Ultimate Guide To Wedding Rings
Welcome to my ultimate guide to wedding rings. Here I will break down everything you need to know to not only find a ring you love, but one that will honor your budget and fit with your lifestyle. It is my hope that this information will take the mystery and stress of out the entire process of shopping for a wedding band and guide to the perfect wedding ring or rings (yes, maybe more than one wedding ring...but we'll get to that trend later). I have broken the guide into the following four parts. This will make it easy for you to refer back to the information you need as you move through the process:
How To Buy A Wedding Ring
1. Give Yourself Lots of Time
Buying a wedding ring used to be a very simple process. All you needed to do was buy the matching ring and be done with it. However, old fashion traditions have gone by the wayside and brides are welcome to choose any ring they want, regardless of if it matches or not. While this is exciting, it ultimately means that you have a lot more decisions to make (don't worry, we will help you in Part II). Leaving yourself plenty of time will allow you to explore all your options. Ideally, 3-4 months is best. However, if you are short on time, don't stress; just let your Bella's personal shopper know that time is of the essence and we will get you started immediately.
2. Do What's Right For You
As a bride, if you haven't already discovered this, let me give you a piece of advice; everyone will have and 'important' opinion on what you should choose, do, and think for everything in your wedding. From your invitations to your wedding band, everyone will have something to say. TUNE THEM OUT! I can't tell you how many brides (myself included) that didn't want to disappoint their friends and family and ended up being disappointed in at least one wedding decision they made.
This becomes especially important with the wedding band. After all, your wedding band is not a casual piece of jewelry, this is a symbolic ring that you will wear EVERYDAY...FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE...PERIOD. Make sure that when you look down at your hand, you love the ring on your finger.
Now, I know that is easier said than done. If I had listened to my own advice I may not have had brown wedding dresses for a June wedding, my friend would have picked the chic wedding gown she loved vs. the Cinderella extravaganza she ended up with, and my bestie would have had the intimate wedding she dreamed of instead of the 200+ person monstrosity where nobody got along. If you take one thing away from this article it's these helpful phrases. Learn them, master them, and planning will become much easier:
- "Thanks, I'll think about that"
- "You always have great idea, I'll keep that in mind"
- " It's/That's something to consider"
Now, if these diplomatic phrases don't work, I find giving them a task is a great way to honor their enthusiasm for your wedding while taking some of the 'stuff' off your to-do list. My favorite task are the welcome bags for your guest's hotel rooms. Not only are these bags a huge undertaking that you don't have time for, but they are something that your guest have come to expect and appreciate. Plus, room bags are a very high-profile task; this will show your enthusiastic loved one that you trust them with such a big and public element of your wedding.
3. Set A Budget
Like any part of wedding planning, you need to set a budget and stick to it. Sure, there will always be some wiggle room and places where you can move your money around, but you should always keep everything within the budget. Not only will this protect your financial future, but it will allow you to stay focused and prioritize, making you ask yourself is this something I like or something I absolutely love. There are endless pretty wedding bands out there, make sure that you love your wedding rings.
4. Consider Long Term Care
Certain wedding band characteristics will take more long term care than others. This is especially important with antique wedding rings. While their vintage details are stunning and the romance of the ring's past is alluring, the truth is you are buying used jewelry. Antique wedding rings have already experienced a lifetime of wear and tear; stress from sizing, thinning of the shank and prongs, etc. These factors can take away from the ring's strength and ability to stand up to future wear and tear. I always recommend saving antique jewelry purchases for special occasion gifts; pieces that will be worn on special occasions, unlike a wedding bands which will be worn everyday.
5. Don't Ignore Lifestyle
The biggest mistake brides make when they shop for a wedding bands is not taking their lifestyle into consideration. Typically, the selection process ends and begins with the same overall shopping criteria, does it look pretty with my engagement ring. Sure, when your engagement ring is shiny and new, it's hard to imagine a day when you might not wear it everyday. However, life is a long time and many factors will come into play that can affect how, when, and where your engagement ring.
For examples, you may decide to have children in the future. Do you really want to wear your engagement ring to play in the sand at the beach or during your mommy and me swim lessons in that heavily chlorinated pool. Motherhood isn't the only reason why you may not wear an engagement ring, perhaps you travel for work and taking off your engagement ring every time you pass through the airport metal detector is not only inconvenient, but puts your ring at risk for loss or theft. In each of these cases, it may better if you select a wedding band that looks great with or without your engagement ring. In both of these cases, a straight wedding band would be a better choice than curved wedding bands; as curved wedding bands look out of place without the engagement ring.
6. Provide Important Details
The more information you can provide to your Bella's shopper the more efficiently they can create a beautiful wedding ring in a timely manner. Here are some important pieces of information that should be provided at the time of order:
- Diamond Grade of Stones In Engagement Ring Setting
- Date of DEPARTURE For The Wedding (if you are traveling)
- Metal Colors You Are Matching
- Ring Size
- Curved Wedding Bands May Require the Engagement Ring To Ensure The Curvatures Match
Selecting The Best Wedding Ring
There are no rules when it come to diamonds in your wedding band. The choice is yours and it doesn't matter if you do or do not have diamonds in the band of our engagement ring. Here are some tips to guide you to the perfect band:
Diamond Band Tips
- Make sure that you are buying a well made quality ring. Is it die struck? Is it a sturdy cast setting? These will have an impact on the longevity of your ring which should last a lifetime (just like your marriage).
