You’ve booked the church, hired the caterer, and found the dress. Your once impossibly long pre-wedding checklist is getting shorter! But don’t leave the most important item for last: your rings.
This symbol of commitment and beauty will endure a lifetime, so make sure its style, quality and elegance will last just as long. Wedding bands aren’t just jewelry, of course, or just an item that you buy to highlight your engagement ring. This band is tangible proof that you have made a solemn and eternal commitment. “Getting married is one of the most important and symbolic changes in your life and should be marked with a ring of equal significance and importance,” says celebrity stylist Michael O’Connor, creator of the “Past, Present and Future” original concept designs for De Beers.
The wedding ring has a long and romantic history, dating back to ancient Egypt, when a simple circle band represented unending love for the couple, O’Connor explains. Many cultures throughout history also had versions of wedding bands—sometimes a ring was given only at the engagement stage, other times a simple ring was given at the proposal, and a more bejeweled version was presented during the ceremony.
Today, fancier diamond-set bands are all the rage, thanks to celebrity nuptials, and the pricier and more elaborate rings we all see them exchange. Of course, the most stunning part of your own ring will not be size or cost but what it represents—a lifetime of love, commitment, and partnership. That’s why whatever style you prefer, O’Connor says finding a band that fits your lifestyle from a reputable jewelry source should be top of list.
Here is his advice for selecting a beautiful wedding band you’ll have and hold for the rest of your life:
How do I pick the best ring for me?
Think about how and where you’ll wear your band. Will you wear your band with your engagement ring or separately? This will help you determine the height of the band and thickness so it feels comfortable with your engagement ring. Then, be realistic about how active you are and if you’ll wear your ring all the time. If you play a lot of sports, for example, a diamond band with many prongs and large stones may not be the best choice—a simpler, narrower band or one with bezel set stones (which have a rim around the gem) may be better for you.
Phyllis Bergman for Mercury ($1,299). A modern classic style, this platinum curved band studded with .12 TW diamonds allows the engagement ring to nest in it.
Should I pick the same metal as my engagement ring?
Definitely! This is more than just a style choice, because every metal has different characteristics and hardness. Putting a harder metal next to a softer metal will wear the softer one down more easily. The metal should match, and in the case of gold, the karat should also match to avoid extra wear and tear.
… and should they be the same style?
It’s not necessary—but there should be some similarity of line and feel. Some wedding bands will offer notches or curves that will accommodate the edges and shape of a matching engagement ring.
Alluring diamond band (from $832 Anjolee). This is a beautiful band set with baguette and round diamonds. It comes in a choice of metal, carat, and diamond quality.
When should I start hunting?
Often couples leave the purchase of wedding bands until the very last minute, which is a huge mistake. To give the buying of something so symbolic and meaningful proper due diligence, I always suggest that couples start to look at wedding bands at least six months prior to the wedding, with the goal of buying it no later than two months before you tie the knot.
Any tips for proper fit?
If you’re going to wear your wedding band with your engagement ring, always try on both rings at the same time, since two rings will fit differently on the finger than one ring. It’s also important to see how the rings fit together, and if you are fine with any spaces or gaps between the two rings. Make sure your hands are at a standard temperature, as finger sizes swell when it’s warm and shrink when it’s colder. Don’t rush in from winter weather and try rings on cold hands and make decisions on size. In warmer weather your rings will feel tighter (and maybe too tight).
As for the groom, more active men may prefer a narrower band or a band with fewer stones and less of a pattern. These days, some men default to bands made from lesser or non-precious metals. In my opinion this minimizes the importance and significance of a wedding band.
Trio Rolling Ring ($725, Blue Nile). In 18k tri-color gold, the dual bands of this classic knot style rings will slightly roll over each other.
What’s the latest style trend?
