Wedding Rings & Bands
Wedding Rings & Bands 101
An eternal circle, no beginning and no end. Wedding rings and bands are more than just jewellery; they are physical and public expressions of lifelong commitment in marriage. Unlike other accessories, wedding rings are typically worn daily, so it's important to consider both appearance and durability. You want something that always looks great and, based on size and durability, complements your physical lifestyle. Start with a promise ring to show your love and move on to an engagement ring when you're ready to commit. Take your time when shopping for your wedding rings. They need to be perfect because you're going to wear them for the rest of your life.
Types of Rings & Bands
A wedding ring is a symbol of your love and commitment to your spouse and an indication to others that you are married. The tradition of wearing wedding rings dates back centuries. In North America, both parties typically wear a wedding band, which they give to each other at the time of their marriage. Engagement rings are also traditional, which are given and received prior to the marriage. Wedding rings come in many forms, but they're generally made of a precious metal, the most popular being gold. The ancient Egyptians, who viewed the circle as the symbol of eternity, were believed to have exchanged wedding bands as a promise of commitment and everlasting love. While rings have been associated with marriage since ancient times, the diamond engagement ring as we know it is a relatively recent phenomenon. It wasn't until DeBeers' popular 1947 "A Diamond is Forever" marketing campaign that North American’s regularly began popping the question with some bling for their fiancé's finger. And not just any finger, the third finger of the left hand. This "ring" finger was once thought to contain a vein (vena amoris) running directly to the heart.
For couples looking to go public with their commitment, but not necessarily ready to head down the aisle, there is the promise ring. These "pre-engagement" rings are generally less expensive than actual engagement rings with their big shiny diamonds. A promise ring can also serve as a convenient placeholder ring, giving one partner something to propose with and allowing the other to choose an engagement ring at a later date. The Claddagh ring, an Irish-style band featuring two hands holding a heart, is an example of a popular promise ring design.
The engagement ring was traditionally purchased as a surprise and presented at the time of proposal. Today, many couples forgo the surprise and go shopping together to ensure they get the right ring. Engagement rings typically feature a single diamond or multiple diamonds, and many also have additional gemstones. Silver, gold, white gold and platinum are all common metals used in engagement ring bands, which should match the metal used in your wedding band.
Less flashy than the engagement rings, wedding bands are traditionally a simple solid band of silver, gold or platinum worn by both parties. These bands are exchanged by the bride and groom during the wedding ceremony. The circular shape symbolizes the unending bond of love and relationship between the married couple. Nowadays, one band is often made of durable and rugged metals such as titanium, tungsten or even stainless steel. The other band is generally narrower and meant to complement the engagement ring. To ensure your engagement ring and wedding band match, you may want to purchase them as a bridal set.
Just as brides come in all shapes and sizes, so do their engagement ring settings. The round, brilliant cut solitaire is a classic that will likely always be in style, but if you're looking for something a little more contemporary, a princess cut shines with its square or slightly rectangular shape, pointed corners and intricate facets. Clipped corners give the Asscher cut a vintage feel that appeals to many brides, while dramatic marquise cuts have tapered points on both ends for a sleek elongated look. You'll also find pear, emerald, cushion and oval cuts, and for the ultimate romantic, there are heart-shaped stones.
Bucking the trend of the diamond engagement ring has become a trend of its own. Nowadays, more affordable sapphires, rubies, emeralds and the like are living happily ever after on the ring fingers of many brides. Coloured gemstones are a good option for brides who like colourful jewellery, and the meaning behind these stones often makes them a romantic choice as well. The red of rubies symbolizes passion, the green of emeralds represents faithfulness and the blue of sapphires signifies spirituality. Pearls are another gemstone long associated with romance and weddings.
Your wedding ring may look great on your ring finger today, but will it still fit 10 years from now? If it becomes too snug or too loose, you can usually have it resized by a jeweler. Resizing is usually done by cutting the band and either adding or removing metal. Afterward, the band is soldered back together. Some rings made of malleable metals such as silver can be heated and stretched to slightly increase their size. Beware that titanium rings made of higher tensile grades of titanium can be difficult to resize due to the metal's resistance to stretching and compressing.
Silver, white gold and platinum are all popular metals used in wedding rings. But while they all have a silvery sheen, the three materials have distinct characteristics that affect their appeal. Platinum is the heaviest of the three, usually has a purity of 90-95% and won't lose its natural white colour. White gold, which is a combination of yellow gold and other white metals, is often plated with rhodium for increased strength and brightness. In time, white gold rings may require re-plating to maintain their colour. Silver rings are usually made from 92.5% silver, with metals like zinc or copper added for increased strength. Platinum is priciest, followed by white gold then silver.
A karat is a unit of measurement that tells you how much gold is actually in your gold jewellery. Twenty-four karat gold is pure gold and is appealing for that reason, but it's not necessarily the best choice for jewellery that's worn daily and subject to regular punishment. Pure gold is relatively soft, so it's typically alloyed with other metals for increased strength. Many people consider 14-karat gold to be the ideal gold purity for weddings rings because it's strong and resists tarnishing.
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