Cool engagement ring alternatives for guys and masculine folks

Updated Mar 15 2021

I'm not engaged, but very much in love with my sweet geek and amazing boyfriend and I'm thinking about popping the question. I would like to give him something like an engagement ring but not really.

What would you suggest as cool alternatives for an engagement ring for a guy?


If you're thinking of proposing to your masculine partner of any gender, we think there are two things to keep in mind when thinking of what object you should give your partner:

  1. Whatever you choose should have specific relevance to your relationship
  2. You want it to be something long-lasting, like a ring would be

I'm reminded of an Offbeat Bride reader who proposed to her boyfriend with a spoon! Franki explained:

We were talking about engagements one night and I said, 'Who decided on rings, anyway? Rings are completely arbitrary and I don't really want one. An engagment spoon — now that would be original.' A month or so later… I bought a spoon and proposed to him. Most people think it's neat, some people don't get it at all. The important part is that we both like it and he was totally over the moon when I asked — just as much as I was over the moon when he said yes.

But, if you don't happen to have convenient inside jokes that revolve around engagement traditions, I've compiled a super fun list of things you could use to propose to your boy or otherwise masculine partner:

A necklace

Okay, so maybe your partner isn't into an engagement ring, but would they wear a necklace?

I like how this men's leather necklace has rings on it… sorta like wedding rings!


This guitar pick guitar pick fingerprint necklace could be the perfect option for the musicians… and you could customize it with your fingerprint for extra sweetness.


This customized capsule necklace comes with personalized stamping, and you can slip a love note inside. We'd suggest investing in a more durable chain, though.

A handkerchief

Remember the "bromance notes" Ariel featured in her gifts for groomsmen post? Well you could use them as their original purpose… to convey words of love!

A fancy watch

Watches are sort of like rings in that you can find them in any price range. Here are a few we like…

This skull & crossbones watch has diamond accents


This Personalized Wooden Watch has a custom message on the inside of the leather band!
This technoclass watch is a bit more higher class… loving the look!
Here's another custom engraved watch option… this one comes with a gorgeous box, perfect for proposing with!

Engraved lock

This custom engraved lock & key set is a nice reference to someone having the key to your heart

Customized Leatherman

Leatherman, maker of those all-in-one tools, make some truly stunning personalized and custom options… perfect for proposing to your handy guy.

An engraved lighter

We know one Offbeat Bride reader proposed to her guy with an engraved "engagement lighter."

We like the looks of this engraved zippo lighter

An engraved axe

Are you proposing to a viking? We gotchoo…

Aww, what viking wouldn't love to be proposed to with this custom engraved axe with leather sheath

Pocket watch

The pocket watch pictured above has perfect surfaces to engrave something on it, or you could even slip in a special picture or a message on the inside. I like the exposed cogs and wheels of this one.

Other ideas…

Anyone else have any ideas? Leave 'em in the comments!

  1. What about a drawing of a Tattoo that you both go get together immediately after, maybe with the date, or place it happened?

  2. Tools or around the house items that can be engraved. For instance, if you and your man plan to build a house together one day (or he just likes tools), why not have the handle of a hammer engraved? If he likes to cook, maybe a mixer (so he can fix you breakfast in bed!)?

      • Easy peasy for the film geek. Order his favorite movie, or one of them, on a reel and have the reel engraved. This site: is just one of a few that you can order something like that from. You could also pay a movie theater in your area to play a proposal during the previews. The price will depend on the theater. You could find a theater that shows classic matinees – they tend to be less expensive and more willing. Something less decadent could include hosting your own movie night at your home – classic popcorn boxes, some milk duds, and print your own movie tickets. You could propose when the credits roll or on the tickets themselves. Good luck!

      • You could have a movie poster printed up with the request… Perhaps a spoof poster for this favourite movie? Or you could sneak it into an actual movie poster?

      • For a computer geek, depending on their needs/tastes, and budget, a special mousepad, a custom keyboard, or even a tower painted/engraved with something significant? Perhaps an engraved floppy disk or motherboard would work, as well, if you'd prefer something decorative versus something functional.

        • For the programmers or coders out there how cool would it be to have a pop up window proposal. It could be even more memorable if it emulated a blue screen melt down/warning message etc so he'd freak out and think he was being hacked or something 🙂

  3. Guitar! My (now) husband is a musician but would never buy himself a Martin (a very, very nice brand). I gave him a Martin when I sort of did/didn't propose. It's a long story but the point is, the guitar was perfect! It's something he'll use and cherish for the rest of his life just like my ring!

