If you're ready to take the plunge, but don't want to propose empty handed, one idea is to pop the big Q with a 'token' ring.
What constitutes a 'token' ring?
The traditional diamond engagement ring is a huge investment, costing anywhere from a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand euro. If you decide to go that route (and nobody says you HAVE to have an engagement ring to get married, of course), most people will want to know 1) that their partner will love it, and 2) that it fits!
Of course the only way of knowing both for certain is to choose the piece together, which means most likely you'll be sans bling for at least a couple of weeks.
Enter the token engagement ring - a 'place holder' of sorts that costs a fraction of the cost of a real diamond, but can stand in for the real deal just when you need it to!
A token ring can be a Haribo jelly (yes please!) or a Hula Hoop, or a piece of jewellery. The added bonus of a solid ring is that they allow the wearer to get used to the size and feel of a new piece of jewellery - maybe they thought they wanted a high peg or prong solitaire, but find it's getting in the way too much? Or maybe they thought a vintage emerald stone would suit their style, but actually they can't match it to their other pieces?
Sometimes even (and you've really hit the jackpot if this is the case) the wearer will fall so deeply in love with their so-called 'token' ring that there's no need to 'replace' it with a real diamond!
Are token engagement rings a good idea?
There are two schools of thought on this one - one says 'sure why not, it's just a little place holder and a nice thought until we get the real deal,' while another thinks 'dear lord now - what if she thinks it's 'the one' and hates it - it'll ruin the moment! Or loves it so much only to find out it can't be replicated with a real diamond!'
One thing that many people jokingly advise is not to propose with a fake diamond that's bigger than one you can afford!
Really, you know yourself what kind of humour or sentiment you should put into an engagement gift, and whether a Hello Kitty ring from Claire's Accessories will make her laugh, or a beautiful engraved piece by an Irish designer would melt her heart or indeed, if something totally different would be better (and stay tuned for our guide to engagement ring alternatives later this week!)
Where to shop
If you're planning to pop the question over the Christmas and want something for a picture-perfect down-on-one-knee presentation, have a look in high street stores such as River Island or Accessorize for something stylish around the €20-€30 mark. If a replica ring is what you're after, Marks and Spencers have some very good versions of traditional engagement rings, and if you're looking for something a little cuter and more whimsical, a little piece in Penneys or Claire's Accessories will do the trick. Asos is also always a good bet for something different (we love their vintage-inspired Victoria emerald ring featured here!)
If you'd like to spend a little more so that the jewellery becomes more of a fixed piece, try Irish designer Chupi's gorgeous Swan feather ring, or 'My Heart is Open' heart shaped ring, both costing €139 each, which can be ordered online from Chupi.com, or head to Pandora or Swarovski for pretty pieces at a similar price point.