ecewnCan you imagine life before wedding rings? A man gets down on one knee to ask for his woman’s hand in marriage… and then stands up and gives her a hug. Wedding vows would not include the infamous line, “with this ring I thee wed.” And you can forget about the classic engagement photo poses that show off your new bling. But why have wedding rings become such an integral part of our relationships and lives?
The History of Wedding Rings
While wedding rings are far from the most important aspect of any relationship or big day, they have become incredibly symbolic of love, trust, commitment and devotion. Wearing rings as a representation of marriage became popular around the time of World War II, in order for husbands to remember their wives back at home.
The circular shape of these items of jewelry represents the never-ending nature of your relationship as it has no beginning or end. A ring on the correct finger of a man or woman immediately indicates engagement or marriage — an international symbol that that individual is off the market. And the ring finger itself is not just another appendage — that finger was once believed to contain a vein that runs straight to the heart. If these fun facts about wedding rings have piqued your interest, find out more information in our article The Secret Behind Why We Wear Wedding Rings.
Wedding Rings Around the World
The craze over wedding rings goes all around the world, from Portland, Oregon, USA to way down under in Australia. Each region, country and town carries its own customs and traditions. Whether they are religious — such as Christian, Orthodox and Jewish — time period — such as Gothic or Victorian — or regional — such as western or eastern — the world’s diversity is made visible through weddings. These norms influence the entire process of getting married, which includes wedding rings!
Scotland, England and Ireland comprise the UK, but each carries a unique set of wedding norms that make a Scottish wedding, a London wedding and an Irish wedding extremely distinct. A couple from Melbourne would take similar steps as couples from the UK, since an Australian follows similar traditions. But a Tahitian couple, or one from South Africa or the Philippines, is worlds away in distance and customs.
The Chinese did not originally exchange rings, and to this day sometimes exchange money and other goods instead. A Russian wedding ring does not incorporate snow (surprise!) but it does intertwine trios of gold bands in varying shades. Differences will even arise between a NYC and a Beverly Hills wedding, not to mention a Las Vegas one!
Wedding Rings for Women
Generally, women are slightly more excited about their wedding rings than males. Dreaming about their weddings is a favorite pastime of girls, young and old, from their 4th birthday to the age of 100. Thanks to resources found on the internet such as Pinterest boards and Tumblrs, many girls have their whole wedding planned even before they meet their lucky guys! One such subject of daydream is the wedding ring.
Wedding Ring vs Engagement Ring
Thus far in the article, the term “wedding ring” has encompassed all circular objects that reside on the left ring finger and indicate marriage. But for the sake of accuracy, these objects really must be differentiated. An engagement ring is presented to a woman from her significant other at the time of a marriage proposal. She removes any promise or purity ring which previously occupied the finger next to the pinky on the left hand, and wears this ring from that point forward.
The bride and groom exchange wedding rings on their big day. Both partners receive this band, making it the only ring for the male but the second one, stacked underneath the engagement ring, for the female. Engagement rings are typically the more extravagant of the two rings, containing a larger, more prominent gemstone. Meanwhile, wedding rings complement the first ring through simple beauty.
Wedding Ring Sets
If picking out both a wedding ring and engagement ring sounds terrifying to you, do not fret! Wedding ring sets remove some of the stress of making such a selection as each set includes both rings in a complementary package. These sets can integrate the rings in a unique way, or simply ensure that they match.
When it comes time to look for a ring, the seemingly infinite possibilities can quickly become overwhelming if you do not know what you are looking at. Even if you think you will know it when you see it, you may want to familiarize yourself with the categories that differentiate rings, including metal type, gemstone style, gemstone setting, gemstone and stone shape.
Precious metals are expensive, but you have no scarcity of options. You are no longer limited to gold or silver when it comes to selecting a metal type. There are now white and rose golds, steels and tungstens, and even more unusual options.
Gold: Golds have been around for the lifetime of wedding rings. Gold is the most traditional of the precious metals, making it an elegant option. You can choose from the most-common yellow gold, white gold or rose gold. Vary the appearance of the metal through your selection of carats. Pure gold, made of 100% gold, is considered 24 carats. 10 carat (10k) gold contains more alloy than gold, still looking like gold but reducing the cost. 14k contains slightly more gold, which the price will reflect.
