamonds and a myriad of stones already in settings, I concluded this was just too big a decision to make on my own. I mean, what if she didn’t like what I picked out? At these prices, I just knew I couldn’t chance screwing up, so I decided to trash the surprise and bring my sweetheart in on the decision-making process. Maybe I’d earn some brownie points for sharing this responsibility, you know, just like all the big decisions we’re going to make together throughout the rest of our lives.

So, I asked Karyn if she’d go ring shopping with me, to which she said yes. You know the expression "you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t?" Well, it turns out I was damned! Yes, I did earn those brownie points, but that was hardly worth the trade off for what came next. Let me tell you, bringing your fiancČe ring shopping is exactly like letting a bull loose in a cow shop. Each diamond she looked at became bigger and better and more desirable. Price quickly became irrelevant. She was searching for the "diamond of her dreams." The exact stone that perfectly portrayed our love. And mind you, our love had to be two carats or greater with little or no flaws and a near perfect color. Naturally, our salesman was delighted by my fiancee’s intuitive grasp of the true meaning of love.

While the two of them made plans to locate what was rapidly promising to be the largest diamond in the entire Northern Hemisphere, I was silently making plans to rob the US Treasury, which would be the only source of money large enough to pay for this ring. Unfortunately, I wasn’t silent enough with my plans, because apparently I said that last part out loud. The shopping trip was unceremoniously over.

Well, you’re probably wondering if the engagement survived that disastrous shopping experience. Fear not, everything turned out okay. I did propose to Karyn and she did say yes. And I did give her a ring. It was a one carat, radiant, VS3, with very slight yellow color. And it didn’t cost me an arm and a leg -- only a leg. But the best part was, Karyn told me it was exactly what she’d always wanted.

As it turned out, Karyn was very understanding about the whole adventure. She assured me that a diamond engagement ring was never the important thing. She said what really matters is that we love each other and that we’re going to spend the rest of our lives together. So, apparently I was wrong about that diamond after all.

But one thing I can say with certainty is that when it comes time for that five year wedding anniversary gift, you’d better make it a diamond or you’re dead meat. And it better not be just any diamond. It has to be the biggest. It has to be the strongest. It has to be the most impressive one in the...

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