When I got engaged, I knew exactly what my ring would look like. I had made very clear to my then-boyfriend (now-husband) that I wanted a round solitaire diamond set high on a thin platinum band. I gave specific limitations on size (I have small hands and didn’t want a big diamond that looked gaudy or ostentatious on my little fingers, and I wanted to be able to wear it anywhere—in court, on the metro—without feeling uncomfortable).
This may sound princess-y and unromantic. But it is certainly not unusual. I have friends who designed their own rings. Others picked out the exact ring with which their boyfriends proposed.
In fact, I know very few people who were surprised with a ring they knew nothing about. For better or worse, diamond engagement rings are the norm these days. And while they are (or are supposed to be) a symbol of undying love and fidelity, there’s not a lot of romance surrounding them anymore. The proposal is (we hope) surprising and romantic; the ring is not.