Super Simple Guide to Buying Your Wedding Rings
As a symbol of lifelong commitment and enduring love, engagement and wedding rings are the most meaningful jewelry you will ever own. There are seemingly endless styles available for both men and women. You can select from diamond designs, traditional gold bands, rings made with new materials, custom-designed pieces, and more. Faced with all these choices, shopping for your wedding rings can be overwhelming. With some preplanning, however, your experience can be fun and exciting. Get prepared by following our Super Simple Guide to Buying Your Wedding Rings.
Decide on Your Budget
Decide on your budget – First things first. You need to decide on your budget. Be realistic about your financial situation. While you should not put yourself in major debt, keep in mind this is a purchase unlike any other. Your wedding rings will be worn and cherished for a lifetime. If you decide to take out a loan, ask if your jeweler offers financing, and compare the terms.
If you can’t afford exactly what you want, look for something in a similar shape or with a smaller gemstone. You can upgrade your gemstones and/or modify your ring’s design in the future. A gold wedding band can cost under $400, while rings with major diamonds can be priced in the millions of dollars. You need to be very clear about what you can afford to spend.
Consider Your Lifestyle
Your wedding ring needs to be durable to withstand years of daily use. Select rings with made with materials that are resistant to scratches and dents. Choose a ring that will be comfortable and doesn’t require a lot of special care.
If you lead an active outdoor life, consider buying a ring with a low profile, instead of one with prong set gemstones. Some people have a plain band for rugged use and wear their fancier wedding ring for normal use.
Narrow Down Your Preferences
Before you start shopping, decide which styles you like best. Keep in mind that a couple’s wedding rings do not have to match. Your wedding ring should reflect your personal style. It should be a design that you will enjoy for a lifetime. Here are some questions you should discuss before shopping.
- Do you want your partner's ring to match?
- Are you attracted by the clean, classic appearance of a traditional wedding band or solitaire diamond ring?
- Do antique designs seem romantic?
- Do bold, abstract forms best reflect your personality?
- wedding ring set with matching engagement
- Do you want your wedding ring to match your engagement ring, prefer to mix up the styles, or want only one ring?
- What precious metals do you like?
- Does the idea of using new, non-traditional materials interest you?
- Do you want something that is unique to you by having a custom-made, one-of-a-kind ring?
Wedding Ring Styles
The classic wedding band is popular with both men and women. They can be a great option for price conscious couples. Bands have a low surface profile. This makes them durable and good for active people. Although the traditional wedding band is made with 14k or 18k yellow or white gold, 24K gold is considered too soft for daily use.
Both men's and women’s bands can be set with diamonds. Classic wedding bands are made from 14K or 18K white or yellow gold, or with platinum. 24K gold is too soft for daily use. There are many ways to finish the surface of a band. Popular finishes include shiny (highly polished), matte (non-reflective), brushed (textured to look like brush marks), and milgrain edging. The interior of bands can be engraved with matching inscriptions.
Rings With Gems
Diamonds are the most popular gemstones for wedding jewelry, including men’s rings. They are durable and beautiful as they catch and reflect light. As well as the traditional clear (colorless) diamond, they are available in other colors such as fancy bright white, canary yellow, steel blue-gray, and even orange.
Sapphires are also hard enough to withstand everyday use. Did you know sapphires come in a wide range of colors, too? Other than the familiar deep blue, sapphires are available in almost every color of the rainbow. You can find sapphires that are purple, pink, yellow, and even orange!
Other gemstones are often not durable enough for daily wear. They can easily scratch or chip. Some require special care. Ask your jeweler about the gem you have in mind. If it is a certain color you want, you may be surprised to see the variety of colors available in harder, precious gems.
Popular Precious Metals
Rare, incredibly strong. Many people like the weightiness of platinum. Hypoallergenic. Highly resistant to scratches. Has a slightly grayish-white color. Over time, this metal develops a satin finish. Does not discolor or tarnish. Typically the most expensive precious metal.
