A diamond engagement ring is a tangible tribute to an unforgettable moment – a moment that is unique to each couple. Being in the business of romance and designer diamond engagement rings, we were interested to find out how men and women differ in their views on marriage proposals.

We conducted a survey amongst unmarried men and women in South Africa and learnt that both men and women agree that a marriage proposal should be a romantic surprise rather than a joint decision resulting from a discussion.

Interestingly, it is the men who lead the charge in this sentiment; 55% of the male respondents opted for a surprise proposal, compared to 45% of female respondents. Only 11% of men would be happy with a joint decision without a romantic surprise, whereas 18% of women preferred this option.

Could it be that men are more romantic than women? We delved deeper to find out.

Where to propose

As far as a setting for the proposal goes, the majority of women surveyed (40%) would like to be proposed to at a meaningful occasion surrounded by family and friends, whereas the majority of male respondents (30%) opted for a dramatic setting like a mountaintop or deserted beach. Neither men nor women like the idea of a fancy restaurant, but are not far off in agreeing (men 25%, women 19%) that anywhere at all would do – even the kitchen – as long as the moment was right.

A surprise proposal or joint-decision?

So, if the proposal is to be a surprise, what about the engagement ring itself? How much say would a woman like to have in a piece of jewellery she will wear every day for the rest of her life?

69% percent of women would like the ring to be a surprise, while just 31% would like to choose the ring with their significant others. Interestingly, men do not differ very much from women in their preferences on this topic; 65% would like to surprise their partner with a ring.

Choosing an engagement ring

This is all very romantic – however – how sure are women that men will pick the right ring?Not that sure, it turns out. The majority of women (46%) feel that it is equally likely that their partner could get it just right, or totally miss the mark. Men are surprisingly confident in their knowledge of their partners’ jewellery tastes, however, as 35% believe they would be able to choose the perfect swoon-inducing ring.

Dropping hints

In order to help men along in their selection, both men and women agree that the best way for her to drop hints as to what she might like is through her friends.

If these hints fall on deaf ears, however, and the ring is not at all what the bride-to-be would have chosen, how would they handle it? With grace, it seems. 51% percent of women say that they would learn to love the ring anyway, as it is what the ring represents that is more important. That said, 39% of men would be happy enough if their partner tactfully broke it to them that the ring was not to their taste, and they went and exchanged it together.

Choosing a style

In order to give men a bit more insight into what their partner might be looking for, we were interested to find out more about the kind of ring women are dreaming of. A very surprising 40% of women would like something different and unique; 33% would like a modern and stylish ring, while just 27% would prefer something classic and elegant.

Engagement ring price

When it comes to the price of the ring, 77% percent of women believe that the price doesn’t matter as long as the ring suits their personal taste and style. The remaining 23% believe that the price is an indication of commitment, and 25% of men agree with them.



Planning the perfect proposal

Men take the planning of a proposal quite seriously, it seems. 37% percent of men would start shopping for the ring and planning the perfect proposal six to 12 month ahead of time. The majority (42%) would start planning three to six months in advance, while 22% would leave it until a few weeks before the time – a larger percentage than most women would like, perhaps.

Asking for her father’s permission

Amidst these differences in opinions between the sexes there is, interestingly, one topic on which men and women are in complete agreement: whether or not to ask the bride’s father for permission to marry his daughter. Only 30% of both men and women believe that this is an antiquated custom, whereas a surprising 70% believe that it is a sign of respect.

Shimansky Proposal Infographic

The results

Yair Shimansky, CEO of Shimansky Jewellers, says: “What this survey shows us is that, when it comes to getting engaged, men and women have varying ideas of where and how it should happen. What they do agree on, however, is that it should be as meaningful a moment as possible.

“Capturing meaningful moments in time and making their beauty last forever is at the heart of Shimansky’s philosophy,” he adds.

“At the end of the day, no matter how you imagined the moment, when the person you love asks you to spend the rest of your life with them, you’ll find that the way it happens matters less than you expected. What matters is the love,” Shimansky concludes.