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Why more millennial women are buying their own engagement rings

The end of the last decade saw a huge shift in the amount of women buying engagement rings, thanks to non-surprise proposals, post-proposal ring commissions and same sex proposals on the rise...
By Melissa Ban
3 min read
Why more millennial women are buying their own engagement rings - Holts Gems

Forget the leap year, women have been buying their own engagement rings for years.

2020 sees the first leap day since 2016, with age old traditions predicting that women across the globe will be proposing to their partners having patiently endured a 4 year wait since their last opportunity. But is this year’s leap year the cause of the unprecedented increase in female engagement ring buyers that so we’ve become so accustomed to of late? Absolutely not. Forget the leap year proposal, here’s why women are buying their own engagement rings, year round.

The end of the last decade saw a huge shift in the amount of women buying engagement rings, thanks to non-surprise proposals, post-proposal ring commissions and same sex proposals on the rise. As the trajectories of the typical millennial relationship evolved throughout the 2010s, changing financial dynamics within contemporary couples contributed to the increase in female purchasing power - and the engagement ring industry was not to be left behind!

Got ideas of your own? Design your own engagement ring with Holts Gems.

The Telegraph put the spike in female engagement ring buyers down to the fact that recent years have seen fewer surprise proposals, and instead couples reach the mutual decision to get married, together. In our experience, men still largely foot the bill (or at least go Dutch) in this scenario - but more women than ever are involved in the design process of their engagement rings from start to finish. Rarely do we see women from hetero couples create their engagement ring completely alone, and instead the process is a collaborative and immersive experience in which they work together to reach their optimal design and select the best diamond or gemstone for them - it’s a memory from the couples’ engagement period that they will cherish.

Designer of Princess Beatrice’s engagement ring, Shaun Leane, concurs, saying 65% of the consultations he carries out are done with both partners - and elements of surprise are added with secret engravings. At Holts Gems, alongside secret engravings, we’ve had clients ask to include a surprise gemstone within the design or diamond set bezel - subtle, sweet surprise elements that will later be unveiled to the wearer.


In October 2019, De Beers Group reported that not only are more women buying engagement rings, but they’re typically spending more on them than men - around 33% more on average. Holts Gems’ experience of the typical engagement ring purchase has also seen an increase in average spends in conjunction with the increase in women buying engagement rings. As wearers of the rings they commission, women tend to have a greater confidence in their choices and a clear idea of the lifelong sentimental value of an engagement ring, which may be a contributing factor to the findings of De Beers Group. At Holts Gems, we’ve noted that female clients are often much bolder with their bespoke engagement rings, and prefer to create one-off, custom designs - either with brightly coloured gemstones or more traditional diamonds.

The increase in lesbian marriages has, too, contributed to the amount of women designing and buying their own engagement rings - as well as those commissioning surprise rings for their partners. De Beers Group found that 70% of same sex couples consider diamond engagement rings (or other diamond jewellery symbolic of commitment) as an important symbol of their relationship. Whilst both LGBTQ+ and heterosexual relationships are following less orthodox trajectories than in previous decades, the romantic token of a diamond engagement ring is seemingly more important than ever.

Aside from diamond engagement rings, there is an increase in women buying diamond jewellery across the market such as earrings and necklaces - whether for themselves or for a loved one. The 2020s have kicked off with more subscribers to the ‘self love’ movement than ever, meaning a greater focus on women making themselves happy - bring on the self-gifting! Financial autonomy and self interest have further driven the figures of female diamond jewellery buyers.

Whilst UK marriage rates have decreased since the 1970s, more couples are choosing to cohabit without the promise of marriage, but still find the token of diamond giving a romantic and worthwhile investment. De Beers Group stated ‘while society is changing rapidly, love remains a constant and diamonds are now acquired and used in a wider variety of ways to symbolise it’. 

So sure, 2020 is a leap year - but female purchasing power has been driving the increase in women choosing, designing and buying engagement rings for quite some years now - and we can’t wait to see what exciting, romantic and charming commissions our female clients to come will have in store for us.

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