by ANTONY CLAY
IT’S that time of year when many a blushing bride will be walking down the aisle with her beau.
Hopefully, a lifetime of contentment – or near enough – will lie ahead.
The couple will make decisions together but a new survey has suggested that one of the major question marks prior to the wedding can be controversial.
In the past it has been the groom’s job to go out and buy the engagement ring but evidence suggests that the bride wants her input into the decision.
Two thirds of women now believe that men should not be allowed free rein when choosing the design of the ring that they will have to wear.
And more than half of Brits believe that men should also wear engagement rings to broadcast their commitment.
And in these days of greater equality, who can argue with that?
Heritage jewellers William May conducted a survey of 2,000 British women to find out what they would describe as the perfect engagement ring – and it was found that a spot of feminine input into the decision over the band was needed.
There are so many different rings to choose from out in the jewellery marketplace that it can be a daunting task for a man to choose a ring alone.
In the past he may have gone for a traditional design but nowadays rings can be as varied as the women who will be wearing them and so finding something to suit a character could be a challenge.
Not all women have the same taste!
In order to offer some assistance to potentially baffled and bewildered blokes, William May carried out the extensive survey and found that women wanted to have a part in deciding on features such as the material of the band, the setting, the feature stone and the cut.
British women overall described their dream engagement ring as having a white gold band (25.4 per cent), with a round cut (27 per cent) half-carat diamond (24.6 per cent) in a solitaire setting (36.3 per cent).
Some of the other choices the women could pick from included platinum, yellow or rose gold bands; sapphires, rubies or opals; three-stone, vintage or halo settings; and oval, marquise or emerald cut stones.
When broken down across the UK, the perfect engagement ring design changed styles slightly.
Women in Rotherham, for intance, described their perfect engagement ring as having a yellow gold band (30.7 per cent), with a round cut (32.5 per cent) two carat diamond (47.2 per cent) in a solitaire setting (44.8 per cent).
To help inspire those currently in the market for an engagement ring, but with no idea where to start, William May had the UK’s ‘perfect’ engagement ring designed using the latest Computer Aided Design (CAD) techniques and then rendered to photo-realistic quality.
The survey found that British women know exactly what they want. Almost two thirds believe that men should not be allowed free rein when choosing the design.
But the one asking for the hand in marriage shouldn’t get down on one knee without the ring either as more than one third (38 per cent) of Brits say that when proposing it is necessary to have the ring in his or her hand.
If you have already popped the question, can you be entirely sure that your partner really confessed what they thought about your choice of ring?
A staggering 54 per cent of women admitted in the survey that if they didn’t like the ring their partner chose, they would keep quiet and pretend they liked it.
Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of women admitted that hey had lied to their friends about liking their ring when in truth they really didn’t.
One in 10 women said they would post a photo of their engagement ring online – so that’s a bit of added pressure to the person buying!
The survey also found that engagement rings are not exclusively to be worn by women – 52 per cent of Brits believed that men should also wear engagement rings.
And the women in the survey didn’t always want to leave it up to the men to propose. William May found that 42 per cent of women believed they should be equally responsible for getting down on one knee.
A spokesperson for William May said: “Proposals are joyous occasions for all parties involved. At least now those in doubt have some guidance when it comes to making the right decision for their significant other.”
Ofcourse these days, engagement rings are not just given by men to women. All partnerships are keen to show a commitment before a marriage, civil partnership or long-term relationship.
But what the survey shows has changed is that both sides want to be a part of the process.
One engaged bride-to-be said: “My future husband decided that he wanted to buy the engagement ring himself and then surprised me by popping the question after a romantic meal.
“It was a lovely surprise and felt really special as he opened up the ring box.
“It was a lovely ring. He had gone along the traditional route which I personally appreciated. I liked the fact that he had gone to all the trouble and challenge of choosing the ring himself.”
But another bride-to-be had a different stance: “No way would I let him choose the ring himeself. After all, I have to wear it so it should fit in with my style.
“I don’t dress up in so-called normal clothes so why would I want a normal-style ring?
“Luckily my partner admitted that he was finding buying the ring difficult because he knew I was a bit quirky, so he asked me to help him.
“I thought that was nice because it shows we’re committed to the same thing and want to work together.”
As with all things, it seems there are some who like the old-fashioned way of doing things and those who want a new approach.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with that and it’s great that couples want to work together.
One argument might be that the one doing the proposong will lose the element of surprise by not having a secretly-purchased ring to hand over, but surely asking the question would be a surprise in itself and then going off to buy a ring is an added bonus to the experience?
Having both people choose the ring means that a perfect item can bought which both partners adore, and if both are going to wear an engagement ring then a joint choice brings them closer together.
But, ofcourse, the most important thing is making the commitment. Ring or no ring, that is the real point.