How To Find The Right Wedding Rings For You (Part 1)
By Michael Freedman
Preparing for a wedding can be a busy time with so much to arrange. In
many ways the most important wedding purchase is the wedding rings. Most
of the other purchases for a wedding, for example the flowers, the
cake, wedding cars and the music band etc. are all gone after the big
day, however, the wedding rings remain as an eternal shining reminder of
your love and of this special day.
This in-depth guide to purchasing wedding rings (also known as wedding
bands), is intended to help you choose the right rings for you and your
partner and also provide you with the background knowledge of metals,
diamonds and ring styles etc. to find the right wedding rings.
Wedding rings are usually made from precious metal and will be worn for
many years, so they should be comfortable to wear and a design should be
chosen which will retain its appeal for years to come. The wedding band
can also become a valuable heirloom for future generations. The
circular shape of a ring is symbolic of undying love.
Allow Plenty of Time to Choose and Order Your Rings
With so many things to arrange for the wedding, many couples will leave
the wedding rings purchase to the last minute. However this could mean
you have insufficient time to order the rings you like best.
Many jewellers, both shops and online jewellers, offer hundreds of
different wedding ring styles, as these styles can be made in a wide
variety of metals, widths and finger sizes and as precious metals are
very expensive, it is not possible for jewellers to stock every possible
variety of each wedding ring style, therefore in many cases it is
necessary to order the ring you want.
Some rings can take 4-6 weeks to order, especially if you are buying
bespoke hand-made rings or a shaped ladies ring, but even many standard
designs can take 2-4 weeks to order. Also if the finger size of the ring
is not perfect when it arrives it may need to get sent back and
replaced or sized, which could take up additional time. You may also
need plenty of time to look around and see what is available, in order
to make the right decision, so plan this purchase well in advance of the
wedding, ideally at least three months before your special day.
Decide On Your Budget
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 metals and whether or not they are diamond set. It is also
worth noting that the price of hand-made bespoke rings is likely to be
much higher than off the shelf designs.
In addition, the wedding rings are arguably the most important wedding
purchase and it is a good idea to be sure to have sufficient budget for
the rings you want. It would be unwise to spend most of the budget on
the cake and flowers etc. which will be gone the day after the wedding
and compromise on your choice of rings, which will be the eternal
reminder of this day.
Metal prices fluctuate all the time and the raw price of precious metals
is the main factor in the cost of precious metal wedding rings, unless
they are set with expensive diamonds or gemstones.
Of the most commonly used precious metals, platinum is the most
expensive wedding ring metal and an average men's platinum wedding ring
is now likely to cost over a thousand pounds. 18 carat gold, rose gold
or white gold is the next highest priced, then palladium, then 9 carat
Unfortunately, the prices of precious metals are currently very high,
this is due to many factors, including the increase in demand for these
metals in emerging economies, the use of precious metals for other
purposes (e.g. platinum for catalytic converters in cars, gold for
electronics, medicine, dentistry etc.) and also they have become
important commodities for financial investment. During the recent global
financial crisis, gold was seen as one of the few safe havens for
investment, which again significantly drove up the value of gold.
Gold has increased in price massively over the last few years, for
example at the beginning of 2000 the price of gold was around 280
dollars an ounce this increased to around 850 dollars an ounce by early
2009 and currently at the beginning of 2012 the price of raw gold is
around 1750 dollars an ounce. Therefore the price of gold wedding rings
is now more than double what they were only a few years ago.
Choosing The Metal For Your Wedding Ring
This is probably the most important factor with regards to choosing
wedding rings. Descriptions of the characteristics of each metal can get
quite technical, however I will try to describe the properties,
purities, advantages and disadvantages of each metal in terms which are
easy to understand and as brief as possible.
There are many possible precious metals to choose from for your wedding
ring, the most popular are 9ct, 14ct and 18ct white, yellow or rose
gold, platinum and palladium. Gold alloys can also be made in other
colours such as green or purple gold, however these colours are far less
commonly used than white, yellow or rose gold.
The ideal metal for the ladies wedding ring will usually be the same
metal as the engagement ring as, they are likely to be worn together.
The same metal will match best in appearance and should avoid any
potential issues of one ring wearing over time due to differences in
hardness of the metals.
When jewellery is made from precious metals, usually metal alloys are
used. An alloy is a metal which is a combination of the precious metal
and other metals. If pure gold or silver were used for jewellery, they
would be very soft, the hardness would not be ideal for most jewellery
purposes. Therefore various alloys are used to achieve different colours
and working properties and to keep down the cost of the metal.
In the UK and most other countries, jewellery made from precious metal
alloys must be tested and hallmarked to be legal for sale, when they are
described as any particular precious metal. The hallmarking office will
test that the metal alloy in a wedding ring contains the correct number
of parts per thousand of precious metal and if the metal of the ring is
up to the desired quality standard, then they will mark the metal
purity on the inside of the band as part of a hallmark. The hallmark
also contains a few other marks which show the location of the assay
office who tested the piece of jewellery and a mark for the jewellery
maker or retailer who submits the piece for testing. The hallmark is
very small and usually a magnifying glass or jeweller's loupe is
required to read these marks.
In Britain, hallmarking standards are very high and precious metals must
contain at least the minimum necessary number of parts per thousand of
precious metal, whereas some other countries allow greater tolerance on
the level of quality. So if a British ring is described as 18carat gold,
it must contain at least 750 parts per thousand of gold. A ring with
749 parts per thousand of gold would fail an assay for 18 carat quality
and would therefore be marked as the next highest gold purity standard
Many people have skin reactions to jewellery metals. It is worth noting
that no-one is allergic to the noble precious metals gold, platinum
& silver which are hypo-allergenic metals. The metal allergies some
people encounter are caused by a skin reaction to the other base metals
which are contained in the alloys of these precious metals which are
used for jewellery making.
Therefore, metal alloys which have a higher content of precious metal
will be more kind to the skin. This would apply to high gold carats such
as 18 carat or above and also platinum and palladium which are 950
parts per thousand pure. Lower qualities of these metals are also
available now, so it is important to be aware of the metal purity you
are buying. Other metals such as the industrial metals popular for mens
rings are also hypo-allergenic, these include, titanium, zirconium and
stainless steel. These industrial metals are usually used for jewellery
making in their pure form and are therefore very kind to the skin.
How to Find The Right Wedding Rings For You (part 2) (Further Explanation of Metals and their Properties)
How to Find The Right Wedding Rings For You (part 3) (Choosing the right width and style)
How to Find The Right Wedding Rings For You (part 4) (Styles cont.d, measuring your fingers and buying your rings)