My beloved is mine, and i am his

On Wednesday it is St Valentine's Day. This year is also a leap year and, according to tradition, a woman can ask a man to marry her (under Scottish law if a man refuses to take a woman as his "lawful wife" on 29 February, he can be fined pounds 1). Women buying rings for men is not that common. Says Jess Canty, owner of Jess James: "We get men buying rings for men, men buying for women, and women buying for men - in that order, although over the last few years there has been a definite increase in the number of women buying 'betrothal' rings for their menfolk." When they do, the most popular rings are simple, silver and with an engraved maxim. Giving a man a ring is cool. Men have been doing the asking, the buying, and the genuflecting for years; now it's our turn. Who will you ask?

TOP: Silver "Song of Solomon" ring, pounds 85, Detail, 4a Symons St, SW3, tel: 0171-730 8488.

ABOVE: Silver ring with red garnet stone, pounds 68, Works of Art from Jess James, 3 Newburgh Street, W1, tel: 0171-437 0199.

MAIN PICTURE (left stalk from top to bottom): Silver fine lines ring, pounds 45, Dower & Hall, 60 Beauchamp Place, SW3 and branches of Liberty nationwide, tel: 0171-589 8474. Gilt and silver "Greek temple" ring, pounds 62, Detail, as before. Silver "three stripe" ring, pounds 125, Manjeet Virdee from Jess James, as before. Matt gilt ring, pounds 150, Van Peterson Designs, 194/196 Walton Street, SW3, tel: 0171-584 1101. Silver forged ring, pounds 75, Sam Salmons, from Jess James as before. Silver flat band, pounds 78, Sian Evans, from Jess James as before, tel: 0171-377 6117.

(middle stalk from top to bottom): Silver "hugs and kisses" ring, pounds 46, Dower & Hall as before. Gold plated sterling silver, "Forget me knot" ring, pounds 81, Wright & Teague from the Talisman Gallery at Harvey Nichols, Sloane Street, SW1; Sheila Miller Designer Jewllery, Princes Square, Buchanan Street, Glasgow. Tel: 0171-336 8633. Sterling silver "Celtic" ring, pounds 85, The Great Frog, 10 Ganton Street, W1, tel: 0171-439 9357. Gold plated "symbols" ring, pounds 117, Sian Evans, from Jess James as before. Silver "hearts and stripes" ring, pounds 40, Dower & Hall as before. Silver "matt cross" ring, pounds 72, The Great Frog as before. Silver and 22ct gold "and on and on and on" ring, pounds 75, Diana Porter from Jess James as before and Surrey Stones, 9 Golden Court, Richmond, tel: 0117-941 4953. Silver "symbols" ring, pounds 46, Dower & Hall. Sterling silver "Amor et Pax" ring, pounds 76, Wright & Teague as before. Silver "In heaven on earth" ring, pounds 60, Diana Porter as before. Silver "dedicated to the one I love" ring, pounds 70, Wright & Teague, as before.

(right stalk, from top to bottom): Sterling silver "cigar" ring, pounds 114, Jacqueline Rabun from Jess James as before and from Strand, 27 Queen Victoria Street, Leeds. Tel: 0171-221 9820. 18ct gold and diamond ring (part of a set designed to be worn by two people), pounds 700, Diana Porter as before. Silver wide hammered ring, pounds 85, and silver hammered ring with 18ct inset, pounds 95, both Cox & Power, 95 Walton Street, SW3, tel: 0171-589 6335. Silver matt hammered ring, pounds 89.50, The Great Frog, as before. 18ct gold plain band, pounds 450, Diana Porter as before. Silver diamond cut ring, pounds 60, Detail as before.

ABOVE (top stalk, from left to right): Flexible silver ring strung on multi fibre thread, pounds 100, Joanne Thompson, from Lesley Craze Gallery, 34 Clerkenwell Green, EC1, tel: 0171-608 0393. Silver ring with flared ends, pounds 65, Sian Evans from Jess James, 3 Newburgh Street, W1, tel: 0171- 437 0199. Silver cube ring, pounds 143, Jacqueline Rabun from Jess James as before and from Strand, 27 Queen Victoria Street, Leeds. Tel: 0171-221 9820. Silver and perspex ring, pounds 90, Julia Parkes from Liberty, Regent Street, W1. Tel: 0171-624 0330.

(middle stalk, from left to right): Titanium and 18ct gold ring, pounds 300, Joel Degen from Lesley Craze Gallery, 34 Clerkenwell Green, EC1, tel: 0171-608 0393. Silver with 18ct gold ring, pounds 225, Kate Dix from Lesley Craze Gallery, as before. Silver matt ring with 18ct gold inset and diamond, pounds 475, Cox & Power, 95 Walton Street, SW3, tel: 0171-589 6335. Gold plated oval "seal" ring, pounds 95, Vivienne Westwood, 41 Conduit Street, W1, tel: 0171-439 1109. Yellow gold ring with hidden diamond, pounds 425, Chaumet from The Fine Jewellery Room at Harrods, Knightsbridge, SW1, tel: 0171-730 1234.

(bottom stalk, from left to right): Sterling silver "ID" ring, pounds 81, Jenifer Corker, Paul Smith, 42/44 Floral Street, WC2. Tel: 0171-379 7133. Silver "horse shoe" ring, pounds 85, Sam Salmons from Jess James, as before. Silver double wire ring with wide bridge, pounds 117, Jacqueline Rabun, as before. Silver signet ring with engraved heart, pounds 78, Sian Evans, as before.

BELOW Silver "Claddagh" ring, pounds 90, Detail, 4a Symons St, SW3, tel: 0171- 730 8488. Silver "shackle" ring, pounds 210, Sian Evans, Harrods, as before.

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