A woman who runs a part-time business helping grooms-to-be source the perfect engagement ring reveals how she is involved in every step of the process – from sourcing a diamond to helping transport it through airport security.
Rowena Cumner, 34, who lives in London, works in marketing but in her spare time she is the brains behind Agent Engagement – a one-stop shop for boyfriends who need help finding their partner’s dream engagement ring.
Speaking to FEMAIL, Rowena told how she offers the service to her clients for free, and makes money through commission from jewelers.
Rowena Cumner, pictured, works in marketing but in her spare time she is the brains behind Agent Engagement – a one-stop shop for boyfriends who need help finding their partner’s dream engagement ring
One of her most recent clients was Richard Martin, who came to her just four days before he was due to jet to South Africa to propose to the love of his life on a romantic safari. Pictured, the ring Rowena helped to secure
She came up with the idea when a friend asked her for help transporting a ring across London.
She said: ‘I’ve always worked in marketing and one day I got a call from a friendly headhunter asking whether I could visit the London diamond bourse beneath Hatton Garden to help a renowned diamond expert run a press trip.
‘I was in my late twenties at the time, just at the point where my friends were starting to become engaged, and because I had unexpectedly started learning about the diamond and jewellery industry they started coming to me for advice and help with making engagement rings.
‘A year later a friend rang who was desperate to buy an engagement ring for an up-and-coming holiday but was stuck in his Canary Wharf office working long hours.
‘I went to meet him in his office coffee shop with diamonds in a Sainsbury’s carrier bag and on the tube on the way there I thought this is quite a fun running around like a secret agent to help busy people.’
Rowena said the biggest challenge is getting rings through airport security. Pictured, an example of the sort of note she attaches to rings to help anxious boyfriends
She continued: ‘I started being Agent E to help people save time, hassle or money when searching the engagement ring market and it just became really fun.
‘From teachers to doctors, builders to bankers, my clients seemed to find it fun too, pretending to be 007 running around creating the perfect ring.
‘The best part is that my clients never tell their partners that I’ve helped them. They want them to think they did it all by themselves.’
Rowena’s tips for finding an engagement ring
- Avoid magic weights: Magic weights are round numbers e.g. 1ct or 0.5ct Diamond. By buying e.g. 0.99ct or 0.48ct instead, you can save up to 30 per cent as it’s not a rounded ‘magic number’.
- Think outside the box: Supporting a British designer is a great way to make an engagement ring without over-paying a big corporate brand. You get to design it yourself, and work with the maker to produce something unique and special to you.
- Think practicalities: Will your partner love this in 10 years time? Or will it catch on clothes when she gets dressed. Often wacky isn’t very helpful.
- Lab Grown vs Mined Diamonds: These days you don’t have to buy diamonds which are millions of years old and come from a mine. Science has lent a helping hand in growing diamonds, with the same chemical composition the mined ones, which saves my proposers money and any ethical concerns.
Most of her job involves ensuring the bride doesn’t spot anything suspicious about the ring hunt – with Rowena admitting she sometimes speaks to clients up to 30 times a day when they are against the clock and often never meets them in person.
She said the biggest challenge is getting rings through airport security.
‘Usually we get around this with a giant post-it note on the ring box alerting airport staff that it’s a surprise engagement ring and not to be opened carelessly,’ she continued.
‘Sometimes the rings are so precious we can’t risk a problem in security, so I once booked a £1 EasyJet flight to Dublin, just so I can get the ring through airport security slowly, in order to pass it over to my client outside Pret a Manger in Gatwick while his girlfriend was in the loo.
‘I will stop at nothing to help my clients pop the question with complete peace of mind – as long as it’s legal.’
Her free service was born after she realised there was a gap in the market to help people buy, source or design engagement rings.
One of her most recent clients was Richard Martin, who came to her just four days before he was due to jet to South Africa to propose to the love of his life on a romantic safari.
With time running out, Rowena raced around to help him find the perfect ring for his now fiancée Tallulah Dyer – with the pair sharing incredible photos from the proposal.
She said: ‘Often men never want to meet me in person in case they get caught. It’s surprising how many people you know and bump into when you don’t want to.
When on the hunt for a ring, she rifles through dusty antique shops, going to the most exclusive London jewelers or jetting out to diamond dealers. Pictured, a selection of rings
‘They prefer to WhatsApp me and put me into their phone contacts as a colleague from work, or their dentist or use their work email and computer exclusively.
‘As we all know as soon as you look for something online all the crazy banner ads start popping up, so a big part of my role is advising my clients on what not to as much as what to do.’
And Rowena says she’s often forced to use her acting skills to pretend to be someone else when doing the job.
She said: ‘I’m constantly pretending to be someone else. dentist hygienist, colleague from work or a friend of a friend.
‘Once I’d been helping a client and we had a mutual friend’s wedding to attend. Despite working together for months I had to pretend not to know my client throughout the entire weekend.
‘From airport lounge, to the plane, to the wedding – we pretended to be introduced at the wedding. It put all my acting skills to the test.’
Rowena offers the service for free to groom-to-be, earning money through commission from the end jeweller.
And she says that the best part of her job is meeting clients in person to go on the hunt for diamonds.
She starts off by asking them dozens of questions about their partner – and even stalks them on social media to get a feel of their taste.
‘When my clients are happy to meet in person it’s fun. One day we might get dusty in an antique jewellery market, the next day we’ve got our posh clothes on New Bond Street.
‘A ring hunt can take make turns and many street corners, but it’s a very worthwhile journey.
She helped one couple enjoy the perfect engagement, with client Richard Martin (pictured) coming to her just four days before he jetted to South Africa to propose on a romantic game reserve
‘My job is to help them compare the best options and advise them every step of the way. From the train timetable to get to their appointment, to the best options on how to insure their new purchase until they propose.’
But the engagement expert says things often go wrong, such as clients almost getting caught by their partners or expensive rings getting lost.
‘Things go wrong all the time, partners suddenly changes their schedule and my client almost gets caught coming home from a jewellery appointment, or we’re having to fly pieces in from around the world and things get lost,’ she said.
‘It’s my job to be unflappable,’ she added.
Rowena reveals she has even been asked by women who want their partners to propose to conveniently bump into their partners in order to get the ball rolling.
‘There have been a few times whereby a male client thinks he’s happened to discover Agent Engagement, either through a friend or meeting me at an event and asking for help.
‘When actually their partner has hired me to conveniently bump into him and get the ring hunt going. Some might say that’s all a bit underhand, but I do whatever it takes to get the ring on the hand’.