- Be sure to provide the diamond grade of your engagement ring to ensure that the diamonds in each ring will have the matching 4Cs.
- Expect routine maintenance. Regardless of how well made a ring is, life happens! And, yes, you will occasionally, every few years, want to have the settings of your ring inspected to prevent loose stone from falling out. This is good to do with your engagement ring too!
Gold Band Tips
- Gold band doesn't mean plain. Gold wedding bands come in a variety of styles from plain gold to engraved. Engravings adds an extra punch of style and artistry to the wedding band. The design can be applied in a variety of ways including die struck, cast, rolled, or hand engraved. Here is a closer look at these engraving methods:
- Die Struck Patterns - These patterns are created using extreme pressure and are strong on long lasting
- Cast Patterns - While not as durable as a die struck design, these rings are still beautiful and tend to be more affordable.
- Rolled Patterns - These patterns are applied after a ring is made using machinery that literally rolls the design onto the ring, engraving the pattern as it moves around the band.
- Hand Engraved Patterns - These are the most desirable decorative elements because the details are the crisp and defined. The design is hand applied by expert craftspeople with years of experience and an innate sense of artistry. They are truly works of art. Typically, a die struck wedding band is used for hand engraving as the metal's density is ideal for creating crisp lines that will hold up over time.
- Gold band also require occasional upkeep. If you select a high polish all gold wedding bands you will occasionally want to buffed out an scratches or nicks. Here is how this will affect various metals:
- Platinum - While platinum is one of the strongest metals available, the surface is surprisingly more susceptible to nicks and scratches.
- Gold - If you select a white gold band, buffing may remove some to the rhodium. The rhodium will need to be replaced to restore the bands bright white appearance.
Every wedding band shape has it's own set of pros and cons that contribute to the overall experience each bride will have when wearing a wedding ring. Here are the most common shapes:
Curved Wedding Band or Straight
While you the thought of taking of your engagement ring sounds crazy to you now, life and circumstances change and there may come a time when you don't want to wear your engagement ring all the time. For example, if motherhood is in your future you will want to leave your engagement ring home more often then not, especially if you plan on playing in the sand at the beach, sledding, or if your child has the stomach bug. In this case, a curved wedding band may not be the best choice, as it looks out of place without the engagement ring against it; shop for straight bands instead.
- Curved Wedding Band Pros: Looks best against the engagement ring.
- Curved Wedding Band Cons: Looks out of place without the engagement ring
Round or Euro Shanks
A new trend has emerged over the years with square shanks, also called Euro Shanks. Some brides believe that the Euro Shank is more comfortable and less likely to spin. However, the round shank remains the preferred band for brides today.
- Euro Wedding Band Pros: More comfortable and less likely to spin.
- Euro Wedding Band Cons: Less selection as round wedding bands are still more popular and sizing may be more of a challenge.
Some brides flock to wedding trends, while others run and hide. I think what is most important is to always look at every decision with fresh eyes. A trend might just be the answer you are looking for or the curse you want to avoid. Thinking about who you are and what you want in your wedding band will help you decide what trends are right for you. Here are the pros and cons of some of today's biggest trends:
Wearing Two Wedding Band
While this is a new trend, it has been around for a long time. Formerly called, ring guards, the practice of wearing a wedding band on either side of the engagement ring has practical applications. Here are the pros and cons for wearing two wedding bands:
- Two Wedding Bands Pros: Add balance and symmetry to the wedding set as well as acting like ring guards to protect the engagement ring.
- Two Wedding Bands Cons: Two wedding bands means your budget has to go twice as far than if you were just buying one. Some brides are so set on the trend that they will sacrifice quality to get the look. Don't sacrifice quality. This trend will fade, but the symbol of your marriage shouldn't. If your budget does not allow for two quality wedding bands at this time, I recommend buying one ring for your wedding ring and the other for your first anniversary.
When we talk about matching wedding bands, we really need to break this into two categories; matching with your spouse and matching with your engagement ring. While matching in either case is no longer necessary, some brides love this classic look. If you are one of those brides, I suggest taking a broader approach. Start by selecting 2-3 design elements that are important to you and look for those in a wedding band. This can include elements such as metal color, vintage details, engravings, millgraining, thickness of a band, etc. Here are some examples of his and her wedding bands as well as wedding bands that both match and do not match the engagement ring.
- His and Her Matching Wedding Bands
- Matching Wedding Bands with an Engagement Ring (and vice versa)
Once upon a time it was a faux pas to mix your metal colors; white, yellow, and pink gold would never be worn together. Good News! Those times are over, and mixing your metals is not only okay, but it is celebrated! So, feel free to mix a rose gold wedding band with a white gold or platinum engagement ring. Enjoy a yellow gold engagement ring with a white and rose gold ring guard. Just do what YOU want! Here is one of our favorite wedding sets from a Jabel bride, Kimiko; she embraced this chic look before it started making waves. Let's give trend setter Kimiko a round of applause!
