Diamond rings may be a girl’s best friend, but they can be a man’s worst enemy. “Will I pick the right ring?” the man worries. “Will she say yes?” he wonders.

Shawn Mahoney, 33, of

La Crescent, Minn., doesn’t have to worry about those pesky questions.

His girlfriend, Lisa Kelley of La Crosse, is picking out her own engagement ring.

It all started three months ago. While Christmas shopping, Kelley, 26, pulled Mahoney into a jewelry store. Ever since, the two have been peering through glass counters all over town.

Like many local couples, Kelley and Mahoney decided to do the deed together, instead of him shopping alone.

“If I would’ve (picked out the ring) without her input, I would not have gotten what she wanted,” Mahoney said.

“A ring is something you’re going to be wearing for the rest of your life,” Kelley said. “It should be something you’re happy with.”

“I didn’t want to settle,” agreed Melissa Weltzien, 27, of Onalaska, Wis., who picked out her own ring: a princess-cut diamond with baguette diamonds on the band. “If I’m going to have this (ring) for the rest of my life, I’d like some say.”

Not all men choose jewelry wisely.

Weltzien remembers her fiancé tried to buy her jewelry a few years ago, but it wasn’t her style.

“He bought me hearts,” said the simple, down-to-earth Weltzien. She gave him subtle hints about the engagement ring, circling ones she liked on ad fliers and leaving them on the coffee table.

Weltzien and her best friend, Malissa Scow of Onalaska, shopped together for rings, and not only in

La Crosse. To avoid curious onlookers, including their own boyfriends, the two went to Minneapolis, Rochester, Minn., and Eau Claire, Wis.

In the end, Scow, 28, gave her fiancé a few ring choices. “You want his input, too,” she recommended. “You’ve got to include him somewhat in the decision.”

More and more couples are shopping together, agreed Steve Rose, owner of Rose Jewelers, but usually the man is the one who buys and picks up the ring, he said.

Choosing their own ring, or a few options at least, doesn’t ruin the surprise, the women said. Kelley knows a proposal is coming, but she doesn’t know when or how.

“I’ll still be surprised,” Kelley said. “But at the same time, it has been fun to participate in the (ring-buying) process.”

“I wouldn’t have done it any differently,” Weltzien agreed.

What’s in

  • White gold
  • Princess or square-shaped diamonds
  • Vintage-looking rings
  • Three diamond rings that stand for the past, present and future
  • Custom-made rings (people pick the stone and band separately)
  • More intricate bands (studded with diamonds, for example)

Source: Meg Konczakowski, general manager of Mark Jewellers in La Crosse; Steve Rose of Rose Jewelers in La Crosse

Find the right ring for your finger

Princess-shaped center stone surrounded by round pave-set diamonds: This geometric-shaped, vintage style ring is great for women with long, slender fingers. The ring has some length to it and will not get lost on a long finger.

Past, Present, Future Ring: This three-diamond ring is not too overwhelming, but it’s large enough that it will stick out on a thick finger. This is a good choice for women with thicker, shorter fingers.

Round shaped solitaire: If you wear gloves on the job, go for a ring with a lower profile, meaning a lower-set ring without prongs. Feel the top of the ring for smoothness — you don’t want the ring to catch on anything.

Two-toned with invisible set diamonds: If you’re an extravagant, boisterous person, you’ll want the bling. With four rows of diamonds, this ring definitely qualifies.

Round-shaped diamond with diamond band: If your style is more simple and classy, go for a traditional, elegant ring like this one.

Source: Meg Konczakowski, general manager at Mark Jewellers in La Crosse

What’s a blood diamond?

Blood diamonds, or conflict diamonds, are diamonds that are illegally traded to fund conflict in war-torn areas. The recent film “Blood Diamond” is set in 1990s Sierra Leone and stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a diamond smuggler. Despite the film’s negative portrayal of the world diamond trade, “Blood Diamond” hasn’t affected sales in La Crosse. Less than 1 percent of diamonds are conflict diamonds. This is due to the Kimberly Process, which tracks diamonds with a certificate that guarantees they’re from a conflict-free source.

Sources: www.diamondfacts.org; Meg Konczakowski of Mark Jewellers and Steve Rose of Rose Jewelers

Jenny Dolan can be reached at jdolan@lacrossetribune.com or (608) 791-8220.

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