Choosing your Wedding Ring: The Ultimate Guide
Of all the symbols of marriage, there is none quite like the wedding ring. It signals to the world that you’re a married person and it will likely be on your finger for the rest of your life. So it’s a wise decision to spend some time thinking about the right ring for you.
The last thing you’d want to happen would be to buy a wrong ring and have to regret it every time you look at your finger. In days gone by, choosing a wedding ring or band was quite a simple decision since there just weren’t many styles or designs to choose from; most people wore quite simple wedding bands.
But things have changed in the 21st century and now we have more choice than ever. While on one hand this is great, on the other hand we end up with what experts call the “paradox of choice”. Because there are so many rings to choose from, selecting the right one (and you only get to choose one!) is harder than ever. So hopefully this guide will help make the decision a little easier, so if you’re wanting to choose a wedding ring but you’re not quite sure how to go about it, read on!
The History of Wedding Rings & Bands
The concept of a wedding band is an ancient one stretching all the way back to Egypt. It is believed that the first people to wear wedding rings did so around 6000 years ago, although they were a little different to the rings people wear today. In those days, rings were typically made out of hemp or reeds; anything that common people in Egypt could get their hands on.
From Egypt the tradition seems to have carried over to ancient Greece and from the Greeks, the Romans borrowed the tradition. From the ancient Romans, modern Europe owes a lot and it’s not just plumbing that I’m talking about. It was from the Romans that rings got the meaning of loyalty and a promise of eternal love.
Of course, Rome eventually fell after ruling most of Europe for hundreds of years, but they left a large impression on Europe, so it’s probably not a surprise that the custom of wearing a ring to signify that you were married carried over. During the middle ages, Christian Europe took the Roman tradition and gave us the rings that we still use today. Since then rings haven’t really changed a lot, although the invention of an engagement ring is the most recent development.
Wedding Rings vs. Bands
If you’re not someone who considers themselves to be a wedding expert, you might find yourself a little confused when you hear people throwing the terms of “wedding rings” or “wedding bands” around. Is there a difference? Are they the same thing?
In truth, there’s generally not a huge difference and they’re generally used interchangeably, at least in Australia. Most of the time when people talk about rings or bands, what they’re talking about is the ring that you exchange with your spouse on your wedding day. Generally speaking, wedding rings/bands are considered completely separate to engagement rings and this is where some of the confusion comes from.
Engagement rings are usually much fancier and stand out a lot more than a typical wedding ring. When it comes to signaling, engagement rings are much louder than wedding rings. The difference between wedding rings and bands is much more subtle.
Traditionally, men would wear plain wedding bands made of gold and women would wear slightly more ornamental wedding rings, with some kind of stone or decoration to go with the gold band.
These days things are not quite the same and more and more women are wearing plain bands as well. As well as being more minimalist, wedding bands are usually a lot cheaper than fancy rings.
Types of Wedding Rings
When it comes to choosing your own wedding ring, there are lots of choices and options. In fact, sometimes the choice available can be so overwhelming that making the decision becomes really hard. With this little guide we’ll help point you in the right direction so you can choose the right ring for you; because there’s no such thing as a ring that is right for everyone.
When choosing a ring, the first thing you have to consider is the metal it’s going to be made out of. As with all the other facets to choose from, there are quite a few options here. The most popular choices include:
- Stainless Steel
Gold has long been the most common metal for wedding rings. No one knows exactly how this came to be, but because gold has always been considered highly valuable, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to make the connection.
Even today, hundreds of years after gold rings became the norm, gold is still the most popular choice for new couples. If you decide that you’re more traditional and you’d like to stick with gold you’ll find that you’re faced with another decision; which type of gold do you prefer? Rose, yellow and white gold are all popular choices and which one is right for you only you can know.
On top of being the most popular choice, gold is also one of the more expensive, which as a symbol of a marriage is actually seen as a good thing. It might be different if you needed to wear an entire gold bullion, but a small amount of metal on your finger is probably not going to break the bank. On the downside, wearers of gold rings sometimes find out that they’re allergic.
Generally it’s not actually to the gold in the ring, but another metal used in the making of the ring; such as nickel. Nickel is the most common metal allergy and is often used in gold alloys that rings are made out of. If you’re thinking of getting a gold wedding ring and you’ve never worn gold before, you might want to make an appointment with your trusted doctor to make sure that you’re not allergic.
Another popular choice for wedding rings is platinum. Because it is even rarer than gold, platinum rings are seen as even more exclusive and are therefore typically more expensive than a gold ring.
Traditionally platinum was not really chosen often for wedding rings since the tradition of gold held strong, but in recent times platinum is becoming more popular. In part this is because populations are becoming richer and want something “another step up” from what other people use for their own wedding rings.
Being similar in colour to white gold, platinum is a great choice for someone who is more modern than traditional. Platinum also has the added benefit of being hypo-allergenic, meaning that very few people are allergic to it.
So you don’t have to worry about choosing the perfect ring for you, only to find that you’re allergic and can’t wear it at all, which has happened to wearers of gold rings from time to time. If you’re in a hurry to select a ring and you don’t have time for allergy testing, platinum could be for you.
Palladium is another metal that has become increasingly popular with modern couples. It’s actually similar in many ways to platinum. It occurs in similar quantities in nature, so it tends to be around the same price as platinum (a little more expensive than gold), it’s about as strong, so you can expect the ring to last a long time, just as you would with gold or platinum.
