When Prince Harry finally decided to pop the question last week to his American actress girlfriend, Meghan Markle, he did so with a ring he had designed himself.
With bespoke-made engagement rings becoming more popular, Deborah Cicurel spoke to five couples about their proposal stories and that all-important task of choosing the ring
Daniella-Jade and Adam Flowers
Daniella-Jade and Adam first met on a night out in 2010 while at Birmingham University, after his chewing gum accidentally became lodged in her hair after approaching her for a chat. Flustered, he dropped her bag on the floor and lost most of her make-up. The next day, he messaged to apologise and they have been together ever since.
They got engaged in 2014 and married two years later in Israel. “Our engagement story is equally as dramatic, as exactly three months before he popped the question, Adam accidentally sent me a picture of the ring instead of sending it to his parents,” says Daniella-Jade, who is aged 28. “To say I was shocked was an understatement.” Three months later, Adam, 29 and from Radlett, proposed at Chewton Glen while staying in a treehouse.
“Adam proposed with a stand-in ring, which was a princess cut from Swarovski,” says Daniella-Jade, who is from Bushey. “This was a cut I was so sure I wanted but, after trying it, I decided it didn’t suit me.
“We have a good friend who is a jeweller and I went to him with all of my ideas and asked if he could create something. Two weeks later he sent me a sketch and it was perfect. He let us see a large collection of different size, colour and clarity stones and pick what we wanted and I found the most perfect stone in a fantastic clarity. Three years later, I am still in love with it and marvel at it daily.”
Eli and Rachel Gottlieb
Eli and Rachel had known each other for years, both attending Bnei Akiva camps when they were younger, but got together in 2011.
“In 2015, Eli proposed to me in his back garden,” recalls Rachel, 25. “He set up a large sparkly collage, displaying lots of photos of us throughout the years.”
They got married in August last year in Manchester and decided on the style of the ring together. “We went to several shops in Hatton Garden and sat for hours being educated in the world of diamonds,” says Rachel, who is from Leeds.
“We both liked the cushion shape diamond as it was different to other rings we had seen. We also liked the idea of having little diamonds surrounding the central diamond. The most important quality of the diamond in our eyes was the colour. We made sure both of us were very happy with the ring.”
Eli, who is 26 and from London, adds: “Choosing the ring was a surprisingly enjoyable experience. We saw many different rings, and in the end, we had it made by a friend. Although we deliberated at length, Rachel was the one who was going to wear the ring and so it needed to be something that she could envisage herself wearing for many years to come.”
Sam Marks and Emma Dekan
Sam and Emma were together for nearly nine years before Sam pulled off a romantic proposal at a hotel in Lake Garda, Italy.
They met at a house party in Leeds, went to university in Birmingham together and are getting married next May in Cambridge.
“I had put together a special proposal playlist and surprised Emma on the balcony of our room at sunset,” says Sam, 28. “I made my speech, then got down on one knee and gave her the ring. I always knew she would want something intimate without people there to distract us.”
Sam, from Bushey, was inspired to create the ring after seeing one he liked at a vintage shop in London. “I took pictures of it to my jeweller, who helped me improve on the design and work on my budget.”
The ring was a surprise for Winchmore Hill-based Emma, 26. “She didn’t know about it and, because of the intricacy of the design, it took me five months of ducking and diving to get it made secretly,” Sam adds.
“I’ve always been very traditional and wanted an opportunity to pick a ring myself. Luckily, she loves it.”
Saul Muzlish and Shoshi Stanton
Saul and Shoshi dated for four years and got engaged this year. “I proposed in Leicester Square at the exact spot we first met,” Saul says.
He surprised her with a scrapbook. “At the back of the scrapbook was the ring attached to a ribbon,” says Saul.
“As Shoshi saw the ring, I came round the corner with her favourite flowers.” The proposal and ring were both a surprise for Shoshi, 24, who hails from Birmingham.
“Shoshi is a devoted eco-warrior,” says Saul, 23, who is from Pinner. “She is the most morally upstanding person I have ever met.
There was no way I could buy a ring off the shelf, so I got one custom-made. I went to a company called Brilliant Earth, where they make rings made of 100 percent Fairtrade gold and 100 percent conflict-free diamonds. I got the ring in white gold with a round stone from Canada.
“Shoshi is neither flashy nor materialistic, so I knew she didn’t want a big stone, she just wanted it to be shiny. I taught myself all about the world of diamonds and found a lovely stone and chose a willow-style twisted setting.” The couple plan to marry next June.
Gaby Newton and David Boast
Gaby, 26, who is from Bushey, and David, 29, from Guildford, met four years ago at work. They started dating two years later and got engaged in September during a trip to Iceland.
“David planned the proposal well in advance,” says Gaby. “We got engaged in an area called Diamond Beach. The land is black sand and covered with bright blue icebergs and glaciers that have washed up onto the sea.”
The destination was chosen by David with Gaby’s engagement ring in mind. “David knew I wanted a sapphire, which is why he chose to propose somewhere that resembled the style of the ring,” she adds.
“I’ve always wanted a unique engagement ring and was inspired by Kate Middleton’s ring. I think he felt nervous about designing the ring himself, especially as I had a specific style in mind, so he proposed with a dummy sapphire ring and we designed my actual ring together.” They plan to wed next year in London.