Shades of Silver: Similar to the evolution of gold, you can achieve the silver appearance through a variety of precious metals. Sterling silver is the material with which you are most likely acquainted, and is one of the most inexpensive options. Platinum is considered even more precious than gold, but if prices are of no significance, you will enjoy the high quality. Titanium, black zirconium, tungsten carbide and stainless steel round out the silver category, presenting a wide variety of prices, qualities and shiny or matte finishes.
Alternatives: If you know your significant would prefer a cool ring and an awesome box to a designer ring, put in an order for less traditional metals such as meteorite, ceramic or carbon fiber. Pinky promise, the look on his or her face will be well worth it.
While there are many variations of gemstone styles, six of the most popular and long-lasting are solitaire, halo, accent, 3 stones, antique/vintage and fancy.
Solitaire: The solitaire style showcases one gemstone for a minimalist yet stunning appearance.
Halo: The halo style surrounds the most prominent gemstone with smaller stones to redirect attention back to the center.
Accent: The accent style incorporates diamond accents on the band directly to the side of the main stone.
Three Stones: The 3 stones style carries not only beauty, but meaning. The trio can represent the past, present and future of your relationship as well as the cord of three strands you’ve tied with you, your spouse and God.
Antique/Vintage: The antique or vintage style is difficult to define, as the collection of examples tap into the styles of the past, maybe reminding you of 1920 or the art deco time period.
Fancy: The fancy style requires brilliantly bold gemstones and a substantial number of bands.
Gemstone settings describe how the most prominent stones are secured to the band of the ring. Again, this category contains seemingly infinite possibilities, but some of the most common you may run across include basket, decorative, illusion, channel, bar, trellis, bezel and half-bezel.
Basket: The basket setting includes four to six prongs which rise up vertically, as well as horizontal prongs for increased security.
Decorative: The decorative setting describes a variety of styles characterized by delicate and intricate prong designs.
Illusion: The illusion setting uses prongs to make the stone appear as if it is floating.
Channel: The channel setting situates the stone within the metal band to create an uninterrupted flow.
Bar: The bar setting is very similar to the channel, but it also includes an additional piece of metal to secure the stone on either side.
Trellis: The trellis setting incorporates interwoven prongs to make the gemstone appear larger.
Bezel: The bezel setting secures the stone by wrapping metal either entirely around it (bezel) or partially around it (half-bezel).
Diamonds are reportedly women’s best friends, but that supposed truth is up for debate. A diamond (spelled dimond if you are referring to Princess Diana) places value on plain but timeless beauty. But other gems carry unique forms of beauty too!
Pearls, cubic zirconia (cz) and chocolate diamonds emphasize the same form of beauty as the most popular diamond, with a bit of a twist. But many jewelers now take it a step further than the pearl, commonly offering ruby, sapphire, emerald, opal, topaz and amethyst. If you are willing to make a custom order, forget the emeralds, sapphires and topazery in exchange for onyx, peridot, garnet, tanzanite or palladium. At this point in the wedding ring gemstone game, you can customize to select a precious stone in any color you desire — from pink to purple to blue to red to turquoise to green to orange to canary yellow.
The shape of the gemstone is debatably as important as the stone itself. But no pressure! You really can’t go wrong with classics such as round, princess and oval diamonds. But if you start to consider shapes like marquise, heart or pear, you might want to consult your significant other’s girlfriends (meaning her best female friends, not a gay, lesbian or lesbians lovers) to see if these statement shapes fit her style.
Round: A round cut diamond is simple, stunning and modern, as diamond cutters have optimized the circle shape for the best brilliance.
Princess: A princess cut diamond typically creates a square shape, but can slightly vary to become more rectangular.
Oval: An oval cut diamond adds a unique flair to an otherwise standard cut by lengthening at the ends.
Marquise: A marquise cut diamond takes it a step further by bringing the lengthened ends of an oval shape together to meet at a point.
Heart: A heart cut diamond, literally heart shaped, takes your love and makes it blatantly obvious for all to see.
