Choosing your wedding rings

Your wedding band will be a constant companion after you’re hitched, so consider all the options carefully

Michael Friedman of jewellers Ogham gives his top ten tips

Some rings can take four-to-six weeks to order, especially if you require bespoke or shaped rings, but even many standard designs can take two-to-four weeks to order. Ideally start shopping at least three months before your big day.

Decide on your maximum budget before you buy, but bear in mind the metals you would like, as the cost of the rings will depend largely on the choice of metal and whether or not they are diamond set. Wedding rings are arguably the most important wedding purchase, so it’s a good idea to be sure to have sufficient budget for the rings you want. (image: The Year rings, from £995, Dominic Walmsley)

Many couples now like to purchase matching wedding rings. However in making this decision, there are several factors to consider. Firstly, do you both like the same style or same colour of metal? As a general rule, if you have different taste in the style of wedding ring you like, you should each choose an individual ring that appeals to you. However if you both fall in love with the same style and it will also match with the engagement ring then a matching pair could be for you.

The most popular metals are 9ct, 14ct, and 18ct white, yellow or rose gold; platinum and palladium. The bride’s ring will usually be the same metal as the engagement ring as they are likely to be worn together. This will avoid any issues with one ring wearing over time due to differences in hardness of the metals. Try rings on in various metals to see
which suit your skin tone and your budget.

The choice of ring width will be influenced by a number of different factors, such as the size of your hands, personal preference and the cost of the metal. In general, the bride’s wedding ring will be about the same width as the engagement ring. The most popular width for gents’ rings is five to six millimeters, but anything less than four millimeters is uncommon for men. However, men with large hands may like a wedding ring up to ten millimeters wide. (photo: Ally Stuart Weddings)

There is a huge variety of styles to choose from, however the most popular one is still the plain wedding ring – a classic that never dates. Even plain wedding rings come in many profiles, so you may wish to try on different shapes and widths to see what appeals to you.

• Court Shape – rounded inside and outside (the rounded inside is known as a comfortfit and makes the ring comfortable to wear).

• D Shape – generally less comfortable than a court shape, however it is less expensive as it contains less metal. D Shape rings are normally less deep and so can fit under the stone of an engagement ring better.

• Flat Edge – has a flat edge on the outside. The inside which goes over the finger may also be flat-edged or comfort-fit.

• Other plain band shapes – There are also other newer plain band shapes such as concave or flat with bevelled edges and D Court (halfway between a D Shape and a Court). If you would like something more unusual, there are many other alternatives to the classic plain wedding band, from two-tone rings to celtic knotwork and Russian wedding rings. The best idea is to try on as many as possible. If in doubt, it is hard to go wrong with the classic traditional D Shape or Court Shape.

When the engagement ring is an unusual shape, a twist design or if it has a large or unusual-shaped diamond, it is often necessary to have a wedding ring specially made to fit. While these shaped wedding rings can be purchased ready-made in various designs, it’s often very difficult to find one that will be an exact match and fit for an unusual engagement ring. In such cases, bespoke jewellery designs can be ideal. Although a one-off handmade ring will be more expensive, it is a unique piece and many brides and grooms enjoy taking part in the design process. Jewellery designers often have computer design software that will allow them to show you a computer image of how the ring will look before making the ring, while some can make a trial ring in silver to show the style.

Many couples now like to have a diamond or diamonds set in the ring. Eternity rings and half-eternity rings have become very popular choices for ladies’ wedding rings, particularly if the engagement ring is diamond-set on the shoulders. It’s worth noting that full eternity rings cannot be sized later, so a half-eternity ring is often a more sensible choice. When choosing matching bands, it’s often popular to have the bride’s set with a diamond and the groom’s without. However, many men also like to have a diamond set in their wedding band, even when choosing a titanium ring.

It’s very important to have your fingers professionally measured before purchasing wedding rings, particularly if you are going to buy online. Many websites offer a sizing strip you can print off, cut out and place around the finger, but this method of sizing can sometimes be inaccurate. Finger size also varies depending on the weather (if it’s hot, they will expand slightly). It may be worth having fingers sized on a few occasions by a professional jeweller to be certain sizing has been done correctly and the ring will be comfortable whatever the weather. (image: Tango constant rings, POA, Orro)

The main decision is whether to buy from a jeweller’s shop or to buy online. Generally, jewellery shops should provide a high level of service. They will be happy to measure your fingers, answer your questions and can help you decide on the right style and metal. Online shops can often offer a wider range of styles, as they can put ring-makers’ full product ranges on their website without holding styles, widths and sizes in stock. The costs of running a jewellery business online are much lower than a high street jewellery shop, so the prices of the rings tend to be lower.

Know what’s what before making the commitment

• Gold
Generally available in 9ct, 14ct, and 18ct purity standards The carat value refers to the amount of gold which is in the alloy. Yellow and rose gold alloys are usually made by adding copper and zinc to the gold, while white gold is made by adding silver or palladium. This alloy may be slightly yellowish in colour, therefore white gold is often plated with rhodium, which is a hard, naturally white metal. Rhodium platings will wear off every year or two, so bear in mind the rings require regular re-plating.

• Platinum
Platinum is the most precious of all metals – it is said to be pure, rare and eternal. Because of its high purity, platinum is very kind to the skin. No-one is allergic to precious metals (gold, platinum and silver); the metal allergies some people encounter are caused by a skin reaction to the other metals which can be found in the alloys. Platinum is hardwearing and does not lose metal when scratched, unlike silver and gold. This allows it to be re-polished after years of wear to restore its appearance.

• Palladium
Palladium is a newer precious metal which is now hallmarked in Britain. It is one of the platinum group of metals and is naturally white in colour. Palladium is also light and fairly hard-wearing and has become a very popular choice for wedding rings as it is less expensive than 18ct white gold and does not require re-plating.

• ‘Industrial’ metals
Many men are less fond of the shiny appearance of precious metals, or they may require a harderwearing metal if they work with their hands. This has made industrial metals such as titanium, zirconium and tungsten carbide popular choices for men. Titanium and zirconium are light, non-allergenic and extremely hard-wearing. Zirconium is black in colour and titanium is generally either a shiny white or a greyish colour, it may also be coated black or various colours can be achieved without coatings. Tungsten Carbide is the hardest metal known to man, it is scratch proof and very heavy.

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