18K Yellow Gold has a rich gold color. Soft and malleable, it is easy to create intricate designs. Although all gold will show nicks and scratches, it is very easy to repair and polish.
14K Yellow Gold is a lighter shade of gold than 18K. It is less expensive and more durable. Also easy to repair and polish.
White Gold used for wedding rings is usually either 14K or 18K. Historically, white gold has been less expensive than platinum. It is similar in color to silver, but it does not tarnish. 14K white gold is more durable than 18K. Both can easily be repaired and polished. White gold is often treated with a thin coating of rhodium. This makes the color appear whiter, brighter, and shinier. This coating will wear off over time and need to be recoated by a jeweler. This treatment is not expensive.
Rose (Pink) Gold – Available in 14K and 18K, its beautiful, warm color looks lovely against all skin tones. Rose gold harmonizes well with yellow gold and white colored metals. 18K rose gold is lighter in color than 14K. 18K rose gold is close to a blush color and is favored by Europeans. 14K rose gold has a deeper pink color.
This is an extremely rare metal that is exceptionally strong, durable, and Very scratch resistant. It weighs much less than platinum and is much less less expensive. Palladium retains its beautiful, bright white color. Easy to polish and repair. Hypoallergenic. Palladium rings should come with certificates stating the grade and alloy used.
Designers are exploring the use of non-traditional materials to create exciting new wedding jewelry styles. These new materials includes titanium, tungsten carbide, colored gold, chrome cobalt, wood, and ceramics. These new materials are often combined with more traditional precious metals. Once chosen by only fashion-forward jewelry buyers, these materials have now entered the mainstream options.
Find the Right Jeweler
This is an exceptionally important purchase - both emotionally and often financially. You are choosing your personal symbol to express your lifelong bond. You need someone you can trust to help you make the right decisions.
Find a professionally trained jeweler who is knowledgeable, helpful with recommendations, personally interested in you and your situation, and is willing to find or create the ring you want. Your jeweler should make you feel comfortable - not pressured.
Someone working at the mall to make some extra money does not have the training to adequately help you. The goal there is to just make another sale. Chain stores carry hundreds of mass produced pieces of the same styles. If you don't want your neighbor showing up with a wedding ring just like yours, choose a jeweler that limits the availability of each style.
Ask your friends for their recommendations. Read online reviews on YELP, Facebook, Google Places, and the Better Business Bureau. Find out a jeweler’s accreditations and industry affiliations. Make a list of questions you want to ask before you start out on your quest. Ask about warranty policies. Do they offer a trade-in allowance if you decide to purchase a larger diamond later? What other services do they provide over the lifetime of your jewelry?
For custom designs, visit a jeweler’s website or ask in-person to see his/her custom design portfolio. See if the designer readily understands your ideas - "gets" you. You want to find a jewelry designer with an excellent sense of design and quality craftsmanship.
When to Start Shopping
Give yourself lots of time! You should start shopping at least two months before your wedding. If you want something custom-made, you need to start at least three months in advance.
Line Up Your Insurance
The moment you purchase your wedding rings, you need to have them insured. Give your insurance agent a "heads up" so the process can go smoothly and quickly.
Additional Shopping Tips
Shop on a weekday to guarantee plenty of personal attention.
Visit only 2-3 stores on the same day.
If you decide to buy both wedding rings or ring and diamonds at the same store, try to negotiate a discount.
If you are considering a custom piece, ask to see a design portfolio.
Try on several styles in difference size proportions to find which is most flattering for you hand.
Ask the jeweler for lots of details about the rings that really interest you.
Take notes about the designs you like or ask if you can take a photo (not always allowed.)
If you start feeling tired, either quit for the day or go get a snack.
If you are getting frustrated with your partner, it’s time to stop shopping. Find a quiet time later to talk about what is causing the friction.
We hope our Super Simple Guide to Buying Your Wedding Rings has helped reduce your stress and increased your anticipation. Have fun shopping!