Placeholder engagement rings are on the rise, with more and more men knowing better than to propose with a ring that isn't quite right. After all, if you’re going to wear it for life, surely you want it to be ‘the one’. Do you agree or disagree? Two of the SL team discuss...
WHY YOU SHOULD CHOOSE
Charlotte Collins, Fashion Editor
My boyfriend has great taste. He has a penchant for James Perse T-shirts and Church’s loafers, Aesop moisturiser and Le Labo cologne – he even chose the moss green velvet armchair in our living room and the real marble placemats in the kitchen. But would I trust him to pick the perfect ring? Not on your life.
I’m a fashion editor, which means I really care about what I wear. I trawl through online stores, meticulously curating a wardrobe I love, carefully considering each investment. On the rare occasion a loved one buys me things without prior consultation, it’s usually a fail – many a scarf has been returned or jumper relegated to the back of the closet. I want full creative control over my clothes, because I know what I like and what suits me.
Most of the time, these diligent decisions are only about ephemeral pieces – tees that will stain and jeans that will end up donated. Fingers crossed, once an engagement ring is on my finger it isn’t coming off again, so when it comes to committing to that forever piece, I damn well want a say in what it looks like. And I’m not alone either, according to a 2014 Daily Mail survey, 75% of British women wish they’d had a say in their diamond.
Don’t get me wrong, I really do love the idea of the perfect proposal in which a big fat ring box containing my dream design floats towards me on a bed of roses and I live happily ever after. But unless he pulls a Patrick Dempsey in Sweet Home Alabama and pops the question in the middle of Tiffany, it’s not going to happen.
The simple way around all this would be to simply tell him in advance what I want. But to me that’s the least romantic way of approaching the ring situation; sitting my boyfriend down and saying “Look darl, you may not even have considered proposing yet but FYI, when you do, I’d like a brilliant cut four-carat on a platinum band, and actually I’ve created a Pinterest board to help you along”, kills all the suspense, excitement and intrigue associated with a surprise proposal.
Now, this may all sound pretty me me me. What about what he wants? I hear you cry. But to be honest, I’m pretty sure my stance is doing him a big old favour. I’m picturing him now – flitting from store to store, panicking over how to prioritise cut, clarity, colour and carat – and I can think of nothing more heartbreaking than him shelling out hard-saved cash on a ring I don’t love and being marched back to the store to swap it. How unromantic is that?
WHY YOUR PARTNER SHOULD CHOOSE
Rosy Cherrington, Features Editor
I can just imagine it. That sick, sinking feeling, awkward forced smile and fake wide-eyed elation. “Oh, it’s just… so… lovely.” Getting a dud diamond must be a strange sort of trauma, a la douleur exquise; the person you love has just given you a great big bloody diamond and at the same time proved they don’t know you at all.
But worst-case scenarios aside, I’d much rather be proposed to with the real thing. We may have ditched the three-month’s salary rule (the average Brit now spends £1,650 on an engagement ring) but, to me, a stunt double could signal serious commitment issues. Unless – as Charlotte said – your beau gets down on one knee in the middle of Tiffany, or has an appointment at Cartier booked the next day, how do you know they’re really serious? You wouldn’t expect to put a house on hold with a £20 note, and this is another human being you’re taking off the market. When you consider one in 25 Brits has been proposed to without a ring and never received one, a ‘deposit’ is just basic manners.
If my partner happily passed the ring responsibility onto me, it would show a real lack of gumption and care too. I’m pretty sure I could pick out engagement rings successfully for each and every one of my friends, and we’ve never even discussed it at length. For God’s sake, do some delving! Ask their close friends, look at the type of jewellery they wear, stop by jewellers’ windows in the street to discuss what they like – this isn’t some top secret mission to keep your loved one in the dark about your desire for marriage.
If you’re wracked with crippling doubts about choosing a ring, or your partner is dead set on picking their own, I’d still advise being a little sneaky about it. One friend’s fiancée took her to Brighton for a weekend, spent time strolling past all the antique jewellers in the South Lanes, then went back a week later without her to secretly buy the ring she’d casually pointed out as her favourite – far more romantic than if they’d just gone in the shop together. Another was proposed to with her husband’s family heirloom – a statement Art Deco design she would have never chosen herself, but one she fell in love with (to his credit, it genuinely worked with her style) – far more sentimental than a bog-standard ring.
It’s true, traditions are changing – brides’ families aren’t expected to stump up for Big Days, the wedding market is adapting to support same-sex couples and we’re no longer expected to take our husbands’ names – but proposing with a ring is one I’d be sad to see go. Our society is preoccupied with possessions; we’re always searching for better versions of items we already own and, according to endless research, it’s making us miserable. Having the perfect ring on your finger may look good on Instagram, but it’s no guarantee of a lasting, happy marriage.