Did anyone else know that the months between November and February are engagement season? To me, it feels like every Sunday is engagement season, just based on the sheer amount of engagement posts I see on every social media channel. But just because I’ve been single
and fabulous since 2014 doesn’t mean I don’t love to kick back at the end of a long day and read up on my bridal content—especially The Knot, which just released its annual Jewelry & Engagement Study. As you can guess from the title of the study, it’s all about proposing and the jewelry that accompanies it. After reading and internalizing the study, I’ve deduced that proposals nowadays, especially for millennials, are all about personalization. People aren’t just opening a ring box to reveal a diamond as they kneel for a few seconds anymore. Now, it’s a whole big thing and, I mean, good? You’re asking someone to spend the rest of their life with you, so making it as personal and thoughtful as possible seems like a step in the right direction here.
One important thing I noticed from The Knot study is that most people getting engaged today are between the ages of 25 (cool cool cool cool, just kill me now) and 34. If you’re wondering what constitutes “most people,” it’s a whopping 67%. And if you’re wondering how old the proposers are, 38% of them are 25–29 and 27% are 30–34 years old. Just judging off the ages of the people I know who are getting engaged, this is not that surprising, but still slightly depressing for me, a very single person.
But before we get into the way most proposals are going down, let’s talk about the jewelry. According to the study, “More than 85% purchase new rings for the occasion, with 45% being custom designed.” So I guess holding on to your great-grandma’s family heirloom just isn’t what most people are doing these days. I can imagine it feels great to wear a ring that symbolizes you and your partner’s love for each other and to know that no one else has the same one. I remember that episode of Sex and the City when Charlotte proposed to herself (yikes) and then marched right on over to Tiffany to pick out her ring and claimed it was the most romantic experience of her life. I mean, I definitely wouldn’t say no to a Tiffany diamond, but in my and other millennials’ opinion, it’s more romantic to say yes to a ring that your S.O. designed with you in mind. Speaking of, more than 7 in 10 proposees say they were “somewhat” involved in picking out or buying their ring, which I support. I’d rather have more input in the piece of jewelry I will be wearing every day for the rest of my life than be 100% surprised. 78% of proposees dropped hints about what they wanted their ring to look like (hopefully, not subtle hints, because we know men can be, shall we say, oblivious?), and more than 70% said it’s important to see the ring in person before buying it.
When it comes to sourcing ideas for the perfect ring, the study found, “the majority (81%) of proposees turn to social media for engagement ring inspiration.” This makes sense, given that just about every other aspect of a wedding is sourced through social media. How did people get ideas for weddings before Pinterest?? Serious question.
And since the first thing I wanted to know was how much these bespoke diamonds are costing people, the average cost of an engagement ring is $5,900—though it’s dependent on region. If you’re in the Mid-Atlantic, for example, couples spend on average $7,500. And, just as every aspect of living is cheaper in the Southeast, you can expect to spend less on the ring too, with the average cost being $5,400. But perhaps most surprisingly is that 94% of people who proposed paid for the ring on their own, a statistic I will direct every Boomer family member to whenever they try to call millennials spoiled.
Speaking of Instagram, it may seem like all couples today do is post those selfies with “I said yes / Can’t wait to marry my best friend” captions, but a surprising amount of couples (51%) get engaged in private, and 40% get engaged in public, which is down from 45% last year. My Instagram would indicate otherwise, but ok, I’ll take it. To quote the study, “This year, those proposing spend an average of three months planning hyper-personalized, intimate moments to ask their significant other to marry them. While more than half (51%) of proposals occur in private, nearly one in five (18%) take place in locations significant to the couple’s past, like the couple’s favorite date spot or the location they first met.” Yes to all of this. Coming up with a way to ask someone you love to spend the rest of their valuable time on Earth with you should take a few months of planning! Even if it’s a low-key proposal, it’s worth putting some thought into.