The one downside to palladium rings is that it’s not as repairable, meaning that if it gets damaged somehow, there’s not much that can be done about fixing it. So that’s something to consider if you’re seriously considering palladium in the mix.
When you think of titanium, you probably don’t think of wedding rings. If you’re like most people you’ll probably think of aircraft or something else a little high tech, but actually these days titanium is becoming another popular choice for wedding rings as well.
Because titanium is much more plentiful than some of the other choices such as gold or platinum, titanium rings tend to be much cheaper; which is great if you are a couple who are on a budget, or you just prefer to keep costs low.
One negative to using titanium is that it generally doesn’t have the lifespan of the more expensive metals, so even if you’re saving money in one area, you might end up spending more if you need a replacement ring down the track (assuming you plan on living for a lot longer).
As with platinum, you do not have to worry about being allergic to titanium rings, which is another tick in it’s box. The last thing you want to happen on your wedding night is to realise that the symbol on your finger that’s meant to be there for a long time will need to be replaced quick smart.
As with palladium, titanium is not really repairable, so if it gets damaged or it gets stuck on your finger, there’s not much that can be done to save it. It’s a myth that it can’t be cut off, but it’s true that if it does get cut then you’ll need to get yourself a new ring.
Finally, a common metal that you’ll surely be familiar with; stainless steel is surprisingly becoming another option for people who are after something a little less traditional to wear on their finger. It probably won’t come as a surprise to you to hear that stainless steel is not very valuable.
You probably have a kitchen full of it and never think twice of it, so you won’t expect a stainless steel wedding ring to be incredibly valuable either. It might also surprise you to learn that of all the metals mentioned here today, stainless steel is not the longest lasting.
In fact, it’s about level with titanium; meaning that it trails behind gold, platinum and palladium in terms of how long it will last. The good news is that it’s hypoallergenic, so you won’t have to worry about discovering a new allergy on your wedding day.
And finally, similar to titanium, stainless steel rings are not repairable, so if it gets damaged, it’s likely to stay like that. Given all the information above you should be able to decide on which material you’d like your ring to be made out of. Remember, there’s no wrong answer, so figure out who you are, what you value, what your budget is and then go for it!
Wedding Ring Engraving
Traditionally, wedding rings were simple bands of metal without any kind of decoration. For a long time they remained this way, but as capitalism roared on and populations got richer, people started to want a little something more.
Perhaps it’s the rise of social media, or maybe we’ve always been this way, but people are wanting more ways to demonstrate their individuality. Having a plain gold wedding band doesn’t really do this, so people have begun to come up with new ways to individualise their weddings.
Engraving your wedding rings is one such way and has really taken off in recent times. It’s a relatively cheap and easy way to personalise something that will surely be very precious to you. The best time to get this done is when you order the ring from the jeweller; most jewellers will be able to do this for you and the ones that cannot will be able to point you in the direction of a talented engraver.
Of course, when you get this done, the first thing you want to do is to double check the spelling. You do not want to have a misspelling on your finger for the rest of your life, unless you’re the type of person who finds this sort of thing amusing.
Because you can choose to have anything at all engraved on your ring, it can be hard coming up with just one idea. After all, it’s going to be there for good, so you want to make sure that it’s something you’ll continue to look at fondly in the future. You don’t want it to be like a bad tattoo that you feel embarrassed about! So with that in mind, here are some ideas to help get your creative juices going:
- Dates: If you think about your relationship there are bound to be some dates that stick out. The first day you met, your first date, the date of your engagement and of course your wedding day. Pick a date that means the most to you and have that engraved on your ring. It doesn’t have to be one listed here.
- Names: Another obvious choice is to have names engraved. You could have both your names engraved, or you could just each get the name of your respective spouses. You could even combine some names with some dates, it’s completely up to you.
- Messages: With modern engraving technology, you can now get tiny messages engraved onto your rings that are invisible to the naked eye. If you have something that is important to the two of you; such as a book, a quote or something along those lines, then you can have it engraved on your ring. To top it off, because it’s so small, no-one else will know it’s there unless they get a magnifying glass out, so it will feel like your own little secret!
- Romantic: If you don’t like any of the above ideas and you prefer something a little more romantic, then there are plenty of ideas to choose from. Think of something that you call your spouse and put it on your ring. Something along the lines of:
- Love you
- Soul mate
Know Your Budget
One of the biggest constraints on what ring you end up wearing is of course the budget you have set aside for it. You can have all sorts of ideas about what you want, but at the end of the day you can only buy what you can afford.
So before you start looking at dream rings or anything of that nature, sit down with your partner and figure out a budget sooner rather than later. This way when you start looking at rings you’ll know what rings are realistic and what rings to not look twice at.
Find a Jeweller in Australia
Once you’ve done your initial research and you have a decent idea of your budget and what you’re looking for, it’s time to go talk to a jeweller and see what they have to offer in person.
When looking for a jeweller you want to go somewhere that has a good reputation, you don’t want to end up going somewhere that uses high-pressure sales techniques or dodgy alloys in their rings. You want to be sure that what you’re buying is legitimate so that you can rest assured that your ring will last the test of time.
Starting out finding jewellers can be a little difficult since there are so many to choose from, so below are listed a few jewellers that have gotten great reviews from the online community: