First Person Singular: Jewelry saleswoman Connie Shimeck
You absolutely know who's coming in to buy an engagement ring. He usually walks in with a little bit of trepidation, a little bit of nervousness and excitement. Most guys don't shop, and, for many, this is the most money they've spent on anything, except maybe a car. You also have the ones who walk in with a thick packet. You're like, "Oh, boy, this is going to be a very technical sale." But you know that he's just arming himself with all that information to feel comfortable in a totally foreign environment. Either way, my job is to let him know that I get it. I know this is a big deal. I know this is sacred and that he's scared.
Most girls now want big rings, and not everyone can afford them. That's the hard part. This whole experience juxtaposes the extremes: love and money. I try to make sure he knows it's not about the size, that we can still make her light up without getting the biggest stone. I tell all my guys: "Look, it's my job to give her most of what she wants and still keep your solar plexus intact." If your gut is telling you that you can't afford this ring, that's not a smart way to start a relationship, going beyond your comfort level just to impress her.
We usually know before he does when she'll say no. Maybe it's just the way he's talking about her, some details he's not so sure of, his body language. Or he'll just come right out and ask: "What if she says no?" Some guys are just doing their due diligence, financially. Some are just downright worried. It's heartbreaking when he comes back in with that ring. All I can say, and it probably doesn't help much then, is that it's better to know now.
I'm an unromantic. This past Christmas, my husband bought me a broom and a mop from this funky art store, and that's exactly what I wanted. Once I met him, I knew he was it. He was the reason to get married. He proposed while we were watching "M*A*S*H." He just said, "Let's get married." And I said, "Let's." He didn't have a ring.
I've sold four different engagement rings to the same guy. I haven't seen him for a while, so maybe this last marriage stuck. I've had women bring their second husbands in to pick out a ring. If you find the right jeweler, why end it? Your relationship with your jeweler is long-term, even if your marriage isn't.
Interview by Amanda Long