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Walk this way for sparkling Valentine’s surprises

Valentine’s Day is a perfect and memorable date on which to pop the question to your significant other. Whether you’ve got your proposal planned for the near future or have something in mind for later on, here’s our guide to getting the most important part right- the engagement ring!

• The traditional engagement ring is a diamond solitaire- a ring with a single stone, normally upwards of one carat. Simple yet elegant, this timeless style is the most popular design for this type of ring. Solitaire rings with unusual features such as diamond-set shoulders are also available at most jewellery retailers, as are more modern twist band shapes. David Christopher (01242 522133) specialise in stylish diamond rings made in 18ct white gold, platinum or yellow gold.

• Establish your budget before you set foot in any jewellery shop. Ignore the myth that two month’s salary should be spent on an engagement ring- this originated as a simple marketing ploy. Just buy the ring you think your partner would like the most, which falls within your set budget. Times are tight, and as the old adage goes, it’s the thought that counts. Ernest Jones (01242 250837) stock a wide range of beautiful engagement rings from around £300, but if money’s no object, the stunning Leo® platinum one carat ring is available exclusively from Ernest Jones for

• Remember the ‘four C’s’: Colour, cut, clarity and carat. These are the criteria jewellers use for grading the quality of diamonds. Diamonds are occasionally available in pretty pastel colours such as baby pink and lemon, alongside the traditional white - but be prepared to pay a premium for these rare stones. The highest grade diamonds are colourless, while the lowest have more of a yellow tone. The diamond’s cut gives it its brilliance and ‘sparkle’, and is instrumental in determining its value. Clarity refers to the amount of imperfections, also known as ‘inclusions’ that a diamond has- the fewer of these the better. Diamonds are very rarely free from imperfections, but if possible try to find a stone whose inclusions are invisible to the naked eye. A diamond’s carat refers to its weight- the higher the carat the heavier (and pricier) the stone.

• Think about your partner’s personal style when choosing the ideal ring. Do they prefer silver, platinum, gold or rose gold? Are they a traditionalist or do they prefer more unusual styles? Thinking about these factors in advance of heading to the jewellers will make your decision easier to make.

• For a personal touch, why not get a ring custom made? David Hargreaves at The Regent Goldsmith (01242 571726) offers a bespoke jewellery making service with over 45 years experience, allowing you to turn your dream engagement ring into a reality. David also works with ethically sourced diamonds from DeBeers and offers a repair and restoration service.;; Tweet us @regentarcade