I was just reading one of the various jewellery trade newsletters I get sent, and I saw an article about men’s engagement rings. Apparently a British jewellery firm; Dower and Hall, has launched a proposal ring for women to do the asking, created in time for the leap year in 2012, and called the ‘Take the Leap’ ring. This tradition of women proposing began in 5th century Ireland when St Bridget complained to St Patrick about women having to wait for men to propose; Patrick finally set February 29th as the day for allowing women the right to propose (which couldn’t have been less generous if you think about it – choosing a day that only comes every four years!). The tradition then continued in Scotland when in 1288, Queen Margaret decreed that on February 29th women had the right to propose, and men who refused were faced with a fine (much more like it). The ‘Take the Leap’ ring is a plain, engraved band (not the one pictured above) which is then redeemable against the cost of the ring. Good idea, I wondered to myself, or marketing gimmick? Probably a bit of both. I think I quite like it.
Anyway, it reminded me of the time, many years ago, when I was working in a theatre and my boss decided she was going to propose to her boyfriend (also working in the theatre) by announcing it on the theatre tannoy. We thought this was brilliant and egged her on to do it, so she did and was met with…complete silence. As the afternoon wore on, her mood became darker and darker. I have no idea how it was resolved, or what the atmosphere was like in their house that night…but she was not engaged the next day. Even after all these years I can still remember how awful it was; how crushingly humiliating it must have been having announced it to the entire theatre effectively and have everyone know he didn’t want to do it.
Not that I want to put anyone off…
When my husband and I went to buy my engagement ring, we went to a very smart jeweller in Bath, in the UK. The kind of place where you have to ring the bell to get them to let you in. I had been saying to my husband, ‘Oh, I don’t need anything flashy, just a small symbol of our love etc, etc.’ Well, that was until they brought out the rocks and then I was thoroughly dazzled. We eventually picked one I liked and as I was looking at it, I said, ‘My only concern is that it looks like Princess Diana’s engagement ring’ – which obviously did not have happy connotations to me. The very smart, very groomed sales assistant looked at me and without missing a beat, replied, ‘Princess Diana’s was much bigger.’ At which point we probably should have left but it was a very nice ring and who knows, perhaps she was joking rather than being purely offensive…!!!