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sunset proposalMarch 20th marks Proposal Day, the day on which an estimated 50,000 couples will get engaged!

Is March 20th the day to pop the big question? Possibly, but this lesser known holiday was initially started for the purpose of giving a nudge to couples who have not yet taken the ultimate step of commitment. Interestingly enough, it was a man by the name of John Michael O’Laughlin who founded Proposal Day. After seeing his cousin being strung along for years by a boyfriend who wouldn’t commit, O’Laughlin decided enough was enough and decided to dedicate one day out of the year just for the act of proposing.

Proposal Day falls on the Vernal Equinox, one out of two days of the year on which the Earth’s North and South poles are both perpendicular to the Sun’s rays. This means that the Sun appears approximately an equal amount of time above and below the horizon at every location on Earth, so that day and night are equal lengths. O’Laughlin specifically chose the day of an equinox because he believed the equal day and night symbolized “the equal efforts of the two required to comprise a successful marriage.” The Autumnal Equinox falls about six months after March 20th, and is considered by some to be a second Proposal Day for that reason.vernal equinox

The holiday is an opportunity to start a conversation about the possibility of a future proposal, according to ProposalDay.com. Besides, nowadays couples wait longer before tying the knot; a recent poll found that roughly 27 per cent of women whose partners had popped the question dated their partner for three to five years. As an added benefit, talking to your partner about the proposal beforehand means that you can go engagement ring shopping together, which takes some pressure off of finding the perfect engagement ring!

Although it’s certainly not as widely recognized as Valentine’s Day, there are signs that Proposal Day is gaining traction. It has been creating a buzz in numerous social media outlets like Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter and has even been featured in the national news media.

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dom pedroThe Dom Pedro is a stunning example of March’s official birthstone, and is also the largest faceted aquamarine specimen in the world.

At 1,363 carats and nearly 36cm tall, the fantasy-cut Dom Pedro aquamarine can certainly hold its own – even when on display at the Smithsonian’s Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, which houses other highly valuable gems like the Hope Diamond and the De Young Red Diamond.

The Dom Pedro was cut from part of a meter-long, 45kg aquamarine crystal that was discovered in the 1980’s in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. While in transportation, the crystal actually fractured into three separate pieces. The two smaller pieces were eventually cut into many smaller gemstones, but the largest was kept intact as it embodied an exquisite greenish-blue hue and amazing clarity. This largest piece was sold to none other than legendary gem-cutter Bernd Munsteiner, known as the “Father of the Fantasy Cut” and “the Picasso of Gems”.

According to the Smithsonian, the first time that he laid eyes on the gem he proclaimed that it was love at first sight!

Munsteiner spent over four months studying the rough and making hundreds of sketches before he settled on the aquamarine’s dom pedro munsteinerfinal pattern. It was to be his most famous “fantasy cut” gem, a cutting technique where negative cuts are faceted into the back of a gemstone to reflect the light within.

During the six months it took to hand cut the gem, he was never concerned about the final carat weight; he opted instead to cut for beauty and brilliance, rather than price. “When you focus on the carat weight, it’s only about the money,” said Munsteiner. “I cannot create when I’m worried about the money.”

The finished masterpiece was unveiled at the 1993 Baselworld Gem Fair, and later bought by private collector Jane Mitchell and her husband Jeffrey Bland. They gifted the stone to the Smithsonian’s National Gem and Mineral Collection in 2011, and by the end of 2012 Dom Pedro was added to the permanent exhibition and continues to be a top attraction.

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