Some of the newest trends revolve around the personalization and symbolism to the couple. Personal engravings, incorporation of meaningful symbols or words, or the use of birthstones and other special gems make a wonderful statement. During the Victorian era, there was a wonderful trend of spelling out words in jewelry, using the first letter of a set gem to spell out a meaning. For example a ring set with a (D)iamond, (E)merald, (A)methyst and (R)uby would spell out the message “DEAR.”
My future husband and I disagree on styles—help!
If a couple has a similar aesthetic and love for a particular gemstone or diamond styling, I think it’s great for them to have matching bands. However, a couple is two individuals with their own personalities. She may love antiques and vintage, he may prefer something more modern. There are many ways to show “commonality” in a band without having to go the matchy-matchy route. The same choice of metal, for instance, or a personal engraving that is meaningful to them. One nice trend is when the couple adds their own birthstones, either on the inside of the ring or into the outside.
Vera Wang Love Collection for Zales ($700, Zales). 14K rose gold wedding band set with 1/4 TW diamonds. This design echoes the classic and popular eternity bands.
How much should I pay?
Although everyone may be familiar with the “three-months-salary” guideline for engagement rings, that rule doesn’t necessarily apply to wedding bands, and each couple’s situation is different. A salary guideline may be right for some, but not for others. Wedding bands are actually the more meaningful pieces in the engagement-wedding equation and definitely the more symbolic. Therefore a “one-month-guideline” for wedding bands would be appropriate. Whatever a couple’s budget happens to be, designating an “appropriate” budget to the purchase of wedding bands is a good idea. Wedding bands should never be an afterthought, or something left until the entire wedding budget is exhausted.
Low dome comfort fit ($160, Blue Nile). A 14k yellow slim version of the classic wedding ring with a rounded interior for extra comfort.
Stainless steel, gold, rose gold, white gold, platinum.
Which metal should I choose?
Each metal has its own unique characteristics. Stainless rings cannot be sized. Therefore, if you gain or lose weight the only option is to purchase a new ring. Further, I’m not fond of the use of stainless for an occasion as important as a wedding. I think they’re great for fashion pieces and or alternate rings, but for a wedding I feel it’s important to use a precious metal like gold or platinum.
All gold that is mined from the earth is yellow in color. Various colors of gold are obtained by the alloying (mixing) of the gold with other metals. Since gold comes in a variety of karats (purities), it is more easily given a different appearance. The alloying of gold is primarily done to either influence its strength, color or price. Gold usually comes in either 14K or 18K.
Rose gold, for example is achieved by mixing copper (which has a pink appearance) with the gold to give it a more rose color. Often colors of gold, such as rose or white, are plated over the top to enhance that appearance.
Platinum is also a “noble” metal naturally white in color and primarily alloyed with other naturally white metals within the same family. Platinum in these purities is a very heavy, dense metal that wears down at a slower rate than the other metals. Therefore, it is often considered to be the best metal for setting diamonds and gemstones, keeping them secure for life.
Dazzling Dreams (Anjolee, $358). Eternity band in 14k yellow or white gold with 23 diamonds.
How do I know I’m getting a quality ring?
All jewelry in the U.S. should be stamped with the quality/purity of the metal used. 14K (or 585) for 58.5% gold, 18K (or 750) for 75% gold, Platinum 900 or Platinum (or Platinum 950). The piece should also have engraved on it the maker’s stamp. Always make sure, especially if these marks are not found, that the jeweler spells out clearly on your receipt what the metal content is of the piece that you’re buying. When it comes to gemstones, many jewelers will offer an appraisal or certificate with the pieces that details the gem weight and content.
What’s the etiquette for altering an inherited wedding band?
It’s wise to wait for a few months to decide what you’d like to do with it. This gives you time to evaluate the “emotion” of the piece and whether it’s more important to keep it as-is, or redesign it into something more usable. There’s no poor etiquette for this situation, it’s really a question of how you wish to enjoy and wear the pieces while remembering the person who left them to you.
PlatMx Square Shaped Round-Edged band ($1,500, Platmex). Contemporary spin on a classic band, made of platinum with a matte finish.
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