    • I gave my fiance a guitar, too. He proposed to me with a ring, but we went out and got his guitar as an engagement present for him. I mean, he spent a ton of money and time on the ring for me, I had to give him something he'd like just as much. He loves it and plays it every day – it was so worth it and he'll treasure it just the same.

      • I felt the same. women get the ring and the dudes get nothing its not fair. I however got my fiance an xbox360 as he is into games rather than playing music. I like your idea though 😀

      • My fiancée did the same. I bought her a ring and she bought me a Maton guitar. I don't wear jewellery, however the guitar is a beautiful piece of artwork that I display on my wall and play every day. I love it!

  4. I love, love, love the idea of an engagement watch. I gave my (now) fiance a fancy watch when we were dating in high school, and he still wears it to this day. A good watch is on par with the timelessness of an engagement ring.
    Plus, I love the idea of being able to give him a diamond. I've always thought that it was sort of weird and unfair that women are traditionally given a pricey diamond engagement ring and then receive a wedding band… why can't men get two pieces of nuptial bling, too?

    Anyway, some additional ideas:
    – An engraved worry stone (gemstone or rock meant to be carried in the pocket so you can hold it or rub it with your thumb when you're upset or worried–sort of an "I'm always with you" note, eh?)
    – Wallet or money clip
    – A moleskine (aaah! Or moleskine-alternative) journal or first-edition book
    – A tree! A garden! A rubber house plant!

    • My mom tells me it used to be traditional in Italian families to give the groom-to-be an engagement gift, usually including a diamond.

      I got my guy an awesome watch for Christmas–then he proposed on Christmas day, and I wished I'd got something else so the watch could be the engagement present. He tells me he calls it his engagement watch, though, which makes me smile.

      • That's what mi amor and I call the watch I gave him as a Christmas gift/proposal from me. I ended up buying myself a complementary style watch a year later (gotta love Fossil!).

  5. I proposed with a piece of art I commissioned of my City of Heroes character proposing to his (and a ring, but the picture was the big thing!).

  6. We're experience people. I gave him a trip to Bonaroo Music Festival (which he'd been dying to attend for years) and an inexpensive silver ring. It was perfect for for him.

  7. all this being said, when i was in the process of trying to figure out how to propose, i looked up 'engagement ring for men' and found several nice guys' rings that would work well for a ring-wearer, i should think. they were on the pricey side though so I'm glad i decided to sleep on it and just pop the question without buying it first, bc it turns out he wanted to get me a ring and didn't want one of his own.

    • That. Is. Awesome! I'm totally getting one of these for myself & my best friend (Mr. Spouse doesn't wear necklaces – boo); thanks for the link!

  8. My husband loves software, so just before our wedding, I got him a copy of Windows 7. He was totally thrilled! (Said something about I knew exactly what would turn him on…) It also made for a nice break from wedding stress. Anyway, you could put a note in a new computer game or something…

  9. Why not get him and yourself a ring? While it may not be traditional for the guy to wear a ring during the engagement, it is really meaningful and to me shows great gender equality. My fiance is wearing a band during our engagement that will be engraved once we are married and serve as his wedding band. It was his idea. What an amazing finace I have!

    • I did something similar to this, since the way we got "engaged" was more of a deep discussion which went into "I know I want to marry you". We bought each other matching Gaelic inscription rings, which I love so much I wouldn't mind keeping for our actual wedding rings too! I'm all for gender equality so it was a win-win for both of us!

      • This is exactly how ours went down, too. Since our "proposal" was just a mutual decision, it felt weird not to share rings and be equal partners. We went with matching mokume gane bands of copper and sterling silver, which may end up doubling as wedding bands (engraving is a great idea – we should think about that!)

        I like the fact that our relationship is so even and equal that it seemed illogical to have only one party wear a ring… it makes me feel like a partner, rather than some bride on a pedestal.

    • I totally agree. My boyfriend and I both wore promise rings and when we get engaged we will both propose and both get a new engagement ring. It's only fair.

  10. I love,love,LOVE the idea of proposing to your guy with a pocket watch. I think I might very well keep this in mind for mine. (^.^)

  11. I've already got it in the works to propose to my guy at Disneyland this fall (on Pirates of the Caribbean, only our most favorite ride of all time) and I'm having my grandma help me refurbish/repair an old family pocket watch to give him and an old family heirloom ring for him to give me, once he (hopefully) says yes! I love all these ideas though, and I will keep the tools idea in mind in case the watch can't be repaired— my man does love a good hand plane.