Pear: A pear cut diamond combines the round, oval and marquise shapes for a beautiful asymmetrical result.
Wedding Rings for Men
Lucky for you ladies, wedding rings for men are not nearly as complicated as those for women. But each passing year brings about new options for the most important piece of jewelry your man will ever wear!
Mens Wedding Rings or Wedding Bands?
But first, let’s start with the basics. Have you ever wondered about the difference between wedding rings and wedding bands? Wonder no longer! Wedding rings is a relatively broad term. It encompasses womens and mens, engagement and wedding, bejeweled and plain. Wedding bands is more specific. It refers to the more simple ring that accompanies the engagement ring for her and the sole ring for him. While the classic band of precious metal is timeless, find more unexpected options in our articles Men’s Wedding Rings Like You’ve Never Seen Them Before or 11 Women’s Wedding Bands That Almost Steal the Show or keep reading!
Wedding Ring Trends
There’s nothing wrong with the romantic simplicity of more traditional wedding rings. But just in case you’re interested in the latest and greatest of this item of jewelry, look below!
Tattooed Wedding Ring
The most meaningful wedding rings will not necessarily come in boxes. Young couples are coming to find that tattoos are no longer reserved for members of Harley Davidson biker gangs, with ink designed to include skull and cross bones and streaks of fire. Even if skulls don’t float your boat, his and hers matching tattoos offer an alternative that requires romantically customized ideas. And as another advantage, you don’t have to worry about finding the right size ring. Tattooed wedding rings fit perfectly (and you don’t have to workout to fit in them)!
First, consider your options. Would you like to match? Which finger or fingers will the tattoo be located? Will it include your first names, last name or initials? You should look into all of these more general considerations before moving forward.
Second, create your design. Stay away from generic clipart images. Instead take time to sit down with your future spouse and design a tattoo you will both take pride in wearing as a symbol of your commitment.
Next, test it out. Print out your completed design. Review it with your significant other. Take photos to show to trusted friends for their reviews. Order a fake tattoo either of your exact design or of something similar to see how it looks. Most tattooed wedding rings are still located on the ring finger. But feel free to experiment with your middle or other fingers until you discover the perfect place.
While all this deliberation may seem a little overboard, this tattoo will give you pain while getting it, probably make your fingers swollen afterwards and theoretically last for eternity (disregarding the possibility of removing it). If you are stuck and need some inspiration, we’ve compiled some wedding ring tattoo ideas for you in a handy article, which includes the ones in the pics above!
Vintage Wedding Rings
It may sound like an oxymoron, but vintage wedding rings are quite the modern style right now. You can achieve this style by searching for real antiques. But due to the proliferation of this style, you can now purchase a piece which has never been worn, straight out of a bridal magazine! Vintage wedding ring options are endless, but most include delicate engravings, intricate detail, flower enhancers and small but numerous gemstones. No matter the year or date of your wedding, these vintage wedding rings will always be on point.
Camo Wedding Rings
Would you prefer shopping at Mossy Oak and Realtree over Hollister and Coach? If camouflage is your favorite color, feature your passion in your wedding rings with pride. There is no need to feel like a redneck because camo can be classy!
Silicone Wedding Ring
Metal rings are so 2013! The silicone — often improperly pronounced silicon — that makes up these trendy rings is a stretchy rubber. Designed to break when stretched, these rings suit physical jobs and jobs that risk rings getting snagged. Even if you have to replace the silicone ring once or twice, your love will last for infinity and beyond! For more information on this trend, check our article about silicone rings.
Nerdy Wedding Rings
Didn’t realize there was such a thing as nerdy wedding rings? Well, you’re welcome. No matter if you’re a die hard Star Wars or Lord of the Rings fan, a lover of Wendy and Peter Pan, a witch aficionado, a Sleeping Beauty or think your man is a real life Batman or Beast, there is a ring for you. Still skeptical? Check out our article Nerds R’ Us: The Ultimate Guide to Nerdy Wedding Rings! for examples.
