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Choosing Your Wedding Ring – A Sensible Guide to a Big Decision

Couple holding each other

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In all the excitement and preparations for the big day, it’s easy to postpone picking arguably the most important detail of the entire wedding – your wedding rings.

After all, it’s the wedding ring that symbolizes your new status as husband or wife and it’s the one thing from the wedding you’ll be wearing for the rest of your life.

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Taken this way, your wedding ring isn’t one to be picked lightly. Here’s a look at how to choose your wedding ring.

Do I Need a Wedding Ring?

Couple holding each other

This is the million-dollar question and the truth is – there’s no right or wrong answer to this. Some people just don’t like wearing wedding rings and others can’t imagine being married without one.

Here’s what some of our readers have said when we asked them this question:

Anna: I think a wedding ring is important because it symbolizes your wedding. I mean, you don’t have to wear it every day but at least when you go out, so people know you’re married. It’s a nice touch and it’s a gesture that says, I like being married to you.

Amir: I don’t think so. A relationship is between the couple and it doesn’t matter what others think. They don’t have to wear it just to make a statement to others. Basically, what I’m saying is that marriage is a state of mind. A ring isn’t a must.

Nadia: What I think is that wedding rings are not a must. It is a symbol of lifelong fidelity and love but after all it is just a symbol and not a necessity.

As you can see, there are two sides to this. If you’re in the ‘Wedding Rings Camp’ then keep reading as we outline how to pick your wedding ring.

When should I start thinking about buying the wedding rings?

Laptop showing planing for buying wedding ring

Don’t leave it too late, because buying your rings last minute could result in one of the following scenarios:

  1. Your ring won’t arrive on time because you underestimated the production time
  2. The rings don’t fit, and you don’t have time to get them resized
  3. You’re in a panic because you just realized you need the rings asap and have to buy whatever you can lay your hands on
  4. You’re forced to shop in store as you don’t have time to shop online and wait for your rings, so you pay premium prices

To avoid these situations, start searching for your ring about 6 months before your wedding date. This gives you plenty time to leisurely make your choice. Production times vary for rings and can take between 3-4 weeks for standard designs, up to 6 weeks for custom designs and about 2 months during holiday periods.

Also, by giving yourself enough time, you can search online for your wedding rings. This gives you endless choices and competitive prices to choose from.

You can also easily browse from the comfort of your home and ask all your questions from helpful online sales reps while wearing your pyjamas and drinking a cup of hot chocolate.

What’s your budget?

Wedding rings range from a few dollars to several thousands of dollars, so picking a budget will help you decide where you fall on this spectrum.

The general guideline is to spend around 3-5% of your overall wedding budget on your wedding rings. So as a rough estimate, if your wedding is going to cost you 20k, expect to pay around $1000.

Remember that this is just a rough outline; in reality, you may pay much less or more depending on the type of ring style and quality you choose.

Consider Your Lifestyle

Man with dirty hand wearing wedding band

Most people buy a wedding ring based simply on how it looks. A ring might be pretty but it might not be right for the lifestyle you live.

Because your ring is something you’ll likely wear daily, choose a ring that integrates into your lifestyle and is practical as well. You want the ring to be comfortable and easy to wear as well as durable with minimal maintenance.

If you’re in a job where you use your hands a lot (nurses, typists, bartenders etc…) or work outside a fair bit (gardeners, sports coaches etc…) choose a ring with a hardy ring design that’ll take life’s knocks and bumps unfazed.

If you’re not allowed to wear rings at work due to safety concerns, you can always wear your ring on a chain around your neck.

The point is to find a ring that works with your lifestyle not against it.

What about the metal?

Bride holding her man wearing wedding band

There are so many wedding ring metals on the market that it can be mind-boggling to choose the right one for you.

The classic metal choices are gold and platinum. Today there’s also variety of industrial or alternative metals like tungsten, titanium, carbon fiber and cobalt that make excellent choices. You can also find unique, out of the ordinary metals like meteorite or mokume gane that add an extra something to your ring.

  • One of the most important points to note is the durability of the metal. Some metals are softer and more prone to damage (like fine silver or 22-24K gold) whereas others are near indestructible (like tungsten and titanium).
  • Another point to factor in is the value. Less expensive industrial metals (like stainless steel or tungsten) will be easy on your wallet while prestigious metals like platinum can break the bank.
  • And finally, you’ll also want to consider the metal color. The main colors for wedding rings are yellow gold, silver-colored metals and rose gold. Each offers something different and suit different skin tones and ring styles.

If you’re trying to think of which metal is the best, it really is a subjective question. Based on our research, here are the best metals for:

  1. Durability – Tungsten (ranks Mohs 9)
  2. Prestige – Platinum (the most expensive metal)
  3. Price –Stainless steel (the most affordable)
  4. Tradition – Gold (the oldest metal used in jewelry)
  5. Uniqueness – Meteorite (it’s out of this world)
  6. Appearance – Mokume Gane (but this is subjective)

Consider the Style

Unlike engagement rings, there are fewer design options when it comes to wedding ring, but it can still be a lot to go through. Think about the maintenance the ring design requires and whether you’re willing to give the ring what it needs to keep it shiny.

For example, designs with stones, channels and grooves will always need more maintenance than a simple, polished ba

Here’s a quick list of the most popular types of wedding ring styles:

1- Channel Set/Eternity Ring

Male half eternity wedding band

A half-channel set men’s wedding ring.

