For the love of rings
If you are reading this you have probably reached a point in your life where you are ready to settle down. You’ve finally found Mr. or Ms. Right and you just want to put a ring on it right away. However, ring shopping is not as easy as most would like to believe. It doesn’t matter whether you have had your dream ring design in mind since you were a kid or you don’t know the difference between an engagement ring and a wedding ring.
Below is a comprehensive guide on all ring shopping things to help you. That way whether it is a surprise engagement for your beau or a set of wedding bands for the big day, you will make the right decision.
Storytime: where did it all begin?
There are a lot of conflicting accounts on the actual origin of the tradition of giving engagement rings. However, one undeniable fact is that ancient Egyptian and Roman civilizations were at the very center of it all. Egyptian historical records revealed that the society had a tradition of having rings as symbols of marriage. They believed that the continuous circle shape represented the eternal nature of the marriage bond.
Romans adopted this practice with their own little twist. Instead of saving it for marriage, the ring was offered to betrothed women by their future husbands.
Unlike the Egyptians, their offering of betrothal rings was more of a sign of ownership than it was a show of love and commitment. Sounds pretty dark huh?
On the bright side, Romans are credited to the popularization of the ring finger and the reason will definitely give you some warm fuzzy feelings. They believed that there was a vein there, the vena amoris, which led straight to the heart. Modern science has, of course, discounted this claim but the ring finger still holds its special place.
Engagement rings vs. Wedding rings - key differences
Wedding rings and engagement rings are often distinguished by their styles. However, the two are different in more than this one way. Here are a few contrasting features of each to help you understand their uniqueness:
In today’s society, engagement rings are the more extravagant of the two. They usually feature gemstone centerpieces set on the precious metal.
Wedding rings are often plain bands made of precious metal or other durable material. They rarely include gemstones but when they do the stones are spread out as opposed to the centerpiece style.
Purpose and timing
Engagement rings are offered as betrothal gifts when a marriage proposal is offered and accepted. They are as a result given before the wedding.
Wedding rings are recognized as physical symbols of a marriage commitment. These are usually worn after or as the marriage vows are being made.
Legal stipulations on the ownership of engagement rings vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In some places, the ring is viewed as an absolute gift making it the permanent property of the recipient. In other places, the ring is a conditional gift that is the property of the giver until the marriage becomes official.
With wedding rings, it is more or less universally accepted that the wearer is the undisputed owner of the ring.
Traditionally, engagement rings were chosen and offered by men to those women they were interested in marrying to. However, in some countries like Brazil and Argentina, both men and women wore and continue to wear these signs of betrothal. These days, the roles are reversing with more and more women taking up the role of the proposer. There are even rings designed specifically for this new niche.
With wedding rings, there aren’t any specific social rules or norms as far as gender is concerned. In fact, the couple will probably choose the rings together and contribute to the purchase.
What happens to engagement rings after “I do”?
For most women, and now men, there is always a question of what to do with the engagement ring after the wedding. Do you keep wearing it and have your hand overloaded with bling? Do you get rid of it? What do you do? To be honest, there is no fixed answer on what to do after the wedding. Actually, the closest thing to a rule is that when worn together, the wedding band should be worn first then the engagement ring on top. The rest is entirely up to you to decide what comes next. Below are a few suggestions that could come in handy if you find yourself in this predicament.
This is one of the most efficient ways to ensure that you get to have your cake and eat it. In this case, all you have to do is take both your rings to a jeweler and have the metal bands smelted together. The best part is that there are techniques to ensure that the joining is not obvious and doesn’t take away the beauty of either ring.
2. Wear them on different fingers or hands
This is a simple compromise if you don’t want to or simply can’t have your rings joint. Here, people will often leave the wedding ring on the ring finger of the left hand. The engagement ring is then worn on either the middle finger of the same hand or the ring finger of the opposite hand. Choose whatever works best for you.
3. Have the engagement ring double up as the wedding ring
This was very common in the 19th and 20th century in Europe and South American countries like Brazil. Instead of spending money on both rings, some couples opt to have the engagement ring also serve as the wedding ring. It is a cheap and easy way to avoid the problem of what to do with the ring after the nuptials.
4. Keep it for special occasions
Finally, you could choose to keep the engagement ring away and just wear the wedding ring. On special occasions, you may choose to wear the ring whether as an accessory or as a sentimental reminder. This is a great option for people who do not like to be weighed down by too much jewelry.
7 tips to help you choose the perfect set of rings
Time to go ring shopping. You have the right woman (or man), you have a little spare change in your pocket but you do not know where to start. Choosing the right ring is an art form and something you cannot afford to take lightly. Remember that this is something they will be looking at potentially for the rest of their life and you need to get it right. Here are a few factors to consider as well as tips to ensure you choose the best engagement and wedding rings.
