Found the perfect engagement ring? Check your precious purchase for guarantee (just in case)
Valentine's Day might not be the most original of days for a marriage proposal but it is perhaps the most popular to witness a bended knee or two.
And this Leap Year, with unofficial 'lady's day to ask' falling on February 29, the demand for a bit of metal to 'put a ring on it' increases.
In this vein, we decided to find out what exactly you should look out for when making this - or indeed any - jewellery purchase.
Located in impressive quarters close to the Chester Beatty Library at Dublin Castle, the Assay Office is the stop off point for any precious metal making its way to our Irish stores.
"Basically what we do here is we test and hallmark any precious metal that comes into Ireland," Assay master Ana Izquierdo told independent.ie.
"When this is complete, it is then ready to go to the stores to be sold."
Wholesalers will order a consignment of jewellery into the country will require the batch to be tested and marked before it goes on the retailers - and subsequently the public.
The Assay Office also hallmarks silver, gold and platinum pieces received from a small number of Irish manufacturers who still make the items here.
And it is the detail in this hallmark that customers should be aware of and ask to be clearly shown before they make a purchase.
"There are two parts to the engagement ring - the diamond and the metal," said Ms Izquierdo, a chemist by trade and heavily involved in the laboratory testing herself.
"The retailer should be able to provide a certificate for the diamond. As for the hallmark, you have to be sure of the stamp as this is your guarantee."
All jewellers should have a hallmark card, detailing what each marking means, clearly displayed in their store for viewing.
"On the shank of every ring, there should be a mark with three parts," Ms Izquierdo warns potential proposees.
"A maker's mark which tells you the manufacturer, the Assay Office mark (Hibernia for Dublin/Ireland) and the metal and fineness (number of carat and purity of metal)."
Customers should be comfortable asking for a full explanation as to what the hallmark on their item is before handing over the cash.
Because if the proposal doesn't go according to plan, at least you know the metal you've purchased is the real deal!
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