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

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.

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

  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.

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

    • 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.

      • 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!

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

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

      • 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!!

  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!

  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!

  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!

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

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