OK, so you’ve met not just the parents, but the entire extended family, including suspiciously regarded cousin Bob. Increasingly, your interests and future vision of life have aligned in the same direction. From all appearances, it looks like you’re in a partnership, and it seems to be true love. You now have a momentous decision to make; is it time to take the first step toward the alter with a promissory ring?

I’m a jeweler, not a Lander’s sister, so I have no advice on whether you ought to tie the knot. As I tell my customers, I can guarantee the ring, but not the relationship. My job will be to guide you through the process of finding an engagement ring, and all that that entails. What I can say, however, is to be really sure about your motives and expectations before looking at engagement rings with your future mate. You need to start that conversation only after a lot of other weightier questions are settled, because even looking at rings has “connotations”. The engagement ring should be the cherry on the best ice cream you’ve ever tasted.

Assuming you’re reading the situation right, and you’re both head over heels in love, and you think an engagement ring (or rings) are the right expression of that love, you now have some decisions to make. The first, and most important, is the degree to which the two of you will be involved in the selection and purchase of the ring. After years of being a jeweler, I have been able to observe and classify couples ring purchasing behaviors. It’s no Masters and Johnson project, but you never know, right? NEXT: Engagement Ring Buying Strategies