Many of us have been sucked in to the various expectations of what makes a perfect wedding and proposal and we are terrified of being seen as the tight-fisted fiance who dares to question the norm.
But let's be a little more realistic for a second.
As has been well reported, 'traditions' about spending a month or two month's salary on a diamond engagement ring are carefully constructed marketing messages from diamond manufacturers (or even 3 months salary according to some sources).
After all, we are talking about a month's salary - not just disposable income. The average UK salary is about £27,000 or £2250 per month, yet the average monthly disposable income for under 30s is about £400. So, if you wanted to spend your monthly salary (pre-tax) on an engagement ring you would be saving up for nearly 6 months, during which time you wouldn't be saving money for anything else or even leaving the house. You might trouble to keep this thriftiness secret from your potential spouse.
So - here's a refreshing phrase that will liberate you - it is OK to spend as much or as little as you like on an engagement ring.
After much digging around and researching, my conclusion is that if you are working to a budget of £100 or £200 for a diamond engagement ring then you are best to buy second hand. I'm afraid most high street jewellers will laugh you out the shop with a budget along those lines, and you'll only get something very tiny from even the cheapest online jewellers.
If you've got a budget of £300 or more for your diamond ring then you can start to look for reasonable new diamond rings, although various sources put the average spend at somewhere around the £1000 mark.
So, what savings can you achieve if you buy a second hand diamond ring?
As a very broad rule, I would expect to get a preloved ring from a private seller for somewhere between one fifth and one third of the original price. So, a ring with an original price of £1000 would sell for between £200 and £330. A ring with an original price of £2000 would sell for about £400 - £650.
eBay is a good place to start - after about 5 minutes searching I found a 4 month old 18 carat white gold H Samuel ring with a 0.33 carat diamond which sold for £150, compared to a retail price of £700.
As you'll notice, diamond rings just don't hold their value as much as gold which can be melted down and reused as new.
If you fancy looking for yourself, search eBay for engagement rings under £100, under £200, under £500 and under £1000 or try Preloved or Etsy.
After a few minutes you'll notice that there are loads of used engagement rings on offer which have only been worn for weeks or months (or occasionally days).
I'm not trying to put you off proposing...but you may not be surprised to learn that many engagements don't work out, so there is an abundance of barely worn jewellery out there. According to the Daily Mail, a quarter of women have turned down a marriage proposal and according to Marie Claire, 10-15% of weddings are cancelled.
So, whilst it may feel a little mercenary, there are certainly bargains to be had in the used engagement ring market.
One final thing to consider - if your potential spouse is particularly superstitious then they may have an objection to second hand jewellery. Clues might include them refusing to walk under ladders or having a rabbit's foot and a four leaf clover hanging from their rearview mirror. (I've got no evidence to back this up, but I can't help feeling that the superstitions around second hand jewellery may well have been cooked up by marketeers for jewellers...)
Of course, you could keep the fact that the ring is secret hand secret...although I personally could see that backfiring rather spectacularly!
Good luck with your search!
See our guide for more advice on where to buy second hand diamond rings at the best price, or our guide to 10 of the best places to buy engagement rings under £1000, £500 and £100.