Back in the day, when it came to engagement rings, women didn’t necessarily have much say. As was custom, you were simply expected to wait for the ring — and be happy that you got it, no matter what it looked like. Girl, those days are gone. And thank goodness. While it’s 100 percent acceptable to want to be surprised by your future life partner, you may want to have a say in the design of your ring — and that’s cool too. After all, this is likely the only accessory (besides your wedding band) you’ll own that you’re meant to wear FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. So why not make sure you get it right — together? We spoke to Vanessa Stofenmacher, jewelry designer and owner of VOW, a design-your-own ring company (that even offers a home try-on option!), for her top five tips to know when creating your custom ring.

1. Understand your style. Your ring makes a statement about personal style, so understanding your preferences is key. Is your style modern or traditional, simple, or extravagant? Do your research and provide as many reference photos as possible. (Photo via VOW)

2. Don’t get obsessed with the diamond specs. Dealers and traditional jewelers can over-complicate diamonds and make the process feel overwhelming. Should you choose VS or SI quality? G color or H color? “We believe a diamond is like a glass of wine. Each is unique and personal so choose a diamond that feels right for you,” advises Stofenmacher, who owns the Vrai & Oro jewelry line.

3. Know your diamond shape. Unlike diamond specs, the shape of your central diamond will be the main focus of your ring. The round brilliant diamond is the most popular, because it’s cut to reflect the maximum amount of light. An emerald-cut, on the other hand, has far fewer facets and doesn’t sparkle as much but has an understated brilliance of its own. (Photo via VOW)

4.Work with a jeweler or designer you trust. Too often women have a mental image of their dream ring but the execution doesn’t seem to translate. “Working with a designer or jeweler who already relates to your style is the best way to avoid this pitfall,” says Stofenmacher. So do your research to find a pro who is in the business of making jewelry that fits your style.

5. Be practical and avoid trends. It’s easy to get carried away in the design process, especially with thousands of styles to choose from. But remember that, unlike your wedding dress, you will be wearing this ring on your finger for the rest of your life. So make sure you design your ring to be versatile enough to live with you and all that you do. Do you have a job that requires a lot of activity? Perhaps a band or flatter stone might be more appealing. If you don’t feel comfortable with a huge rock, opt for cluster styles instead. (Photo via VOW)

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