How to buy the right sized engagement ring

You like it and you want to put a ring on it. There’s one key question: how big, exactly, is ‘it’?

Over-estimate the size of your darling’s diamond digit and she’ll be stuck with a loose-fitting hula-hoop of love. Underestimate it and the symbol of your undying passion will be the blood flow-restricting bane of her life. But how does a chap find out the answer to this particular problem without having his romantic plans busted? Chillisauce comes to the rescue with this handy guide, which may or may not involved stealing, lying, conspiracy and subterfuge.

How to find her ring size

In the UK, ring sizes are measured on an alphabetic scale that runs from A (freakish cocktail stick fingers) to Z (probably not a piano player) with half sizes in between. A ring’s size can be measured at a jewellers on a tapered pole or by comparison on a size chart.

Be a jewel thief

If your beloved wears a ring on her ring finger or has one in her jewellery box, then you’ve got it easy. Wait for her to take it off, steal it, take it to a jeweller’s for measurement and replace it before you get discovered. If she does notice it’s missing, place it somewhere it may have conceivably been lost, or pretend to have found it for bonus brownie points.

Do it while she’s asleep

Risky manoeuvre this, but it’s possible. Wait for your beloved to fall into a deep slumber then use a strip of paper or piece of string or floss to measure the distance around her ring finger, marking the point where the end of the band meets. If you get busted while doing this, you’re on your own, so it’s probably best to have a plausible excuse in store. Once you’ve got the measurement in millimetres, you can look up the equivalent ring size.

Buy a cheap pre-engagement ring

She thinks it’s a present, but really it’s a cunning test. Buy her a cheap ring, make a note of its size and see if it fits. You could even put it on her ring finger, either as a joke or by feigning ignorance of girly things like marriage.

Employ an accomplice

Ask your girlfriend’s friend, sister or mother to take her out shopping. They’ll lead her to a jeweller’s where, “just for fun,” your lady will try on some rings, neatly allowing your accomplice to note down the size. The key here is in the acting skills of your co-conspirator, so choose someone discreet and don’t be afraid to put them through a stringent audition process first. If they can’t do a convincing read-through of the first act of Hamlet, they’re no good.

Ask the experts

Your girlfriend’s family or friends may know her ring size already, or even if not, they’ll probably be able to guess it much more efficiently than you. Worth putting a few feelers out, but stick to tight-lipped types and bear in mind they’ll all be after your blood if you wimp out on the proposal. If your girlfriend has a recently engaged friend, ask her if she could contrive a situation in which your girlfriend tries her ring on.

Ask a hand double

If you think her hands are roughly the same size as a friend, colleague or family member, you can ask them for their ring size as a rough guide. You’re not likely to be far off, but it won’t be the precise measurement either.

Go with the law of averages

The vast majority of women’s fingers fall into the average ring size of M or N. If all else fails, you could buy a ring in that size (or larger or smaller, depending on the general size and shape of your girlfriend), ensuring the ring can be switched if it’s not right. It might take some of the sheen off the proposal moment, but you can always make a joke of it or hope she finds your incompetence charming.

Don’t panic

Despite what we said at the beginning, rings can be made larger or smaller or exchanged with little fuss, usually at little extra expense and occasionally at no extra charge. Ask the jeweller for a quote for adjustment in advance of the purchase, and expect to pay around £50. Right, so now that you have your ladies ring finger size all done and dusted, you should probably – and importantly – figure out what sort of metal she’d like her digit to be wrapped in.