Latest Trends,  Wedding & Engagement

Placeholder Engagement Rings: 2020’s Latest Proposal Ring Trend

Planning a surprise proposal but want to choose your engagement ring as a couple to avoid disappointment? Or perhaps you’re ready to take the next step in your relationship, but don’t have the funds right now to buy your dream proposal ring?

Diamonfire silver and cubic zirconia teardrop ring

Placeholder engagement rings were one of the biggest proposal trends for 2020, and are still very much popular, especially following the severe impact of COVID-19 on many people’s financial situations. Not to mention, they allow for less pressure when choosing ‘the right ring’. Did you know that a staggering 32% of all women are unhappy with the engagement ring they’re offered?

With that being said, a placeholder ring comes with more uses than you may think. We’re here to cover everything you need to know about the placeholder ring trend, including the modern-day reasons behind it and whether or not it’s here to stay. We’ve also got some advice on choosing a suitable stand-in ring, along with a few of our favourite options here at Joshua James!

What is a placeholder proposal ring?

As the name suggests, a placeholder proposal ring is a temporary ring that is presented during the proposal.

It will generally be a cheaper ring that can be upgraded or replaced further down the line, but many women will still treasure placeholder rings due to the sentimental value that they hold. 

Man slides engagement ring onto woman's finger

Why get a placeholder engagement ring?

Many people are baffled by this trend. After all, the entire process of proposing and getting married is already very expensive and complicated for many – so why add in an extra step and spend even more on an extra wedding proposal ring?

Well, the truth is that there are a number of benefits to proposing with a temporary ring. Some couples find themselves in situations where getting a “real” engagement ring just isn’t feasible or ideal when it comes to the time that they want to get engaged. 

Here are just a few reasons why people propose with a placeholder ring:

1. Money

Younger couples or anyone in difficult financial circumstances might be keen to get engaged, but lack the disposable income to buy the engagement ring of their partner’s dreams. It makes sense to get a cheaper temporary ring that can be upgraded or replaced as their lives progress and they have more money to spare.

In addition, some couples might have the money to spend on an extravagant engagement ring but want/need to prioritise other expenses for the time being (for example, putting a deposit down on a house or going on a dream vacation). In this case, it can make sense to get a placeholder ring that can be replaced or upgraded at a later date.

At the end of the day, if you’re ready to get engaged and start the next chapter or your relationship together, you don’t want money to be the thing that stops you!

2. You don’t want to disappoint

A survey carried out by London-based jeweller Queensmith confirmed that over a third of all women are disappointed with their proposal ring. With 11% wishing they had a larger diamond or that it was more unusual and the others expressing how they would have preferred a custom-made ring.

Subsequently, nearly half of the surveyors said they’d rather choose the ring themselves or together. Unfortunately, there’s no way for a proposal to be unexpected if you choose this option!

But if the proposee in question is notoriously picky, or has simply made it clear that they want to be the one to choose their proposal ring, then you don’t want to risk winging it and getting a ring that they won’t like. It’s much safer to get a placeholder ring that they can replace or upgrade after your romantic surprise proposal!

3. Spontaneous proposals

When it comes to love, it’s all too easy to get swept up in the moment. If the setting feels perfect – for example, during a romantic couples’ getaway – and you know that you’re both ready, then your decision to propose might be totally unplanned. 

And if that’s the case… it’s very unlikely that you already have an engagement ring in hand!

Rather than hurriedly trying to find the perfect ring before the moment passes, it might be better to quickly seek out a suitable placeholder to make the moment complete.

Is it OK to propose with a temporary ring, or do most women look down on placeholder engagement rings?

Scrolling through Internet forums and listening to our customers suggests that opinions on placeholder proposal rings can be mixed.

Although in 2020 this trend has seen a surge of popularity (possibly due to COVID-19 and many high-cost plans being put on hold), there are still many women who would simply prefer to wait for the real thing.

In short? It really depends on your preferences and circumstances – both as a couple and as individuals. Make sure to weigh up the pros and cons and consider your partner’s opinion before making a decision!

Close up of woman's hand wearing engagement ring, placed on man's shoulder

Is it OK to propose with a cheap ring? 