1. Size really does matter
If you are about to get a heart attack take a moment and relax. We are talking about ring size, not centerpiece gem size. The ring size is determined by the circumference of the wearer’s ring finger. When shopping for a ring, it is best to have this already figured out. This is because although resizing is an option it is a completely unnecessary added expense.
There are many different ways to find out your partner’s ring size without giving away your plans when shopping for engagement rings. You could ask a friend of theirs to spy for you. You could "borrow" one of her rings for confirmation or you could straight up ask her in a matter-of-fact and very subtle way. With wedding bands, on the other hand, there is no need for discretion so you can just go get fitted together.
2. Not all precious metals are equal
When choosing the right ring you need to consider the band and the gemstone. With the band, it is important to understand that though they all shine, not all precious metals are the same. The most commonly used here are platinum, gold and silver. Platinum is the strongest and lasts the longest. As a result, it happens to be the most expensive. It also tends to become dull with time.
Gold is the most commonly used metal for wedding rings. It is a favorite because of the endless possibilities in terms of color. You can have plain old traditional gold, white gold, rose gold and so much more. The fact that it retains the shiny glory for longer is also a major bonus. The only downside is that it is softer and weaker than silver and platinum thus more prone to damage. Silver is an affordable option and is particularly popular for engagement rings. It is strong, shiny and durable. Other equally affordable options include bronze and brass. If you really want to go against the grain you could even settle for wooden wedding bands. These are perfect for the nature-adoring couple.
3. The 4 Cs of a perfect diamond
With gems, diamonds are the undisputed champions when it comes to engagement rings. They are also gaining popularity in wedding band designs as embellishments. If you decide to go with this traditional rock then you will have to consider the 4 Cs.
The first is clarity which refers to the absence of imperfections in a diamond. The fewer these contaminants are the clearer the diamond is considered to be.
The second is carat which is essentially the most commonly used measurement parameter for diamonds and other gemstones. Contrary to popular belief, it is a measure of weight and not size. Carats directly affect the ring’s price with bigger (heavier) diamonds costing more.
The third C refers to the cut which is actually different from the shape. The cut mainly affects the diamond’s interaction with light. Brilliant cut diamonds are the most popular due to their shiny nature.
The final C to consider while shopping for a diamond ring is color. The more colorless a diamond is the higher its value. However, there are some colored diamonds which being paired with the right metal have their own appeal.
4. Remember that diamonds are not the only girl’s best friend
So much has been said about diamonds. But are they the beginning and end of engagement rings? Not at all. There are other stones that you can consider as the centerpiece for this special gift. Common alternatives include sapphire, rubies and opal. Another great idea is that of using the recipient’s birthstone. This is unique and deeply personal and will definitely be appreciated.
5. Choosing the right gemstone shape
Once you’ve chosen the stone, diamond or otherwise, you have to figure out what shape you want. With engagement rings, cushion, oval, princes and round shapes are the most popular. There are many other options to consider and it all boils down to what you think they will like best. As with the sizing, you could get a cue on what they might appreciate from their existing jewelry.
6. The setting is everything for engagement rings
This refers to how the centerpiece gemstone sits on the metallic band. Prong, pave and cathedral settings are the most popular as they ensure that all the attention is on the rock. It is also the most reliable in terms of ensuring the rock is held securely. Other common setting styles include the Tiffany setting for smaller gems and Bezel setting ideal for active lifestyles where prongs can be problematic. For a little extra bling, you could go for a halo setting where the main gem is surrounded by a ring of smaller cuts.
7. Add a personal touch with customized designs
Sometimes being spoilt for choice can be distracting. You want the cut on that one and the setting on this one. So instead of breaking your back trying to find the ultimate ring why not have one custom made? This ensures that you get all the qualities you want from one ring. The best thing is that customization doesn’t have to be extravagant. This is especially the case with wedding bands. You can simply have something engraved on the inner band. It could be anything from initials to the wedding date.
Let’s talk about costs…
Before we wind up, let’s talk about how much all this will cost you. On average, engagement rings today cost around $4000. This, however, does not make spending more or less than this amount a crime. The most important thing is to ensure that you get something within your budget.
Due to their simplicity, wedding rings are significantly cheaper. Plain metal bands often fall within the $100 to $500 price range. However, platinum bands and other custom designs could cost up to $1000 or more. This is also the case with wedding rings featuring diamond embellishments.
With all this information, you should be able to make the right decision on both the engagement ring and the set of wedding bands. Just remember that the most important thing is that you and your significant other both love what you buy. It doesn’t matter whether or not it is what is trending or popular on the market. So go forth and find yourself that perfect ring to show how much you care. That way you can kick off your happily ever after with the perfect piece of bling.