This year has certainly put a halt on most wedding plans, and whilst couples have had to go virtual with their receptions, or even postpone, there’s something in the air when it comes to proposals since the world went into lockdown in March.
It’s been the year for doing things differently and when it comes to marriage proposals, it’s no different. The first lockdown brought on huge changes to relationships, encouraging some couples to move in with each other and more leaning on each other for support more than ever. It’s no surprise then that 2020 has also seen a sharp rise in the number of proposals. In fact, Google has reported a 22% increase in searches for engagement rings this winter, compared to last year. And jewelry brands have reported a rise in demand for engagement rings too.
If you’ve noticed that there’s been a flurry of engagement photos hitting your Instagram feed recently, it’ll be due to this lockdown love effect. We polled our community to find out if the lockdown made them think more seriously about their relationship and 72% of them said yes. When it comes to relationships in lockdown, the pressure that it’s brought on couples has been immense and a literal take on what they call ‘make or break’.
For those that have spent more time with one another – or apart depending on each lockdown situation – and come under the ‘make’ category, there’s a high chance they have likely taken the next step. The next step happens to be an engagement ring purchase. Out of the 195 people that we polled, a whopping 38 said they got engaged during lockdown. Even though the pandemic has imposed restrictions on being together and executing lavish proposals – no retracing steps to the first place you met, or romantic walks along a sandy beach – it hasn’t stopped couples getting down on one knee.
This year may have thrown a few spanners in the works, but there are some things that love will not wait for. Or perhaps it’s just that attitudes towards what’s really important when it comes to securing a relationship, have changed with the whole global pandemic in perspective. Weddings may be off. And big engagement parties, or family celebrations will have to wait until next year. But, if 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that we’ve grown closer to the ones we love. And judging by the increase in demand for engagement rings, it’s also shown couples that life is too short and if they’re going to ‘put a ring on it’, why wait any longer?
With no fixed end date to society’s disruptions, couples who were planning to wait for restrictions to ease, are now considering getting engaged regardless (there might be fewer I dos, but there’s still I wills). And this big decision poses another: how to get your hands on an engagement ring whilst the shopping is a little trickier that usual?
There’s even more need now for brands to have an online focus and jewelry brands have adapted. But even for those who offer Zoom or virtual ring consultations, for the customer, finding that 30 minutes of alone time has proved difficult for couples that live, and now work from home together. It’s also not as easy to borrow your other half’s ring to sneak it on a ring sizer, with them watching over you 24/7. But as everyone has had to adapt to what the last year has thrown at us, it’s now also much more accessible to purchase an engagement ring, without even stepping foot in a store. From our engagement ring poll, 80% of people said they now share ring design inspiration with their partner via Instagram, which proves that the act of buying an engagement ring has also progressed to digital-friendly.
Don’t prospective proposers miss the ritual of visiting a physical shop? The warm Champagne served in stuffy ring shops, and being told you have to shell out 3 months's salary for a rock are disappearing from society along with other outdated and cliched connotations of marriage proposals. Having a full family gathering to get down on one knee, or expecting the man to do it first in a heterosexual couple – these ways belong in a pre-2020 world.
As we said, it’s been a year for doing things differently. And another change to note in the proposal process, is the one who’s making the decisions. In the US, 69% of couples choose the ring together. When it comes to choosing an engagement ring, it’s no longer the man’s, or just one person’s decision. Women are much more at the centre of decision making now, compared to the antiquated tradition of the man choosing and buying the ring. Since we launched our collection of engagement rings in October, 90% off orders and enquiries have been from women, and usually the one wearing the ring.
If 2020 has had any positive affect at all, it’s shown that being forced to change how we make decisions and what’s really important to those who are in relationships, it can’t be all that bad. Considering all the restrictions on society this year, the huge increase in marriage proposals – especially when the woman has more of a say – is a positive step forward. After all, who doesn’t like a good news story in a time like this?
When it comes to choosing what kind of engagement ring to go for, there’s been a shift in perspective on natural diamonds. In a recent poll done by Cosmopolitan UK, 64% of readers said they would prefer to choose a lab-grown diamond rather than a mined one for their ring. Buying more consciously has been edging towards the top of everyone’s priority list over the last couple of years, and 2020 has seen even more of a surge.
There’s a greater demand for knowledge of where the materials used to make products being purchased, come from. Especially when it comes to engagement rings. For Americans, 17% said the most important criteria when choosing an engagement ring, is that it’s ethically sourced. A figure which has been increasing year on year, according to Google’s evolution of the keyword ‘lab grown diamond’.
One of the best ways to choose an ethical engagement ring, without compromising on quality or the stone, is to opt for a lab-grown diamond. Our certified diamond lab partner reported an increase in the production of lab-grown diamonds in 2018-19, from 15% to 20%. And from 2019-2020, they reported an increase of lab diamond sales by 400%. The momentum for lab grown diamonds has been on the rise for the past couple of years, but 2020 has seen a significant spike in interest. Is it because the lockdown has forced consumers to spend more time to make more conscious decisions? According to our lab diamond partner, the months July-October accounted for 60% of this year's total sales. These months happen to be what we call ‘post-lockdown’.
This year has been about change, and it’s been about adapting our response to it. Look out for more proposals flooding your social media feeds over Christmas and New Year, as these are two of the most popular times for people to propose – at least, it’s the silver lining of lockdown.