  12. The spoon thing is actually a tradition in Wales. Love spoons were carved from wood (usually in a interlocking knot pattern) by a lover for his beloved and signified both his affection and intentions. I love the modern twist!!

  13. Thank you so much for these ideas!! This is so timely for me, as I have been toying with the idea of a "counter proposal" when my guy finally proposes, and the handkerchief idea is PERFECT for us! And, what do you know, I have a bunch of embroidery floss that belonged to my beloved Grandma, and that I got when she passed away, AND my mom has some of my Grandpa's old handkerchiefs. Instant heirloom!! I intend to embroider on it: "Will you marry me back?" I am so excited about this now! I knew I loved the idea of "proposing back" to him, but I couldn't come up with something that was both meaningful and that I could also carry with me wherever we go, and have ready for when he proposes. Perfect, perfect, perfect. Again, thank you!

  14. Great ideas!

    I just bought a men's wedding ring. It had a little diamond in it (still manly though) and I figured hey, it's kind of like an engagement ring! He doesn't wear it though, it's being treated like a wedding ring. It was just a prop, really.

    Proposal itself was written on a napkin and hidden with some surprise cinnamon rolls. I do not recommend this if you are impatient. Boy ate all the cinnamon rolls before finding it and was wondering why I looked ill D:

    • I gave my guy cuff links ( in a simplified proposal box as He1en's above (thanks for the tutorial!). Five months later I'm still waiting for an answer, but he responded very positively and there have been two mysterious envelopes from a jeweler's, so I'm feeling pretty happy 😀

  15. I gave an ex-boyfriend (who absolutely didn't deserve it) a slightly beaten-up stainless steel bracelet with an engraving on the inside. It's from Etsy – they make them specially, and they're quite cheap.

    Rugged, able to be worn all the time, but still romantic.

  16. I proposed to my husband with a simple gold ring. If I (traditionally) have to wear a ring signifying I'm engaged why musn't he!? We got matching celtic rings when we married.

  17. My guy is proposing (he had to reorder the ring after it was lost/stolen on our recent trip to Europe) but we also talked about what I could get him in return because I wanted him to have something too. We agreed on earrings for him since he has 3 piercings at the moment. I found gorgeous wolf's head earrings with rubies for eyes (since there are rubies in my ring) and rings that are made to assemble your own earrings in 10g. Can't wait!

    • Where little red?! My FH hubby proposed to me with a ruby also, and calls me his "little red"!!

      Aha!! FH's ears are 2's though.

  18. i LOVE that there are so many comments on this post!!! I proposed to my boyfriend in April and originally was going with the watch idea….BUT i bought him a super nice watch for Christmas….so plan B was some champagne flutes from Tiffany's etched with "will you" on one and "marry me?" on the other. I figure Tiffany's lasts forever right? As we were in our pondering conversations about marriage he said something about me needing a huge rock (LOVE THIS MAN!) and I said "oh so you have to do the proposing huh? what about the modern day woman?" and he said "well if your planning to propose you better have a ring, modern day woman!". So my advise would be to fish around and see what his ideas are around marriage and what he'd like IF you were to propose.

  19. I gave my fiance a Blue Feather of Happiness. We both play Harvest Moon, and in every version of the game that you can get married, you propose by finding and giving a blue feather to the one you love. I found a blue feather pin with Swarovski crystals all over it, and proposed. He wears it sometimes, but usually it's just in its case on his bedside table.

  20. I proposed with a silver key. I told him it was the key to my heart. It sounds a little cheesy, but he said yes and wears it on a chain around his neck 🙂

  21. For guys or non traditional couples, what about custom artwork? I just finished a painting for a girl who wanted a picture of her wedding bouquet before the wedding. Basically she wanted something she could take to the florist to say this is what I want, as well as something to have hanging in their new home on the wedding night, unlike all the wedding pictures that you have to wait months for. I've also had a guy approach me about painting a picture of the ring he was saving up to buy his girlfriend but he wanted to propose on valentine's day and wouldn't have it paid off til summer, so he had me paint a small 5×7 picture of the ring in the box with a rose. She *loved* it.

  22. Since we both knew we were getting engaged well before it happened I told my FH that he should get something too! I got a ring and he got a computer! He is so happy picking it out…almost the way I was with my ring!!

