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

February 27 | Guest post by Babelglyph
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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  1. If nerdy sweetness could kill, I would be in my grave right now, covered in sparkling unicorn death dust, clutching a bouquet of d20 origami flowers in my cold dead hands, totally dead.

    105 agree
  2. That made me cry! Congratulations, and thanks for posting the details; I always thought custom = unachievable, but this shows it ain't so.

    18 agree
    • Thank you! One of the main reasons I wanted to tell our story (apart from showing off the awesomeness of the ring, that is) is so I can encourage other people to look into custom jewelry. Especially if you are flexible on materials (sterling silver instead of gold, synthetic gemstones instead of natural) it can be surprisingly affordable. I paid as much for this custom ring as I did for a premade commercial ring, in white gold with a large princess-cut amethyst, earlier in 2012.

      The same jeweler is now making me a semicustom ring to coordinate with my fiancee's – he had one I loved in white gold and diamond, and he's making the same band style and bezel setting in sterling silver with an alexandrite instead. That's one of the best parts of custom jewelry – no compromises necessary (apart from budget, of course) to get stuff that matches the way you want. I'd found a ring on Etsy that I liked, but the alexandrite looked so much lighter than the ones in my fiancee's ring that I didn't think it would look right at all. Getting something from the same jeweler means they'll be getting all three synthetic alexandrites from the same source! sweet!

      Oh, one last thing – though I am going to a local jeweler, I know another bride whose ring is being made by the local Kay. So apparently even big box stores can do custom work! I have no idea how pricing compares, but pricing probably varies wildly by region anyways.

      5 agree
      • Also a great place to check for custom jewelry is a local college with a jewelry course. I'm currently in my second semester of jewelry courses and I've already made my love a sterling sliver ring with a flat copper disk that looks like the Death Star. Plus the professors are usually up to a good challenge for something new!

        3 agree
      • Just wanted to mention that the jeweler's name is Cindy Westfall and she's an amazing artist (obviously).

        3 agree
        • Thank you!! I knew her name was Cindy but I never caught her last name. She is indeed an amazing artist. :)

          0 agree
      • I was "sort-of" in on the secret…Miranda told me little details here & there as this progressed. I gotta say that is the sweetest & most romantic thing anyone could have ever done!! Congratulations to you both!!

        0 agree
  3. To a librarian in training from a full fledged librarian = your nerdiness and sweetness inspires me! Congratulations to you both on your next big campaign!

    8 agree
  4. Hahaha, the paragraph about keeping it a secret by telling lots of other people is exactly how my now-fiance did it. :) So adorable!

    4 agree
  5. I teared up at "Will you start a new campaign with me as my wife?" May your adventures together be the stuff of legends…

    <3 to you both!

    22 agree
  6. "Dammit, woman."

    My favorite response part of the whole video :)

    Also, my man was so nervous that he put the ring on the wrong hand as well! (I still feel bad that I corrected him instead of going with the flow…)

    And congratulations on your new campaign! It's always better to have a partner by your side… especially if she's a healer.

    7 agree
  7. Flawless Victory. (the hand thing doesn't count, I think almost everyone does that, if not during the proposal then during the wedding.)

    2 agree
  8. Congratulations!! my daughter also proposed to her boyfriend after a Thanksgiving meal and it was so cool to see her do that instead of waiting for her boyfriend to propose to her after being together for about four years. And he said " Sure" instead of Yes lol oh well at least its an answer…..

    0 agree
  9. Ahhh so adorable I almost cried! Massive congratulations!
    That ring is an amazing design, and even more special because of the effort you put in to having it made just how you wanted for your fiancee.
    My fiancee also had a custom engagement ring made for me; picked the stones and metal himself (blue diamonds and silver), designed it and found a lady in Canada to make it for me (we live in the UK), and the knowledge that he put all that thought into it just makes it even more special.

    0 agree
  10. Everyone's comments make me grin stupidly :)

    This was our wedding arch and it had the label "Awesome Adventure" emblazoned on the top. It was covertly assembled by my partner's best friends a couple hours before we were wed. Our officiant was his DM and we were surrounded by our closest friends who didn't even know they were attending a wedding. They assumed he was going to propose to me there. They DID realise it though when we both entered to the "Imperial Death March" played on cello + violin (teacher + good friend who was asked to bring her violin).

    My partner planned the whole event without my knowledge (though afterward, I started putting the pieces together and things made way more sense). He figured that after 13 years together, he knew me pretty damned well.

    I actually received the proposal the same day and kept it secret from our friends so they could be surprised too.

    5 agree
    • Wow, that's amazing. I've never come across a surprise wedding before! Surprise engagements, yes… but to plan the actual wedding, he must know you pretty well!

      0 agree
  11. OMG! The sweet nerdiness of it all! So romantic, and that ring is beautiful!

    0 agree
  12. Aand now there are tears of happiness streaming down my face. Best of luck on the new campaign!

    0 agree
  13. Aww, that was adorably nerdy! It almost made me tear up. Or at least giggle in sympathetic nervous laughter.

    0 agree
  14. What a beautiful moment. I love her reaction to the proposal and the ring is extremely cool! Congratulations to you both!

    1 agrees
  15. From one gaming couple to another, congrats! That is such a sweet and thoughtful ring. May you have many happy years!

    0 agree
  16. *hugs you*

    *hugs your fiancee*

    *hugs everyone*

    *cries a little*

    Yay!

    Also, I love that ring. It's great. I bought the engagement / wedding ring when I proposed (Actually, I bought a really cheap one as a placeholder, because I wanted her help in picking out something she'd actually want to wear, and then we found one, and bought it [black titanium]… and the finish wore off. So we got another one from the same place… and the finish wore off of that one. [It caught fire, fell down, and then sank into the swamp!] So I bought her a third ring from a different place, still in black titanium, and that one has been fine.) but I've since made her several anniversary rings.

    *more hugs*

    *wipes eyes*

    0 agree
  17. And there's no such thing as the "wrong hand". It's y'all's marriage, you can wear your rings wherever you want. I wear my wedding band on my right hand (when I wear it at all, which, honestly, as a machinist, isn't very often at all, too dangerous) which is not the traditional placement for it, but… it's where it feels most comfortable and natural to me, so, screw what "society" says about it anyway. ;)

    1 agrees
  18. I'm really impressed and touched by your posting. I'm a big 'ol romantic at heart, and the effort and thought you've shown here is inspirational. I plan to remarry my beautiful geeky wife of 25 years in about 18 months, so I need to start preparing her a Star Trek inspired wedding band! Thank for sharing.

    0 agree
  19. My boy friend loves d&d (I don't play, I watch) and I just recently got this idea as well. He's so hard to buy for and I knew that he wouldn't want any ordinary diamond or simple band so I had to rake my brain to think of something that would match his uniqueness and be affordable too, to replace the stone. Him and I also don't have a traditional gendered relationship, he's more the girl so I figure," why couldn't I be the one to ask?" Well long story short, you helped me out a ton on how to get it made custom and it still be affordable. Thank you so much for sharing your story and helping me with some things I thought would be too expensive! =)

    0 agree
  20. Ccongratulations guys!! So special; reading/watching this made me feel so giddy and happy! I'm currently having a bracelet (he's a chef and he doesn't wear rings) handcrafted by a local Jewler for my soon to be fiance. I can't recommend this idea enough!! Definitely worth a look for anyone who is considering!! Your own special, sentimental idea put into practice by an awesome artist! Yes!!

    0 agree

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