To wrap it up with a classic summary of what have we learned: Instagram (shockingly) isn’t reality, at least when it comes to wedding proposals. The majority of proposals occur in private, take three months to plan, and involve a custom ring to seal the deal. Of course, if some of these elements are not your vibe, that’s completely okay. That doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong or that your proposal or ring is less special than your friend’s; it just means that you have different tastes.
Images: Gift Habeshaw / Unsplash; Giphy (2)
After living in the world’s most jaded city for a few years, I momentarily forgot that love is still a thing people do. But a few days ago, I was reminded of its existence in the most obvious way possible: I witnessed a marriage proposal. That’s right, the girl who wears T-shirts with holes in them on first dates accidentally stumbled upon an engagement (in Central f*cking Park, no less). To my future husband, if you exist, please do better. Anyway, in all seriousness, the engagement was beautiful and my faith in true love (and curiosity in engagement rings) has been temporarily reactivated.
After she said yes, the lucky onlookers (hi) cheered, and then everyone except me just carried on with their lives. I, however, was full of questions: how long did it take him to write that speech? When did he realize he wanted to marry her? How did he decide tonight, a random Thursday, would be the night he’d ask the most important question of his life? How did she not notice that giant engagement ring box in his pocket? Speaking of the ring, I got a quick glance and it was truly stunning. That giant, glistening cushion-cut got me thinking: how on earth did this man wearing a navy suit with salmon-colored socks pick out such a beautiful marvel of an engagement ring? He was def no jewelry savant (he was wearing a gold class ring on his pinky—gag), but he did his homework, and for that, I give him an A+. Here’s the thing: a person proposing to another person is essentially asking him/her to wear something every day for the rest of his/her life upon seeing it once for like, a second. Can you say yes to the proposal but hell no to the ring? Is that allowed? How is the fiancé supposed to just guess? Enter, Stephanie Gottlieb, jeweler to the stars. Gottlieb has been designing timeless pieces of jewelry that have garnered her some serious attention on Instagram, and we are here for it. If you’ve ever seen that episode of Sex and the City where Aidan’s choice of engagement ring literally sends Carrie into a violent vomit fest, rest assured, your SO can’t f*ck up like that after reading Gottlieb’s valuable lessons.
Just Because You Like A Ring In Concept Doesn’t Mean You’ll Like It On Your Hand
Have you ever ordered a midi dress online just because it looked so damn good on the model, but when you try it on, it’s a floor-length trash bag? Same. Hate to break it to you, but models have different bodies than we normal folk do, so what’s fierce on them can be less so on us. Engagement rings are the same way. You can’t base your entire decision on a photo you see online, or even on another person for that matter. Gottlieb says, “I think it helps to start looking online, and Instagram and Pinterest are both really great resources. Instagram can help you find a jeweler whose style and aesthetic aligns with yours, and then Pinterest can help you create a vision board for different styles you like.” I’ve never heard truer words in my life. I always thought I wanted a 2-carat (currently on the hunt for a fiancé with family money), but one day while walking around New York’s diamond district, I tried one on, ya know, for sh*ts and gigs, and it actually didn’t look very good. Disclaimer: my hands are huge and my fingers are really long and skinny, so a 2-carat stone weighed down my ring finger and made me look like a sickly and distressed Mrs. Havisham. One of the great things about Instagram, aside from providing an outlet for thirst traps and food pics, is that it can help you find a jeweler who will actually work with you to figure out your taste in engagement rings and design the perfect one. And unlike name brands that basically steal your money with absurd price hikes, smaller jewelers don’t use blood diamonds to create your dream ring, so you’ll be able to sleep at night knowing you got a bigger and better stone that didn’t cost a human soul. Sign me up!
