A proposal is an incredibly special moment in time; a mutual acceptance of ‘forever’. It’s a time that belongs to you and your partner, and there is ultimately no right or wrong way for it to play out. Of course, the notion of being swept away by surprise is the epitome of romantic in the eyes of some. What’s also romantic, however, is the opportunity to ride the unique and exciting wave with your partner by your side, visiting jewellery shops together and exchanging notes as you choose the most visible symbol of your commitment to one another. This is an experience shared; one for you both to have fun with and cherish in years to come.
We recently met Chris and Hannah, who dedicated a day in sunny Brighton to trawling the iconic Lanes jewellery quarter and visiting us for a consultation at the St. Augustine’s Centre. Like the vast majority of couples moving towards an engagement, they’d been together for a while and had discussed marriage on a number of occasions. A proposal was a given, and with Hannah a self-confessed stickler for details, an open exploration of what she did and didn’t like about engagement rings was the next logical step. Once Hannah had identified her favourite of all the rings she’d seen that day, Chris bought it in private at a later stage, proposing to her with it on holiday a few weeks later when she wasn’t expecting it.
Other couples – like Bjarne and Patricia – begin their shopping experience already engaged, the engagement ring a secondary symbol of cementation. This too is a thoughtful demonstration of informed judgement and mutual understanding. If your partner knows you well enough to recognise that a pre-chosen engagement ring would instil you with more uncertainty than delight, inviting you to embark on the shopping journey with them at a later stage is a considerate move.
Arguably, your engagement ring is one of the most important pieces of jewellery you’ll ever wear; a highly symbolic, inextricable part of you for years to come. Perhaps you’re picky by nature and would feel more comfortable if you could just take the lead on this one. Maybe you have no idea yet how your perfect engagement ring might look. However strict or non-existent your criteria, why leave the decision entirely up to somebody else? Very rarely do we embrace the notion of our partners choosing what we wear, so an expensive long-term investment could be a risky place to start.
From metal type to gemstone cut and colour, band width and setting style, there are a number of particulars to consider when picking out an engagement ring. Allowing yourself the space to try out a variety of styles and mull your options over is a more reliable recipe for lasting success than placing those judgements in the hands of somebody who won’t be wearing the ring.
Laura, had always dreamt of an engagement ring combining a variety of gemstone colours. “I’m not a classic girl and don’t want a traditional diamond ring,” she told us. Joined by her partner Cyrille, she worked closely with us to design a bespoke engagement ring that had ‘Laura’ written all over it.
In many Western societies, traditional gender roles have historically positioned men as active providers and women as passive recipients. This archaic division of labour contributed to the expectation that men would take the initiative in proposing, setting aside the equivalent of three months’ salary for the ring itself. Thankfully, today’s world is – to some extent – a different place. Regardless of your gender identity, if your relationship dynamic is grounded in equality, you might wish to engage in an open discussion with your partner about a budget for your engagement ring that is sympathetic to your current predicament and future plans. Perhaps your partner has already decided on a budget but doesn’t feel comfortable revealing it, instead choosing to inform your jeweller privately to ensure you’re shown a selection of suitable rings. Perhaps you’d like to contribute to the cost of your ring yourself. Being involved in the process of choosing your engagement ring can give rise to healthy conversations of this nature.
According to Professional Jeweller, research carried out in recent years has revealed that almost 60% of engagement ring recipients are not 100% happy with their ring. For some, this simply means learning to love the ring on their finger over time. For others, it might lead to an exchange or a remake. As your jeweller, we’d ideally rather you weren’t forced to make either compromise. Of course, the liberty to change your mind at a later stage in life is an inherent aspect of human nature – but a considered approach to your investment in the first instance is probably more sustainable in the long-term than leaving your partner to commission a piece of ‘forever’ jewellery before you know what it looks like.
Our advocacy for conscious consumerism is the inspiration behind our Propose with a Gemstone service, which invites our clients to surprise their partner with a loose gemstone or diamond before inviting them along on the bespoke design journey.