Of all the things I’ve planned in my life, I have to admit that I’m pretty darn proud of how well this particular event came together and unfolded. And today, I’m pleased to share the story!
Where to begin? I think, first, it’s important to know that for the first three years of our relationship, Robin and I lived in different cities. She was in New York City. And I was in Baltimore. Far from being a hardship, it was actually quite romantic. One weekend she’d come to visit. And then I’d spend my weekend with her in NYC the following weekend. As she used to work on Madison Avenue, I’d take an early afternoon train up and check in with my friend Robert at Davidoff–I said it wasn’t a hardship–until she collected me after work and we’d find someplace to have dinner and, typically, after dinner drinks.
Those were fun times. Exploring the city together. Having some amazing meals. Plus, since we were living apart, each moment was extra special.
Eventually, however, distance does start to wear on you and since we were very serious together, Robin decided to move to Baltimore so we could be together. It was a big decision for her, especially because NYC is a great place to be in the field of advertising. She moved down in October of 2017 and that’s when I started to hatch The Plan.
Prior to Robin leaving NYC I asked her what, if anything, had she regretted not doing while living in NYC. She had a few things on her list, but the one that stuck out to me was never going to see an opera at the Met. I filed that away. It would become a central part of my entire scheme. However, before getting on with that part of the story, there is something that is, quite frankly, incredibly important to any proposal–finding the perfect engagement ring.
There are lots of things to think about, but the most important thing is that you absolutely have to know what she likes and wants. If you’re serious with someone, it’s a topic that will likely come up casually in conversation. And I guarantee that your lady will know what she wants…
It’s important that you do your research as well, because the shape and size of a diamond are only two of many aspects you should be thinking about. GIA, which is an independent organization dedicated to impartially assessing gems and delivering detailed information on them, actually highlights four categories that you should consider. These are the 4Cs of Diamond Quality–Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat Weight.
Color refers to the color, or more precisely, the lack of color of the diamond. The scale ranges from D-Z, with D being the most desirable (colorless) and Z being the least desirable. Typically, if you’re shopping for an engagement ring, you’re not going to see the end of the alphabet at any reputable retailer.
Clarity is another important factor. This refers to the number of inclusions in the diamond. An inclusion is basically an imperfection. The scale here runs from Flawless, Very Very Slightly Included, Very Slightly Included, Slightly Included, Included. Throughout this process, I looked at a lot of diamonds and the Clarity of a diamond plays an immense role in how bright and shiny it looks.
Next, we have Cut, which is different from the shape and focuses on how well your diamond is cut. The GIA Cut Scale assesses the overall cut quality of each diamond individually, taking into account such features as proportions, table size, polish and symmetry. If you want a lot of sparkle in your diamond to sparkle, then look for an Excellent cut grade.
And finally, Carat Weight, which is self-explanatory.
Choosing the perfect engagement ring requires you to think about not only her wishes, but what you are comfortable with spending personally. Knowing the 4Cs of Diamond Quality can help you out a lot. For example, you can find exceptional diamonds that aren’t D Flawless, but that look almost as stunning without the price tag if you stay higher in the Color and Clarity ranges. The best thing to do is to look at as many as possible and compare, which is exactly what I did.
Another trick? Carat Weight. You’ll see a big price jump once you get to a 1.5 carat diamond. So look for something as close to that as possible–like a 1.47, which is what I found for Robin.
Since the 4Cs influence price, whenever or wherever you buy a diamond, you want to make sure that you are getting some sort of independent, unbiased report on the gem. This is not an appraisal of its value, but an objective report on the stone’s quality from someone who has no stake in game–an institute like GIA, for example. GIA provides a Diamond Grading Report, which is the scientific blueprint of a stone’s exact quality characteristics. It kind of gives you the same peace of mind as having a Carfax report when buying a car.
So I’d found the ring, now what? Well, I knew that I wanted to propose in NYC. And my ruse for getting Robin up there was to get tickets to the Met for Christmas. We’d make a weekend out of it. To her, it was a thoughtful gift. To me, it was just the beginning.
The opera was in January, and by the time I’d given her the present, I already had everything worked out to a ‘T’. We’d go up to NYC for the weekend. Stay at a fancy hotel. And have a nice meal at the restaurant (and table!) we had our first date at, after which, we’d go back to the hotel and I’d propose there. I had arranged much of this two months in advance.
In November, we were going to have brunch at Little Prince in Soho. There was a wait, so I told Robin to stay there while I went around the corner to check if Hundred Acres (our first date restaurant) had a table. It was then that I told the hostess that I would be coming back in January, the reason for the visit, and the table I wanted. Oh, and it was supposed to be “unplanned”. They were kind enough to oblige. The “plan” was that we’d be casually walking around the West Village and I would suggest going to Hundred Acres and, magically, we’d sit at “our” table.
However, Robin likes to plan and not having a reservation on a Friday night in NYC was, in her mind, a risky proposition. Robin had gone up early and was working from NYC office that day. I can’t even tell you how frustrated I was riding up on the train trying to fend her off, telling her, “I’m taking care of it!” while sweating that she’d inadvertently foil my plan. Eventually, I don’t remember how, but I got her to believe me… Of course, I didn’t do anything because I already had a “reservation”.
When I arrived I immediately went to our hotel, the Four Seasons Downtown. I knew the PR girl there and she knew what was up. We scrambled and I brought them up to date on the plan. I handed off the ring in a nondescript bag and off I went to fetch Robin.
Miraculously, we ended up in the West Village–imagine that!–and before I could say anything, Robin suggested we go to Hundred Acres. When we arrived, she saw that “our” table was available and asked the hostess, “Can we sit there?” It kind of worked out really nice that way since she thought this whole event was her idea! The meal was decent–the restaurant had changed cuisines since we’d last been there–but the company was the most important part.
Following dinner, we returned to hotel. Upon arriving, someone at the desk greeted us and handed me a bag, telling me, “Mr. Sacawa, this arrived for you while you were out.” Robin didn’t think anything of it. Next, I told Robin that we needed to go up to the second floor before going back to the room because there was a really great place to take a photo and I wanted one there. Again, she didn’t think anything of it.
So we ascended the staircase to the second floor landing and I said, “I think that’s the room over there–through those two doors.” We entered a dark ballroom, lit only by candles, which were all over the room–Sydney had outdone herself. Robin thought we had stepped into someone’s special party room and that we shouldn’t have been in there. Until she saw the cocktail table with the bottle of champagne chilling. I think that’s when it hit her.
You know how the rest went. It was an incredibly special moment. In fact, I’m tearing up now thinking about how perfect it was.
Thanks, as always, for reading.
He Spoke Style