Bling up your wedding rings with diamonds, engraving or a statement design

You’ll wear it every day for the rest of your life, but that doesn’t mean your wedding band needs to be shy and retiring

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We’ve been seeing a growing commitment to diversification in bridal fashion for a while now. Gone are the days when you could buy a strapless ivory gown and be done with it; in 2020, it turns out there’s a lot you can do to a white dress. (Not that it even has to be white any more: black is the colour du jour.) Whether it’s beaded embellishments, feather capes or some seriously statement sleeves, the world is your oyster.

While we have all these new options for clothing, however, we haven’t seen the same appetite for change in the bridal jewellery market – until now. “There’s so much choice out there for couples to plan a wedding that completely reflects their personalities, and the rings are no different,” believes Glasgow-based jeweller Katie Lees.

“You want a colourful band? Do it. You’re after two wedding bands that can be styled differently? Why not. I love to encourage couples to go against what is traditional and choose a ring they’ll want to see every day. Wear what looks and feels right.”

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From left: Coronet ring in 9ct yellow gold with diamonds, from £810; New ring, from £1,225, Stack
ring, from £525, Flare ring in gold, £690, Mantra Diamond ring, from £1,055; Vex ring in 9ct yellow gold, from £610, all Katie Lees Jewellery

If you’re feeling similarly avant-garde, breaking with tradition doesn’t have to mean compromising on materials: with advice from top jewellers, you can still incorporate the refined elements of more classic bands.

“A lot of people have realised that they can have high-quality components (like gold and diamonds) but still personalise the design,” says Julia Black, jewellery designer at Glasgow’s James Brown & Partners. “In fact, we’ll often use metal or stones the customer already has to make their new bands. This can be a lovely way to add sentiment to the piece.”

When features writer Rosie and I chat all things ‘rings’ (these are the kinds of conversations you have when you work at a wedding magazine), she’ll often lament how many couples treat their bands as an afterthought. Ultimately, she points out, they’re one of the few aspects of the day that will last to tell the tale of your whole marriage.

I’m inclined to agree: we throw around the word ‘investment’ a lot when it comes to jewellery, but it couldn’t be more applicable to the bling on the third finger of your left hand, so it might be time to sit up and pay attention.

three-rings-by-sheila-fleet
From left: Contemporary Diamonds Princess ring in 18ct white gold, from £1,793, and Contemporary Diamonds ring in 18ct white gold, from £1,010; Matrix ring in 9ct yellow gold, from £604; Ogham ring in 9ct white gold, from £557, all Sheila Fleet

When researching what’s out there, remember that you always have the option to retain any of the traditional elements you like. If that means less is more, then go for it. “Gents could opt for a plain band with a pattern offset on one edge – it adds a bit of something different without moving too far away from the classic style,” suggests Claire Moore of Jewellery By Design in Linlithgow. “For ladies, a plain band can be dressed up with a single accent diamond to add a little sparkle.”

Of course, couples have been using subtle engravings to personalise their rings for decades. “Most people tend to ask for initials and the date of their wedding,” shares talented jeweller Jane Harrison, “but recently I’ve had clients get a little more creative – nicknames, quotes from their favourite books or even song lyrics. Get whatever is special to you.”

Claire also suggests having your partner’s fingerprint embossed on the inner edge, or inscribing the date in the other’s handwriting.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to throw caution to the wind and go all out on a blinging band, you’re in luck – there’s never been a better time. “Out of my extensive range, I’d recommend strong personalities pick something that would normally be considered a big dress ring,” says Sheila Fleet, who operates her prolific jewellery brand out of Orkney.

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Clockwise from top: Wedding stack, from £90 to £580; Natura ring in 9ct white gold with sapphire, £520; Glow ring in 9ct yellow gold, £180, all Jane Harrison Jewellery

“This is becoming more popular as technology in and out of the home reduces the amount of manual labour we do, meaning we can wear larger, less practical, more fun rings.”

Back in Glasgow, Jane is also feeling the winds of change: “Instead of the usual engagement/wedding ring duo, why not go for one statement piece, a real showstopper that will become a talking point for you. There’s no need to conform to boring traditions – it’s time bridal jewellery had a shake-up!”

The prospect of all that possibility might have you feeling like a child in a sweet shop, but it’s nevertheless worth asking if there’s anything you should avoid. The answer is a resounding yes. “From the perspective of everyday wear, very wide rings may be a problem in terms of comfort,” warns Sheila.

“You should also remember that semi-precious stones such as amethyst, blue topaz and garnet can get badly scratched as they are softer than their precious counterparts, like rubies, sapphires and diamonds.”

And while we’re on the subject, we’d like to take this opportunity to point out that, sparkly as they are, diamonds aren’t always a girl’s best friend. “Bands where the stones go the full way round the finger are beautiful but tend to require a lot of extra maintenance, as the settings might need to be tightened or repaired on a more frequent basis,” Julia explains. “We’d always suggest going just over halfway around the finger, creating the illusion that the stones go the full way.”

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From left: Band to fit square dress ring in platinum with diamonds, £POA; Gold halo ring set in 18ct gold and platinum, £POA, both Jewellery By Design

There’s also the other ring to consider, the one that started this whole crazy journey. To what extent do you need to take your engagement ring into consideration when choosing a band? “We meet a lot of women who don’t realise that their engagement ring requires a shaped wedding band,” says Julia.

“Often they don’t like the idea and are prepared to settle for a poorly fitted straight band instead. My advice would be to embrace the idea of a bespoke shaped design – nothing will work better, and it can prevent rubbing, which will damage both rings.”

The way the two rings look together will also play a crucial role in deciding which style to opt for. “It makes sense to match the width and profile of the engagement ring’s shank,” Claire recommends. “For example, if the ring has a flat profile, it tends to look better paired with a flat wedding band. If it has diamond shoulders, it’s wise to match the style of that setting – claw, channel or pavé – with the same shape and quality of diamonds too.”

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Handmade shaped wedding band in gold to fit customer’s leaf-design engagement ring, £POA, Jewellery By Design

You’ve probably heard that it’s not a good idea to mix metals, but we’ve discovered that there’s more leeway than you might think. “If you match an 18ct yellow-gold ring with platinum, the harder platinum will gradually wear away the gold over a long period of continued wear,” says Katie.

This is less likely to happen if both rings are gold (or both platinum), but the two don’t have to be identical: “A lot of my clients go for colour mixing, and you can generally match within reason: like 9ct and 14ct, or 14ct and 18ct, and so on.”

Well, there you have it: blinging and bespoke is the only way to go. You may doubt us, believing that bridal trends are here today gone tomorrow, but we want you to know that there’s one trend that’ll never fall out of fashion – staying true to yourself.

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