  23. My fh and I proposed to each other completely spontaneously and got the rings later. 🙂 It was important to us that we both have rings (it seems pretty sexist to me that women wear rings and everyone can see they are taken but men run around ring-less until the Big Day) and it was really hard to find a ring for him that wasn't boring or pimp-like. We had custom rings made on Etsy and we looove them. Now we have matching rings (same style but his is more butch) and they are "friends." It hasn't been super easy for him to get used to wearing it, but we both like the symbolism.

  24. My fiance and I have matching engagement socks that we got from Sock Dreams in Portland. See, when I was a rebellious teenager, I told my more traditional peers that I wouldn't marry any guy who wasn't quirky enough to give me socks in place of a diamond. We're now planning to get a new pair of awesome socks for every anniversary. He wanted a ring, too, so we also have matching sterling silver bands that cost less than the socks 😛

  25. How about an engagement meteorite? I'm planning to propose to my geeky boyfriend in a few weeks, at a star-gazing event in the desert, with a piece of a meteorite that landed in Argentina 5,000 years ago. Nothing says love like a hunk of space rock.

  26. Oh, I have to add that when I proposed to my now husband I made it clear that I still wanted a proposal from him 'cuz that's just how we are. It was an agreement we made. So he did the big engagement production for me a year later. It was fun for the year while he was wearing a ring and I wasn't, I pretended that I was dating a married man. 😉

    • My fh had an engagement ring before me and I've been secretly pretending to be dating a married man, too! haha

  27. Love this. I proposed to my guy- over homemade chocolate chip cookies (his fav) and cool glass of milk. And then I took him out to a very fancy fancy dinner (chef's table at Les'palier in Boston) because he loves that kind of thing and would never do it for himself. He was beyond was thrilled.

    I did the actual proposal at home over the cookies though so it would just be us two, and it took a lot of pressure off- we're not big scene people. It worked for us and I had fun with it too. 🙂

  28. We had a "conversation" on Christmas night and decided to get married but as my H2B had been married before and I am a feminist we decided I'd propose. He thought I'd wait a few months at least to do it.

    I did it 6 days later on New Years Eve. We were down the coast in a small town and there was very few shops, so I proposed with a stainless steel hose pipe clamp that cost $2.60 from the local hardware store.

    It cuts him a bit, but he wore it for our engagement parties and to announce to all our friends and family.

    I've now got my gorgeous bit of bling, but it was great to have something for the occasion and it's funny story which sums us up pretty well as a couple.

  29. i made my oscar a pin. he doesn't wear jewelry, but our deal was whoever popped the question had to have -something- to give, and i snuck out and took a metalsmithing class, and made him a pin of a mutual tattoo design we'd thought up long ago.

    we'll still get tattoos, but we decided to get something more elaborate.

    i don't have any engagement token, but i'm pretty comfortable with that.

  30. what i would love to do is get all the pictures that my beau and i have taken since we met, and put them on the wall spelling out "be mine forever and ever?"

  31. Love these ideas! Especially that guitar pick necklace. The mushroom cookie proposal is cute too! I can't help but think I'd poison that 'No' cookie though…. or at least put some major laxatives in it.

  32. The earring idea is great. I love that. I'm not close to proposing since my relationship is very new, but I'm a girl and think about this daily! heh
    He has plugs, so personalized gauges would rock I think… if it ever goes that far 😉

  33. I asked my boyfriend to marry me and bought him a red wheelbarrow. What sucks is that I'm such a practical person, I bought something he needed & now it's covered in dirt and cement..! We went shopping later and picked out a ring for me.

    • "it's covered in dirt and cement…!"

      thus proving it was a perfect gift as it's showing it can handle the occasional crap that comes its' way, like a good, strong marriage 🙂

  34. I proposed to my boyfriend with a watch and had a ring pop on hand for myself since I knew I would want to design my own ring. For me, having the watch in the planned location forced me to go through with everything so I couldn't chicken out. I knew he would be ecstatic and say yes (which he did) but no matter how many times you've talked about it- nothing can properly prepare someone for that terrifying moment. The watch definitely helped me to remember that I had been meticulously planning the moment for a long time and it was finally my turn to show him how committed I was. I was very undecided about what I should give him but the watch was perfect!

  35. I am planning on proposing to my boyfriend next year on his 30th birthday… with a fishing boat! I figure I've got nothing to lose, if he says no it's because he's not ready yet not because he doesn't want to be with me… and he still gets the boat as a birthday present. I'm going to have our pet name for each other printed on the side. I just have to work out exactly how I'm going to ask!

