By Charlie Byrne in London
Long gone are the days when a man could merely save up a month's salary, pop down to his local jeweller, choose a humble solitaire diamond and whip it out over dinner. Proposing in 2014 is a minefield of social media-fuelled competition, ever spiralling budgets and 'who should choose' politics.
When your girlfriend is hooked on watching outlandish YouTube proposal videos that relay convoluted flashmob extravaganzas - some of which have now gained almost 30 million views - it's time to up your game, and the same goes for the ring.
Over the last few decades, the trend for diamond solitaire engagement rings has been ubiquitous, but styles are now gradually evolving to offer a more varied choice. Boodles' Maymay tulip ring offers a modern alternative to traditional daisy motifs, while Stephen Webster has looked to the heavens to provide fresh inspiration for his new bridal range. The celestial silhouette of Webster's Stargazy diamond ring is somehow curiously contemporary yet still intensely romantic.
Consider breaking away from the idea of feature stones and choose a diamond-encrusted band or a less symmetrical design. Cartier's white gold ring with angled baguette diamonds is a spectacular choice for those who want to shy away from proudly sitting stones, while Chaumet's Le Grand Frisson ring is an exciting interpretation of organised chaos - the design itself feels spontaneous. If, however, your wife-to-be is keen on sleek, modern styles, consider Shaun Leane's Aurora ring. The morganite central stone offers a shot of colour without abandoning the bridal aesthetic.
Should you be looking for even feistier hues, canary yellow diamonds are a fashionable choice, and Tiffany's cushion cut rose gold ring is especially alluring. Consider up-and-coming names on the jewellery scene too - you might just find they're a good long-term investment, and they won't be spotted on anyone else's finger. Etername's swirling platinum and diamond Eternelle ring is an ideal option.
The woman who knows her Fendi from her Ferragamo is always a daunting prospect for the man charged with choosing the right ring. Look no further than Chanel's white gold ring with black diamonds or Dolce & Gabbana's new engagement ring collection - it boasts a riot of unusual colour combinations.
For traditionalists not keen on wandering too far from a traditional sparkler, consider the Adonis Rose ring by De Beers and Harry Winston's Ultimate Bridal cushion-cut solitaire ring - two dazzling diamond options that feel fresh but retain the classic elegance of their powerhouse heritage. Whichever your choice, just make sure you're a man with a plan.