How I made a d20 engagement ring for my secret lesbian D&D proposal

Guestpost by Babelglyph on Feb. 27th
The finished d20 engagement ring, modeled on my own hand. Made by Robert's Fine Art of Jewelry in Champaign, IL.

The finished d20 engagement ring, modeled on my own hand. Made by Robert's Fine Art of Jewelry in Champaign, IL.

I proposed to my girlfriend after a session of Dungeons and Dragons, with an engagement ring that held not a diamond, but a twenty-sided die.

I don't remember how I came up with the idea for the d20 ring. I do remember that it was important to me to find something that suited my girl, something she would want to wear on a regular basis. Because I'm a woman in a relationship with another woman, there are no traditions on who proposes to whom. My girlfriend tends to think of herself as the guy of the relationship, but I'm not all that into traditional gender roles, so I decided to propose anyways. But how?

When I hit on the d20 ring, I knew it would be perfect for her… Plus, cheesy as it sounds, I do feel like I rolled a natural 20 when I started dating her.

When I hit on the d20 ring, I knew it would be perfect for her. She's been a tabletop gamer for many years and she loves nerdy references. Plus, cheesy as it sounds, I do feel like I rolled a natural 20 when I started dating her.

I found a miniature metal polyhedral dice set by Chessex and promptly bought one to harvest the d20. With advice from a friend in jewelry design school, I researched ring settings and doodled designs. I initially wanted to make the ring myself by buying a setting and putting the die in it. This was slightly insane. I quickly realized that if I wanted this done right, I'd need to take it to a professional.

My initial doodles for the ring design. Some aspects were kept, some were not.

My initial doodles for the ring design. Some aspects were kept, some were not.

Enter my local jewelry store. I'd researched the local jewelers on Yelp, noting which ones had reviews that mentioned custom work, then sat on the knowledge for two months while I couldn't decide where to go. Eventually I chose a place based on proximity to my apartment — not very scientific, but it turned out to be the best choice I could have made. I ended up working with a fantastic jeweler who was as excited about the project as I was.

8485029820She worked hard on not only creating design options, but also keeping the project within my meager grad-student budget. (The ring ended up costing about $400, in sterling silver with two three-millimeter man-made alexandrites.) The most important thing for me was that the ring look like a real ring, not a novelty or a toy—going to a professional jeweler gave me the results I wanted. The process from consultation to finished ring took about three months.

As the ring moved from concept to reality, I found it harder and harder to keep it a secret. I desperately wanted to tell my girlfriend about this awesome thing I was getting made for her! I managed to keep it a secret — but only by telling lots of other people about it. Our long-distance relationship helped keep the secret, as she couldn't accidentally see the jewelry store receipt or other giveaway details.

Our long-distance relationship also dictated when I'd be able to propose in person. She came to visit for a week, and I started preparing for it about a month in advance. Since we both like Dungeons and Dragons, I asked if she'd want to sit in on my regular D&D group for a session. She said yes. I realized that proposing after that game would work thematically with the d20 ring. When I brought up the idea to my group, they were thrilled to be a part of it! I was also happy to compromise between proposing at home with no witnesses whatsoever and proposing in public with too many strangers. Once I figured out the setting, I had to figure out the right way to do it… which was, to be honest, the hardest part after figuring out the ring itself.

The chainmail ring box next to your average ring box.

The chainmail ring box next to your average ring box.

There are two aspects to most any proposal: wording and presentation. I knew I'd be too nervous to do any sort of showy speech or dramatic reveal, so I decided on a two-line proposal and a simple chainmail ring box to echo the typical chainmail dice bag.

For the box, I called upon friends of friends who knew how to do chainmail. (Ordinarily, I'd just ask my girlfriend to make chainmail things — it's one of her hobbies.) Finding the right words was hard. I actually ended up thinking of the perfect thing to say while I was lying in bed worrying about it.

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Things pulled together a week before my girlfriend arrived. Once I got the ring and box, I snuck them into the bottom of a bag with my other D&D accoutrements — character sheet, pencil and eraser, dice bags — so I could grab it and go. I managed to keep my calm until about halfway through the D&D. When our session was over, I quietly switched my phone's camera to video mode, handed it to a friend, and asked her to record.

The effort and secrecy totally paid off. Even if I did put the ring on the wrong hand because I was so nervous.

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About Babelglyph

When not obsessing over miniature dice, I'm a knitter, reader, and librarian-in-training with a focus on youth services. I finally got started playing D&D last fall, after wanting to play for YEARS, and I love it as much as I knew I would.