Originally Posted by SeaJen
Without women to offer their opinion it is hard to say what is truly valued, but I would be very wary (and wouldn't propose to) a woman who looks at the size of diamond when you are kneeling down before joyously answering yes, but that is not to say that she doesn't value the size of that diamond. But size here is a relative thing - relative to your income and wealth. Just because she saw some hollywood starlet receive a 5 carat diamond doesnt mean the 1 carat you offer is too small. Wes explained the sacrifice he went to in saving for the ring, so I'm sure what he bought was, relatively speaking, quite large (although smaller than he would buy given his current earning power, eh Wes?).
Buy what you can afford, but not less than you can afford. You may view women who value the size of the ring as shallow and mercenary, but how do you appear to women if you do not want to make any sacrifice for this cultural symbol of love and devotion?
I was given the woman's (at least mine's) opinion on this a while ago; but like everything it is person specific... for my wife and many women, it is the thought that counts. It was not about the size of the diamond, but the cut and quality (showing that you care and that it was an important decision to you), a style fitting to hers (shows that you know her), and financially responsible (you didn't cheap out, but didn't spend outside your means).
As for your last statement, a friend of mine put it this way: it has to be more than your most expensive hobby (or toy) item. If you buy yourself a $2000 bicycle, but don't want to spend $1500 on a ring for her, you're doing it wrong.