Whipping out a diamond ring was once an essential part of the traditional marriage proposal –but today’s generation are increasingly waiting until their partner says “yes” before picking an engagement ring as a couple, according to London’s oldest family jewellers.
With July traditionally bringing a spike in engagements, Hancocks says the tradition of proposing with a ring in hand is dying out and the social media ‘selfie’ – rather than the risk of being rejected – is partly to blame.
Engagement rings are frequently photographed and discussed on social media – especially by celebrities being pictured with their diamonds – leading to ‘ringflation’ as brides-to-be vie to outdo each other in size and style.
But the added pressures of living up to social expectations mean many men are terrified of making the wrong choice.
As a result, around half of men would now rather choose a ring with their fiancée after she has said yes – leading to the decline of a 130-year tradition since Tiffany & Co created the first official engagement ring.
Guy Burton, director of Hancocks, said the romantic tradition of proposing ring-in-hand was ‘diminishing’ even though men still liked to be in control of something. “It’s often the cause of much dilemma as whether to surprise with a ring upon proposal or to create or buy one together once the question has been popped.
“I would say it is now about 50/50. Even in the 10 years that I have been working with our expert craftsmen to create stunning engagement rings this has decreased. It was probably more like 80/20 then in favour of the conventional route.
I think a lot of men feel that the actual proposal and engagement ring part is their domain and responsibility and they should know what their other half would like. The reality of it that, with engagement rings now being posted all over social media, some men are terrified of getting it wrong – or even worse getting something too similar to their girlfriend’s best friend!”
Average engagement ring spend at Hancocks is from £8,000 to £20,000 – even though it has created individual engagement rings for £150,000 and is currently selling the world’s largest cushion cut diamond crossover ring featuring two diamonds – each weighing over 20 carats – for £1.6m.
Burton added that the fashion for choosing or designing a ring together is creating new romantic traditions for couples. “Nearly all people I have made rings for this way have been very glad to have done so and have enjoyed the experience together. The romance is there because the couple have created something that is often completely unique to them and effectively a one off.”