There are pros and cons to all precious metals, from pricing to durability, they all have their pros and cons. So, do your homework and discover what metal will work best with your budget, style, and lifestyle.
- Pros of 14KT Gold - Less expensive, strong, available in a variety of colors; the most popular include white, yellow, and rose (pink)
- Cons of 14KT Gold - Additional alloys are added to the metal, meaning there is less pure gold and people with sensitivities may have problems. White gold will require occasional rhodium treatments
- Pros of 18KT Gold - Higher percentage of pure gold with less alloys makes it more appealing to people with sensitivity. Also, available yellow and white gold.
- Cons of 18KT Gold - Not as strong as some other metals and rhodium may still be needed on white gold to maintain a pristine appearance.
- Pros of Platinum - The strongest of the popular precious metals with a clean white metal look. Hypoallergenic!
- Cons of Platinum - While it is exceptionally strong, the surface is susceptible to abrasion. This is also the most expensive metal.
Unless you work in the jewelry industry, you may not realize all the subtle differences in setting styles and how important it is to keep these setting in mind when you are shopping for wedding bands. Here is a quick review of the pros and cons of the setting examples above:
Prong Prongs are thin metal projects that hold a stone in place
- Pros of Prongs - Prongs allow the majority of the stone to be visible, letting light pass through and allowing for the stone' brilliant to be seen.
- Cons of Prongs - Prongs can be susceptible to thinning and breaking. You will occasionally want to have your band's prongs inspected.
- TIP: Die struck settings are made with denser metal, making the prongs exceptionally strong.
Shared Prong ( also Common Prong) These are prongs that hold more than one stone.
- Pros of Common Prong - Shared prongs allow for a greater stone presence without the distraction of metal and give your wedding band a modern clean look.
- Cons of Common Prong - The same concerns for prongs may apply, however, because they support more than one stone, the risk is greater.
- TIP: Die struck settings are made with denser metal, making the prongs exceptionally strong.
Bead Instead of long metal projections, bead settings are literally small beads of metal that are moved into place at precise angles to hold stones in place.
- Pros of Bead Setting - Bead set jewelry is very popular for it's low profile settings style that allows the stone to be set more flush with the ring, giving your ring a fashionable and chic look.
- Cons of Bead Setting - The smaller beads mean less metal holding a stone in place.
Tension In a tension setting pressure is used to suspend a stone in place. It is a common setting style for baguette jewelry as the tensions bars have a similar aesthetic.
- Pros of Tension Setting - The geometric appearance of tension settings compliments square and rectangular stones such as baguette, princess, emerald cut, etc.
- Cons of Tension Setting - Tension setting tends to be limited to square and rectangular settings.
- TIP: For round and oval settings a bezel or semi-bezel setting is a good alternative
Channel Stones that are suspended in a shallow channel and held in place by the tension of the opposing channel walls are considered channel set.
- Pros of Channel Setting - By setting the stones in a channel the band protects them from everyday wear and tear.
- Cons of Channel Setting - replacing a portion of the channel can be more challenging than repairing a damaged prong.
- TIP: This is a good diamond band for active men and women who plan to regularly wear their wedding band.
Bezel A bezel is cuff of precious metal that stone(s) is set into. A variation would be a semi-bezel, where the stone is partially surrounded on opposing sides.
- Pros of Bezel Settings - A full bezel will provide protection to the stone.
- Cons of Bezel Settings - The bezel setting is more noticeable and can be come a design element which some brides like and others do not.
- TIP: Bezel settings protect the stone on all sides, making this an idea setting for adventurous brides who are looking for ring that can hold up to a more active lifestyle.
Burnished A creative solution for setting stones virtually anywhere by drilling a hole in the metal and using the surrounding column of metal to act as a make shift bezel setting.
- Pros of Burnishing Stones - Burnished stones allow you to customize a wedding band, adding stones where there previously had been none.
- Cons of Burnishing Stones - Speak with a Bella's personal shopper to see if the ring you love is ideal for burnishing stones.
- Tip: You can burnish gemstones too! It's not just for diamonds.
Important Wedding Ring Vocabulary
Millgrain - A textural row of rounded beads of metal; often seen in vintage jewelry. Also referred to as a "beaded edge"
Shank - The band of a ring
Tapered - The narrowing of a band's width
Rhodium - A crisp white plating that is applied to all white gold
Eternity - A design or setting that wraps around the entire ring
Hand Engraved - An engraving that is applied by hand by a skilled artist
Die Struck - A high pressure method of jewelry making that produces heirloom quality dense metal
Seamless - A ring that has no start or finishing seam
High Polish - When a reflective surface is polished into the ring or piece of jewelry
Satin Finish - A soft matte like finish that is applied to the surface of the ring or piece of jewelry.
Unisex and Men's Wedding Ring Designs
"What are the trends that are impacting gents and gender neutral designs?"