Wedding Ring Engravings
While not necessarily a type of wedding ring, engravings have increased in variety and popularity. Meaningful words, initials, Bible verses or more can be engraved into your ring for an intimate addition to your wedding ring. Your engraving can be impactful — “In Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17), humorous “My ass is yours.” or filled with memories — “Okay? Okay.” (The Fault in Our Stars). Or even revert to shorthand texting lingo in order to fit your engravings nice and small and under wraps, such as “ur <3 4 ever” or “<3 u 2.” Check out these Wedding Ring Engravings that are Perfection!
Up and Coming Alternatives
While not yet trending, a couple wedding ring options are vying for attention. For a little Irish flare, use a Claddagh or Celtic ring to recognize your marriage. The ring signifies whether an individual is taken or unclaimed. When worn on the left ring finger and facing away from the body, this traditional ring indicates engagement. To indicate marriage, the person simply turns the ring to face inward toward the body.
In the end, the ring itself does not matter as much as the love and commitment it represents as you tie the knot!
From Expensive to Cheap Wedding Rings Stores
Once you’ve determined the type of wedding rings that suit your fancy, you’ll have to choose where you will go shopping! Jewelry commercials, whether they are for a necklace or a wedding ring, want you to believe that only the big jewelers like Tiffany & Co, Jared, Kay, Vera Wang, Neil Lane, Tacori, Ernest Jones, B H L D N, H. Samuel or Beaverbrooks will guarantee a yes from your girl. But have you ever considered stores such as Walmart, JCPenny, Costco, Sams Club, Macy’s or Kohl’s? Or online sites such as eBay, Amazon or Etsy?
Unless they are offering major sales or more affordable pricing at an outlet store, the designer options offered at the Kays, Tiffanys and Jareds just may not be worth it. Add a www or dot com to these company names to keep your eye out for a close out sale. But if none come, start exploring other options.
Replace zales.com in the address bar for walmart.com and you will open yourself up to a whole new world of wedding rings. Scroll through the clearance and discount sections. Consider a used ring. Opt for a nontraditional precious metal or gemstone. The company and quality of the ring matter much less than what it symbolizes. Duck away from the sky high price tag! Being a Zale girl is not all it’s cracked up to be. By settling to be a Kohl or Walmarts girl, you and your man will enter into married life with a more stable bank account and less stress.
Celebrity Wedding Rings
Celebrity couples typically do not present good examples of healthy marriages. But they do know how to buy beautiful wedding rings! For us non celebs, we can look at these pictures to be inspired, not necessarily to shape our purchasing decisions. If you can’t get your hands on it, why not look at a picture of it!
Kris Humphries and Kim Kardashian
Who is Kris Humphries again? A baseball star maybe, or no, a basketball player, right? While Humphries has lost some of his celebrity status after separating from the Kardashians, we still got to give the guy credit for this beautiful wedding ring:
Kanye West and Kim Kardashian
Kim didn’t have to go without bling for very long! Kanye West was generous enough to supply her with a replacement. We’ll let you decide which fellow has better tastes:
Jay Z and Beyonce Knowles
If ever there was a power couple, it came in the form of Jay Z and Beyoncé. Just like their relationship, Beyonce’s wedding ring is unlike any other. We’d like to call this ring Beyonces Big Stunner:
Ricky Van Veen and Allison Williams
This young couple only got married a couple years ago, but this ring is still a shop stopper. It may max out a bank account, but it looks gorgeous:
Justin Theroux and Jennifer Aniston
Also only recently married, Justin Theroux picked out an appropriately modern ring for his love. It looks 3D in the below picture and might deserve a spot on the top 10 ever:
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
Even though their marriage is on the rocks, the couple and Brad’s wedding ring choice were admirable. Now this is a ring you could take home to your mother:
Even if you could afford a replica of one of these rings, who would want to? A wedding ring should uniquely represent you as a couple. It should honor your background and embody what you have to look forward to in the future. While a gallery of humungous diamonds is fun to look at, the harmony of your love is much more goal worthy.
Wedding rings are an extremely exciting, but often complicated aspect of getting married. Love may be blind, but that does not mean that your loved one will not appreciate a beautiful (or ruggedly handsome) wedding ring. This article was designed to be the solution to any of your confusion, to cover the many options and elements involved with wedding rings. If you have any other questions, feel free to comment below! Happy shopping!