A wedding ring is one of the most enduring and evocative symbols in our culture. Its lasting legacy is likely because of its faithful representation of the ideals of human love: a circular ring carries with it a message of eternity. Furthermore, it is worn on the third finger of the left hand, which once was believed to host a vein leading directly to the heart. This ring is made to be worn every day, to weather the passage of time, to become scratched and worn, and to be a lasting reminder of a sacred commitment to another human being.
But finding that special ring is not always easy. You have an overabundance of available ring styles, metals, finishes, and jewelers to choose from, which can transform what should be a joyful experience into a stressful one.
While most wedding guides suggest visiting every jewelry store in your area, Bruce Huisinga, Private Client Sales and Business Development Specialist at JB Hudson Jewelers, 901 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, advocates shopping online, and then limiting your options to jewelers you know you can trust.
Huisinga says, “I would certainly check policies about returns, special orders, and what happens if the size is wrong, because in some cases with smaller jewelers, you may be stuck with it.”
Similarly, certain jewelry lines have more generous policies than others. The Christian Bauer brand, for example, allows a customer to exchange his or her ring for a different size if it no longer fits.
As Huisinga explains, “There is a fee, but it’s very small, considering you’re dealing with these precious metals. Plus, the policy is for any time in your life, so it could be 35 years later.”
Huisinga also recommends only buying AGS- or GIA-certified diamonds, which are the two highest certifications available in the United States, and looking for precious metal stamps on the ring.
In Huisinga’s words, “I would also inquire about trade-in policies. Some jewelers will have a policy whereby if you decide you want to upgrade your ring after a number of years, you would bring it in, and get market value for that diamond towards the purchase of something of greater value.”
Unfortunately, because of escalating prices in the precious metals industry, you are not likely to find significant discounts by shopping around. But that doesn’t mean a frugal customer can’t find something he or she will enjoy. Instead of trendy platinum, some people are finding happiness with its relative, palladium, or white gold According to Huisinga, “I would say with a lot of wedding bands, most people would not be able to tell the difference between platinum, white gold, or palladium.”
White metals have remained very trendy, but Huisinga predicts that yellow gold, especially in the higher karats, will return to the fashion forefront.
Huisinga notes, “Over time, jewelry changes back and forth from white metals to yellow, and sometimes a combination in between, and we’re seeing in the high-fashion Italian jewelry everything that’s coming out is yellow gold.”
The higher the karat weight of gold, the softer the metal, and the easier it may change shape or scratch. But outside of titanium, any ring that is worn every day is going to show wear over time. Titanium is also very lightweight and comfortable to wear, so it is always a popular choice for men who may not be used to wearing a ring.
If comfort is a priority, Huisinga recommends customers try “inside round” rings, which—as the name suggests—are rounded on the inside of the ring for a more comfortable fit. Some brands call the same shaping a “comfort fit.”
Don’t worry if you and your significant other are attracted to different rings.
Huisinga remarks, “I would say matching is not such a high priority anymore. It’s only a priority for maybe a quarter of the couples coming in, be it for wedding rings or commitment rings.”
To maintain a connection between the two bands, many couples choose an engraving on the inside of a ring, either a special short phrase, or a date and each partner’s initials.
Other traditions that have fallen by the wayside include wearing a separate engagement ring and a wedding band.
Huisinga relates, “A trend in recent years has been pairing an engagement ring with two diamond bands, one on each side. Another trend is wearing a wider, single engagement ring, and not wearing a band at all.”
Though some couples take a long time to find their rings, Huisinga reassures not to worry: “At some point, they’re going to lock in on something, and say, ‘This really looks like me.’”
All in all, the odds are fairly solid that the search for the perfect ring will pale in comparison to the one you already have completed to find the perfect partner.