Whether or not your partner would be okay with a cheap temporary ring is really down to personal preference. Some women will see the sentiment behind the gesture and be happy to wear it, while others will be put out by a poor quality ring that seems low effort.

When deciding how much to spend on a placeholder engagement ring, think about how much money your partner would generally spend on a piece of jewellery. Do they only go for high-value, branded pieces? Or do they buy lots of cute costume jewellery without worrying too much about the quality? 

In the past, many women heard “placeholder ring” and thought “cheap”; everyone in the UK remembers the infamous Poundland £1 engagement ring! But nowadays it’s more common to splash out and get a more luxurious proposal ring that she can continue to wear for years to come.

How to choose the perfect placeholder ring

Although it’s only a stand-in for the real thing, a placeholder ring should still be something that your partner will love and want to wear. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you want to show that you’ve considered their style and preferences!

With that in mind, here are a few tips for finding the right placeholder engagement ring for your partner:

  • Think of the jewellery they normally wear: Do they like gold, rose gold or silver? Match up your placeholder with their existing jewellery collection. That way, they can continue to wear it in future as a dress ring. 
  • Consider their tastes: Show that you’ve listened if/when they’ve expressed their diamond or stone preferences in the past. 
  • Get something with a personal touch: If they’re not keen on diamonds/white stones but they’ve never shown an affinity for any particular gemstone, a birthstone ring might be a good option.

Placeholder engagement ring ideas

Want a ring that will still look great in your engagement ring selfie? Here at Joshua James, we’ve got a range of beautiful rings to suit all budgets and tastes. 

Check out our Diamonfire collection for some classic-style rings coming in at under £100. Crafted with sterling silver and realistic simulated diamonds, she might think she’s looking at the real thing at first glance!

Stack of 3 silver and cubic zirconia DIamonfire rings

Want to splash out a little? Our Precious collection has some stunning luxury options, whether you’re looking for a simple cocktail ring or something more ornate with a sprinkling of diamonds.

Stack of 3 gemstones and diamond rings

Alternative placeholder ideas: what can I propose with instead of a ring?

Of course, your placeholder doesn’t have to be a ring. If your engagement is totally spontaneous, then you might not want to ruin the moment by heading out to the closest jewellery store you can find!

Here are a few romantic and playful ideas if you’re looking to propose without a ring: 

  • A charm bracelet: Or a wedding/engagement-themed addition to their existing charm bracelet! Our Nomination Marry Me Charm Bracelet makes a lovely and romantic option that they can treasure forever (and add to with each new milestone).
  • Edible engagement rings: We all proposed to our friends with Haribo rings as kids, but it can still be a sweet and spontaneous gesture as adults!
  • A proposal bouquet: Gift them a bunch of their favourite flowers, complete with a heartfelt note. The beautiful thing about this idea is that you can then press and dry them in a book to preserve the memory forever.

Placeholder engagement rings: fleeting trend, or a genius modern-day solution?

We think that opinions will always be mixed on temporary proposal rings, as many people would simply prefer to wait for the real thing. But for many couples today – especially following the impact of the COVID-19 crisis – placeholder rings offer a practical solution to both new and old issues relating to buying an engagement ring.

With that in mind, we believe that the placeholder trend is here to stay!

Buying The Dream Ring

Once you’ve proposed with a placeholder ring, it’s time that you start looking for your partner’s dream ring. Here at Joshua James, we are a team of experts who have the knowledge and resources to help you bring your and your other half’s vision to life. Through our very own bespoke engagement ring services, you can join us in-store for a fully inclusive experience where you will guide us through your wants and needs.

An engagement ring isn’t just a piece of costume jewellery that’ll be worn every now and then. It’s an item that’ll be treasured for a lifetime; a true sentiment to the beginning of this magical journey that you’re about to embark upon together. With that being said, you need to get it right.

Through a concise design process, we can help you build and customise your very own one-of-a-kind ring. From the concept right through to the creation, you can be in charge of the profile, metal, stone and you name what else. Book in today and join us in our Hessle shop for complimentary champagne and a fully customisable ring experience that you won’t find elsewhere.

You want to get your ring right, and even though it goes on the same proposal ring finger, choosing the wrong ring may dampen the experience. With our guidance & services, we can help you make this all-important decision for your proposal ring.

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