The start of the year needn't feel as dark and gloomy as all that. Even though the Christmas lights have been turned off, we need look no further than our colleague's typing digits to see the twinkle of new jewellery on ring fingers finally put to their intended use. If you'd like to get in on the act, Valentine's Day is looming and provides a classic date to pop the question. Here are some pointers to make a decent proposal, for nothing's duller than hearing, "We talked about it for a long time, and then just thought yeah, why the heck not." That approach may be practical, but with precious metals and stones proving to be good investments in the economic downturn, why not trade in stocks for a lifetime of happiness - and do it with a heart-warming, frost-beating flourish this February?
A proposal is extremely personal - getting a third party involved is cowardly (as it shows you lack conviction or true understanding of your intended). Asking for help can lead to an incorrect ring choice or strategy, leading not only to a failed engagement but a ruined friendship. Go with your gut.
At the end of the day, to paraphrase Ms Julia Roberts' character Anna Scott in Notting Hill, "You're just a boy, standing in front of a girl, asking her to love you." A simple "Will you marry me?" will do. Save all that other stuff for when you mess up during the marriage.
Doubting decisions, ruminating over scenarios and striving for perfection is all bound to cause complications for both your fiancée and the engagement. Make an effort but stay true to yourself. Whatever carat count or weekend getaway you choose as part of your scenario, ultimately - as Mr Ralph Waldo Emerson said - "The only gift is a portion of thyself."
Cartier Trinity ring, classic model, around $1,100
Created for Mr Jean Cocteau in 1924, the Cartier Trinity ring boasts three bands - one in white gold symbolising friendship, one in rose gold representing true love and one in yellow gold symbolising fidelity
Tiffany Setting ring, from $1,630
Introduced in 1886, this setting lifts the diamond away from the band, permitting a more complete return of light and maximising the stone's natural brilliance
De Beers Promise ring, from $2,700
This exquisite ring has a duo-shank platinum band that entwines up to the four-prong-set, round brilliant solitaire and is meticulously pavéd with white round brilliant diamonds
Carolina Bucci kaleidoscope set, $3,025
For the understated bride-to-be, this trio of three 18-karat white gold diamond stacking rings looks great together, just as you will
Ileana Makri Cats Eye 18-karat Gold Diamond Ring, $2,260
Perfect for a more colourful bride who loves patterns and crafty touches, this cat's-eye shape and mix of sapphires and diamonds is sure to be a conversation starter
Tiffany Lucida Ring, from $1,950
The square mixed-cut shape, with a high step-cut crown, is punctuated with a brilliant-cut pavilion. The band merges with the prongs in a gently sloping crisscross for a distinctive design
De Beers Azulea ring, from $750
These textured pieces can be worn alone or stacked for a contemporary statement
De Beers Aura Solitaire ring, from $6,750
This bespoke ring is hand-crafted with a thread pavé halo around a bezel setting that perfectly fits around the brilliant diamond. This sumptuous design will be very hard to refuse
0.74 garrard brilliant cut diamond and platinum ring, $17,000
Something new from the oldest jeweller in the world, this design says classic but cool