‘I Didn’t Think I Could Actually Feel Happy In This Shit Show Of A Year…’ How It Feels To Get Engaged In Lockdown

A jewellery designer says there’s been a rise in engagement ring purchases.

Engagement ring

by Rhiannon Evans |
Updated on

When it comes to relationships and the pressure that lockdown has put on them, it’s fair to say the phrase ‘make or break’ has never been more apt.

For many, though, the big worry is stasis. And not just for those who had wedding plans – but for those on the cusp of an engagement. What if you’ve had that special mini-break, or family-filled moment, planned for months – or if lockdown has made you realise that it’s finally time to pop out that question?

Well, it seems you still go for it – anecdotally you may have (like me) seen a number of engagements popping up on your Instagram feed. And founder of luxury bespoke jewellery brand Durham Rose Manu Bhardwaj says his company has actually seen a rise in people asking for engagement rings.

‘Demand for jewellery has taken a huge hit worldwide,’ he says. ‘The only event we can compare this situation to in terms of economic impact is 9/11 and the financial crash. In both cases, general jewellery buying behaviour took over 12 months to recover. However, interestingly in both cases about two months after the events, engagement ring sales skyrocketed. It seems that big impact events cause us all to realise life is short, compelling us to commit to the next big steps in our life.’

Finding an hour of privacy has been challenging for many of our clients.

But designing a ring doesn’t come without challenges – even for companies like theirs who offer online Zoom consultations to do so. ‘Before any of us had heard of coronavirus, telling your partner a little white lie and staying home one evening to do a consultation while your partner was out was an easy thing to schedule,’ Bhardwaj he says. ‘Now with many people “locked in” with their partners, finding an hour of privacy has been challenging for many of our clients. We are finding clients now want to do consultations during the day at very certain times, ensuring their partner is doing an online meeting or zoom drinks with friends.’

For many getting engaged, though, the decision was a long time in the pipeline – and circumstances mean it’s not a chance to be squandered. Kat Renshaw and Dan Toland got engaged last month – with her mother diagnosed with terminal cancer, it was important for them that Dan did not put the engagement back. The couple started dating at Manchester University, but split up when Kat moved back to London. They’ve been together again for around five years, after reuniting after Kat’s Dad died, and eventually moving back to Manchester together.

Kat and Dan
Kat and Dan ©Kat Renshaw and Dan Toland

‘I'd got up, put a scruffy t-shirt on with an old sports bra and my painting leggings and started prepping the dining room for painting; tearing bin bags up to use them as dust sheets on the floor,' says Kat. ‘Dan was being really awkward and quiet; I couldn’t work out what was wrong with him. He then came up to me as I was stood on the bin bags – ha! – gave me a hug and said he had plans for the day, but they had all been cancelled because of the lockdown. He said he didn’t want to wait any longer as it was important that he asked me to marry him before Mother’s Day and this was a good place to do it.

‘I couldn’t believe it. He got on one knee and asked me to marry him. I started crying, screamed yes and got on my knees to join him.

‘For me, whether we were on lockdown or not is irrelevant. Since December, my life has been completely turned upside down since my mum got diagnosed with brain cancer. They told us it was terminal, and they didn’t give us a promising outlook for the start of the year. Since then, every week that we have with her has been a blessing and the fact that we had made it to Mother’s Day was the only thing on my mind.

‘I didn’t actually think I could feel happy throughout this shit show of a year, and then Covid-19 hit and I thought the world was genuinely taking the piss. But when I saw Dan get on one knee, I couldn’t stop smiling. I have wanted to marry him from the moment we got back together. He is my best friend and my soul mate. I have never loved anyone as much as I love him and knowing that he wants to spend the rest of his life with me has made me the happiest I have ever felt.'

Colin Appleby is from Newcastle and moved to Canada to live with his now-fiance Christine Vilim – they’ve been together for five years and are in lockdown in Huntsville with her family, having left their apartment so they’d have more space. He proposed during an Easter egg hunt that was family tradition.

Colin and Christine
Colin and Christine ©Colin Appleby

‘We had discussed getting engaged this year and we have no idea of how long the lockdown could go for so I thought why wait?’ says Colin. ‘Also, there is so much negative news in the world right now it really felt amazing to share some positivity with the world and the response from everyone has been incredible. So many people have messaged us both to say thank you for sharing good news. Our friend even suggested using the hashtag: #lockeddownonlockdown.’

‘The disadvantages of getting engaged in lockdown would be not being able to choose the location, although we plan on getting married here so it made sense to get engaged here too. Also, we only have casual clothes with us so it wasn’t possible to dress up nicely for the pictures - as you can see from my hoody and wellies outfit.

‘I know Christine would have liked to have been able to get a manicure before the pics too, fortunately, my future sister-in-law Brittany did an excellent job instead. The biggest disadvantage is not being able to immediately celebrate in person with my family and all of our friends but we have had lots of FaceTime calls instead. And the biggest advantage is we have more time on our hands to plan the wedding now!’

READ MORE: How To Celebrate A Birthday In Lockdown

READ MORE: Coronavirus: What Should I Do If I Had A Wedding Planned This Summer?

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