Find it here

An eternity ring is also known as a channel set ring design, because it consists of a row of tiny diamond melees set all around the circumference of the ring. While typically a design for female wedding bands, today they’re a popular style for male wedding rings too, ideal for a man who likes a little sparkle on his finger.

Eternity rings also come in half-eternity style, where the diamonds only go halfway around. This is typically a more cost-effective option while still giving you the look of a full eternity.

Although diamonds are the most popular stone for this style, there’s no limit to the type of gemstone you can use. You could think outside the box and opt for a unique gemstone, like a turquoise eternity ring.

2- Pave Wedding Band

Pave wedding ring in white gold

See similar rings here

Like the channel setting, the pave also features diamonds but in a slightly different way. The diamonds on a pave setting are tiny and set close together to resemble a ‘pavement’. There’s less metal and more diamond showing, resulting in a highly brilliant and sparkling ring.

Pave bands can be harder to maintain and there’s the risk of the losing the tiny melees. It’s not ideal if you use your hands a lot but it’s extremely stylish and beautiful. Pave wedding bands are typically designed for women.

3- Prong Set Wedding Band

Prong setting wedding band in white gold

Why single when you can make it double?

See this prong set wedding ring here

Like the channel and pave settings, the prong setting also features little diamonds around the ring but again there’s a variation. Here, the diamonds aren’t set in a channel and don’t pave the metal. Instead, they’re held in place by prongs.

The diamonds can either completely or half encircle the ring’s circumference, or it can just be a single diamond in the front. There are many ways to design a prong set wedding ring.

4- Comfort Fit Band

Comfort fit wedding band

Comfort fit wedding band by Blue Nile.

Find this ring here

These are bands that are designed to fit comfortably on your finger. They’re slightly rounded or domed on the inside, instead of flat, which reduces the chance of the ring spinning on your finger annoyingly.

5- Half Round Wedding Band

No, this doesn’t mean a crescent shaped ring. It just refers to the external shape of the ring which is rounded while the internal part is either flat or comfort fit. The half round is a classic style and has been around for centuries.

6- Pipe Wedding Band

What do you get when a cut a piece out of a pipe? A round shape with straight edges that don’t taper or curve. When you wear a pipe wedding band, you’ll feel the entire interior of the ring touching your finger, because that’s how it’s designed.

The benefit of the pipe wedding band is that it’s less likely to spin on your finger, as there’s more friction thanks to more skin contact. This is a popular style among men’s rings.

7- Wide Wedding Bands

Girl wearing wide wedding band

Wide wedding band.

See it here

Not a very common design, wide wedding bands are just that – wide bands. Typically a wide wedding band would be over 7mm in width and would sit very stiffly on your finger. It can take some getting used to, but one main benefit of these rings is that they don’t spin on your finger. Matching a wide wedding band to your engagement ring can get tricky though, so consider this before you buy.

8- Matching Bridal Sets

Gold wedding rings

Some people prefer to get a bridal set, consisting of matching engagement and wedding rings, or a trio set which also includes a matching groom’s ring. The benefit of buying a bridal or trio set is that it takes the guesswork out of coordinating the look of three separate rings. This is ideal if you’re into a well-matched look.

But for some people, this might come across as boring or too matchy-matchy. Not buying a ring set allows you to get creative with your rings and add your own touch to each piece. For example, you might want to incorporate different elements to each ring and a set won’t allow you a lot of creative freedom.

9- One Ring for Engagement and Wedding

A new trend that’s becoming quite popular is that of choosing to wear one ring to mark both your engagement and your wedding. Not only is this a cost-effective option but it’s also ideal if you don’t like the idea of wearing two rings.

The all-in-one bridal ring trend is for a trendsetter, someone who doesn’t mind doing things differently. 

Traditional vs. Trendy

Be open to new ideas and designs when you’re going ring shopping, because you just might find something unique that you fall in love with. However, on the flip side, consider how you might feel about the ring decades down the track.

You don’t want to buy something too trendy that falls out of style in a couple of years. Unlike costume jewelry, a wedding ring is meant for life, so the ring design should be able timeless.

Having said that, note that you can always change your ring down the track, like having it plated or adding gemstones.

Get the Ring Size Right

Wedding ring sizer

Blue Nile’s free plastic ring sizing tool.

See it here

This can be easier said that done considering that your fingers tend to expand and shrink based on external conditions like temperature and internal conditions like your emotions.

Size your finger at a time when you’re rested, calm and have a normal body temperature. This way, you know that your fingers are at their most normal size.

It’s also always better to opt for size up than down, if you aren’t sure because it’s easier to decrease a ring’s size rather than increase its size.

How to Shop for a Wedding Ring

Unlike the engagement ring, which is usually a surprise on the part of the groom, shopping for wedding rings is more a mutual effort. It’s probably the most important piece of jewelry that you’ll both buy together.

You can either browse in store or online, but it goes without saying that online stores have better pricing and bigger ranges. Also, you can compare across vendors and pick out a ring that suits you without needing to leave your couch.

Some couples are wary of purchasing online, which is why it’s important to buy from a highly reputable vendor with years of experience and a great track record like James Allen or Blue Nile.

Buying in store also has its advantages. For one thing, you can develop a relationship with the jeweler and go back if there’s an issue with your rings.

You can also try it on before you buy and know exactly how the ring will look in person. If you’re looking to customize your rings, then a physical store might offer you more than an online store.

Both shopping online and instore have their benefits so weight the pros and cons and go with what feels right.

You can also combine the two methods by browsing in store and then finding a similar ring online at a lower price online.