Whether you are a man asking a woman, a woman asking a man, a man asking a man, or a woman asking a woman...the question is always the same: how can you get it right? There is rampant anxiety around the process of selecting and/or designing the perfect ring. I'm a jeweler- in the business personally for over 20 years, but here at Rubini Jewelers we've been engaging couples for nearly 45 years. So we know it all! What we know is: everyone is different. Thank god!! What follows are different approaches that might work for you. The easiest thing to decide is which way works best for your specific coupledom.
Option 1: Get a Hint Method. Hopefully you've somewhat discussed the idea that you'd both enjoy a more public commitment to one another. So ask your intended for some hints. Pinterest, wishlistr, or even your local jeweler (ie Rubini Jewelers) would be happy to keep a record of what s/he likes. It could be very specific or a rather loose assortment of appealing styles, allowing you to design something based loosely on the styles or very specifically, depending on the options.
Option 2: SURPRISE! If you, in your gut, believe that s/he would love to be totally surprised, then you'll also be pretty confident that s/he will love whatever you select, based on the fact that you picked it. It may be far and away from his/her taste, but no matter, if the love of their life picks a special commitment ring for them, then YES! S/he will love it being from you.
Option 3: It's Not a Surprise. If you adore your partner but just know that s/he would prefer having a very hands on participation in the ring design, buy a place holder. Could be $10, could be $500...depends on you. Propose with the place holder and the intention to make the ring design a joint effort. We've done everything from silver amethyst rings to big cubic zirconia rings. The place holder puts less pressure on you to get it just right. You could explain budgeting prior to shopping and designing together, just to be fair to your finances and fair to his/her ideas. After all, communication is good for relationships!
Option 4: Team Work Method. You can buy the ingredients and ask her/him what to make with them. That is, you can acquire the center stone to build a ring around. So the proposal takes place with a lovely plastic baggie, a stone display, a pinch gemstone holder ring, a lifesaver with a stone glued upon it...something temporary, in other words, to simply present the focus of the ring and then figure out the design as a loving team.