Shipping to
United States
Illustrations by Ms Anje Jager

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."

the ring