The Four Cs Are Important
The four Cs of diamond engagement rings are carat, cut, color, and clarity. If you’re an ill-informed peasant, you probably only care about carat and cut (AKA the size and shape of the diamond), but the other two c’s are just as important, people! “In the step-cut stones (asscher and emerald), clarity will be more important than color since these shapes are very ‘windowy’ and allow you to see into the center of the stone easily,” Gottlieb says. So what does this mean? It means imperfections would be more easily detected in a step-cut than in a brilliant cut (round, cushion, oval, pear, marquise, radiant, and heart). So in the brilliant cuts, color will be more important, since, like my high-rise Levi’s, these cuts do a very good job at hiding imperfections in their faceting. Unless you and your judgey friends are diamond aficionados, the carat weight will likely be your biggest concern, because you’d rather have a big-ass rock with microscopic imperfections than a smaller one that’s technically perfect. I care way more about how it looks on my hand than I do about the color grade and clarity. To me, a diamond is a diamond and I just want a big one. Sue me. That said, you do you and get whichever engagement ring makes you feel your most sparkly.
To Go Trendy Or To Go Timeless?
As with any facet of your wedding, deciding what style is best for you is a personal decision, but there are a lot of options to consider thanks to Instagram offering fashion-forward lewks to the masses. Gottlieb says, “Instagram provides access to more unique designs than the classics you’ll find in any jewelry store.” Good, because if I have to see one more three-stone ring with a circular center diamond, I will chop off my ring fingers in protest. The Stephanie Gottlieb brand doesn’t just give the people what they want, though. No, her brand has a very niche style that appeals to a specific group of people. “Most of my clients are coming to me instead of their local jewelers because our engagement rings are more interesting and the aesthetic is super dainty, feminine and fashion-forward.” That’s her style, and the fashion gals are here for it. Her signature trend? The “band and a half,” which Gottlieb and her team of designers are creating in all different renditions, with different colored stones, combinations of metals and setting styles.” Ok, I’m getting myself one, brb. However, if you’re a classic betch, going timeless isn’t a bad idea. Gottlieb says, “Round and emerald cuts are the most timeless shapes. What I love about them is that they can feel very traditional in a more classic setting, like a three-stone or solitaire, and they can also feel very trendy in our more fashion-forward settings, like a split-shank or double-band.” Luckily, you aren’t really limited here. If you can’t decide between trendy and cool or a classic and timeless, por qué no los dos? Do both.
Metal Type Is A Game-Changer
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Back to regularly scheduled programming ? And back just in time to ship out some holiday goodies!! ? Over the last 2 months we’ve worked on ALOT of emerald cut rings!! I would say half were the more traditional 3-stone rings, and half were more fashion-forward pave styles ? Which is your favorite?? (All 2.5-3ct Center Stones)
It’s hard not to forget about about the setting, which is almost as important as the diamond. I, for instance, only wear yellow gold jewelry, but because yellow gold is considered a softer metal that bends easily, I’m thinking that may not be the best way to go for an engagement ring I’m supposed to wear forever. So how are you supposed to know which type of metal to get? Does it actually make a difference? Obviously! Gottlieb’s specialty is rose gold. It’s subtle, it’s glamorous, it’s girly, it’s the metal of the moment. Once the type of metal is decided, it’s time to move onto the setting. Gottlieb says, “Any jeweler can execute a pave diamond setting, but if you line up four jewelers’ pave settings, they will all look fairly different.” Fair enough. Every jeweler has their signature style, so make sure that style aligns with your own before making a final decision. The thing is, some women have woes about mixing metals, which they think can help guide them in their decision when it comes to the engagement ring. IMHO, engagement rings don’t count, and it is allowed to be different from the rest of your jewelry. If you only wear yellow gold, but want a platinum setting, get the platinum setting. This is a big decision, so it’s worth it to get exactly what you want.
Of course, looking at engagement rings is a major moment in your life, so it’s important to consider every aspect when choosing. There’s a different ring out there for everyone, so don’t feel pressured into picking something just because it’s popular. Do you have other questions for Stephanie Gottlieb? What’s at the top of your engagement ring checklist? Let us know in the comments!
Images: Stephanie Gottlieb; @stephaniegottlieb / Instagram (4)