Engagement Ring Stories: Diamonds, Cartier, Vintage Heirlooms & Paris


Behind every engagement ring (big or small) is a great story (big or small). Each tale is as personal as the factors that go into choosing the ring itself. A classic round brilliant diamond ring for the quality-obsessed traditionalist? A minimal gold band for the person who works with their hands? A vintage family heirloom imbued with meaning and history? 

For some, being surprised is the ultimate grand romantic gesture, but increasingly, couples are working together to plan when to wed, and what their rings will look like. When the idea is to wear something forever, two heads can be better than one. Then again, having someone make what can be a paralyzing decision for you can be the perfect pre-wedding gift. Whether you’re ready to start dropping hints or just love the voyeuristic thrill of a good proposal story, we’ve rounded up a few unique stories for engagement ring inspo. Ahead, Becca McCharen-Tran of Chromat, jewelry designer Kate Bowles Smith and L’Officiel Global CCO Caroline Grosso share the unique ways they proposed or said yes (or said oui).

Becca McCharen-Tran

The designer of Chromat goes quirky for her book-worthy proposal.

I proposed to Christine with a WWAKE double black diamond ring. We are both Geminis, so duality is central to our natures. I wanted the ring to show the balance of our two sides, and the two of us. For my own ring, I wanted something super minimal. As a fashion designer, I work with my hands a lot, sewing, manipulating fabric and seams and I didn’t want to wear anything that would get in the way of that. The ring has four cute diamonds embedded in the band, it’s perfect. I surprised Christine with the WWAKE ring at the top floor of the Seattle Public Library – the first stop on our trip down the Pacific 1 on the West Coast. I studied architecture and she studied English so the Rem Koolhaas-designed building was a perfect meeting of the minds. Thankfully, she said yes (!) and then I surprised her again with a special catered lunch in one of the library reading rooms.

Kate Bowles Smith

Our TRR jewelry expert is welcomed into the family with a delicate, vintage heirloom.

My engagement ring and proposal were a total surprise. I make jewelry so I always thought I would have a hand in the engagement ring, however my now-husband had a different plan. Matt’s great aunt Magdalena gave him her engagement ring to give to me. She loved her ring and I’m so grateful and honored that she entrusted her ring to me. Matt proposed to me in front of my family and our close friends on vacation in Michigan. The location was very special — somewhere I’ve been going with my family for almost my entire life. It was fun to celebrate our engagement with everyone seconds after it happened. Then, I made our wedding bands: his a wide platinum band and mine a thin 18k white gold band. I wanted to keep it simple. I started wearing my wedding band with another ring that I made on my right hand about a year ago because I love how my engagement ring looks alone on my left finger. The band is super thin and delicate.

Caroline Grosso

The Global CCO at L’Officiel is swept up in a classic, surprise Paris proposal. 

My engagement ring was an absolute surprise. If I am being truthful, I would never in a million years suggest to a friend that they propose without testing the waters, or getting a few hints. I also genuinely admire the idea of picking out a ring together — there is something so thoroughly modern about that. My fiancé and I have been together for close to six years. Since I’m a fashion editor and obsessed with jewelry, most friends assumed I had a ring in mind. The truth was, I had no clue what I wanted. I used to think that if James ever did ask my opinion, that perhaps I’d tell him to propose with just the stone and we’d get to the ring a bit later. 

In the end, James went with a classic round brilliant diamond ring from the Cartier Solitaire 1895 collection. And it was perfect. He knew that my knowledge of precious stones ran deep, and rightfully guessed that quality would be the most important factor for me. For me, at the end of the day, any other ring would have felt too trendy. I’m thrilled he made the tough decision for me!

I was in Paris last March at the end of fashion week with my fellow W magazine editors and we were headed to the Bristol Hotel for a celebratory cocktail with Chanel’s PR person. Traffic was horrible so we walked the final blocks. A hotel concierge led us to the courtyard, which was empty. No French Chanel PR girl in sight. I squinted, and near the far corner, past the fountain, sat a handsome man who I thought looked quite like James. I turned to my colleague again, who looked at me, bewildered, that I didn’t get it yet. She waved her arm in his direction and laughed. I looked again — it was James. It was such an insane surprise; he had texted me pictures of our dog just an hour before, pretending he was back at home in New York. The minute I saw him, I knew exactly what he was there to do. James bent down on one knee and, before you know it, the beautiful ring was on my finger. 

Amazingly, a stranger in a room above the courtyard realized what was happening and recorded the entire thing so we were able to share with our families back home. Then, I had to run to another runway show: As they say, fashion stops for no one.

Find the one with our selection of editor-approved engagement rings here

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