By Fiona Sloan

With more and more outlets for choice, spending a day in the city to find that all-important engagement ring has changed dramatically in recent times.

Choice is everywhere and anyone thinking of buying the most important ring in a special person’s life, should consider that they will have to look at it and you, every day for the rest of their married days. The ring can be almost as important as proposal itself.

If you are giving you wife-to-be your mother’s ring, bear in mind that styles have changed over the years and a wee adjustment, not only to the size, may be required.

Traditionally, the man is expected to get down on one knee and produce the most beautiful ring in the world and frankly that is a big ask of most men, regardless of budget.

Couples are getting married later in life (and often for the second or maybe even the third time) and the importance of a ring being unique, is often more important to some future brides than the cost involved in the traditional diamond setting. Yes, not all girls love diamonds, you’ll be glad to know men!

Having accepted, a very unexpected proposal of marriage from my partner (some of you may know him!) on January 1, there was no going down on one knee, due to an age thing and no ring, due to a worry about choosing the wrong one. Good decision! We 'older ladies' are more settled in our style and going together to choose a ring was, for us, the way to go.

I already had several pieces from collections made by Annie Smith Jewellers, in Stockbridge, Edinburgh. Collections which, whether gold, silver or pearl, are unique and classy, often understated but instantly recognisable as an 'Annie Smith'. The decision to go straight to Annie’s to look for a ring, was an easy one for me.

I wanted something different – a one off. Something which was 'just me'. That was, however, the only instructions I took with me to the shop, which was of little help to Annie – who, as is quite usual, was in the shop – by way of a design.

Within half-an-hour of ideas and discussion, we were leaving, having looked at and tried various designs and ultimately settling on a design, which was looking back at me drawn on the pages of my note book.

The time spent choosing a ring, left lots of time for lunch, wine and dinner on the way back and was a day we will both always remember.

A few days later, I had a text with the quote, to which I replied by giving it a big thumb's up! I didn’t see the ring again until the day I picked it up at the shop. I couldn’t have been more pleased, though it was made clear that any adjustment would be 'no problem'! Annie and her partner, Ariel, had produced the most beautiful unique and inexpensive ring, just for me.

They will also make my wedding ring to match the twig-like design on the engagement ring and together I have every confidence that I will look at it every day and never be disappointed.

Their story:

Annie and Ariel met over a bottle of whisky in Bondi Beach, Sydney, back in 1991. Both were travellers far from home – Ariel was born in Tel Aviv and Annie a Scot, from Ayrshire. They fell in love and what started with a drink soon became a business partnership as they travelled the world sourcing beautiful jewellery.

Before long they realised that selling jewellery wasn't enough - they wanted to be able to make their own. So, they headed back to Annie's home county of Ayrshire and studied under a silversmith for a year, learning the intricacies and techniques of bespoke jewellery making.

And so, following that, the Annie Smith business was born. Bursting with ideas, the pair began creating their own, distinctive jewellery and showcasing it all around the country at craft fairs and exhibitions.