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Originally published February 11, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified February 13, 2007 at 2:42 PM

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They want to know your girlfriend

The men behind the man proposing to you on Valentine's Day work on the ninth floor of an office building overlooking Beacon Hill. It's possible that one...

The men behind the man proposing to you on Valentine's Day work on the ninth floor of an office building overlooking Beacon Hill. It's possible that one of them is responsible for (tactfully) dissuading your well-meaning, but clueless, boyfriend from purchasing a heart-shaped diamond. Which I honestly believe could alter the course of one's life.

I imagined the offices of Blue Nile, the diamond retailer, to be something like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, only more sparkly. But I saw no diamond waterfalls. Disappointing.

Instead, there were Ed Taylor and Ryan Beck, whose names I cannot say without mentally adding, "to the rescue!" For this is what they do all day long: Help men figure out what women want — and then iron out the logistics of how to give it to them.

Should I get down on one knee?

Will champagne hurt the diamond?

How do I secretly get the ring through airport security?

"One guy wanted to know, would it be a good idea to propose while skydiving," Ryan said. "My recommendation was, don't do it while you're jumping, at least. Wait until you have a firm grasp on the ring."

Their official job title is "diamond and jewelry consultant," but, as I see it, what Ed and Ryan do at this diamonds-for-dummies hotline is more remarkable than the name suggests. They save men from themselves.

(And besides, how fun would it be to talk on the phone all day, discussing intimate details of people's love lives? I seriously do that all the time, only no one pays me for it.)

"If he's looking at a heart [shape] and would like my opinion, I might ask him, 'Well, has she specifically asked for a heart?' and more often than not, she hasn't. He just thinks it's romantic," Ryan said. "In reality, she's probably not going to be happy."

It reminds me of that episode of "Sex and the City" when Carrie sees Aidan's pear-shaped diamond on a gold band and vomits: "Aidan should have known that that ring wasn't me. How can I marry a guy who doesn't know which ring is me?"

So what if the guy has no idea what kind of diamond she is?

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Apparently, this happens all the time. It's a process Ed describes as discovering "who is this mystery lady." They ask him a series of questions about her: What does she do for a living? What kind of jewelry does she wear? Does she read fashion magazines? Is she an impulse buyer? Does she like attention? Does she do any sports that involve hitting her hands against hard objects?

This sounded like too much fun to resist, so for research purposes, I had a few female co-workers call and pretend to be their own imaginary fiancés while I eavesdropped. It went something like this:

Ed: Is she a modern girl or more of a traditional person?

Haley: Traditional, definitely. She likes campfires and family.

Ed: What kind of jewelry does she wear?

Haley: None, really. Earrings, I guess.

Ed: Studs?

Haley: Yes, and little dangly things — I'm supposed to be the guy, right?

Ed: OK, yeah. Is she engaged in what's going on in fashion?

Haley: What do you mean? I think she looks nice.

Ed: Like, does she know who Sienna Miller is and is she wearing the same thing?

Haley: Uh, no.

See? That's fun, right? Imagine getting to do that all day.

For Haley, Ed recommended a classic round diamond, not too big so as not to interfere with her active lifestyle, with a platinum trellis setting to add a little youthful edge to the ring. He e-mailed her a picture, and we all clustered around her computer and oohed.

"It'll catch her eye and everyone else's, and that's what you want. Especially with a girl who doesn't wear much jewelry," he said. "This has to be it. Something she wears every day ... for the rest of her life."

Girl About Town appears every Sunday in Northwest Life. Pamela Sitt: 206-464-2376 or psitt@seattletimes.com

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