  36. I proposed to my boy with these (one sweetie out of the packet, rather than 100 packs). It was at leap year so he knew what I meant.

    He bought me a diamond ring that weekend and then a year later I bought him a number plate for his classic car. It was the only long lasting gift I could think of that he'd love. He does now wear a wedding ring.

  37. I proposed to my man with Ring Spanners!
    I spent 5 weeks in Germany & I planned the whole thing while I was away & popped the question on the night I flew home. And I called my dad and asked him for permission to give my hand in marriage to Tony.
    I spent all my money in Germany on the best quality spanners you can buy (coincidently made in Germany!) & this really funky garden rainforest resort for when we got home including private candlelight dinner & massages/sauna package. I pretended I couldnt find his present when we got to the hotel (which I tricked him to driving us to!) then during dinner I excused myself for the loo, sprinted to our room, grabbed the spanners that I"d written "Marry Me?" on and raced back to give him his "present from germany"

    I sort of made a little speach about how much I loved him etc etc while he was unwrapping them untill he could read what it said.
    After a really long silence I was wondering if I'd made the right decision!
    Then I realised he was fighting tears, and he said yes. It was one of the most touching moments of my whole life.

    But he says we're not OFFICIALY engaged untill he proposes to me as he'd always dreamed of that moment growing up (kind of how girls dream of their wedding?) but we have a date & we're planning the wedding so he reckons he'll do it before we get married. I think he's planning some sort will you marry moment before the ceremony starts!!

  38. I proposed to him and got him a silver dog tag with our son's fingerprint, birthdate and name on one side, and "Will you marry me?" on the other side. Then I put it in his Christmas Advent Calendar!

  39. I'm dating a Scottish guy who never wore his wedding ring while his first marriage lasted, so a ring for proposing is out of the question. My idea: I might, when the time comes, get a custom-made Sgian Dubh. That's the little dagger worn in the stocking to complete a dressy kilt outfit. And then having a suitable engraving put on the hilt. Let's see what happens…

  40. omg! thank you for this article! i have a ruby that belonged to my grandma, given to her by my great grandma. our year is coming up (i've known him for close to 12, tho, so it's really not like i'm jumping in…) and i've got the whole thing planned, down to the date. i swear if he doesn't ask by halloween, i'm just gonna propose b handing him the stone and saying, "figure it out." that may sound harsh to some, but we're both very matter of fact people and he know how i get. i honestly believe he's waiting for us to hit the year mark, either that or he knows i'm getting antsy and he's holding out just to be a pain (which is also very 'him' lol)

  41. I poped the question to my hubby to be ! when i did it … i got him a ring and i also got a little baby booty and mit set and i put the ring in the baby booty and asked him if he would be my husband and the father of my children present and future 🙂 he said Yes !!!! i asked him 2 days before fathers day 🙂

  42. These are great ideas! I proposed to my boyfriend but I gave him a ring. It was engraved with our birthdays and a little heart by monkeysalwayslook on etsy. So perfect! Of course, he lost it. It's okay though- he loved it and said yes and that was all I wanted.

    I think I'll be getting that pocket watch for an actual wedding present though! Love!

  43. I proposed to my boyfriend with Noam Chomsky's pen, and a peanut butter chocolate cupcake. He said yes and then we went to our tattoo artist who tattooed a tiny red diamond on my ring finger 🙂

  44. My guy is big into shooting, so I had a custom engraved bullet made with "Will you marry me" on it for the proposal… And a smaller bullet on a key ring engraved with a promise to love him "with everystuff, forever" for the "ring" He loved it and we are planning on a fall wedding next year 🙂

  45. This is such a cute post! While he proposed to me, I think our story still has some stock here.
    When we were first dating, we ended up on playgrounds ALOT (usually to get away from crowds during festivals or parties) so one day, when we stepped out, he proposed using matching braclets (purple & green made out of telephone wires! with a star charm) that he had bought from a booth while I was using the bathroom. Funny thing was though, I had bought 2 plastic rings out of a 25 cent machine to propose to him while i was "using the bathroom" so after he popped the question, so did I with our 'playground' rings! I now have an engagement ring and he wants to wait and save for a wedding ring he really wants (instead of getting a cheaper engagement ring and then a band), but we both still have our bracletes and 'playground engagment rings' <3
    I plan on getting him a pocket watch for a wedding gift though too, and i LOVE the one in this post!

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