Daily Archives: July 20, 2011

IV. the ultimate engagement ring.

I started reading up on diamonds and began consulting married men like Victor and Joel on prices and procedures. Eventually, I went with Lionel’s jeweler instead. And like a best friend would, he accompanied me for the first time to where he got his engagement ring and wedding bands done, and informed me of how much I should roughly be coughing out for my ring.

I spent a good number of nights asking Mr Google for unique designs. And I also shamelessly brought Huiyi into the Lee Hwa’s and Love & Co’s not just to get her finger size but also to get a glimpse of the kind of design she fancied. I was convinced that she was neither pining for a big rock nor a hefty price tag, but a design that would be unique and evergreen. I eventually picked a diamond that wasn’t so big until it looked vulgar or too small until it looked cheapskate. To me, it was the perfect rock on the perfect setting that resulted in a perfect ring.

My research was complete. I knew my budget; I adapted concepts I got off the Internet and designed my engagement ring; I chose my rock and type of gold. And this ring-making process began way back in October. I made a several trips to the jeweler to ensure that the ring turned out the way I had envisioned it to be. By January, on my fourth trip there, I paid for and collected what would be the most beautiful engagement ring I have ever seen – so lovely I wore it a few times on my finger to imagine how it would look on her finger! I remember rehearsing that “Will You Marry Me?” scene with myself – using my right hand to put the ring on my left hand. I couldn’t wait to do it for real!

And at the back of the ring, I decided to engrave “Phil 2:1-11 ILYTTE”. It’s the passage of scripture that we’d like our wedding exhorter to preach from. We are inspired by God’s Word – how the Apostle Paul used the supremacy of Christ as an example for us to serve each other and consider each other better than ourselves. He instructed us not to think less of ourselves but to think of ourselves less.

In summary, these are the few things I’ve learnt about making the ultimate engagement ring, which I’d like to share with you:

  • Steer clear of the mainstream brands and save yourself some money.
  • Ensure that you have a buffer of around $100 along with your budget.
  • Stick to your budget and do not be embarrassed by what you can afford.
  • The ring is not about you. It’s about her; what’s pretty to you might be plain to her.
  • Consult your peers, do your research well and do not be afraid to ask questions.
  • You must know what you value more in a diamond – cut, clarity, carat or colour?
  • Choose your setting well – the right design and type of gold accentuates the diamond.
  • A lasting design trumps a contemporary one; do you want to get sick of looking at it?
  • Don’t be ashamed to bargain with the jeweler; you don’t get to do it very often.
  • Make your engagement ring way in advance – you never know when you need it!

The adage goes, “The most dangerous place is the safest place”. So I kept the engagement ring in an old cookie glass jar just below my television console. Every other week, I’d take it out to admire that wonderful work of art. I was extremely pleased with it and I badly wanted to share this excitement with my family. But I resisted the temptation of showing it to my sister and mother because I wanted Huiyi to be the first person (other than the jeweler and I) to see it .

The ring rested quietly in the cookie jar for four long months. And each time I neared it, I felt my heart palpitating.

Next chapter: the fire idea – Perth.

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III. the most nerve-wrecking moment.

We arrived at Huiyi’s home and her parents retreated into their private spaces almost instantaneously; her father marched into the study to use the computer while her mother reclined at the living room to watch a Taiwanese drama serial. This left Huiyi and I in complete disarray of what we ought to do next. It was the most nerve-wrecking moment of our entire evening. I composed myself and attempted to solve this puzzle in my head.

Huiyi was fidgety and was literally skipping to-and-from the living room to the study like a siao-zhar-bor who had too much wine (I quote her father) in hopes of getting her parents into the same square-metre. She did what most daughters would do – approach the patriarch of the household – after all, she’s Daddy’s girl – what could go wrong? Her father left her with five golden words.

“Go and talk to Mummy.”

At this time, she was already crestfallen and I saw defeat in her eyes. We knew each other so well that I could sense that she almost wanted to give up. I refused to give up of course. So like a valiant (and absolutely reckless) warrior, I decided to take over the proceedings. With fire in my belly (not wine), I rescued Huiyi’s night like her knight in shining armour.

Bravely, I declared, “Aunty, actually tonight, Huiyi and I wanted to talk to you and Uncle about us getting married next year”.

*pause for effect*

“HUH!? SO FAST!?” Her eyes nearly popped out of its sockets.

*hears a pin drop*

“Let me finish the show first,” she continued, after composing herself.

*silence on set*

Look, there was almost nothing I could do except to let the matriarch finish the final fifteen minutes of her Taiwanese show. The knight in shining armour became powerless and felt his armour plates rusting in the quarter of an hour that seemed to have lasted forever. It was the longest and most awkward duration of time for Huiyi and I. Oh if only we could count the galaxy of thoughts that sprinted through our heads…

Well, to cut the long story a little shorter, her parents were pretty cool about it eventually. By the end of the evening we were in business mode – negotiating dates and being asked if we had considered the thousand-and-one things that couples should consider. We assured them that this moment had been one year in the planning. And that seemed to do the trick.

It wasn’t a real surprise that their initial reaction was that of sudden shock (and not sweet surprise) – this is a huge moment for any mother or father. The best thing that a man could do at this moment is to assure them that they can be confident that he would take good care of their precious daughter. Don’t exaggerate or make dramatic claims like “I will give her a great life” or “She will have everything she wants”. Instead, be mature, composed and calm about it. Tell them that you are serious about marrying their daughter, committed to do your best for her, and describe to them how you plan to do it in the immediate future. I think every sane parent looks for a realistic future son-in-law, not a romantic one.

All in all, that evening was a great moment for us in the relationship; it was a breakthrough knowing that we received their blessings and support. Never underestimate how important this is, especially for the lady. We used to think that we only wanted to marry one another but over the years, we’ve come to accept that we aren’t just marrying one another but one another’s family as well.

Finally, planning for the proposal can commence.

Next chapter: the ultimate engagement ring.

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