Should engagement rings be left to the ladies?
Whether it’s ditching the white dress or walking themselves down the aisle, there are many ways that modern brides have begun to break tradition and take control of their wedding day. Indeed, for an increasing number of brides-to-be, this can often begin before their significant other gets down on one knee.
According to a study by Buckley London, 36% of women in the UK want a say in choosing their own engagement ring, and the jewellery store’s founder expects this trend to grow over time. “We believe this trend will undoubtedly prosper,” noted Adrian Buckley, “due to the research revealing that a large proportion (65%) of women would also feel comfortable airing their disappointment if they weren’t happy with the forever engagement ring their partner proposed with.”
Given that budding brides choose everything they’ll wear on the wedding day itself, doesn’t it also make sense for them to have the final say on a ring they may never take off? Or is this a male rite of passage worth upholding for the sake of traditional ideas of romance?
A proposal is rarely a surprise anymore, so why should the ring be?
First of all, it’s important to remember that the nature of getting engaged has changed somewhat over time. A proposal was once thought of as a surprise, sprung upon a woman by her partner. However, it’s now far more common for couples to discuss the idea of marriage in advance and mutually decide whether it’s something they want to do. A study by The Knot found that one in four engaged or newly married couples had discussed marriage two or more years before their engagement. So, since women are now more likely to have an active role in the proposal, why not be more involved in choosing the ring that represents it?
This piece of jewellery is incredibly personal and could be worn every single day for the rest of a woman’s life, making it all the more important that she should be 100% happy with it. This is more likely to happen if she selects her engagement ring herself. As much as her partner may feel they know her sense of style, they aren’t going to be as clued up as she is — and many get it very wrong. For example, Brides magazine reader Wendy R told the publication that her fiancé “could tell from my face that I didn’t like [the ring]. The next week, we went to the jeweller and he let us return it for a different ring that was more my taste.” Though she admitted she felt bad, “it was my engagement ring and I wanted it to be my style.” Awkward situations like this can easily be avoided by giving women total control over this decision.
Who says men can’t pick a ring their partner will love?
On the other hand, the element of surprise often makes an engagement ring extra special. Though a woman will obviously be pleased with one she’s chosen herself, she could be even more delighted by something totally different from what she would have picked. She may have always dreamt of having a classic solitaire on her finger, but who’s to say that she wouldn’t be happier with an unexpected halo or three-stone ring that had never crossed her mind before?
What’s more, men will often be glad for the opportunity to choose and present something so precious to their partner. Given that many are somewhat inexperienced when it comes to jewellery, they may be surprised by the amount of research, dedication and time required to buy an engagement ring. Leaving this task to their partner would undoubtedly be a more straightforward approach, but it may also leave some men disappointed to be deprived of the chance to wow the person they want to spend the rest of their life with. For example, in an article for Verily magazine, one man said: “It feels like [an engagement ring is] a worthwhile investment because of how happy it makes her. It feels gratifying when I see her look at it.”
Is teaming up the best bet?
Getting married is a mutual decision so perhaps this approach should also apply to the engagement ring. Collaborating means that ideas from both sides can be mixed in order to select a ring that best represents the relationship as a whole. This is especially true if the couple team up to create a completely bespoke engagement ring. The jewellers at Taylor & Hart note that bespoke rings often cost the same as an off-the-shelf piece and suggest basing a design on a special moment the couple have shared or an ode to something important to the two of them. “Your relationship is one of a kind,” the company notes. “Why shouldn’t your ring be?”
As well as combining tastes, working together to choose an engagement ring also means that couples can merge their budgets to purchase an even more spectacular piece of jewellery. “As women and men get paid more equally maybe it seems a bit unfair, if you have something in your mind that you want, for your other half to foot the bill for all of it,” Anna Byers, head of bespoke at 77 Diamonds, told The Telegraph. This was echoed by one Brides reader, who wrote to the publication that she and her husband both chipped in for the ring: “We figured that our individual expenses were about to become joint expenses anyway, so it didn’t really make a difference […] I wanted to show us both that I was going to be an equal contributor in our future.”
Ultimately, the process of buying an engagement ring will be different for every couple. As long as they make their decision based on communication rather than assumption, both parties should be delighted with the engagement ring they end up with, no matter who buys it.
The editorial unit