We recently wrote a blog about whether you should surprise your significant other with an engagement ring or if you should shop together. If you opt for the romantic surprise option for your custom engagement ring, one obstacle is guessing her ring size.
This custom sapphire and diamond engagement ring by Secrète Fine Jewelry in DC is in the "bypass" style, with the two sections passing each other and overlapping. Our nickname for it is the "heart to heart." From our heart to yours: a custom engagement ring is probably the only time a woman will be pleased that you tried to guess her size.
We’ve been custom designing fine engagement rings at Secrète Fine Jewelry for over 30 years in the Washington, DC area, so we’ve seen everything when it comes to ring-size guessing strategies. We’ve seen men bring in photographs of their girlfriends with their hands visible. We had a man bring in a ring from his girlfriend’s jewelry box that was so large we could only think of the “Man Hands” episode of Seinfeld, only to discover later that he had taken a thumb ring by mistake. We’ve seen tracings, strings tied into loops that had been slipped over a finger in the dead of night, and crumpled rings made of paper.
Obviously, the best way to get a ring size is to have a jeweler take it with a ring sizer. There’s nothing quite like an expert with the right tools to do the job right. At Secrète, we consider a lot of factors when sizing a ring. The size of two rings worn on the same finger will not necessarily be the same-- thicker rings tend to feel tighter, and thinner rings looser, for example, or space under the stone-mounting may give a ring a looser feel. You need to be an expert on the love you have for your significant other, but you don’t have to figure out jewelry all by yourself.
Jewelers use the little circles to find the size of a finger, and the mandrel (the stick) to find the size of a ring. These tools are some of our most frequently used at Secrète!
To help your proposal be a “perfect fit,” an experienced jeweler will be able to make predictions about the typical fit of the ring based on a number of factors. According to Livestrong.com, factors like weight fluctuation, body temperature, weather, and salt intake may affect a finger’s size. We’ve also noticed that finger size changes with alcohol intake and aging. So if she has been at a brunch eating hash browns and drinking mimosas on a warm summer day, her hand will definitely be bigger than it is on a well-hydrated winter day. A good jeweler will be able to determine what her “normal” finger size is, considering all the variables. GIA explains some of the ways jewelers accommodate all factors to accurately size a ring for comfort and security-- if a ring is sized too tight, it’s actually dangerous to your health and may cut off circulation, but if it’s too loose, it could slide off your hand and down the drain!
This Imperial Topaz ring set with white diamonds in 18k yellow gold is an example of a ring with open space below the stone. The rich cognac-colored stone is open underneath for a sexy transparency, but it can also make the ring feel looser. Fun fact: this Secrète Fine Jewelry original from our DuPont Circle location was showcased in a feature wedding video shoot starring Love and Hip-hop's Sky Landish.
If you want to get her ring size taken by a jeweler without ruining your surprise proposal, enlist a friend! If one of her friends needs to pop into Secrète for an errand, like getting a watch battery changed, she can surreptitiously find an excuse to check both of their sizes while they wait. How He Asked offers some creative “cover story” ideas for the best-friend helper.
The next best option is to bring a ring that she wears on her ring-finger to a jeweler. We’ll use the right tools to measure her ring for you. You can custom design an engagement ring and size it based on a ring she already loves. The Knot recommends this strategy.
This modern platinum solitaire engagement ring is available at Secrète DC-- its wider shank will feel a little snugger on the finger than a very delicate band.
If your girlfriend’s a bit of a sleuth and would notice a missing ring, or if her friends can’t keep a secret, there are other options! GIA recommends tracing the inner circumference of a ring she wears on her ring finger with pencil and paper, and bringing it in for your jeweler to use to size your custom engagement ring. This definitely has advantages over loops of string (which stretch), slips of paper (which tear), but it depends a lot on your tracing skills and your ability to find a ring she actually wears on her left ring finger. It may be more helpful to photograph the ring in front of a ruler with millimeter markers.
This ring measures just over 15 mm (see left). Based on a picture like this, we'd be able to estimate the ring size between 4.25 and 4.75. When we slip it on the mandrel, we find that it's actually a size 4.5. Not a bad technique, right?
You can always get some other hints if getting someone to measure a ring or her finger is just out of the question (for example, if she and all of her jewelry are in a different country right now). You can ask her sister or her mother if they know her ring size-- a family member may be able to call her with a story- “Oh hey sis, I just found Nana’s old cocktail ring and wanted to get it sized for you. Do you know your ring size?” Secrète Fine Jewelry’s DC and MD teams can help you come up with some pretty tricky stories to help you with the perfect romantic proposal! The Knot has some amazing resources to help with the proposal part, too!
This handmade peridot and diamond ring by Secrète Fine Jewelry has a "butterfly" inside. This is a piece of flexible gold that bends flat to get over the knuckle but springs back so it's not too loose at the base of the finger. Secrète offers many solutions to accommodate knuckle/finger size disparities, from butterflies and small gold beads added to the inside, to rings that come apart at a hinge for very arthritic hands.
As far as printable sizers, sizers ordered online, or other DIY tools are considered, just don’t. If you’re slipping weird cut-out pieces of paper or aluminum circles on her fingers, you’re not exactly going for a secret surprise type of engagement, which is totally fine. So if it isn’t a secret, just have a professional do it-- we have better tools and we’re better at using them.
This custom emerald engagement ring was handmade at Secrète Bethesda. Even a piece with intricate details like the baguettes adorning the sides of this piece can be resized with the help of an expert.
Finally, there’s a little guesswork to consider. At Secrète Fine Jewelry, in Washington, DC, and Bethesda, Maryland, we offer gratis resizing for most custom rings. Almost any ring can be resized. With our master jeweler, Mr. Soo, we can size up eternity bands, intricately engraved pieces, and antique bands seamlessly. Here are a few hints to help with the resizing process:
- It’s usually easier to size a ring down to size it up. When in doubt, go a little bigger.
- Eternity-style rings (with diamonds going 100% around the circumference) are more difficult to size. If we only have to go up or down a little bit, that can be easily accomplished, but if an eternity-style ring has to go up or down a few sizes, our jeweler may have to deconstruct the ring and remake it altogether. If you want an eternity style ring for your girlfriend, we strongly recommend using any of the tactics above to have a professional take her size.
- Never go to a jeweler who will stretch your ring to size it up. Good jewelers make a cut, add or remove metal, and solder closed, matching finishes, checking all settings and making adjustments as needed. At Secrète, we respect the integrity of your ring as a whole. It would be a shame to spend so much time and effort custom making an engagement ring only to have a hack destroy it with lazy and unprofessional repair work.
- If it’s not a good fit, don’t use a cheap ring guard, get it resized the right way. We realize at Secrète that your beloved doesn’t want to be parted from her custom engagement ring for very long for a resizing, especially if she just got it. But cheap ring guards can cut into your hand and cause infections, and they can also damage your beautiful new ring. Give us a call, and we’ll happily set up a time for her to bring it by for speedy resizing. We can often resize while you wait at our Bethesda store. If our Washington, DC location is more convenient, we can overnight rush an engagement resizing for most cases, too.
If you’re ready to propose and custom design your engagement ring, Secrète Jewelry can help, whether your a DC-area local or live farther away. We hand-make heirloom quality jewelry that will be cherished for generations, down to your exact specifications. With GIA-certified diamonds, conflict-free diamonds and gemstones, natural untreated gemstones, and the finest craftsmanship, we’ll be your partners-in-proposal through every step of the process. Contact us today to get started.