I was never a girl to daydream about diamonds. My fashion fantasies wandered more along the lines of mile-high heels, designer denim, and haute handbags. While I’d always figured I would some day end up with a simply stunning diamond engagement ring, I didn’t put a whole lot of thought into it — it would be yellow gold and the stone(s) needed to be round. Case closed; back to browsing for boots.
But as I began expecting a proposal — and even more once I actually had my dream ring — I started thinking about the logic behind different types of rings, for guys and gals. It’s one thing to fall in love with a style in a magazine or jeweler’s window. It’s another thing to wear that ring day in and day out.
First off, hopefully you got the chance to research diamonds before your fiance plunked down his credit card and popped the question. And I am even more hopeful that your fiance did some research, too. Make sure you understand where your diamond came from — is it certified conflict-free, from a mine where all the workers receive fair pay, or was it possibly smuggled out of the Ivory Coast, where child-worked mines finances bloody power struggles? Because of the human rights struggles revolving around some parts of the diamond industry, one of my college friends actually opted to go diamond-free when her boyfriend asked her to pick out her ring.
Quality and morality aside, there are other reasons for you to be practical about two of the most romantic purchases of your life.
Unlike your wedding dress, your engagement and wedding rings aren’t just for one fancy occasion where all you’ll need to do is look beautiful, dance, and look beautiful. While you may relegate a big engagement ring to a jewelry box some day, your wedding band is the constant signifier of your marriage. It will be with you when you make hamburger patties. When you weed your garden. When you join a game of pickup volleyball. When your infant endures a bout of particularly nasty diarrhea.
I chose a the smallest, simplest wedding ring available, a 2 mm. circle of solid gold. When it comes to my own jewelry, I’m definitely a believer in the whole “less is more” adage. I considered how different styles looked with my engagement ring, and all the activities I’m involved in that aren’t diamond-appropriate — stable chores, deep sea fishing, church mission trips.
Think about all this before you pick out your wedding band. If your life isn’t filled with the messy, the squishy, and the downright dirty, a diamond band may accent your engagement ring perfectly. And then, even if you decide to go engagement-ring free, your finger will still sparkle.
When it comes to guys’ rings, there are even more choices. Like women’s rings, guys have their choice of diamond-crusted or stone-free rings, but while women’s rings are almost all gold or platinum, men’s run the gamut of metals. My guy friends wear yellow gold, white gold, platinum, titanium, and tungsten.
Very few have stones set in their rings, but plenty have a design or etching in the ring.
Just make sure you know a little bit about different metals before buying:
Gold, the most traditional metal for rings, can get scratches, but marks are easily buffed out.
Palladium, created to replicate platinum, is a cheaper, lighter weight alloy.
Platinum is an alloy stronger than gold, but it’s also softer and scratches and dents more easily.
Titanium, a lightweight alloy, is almost unbreakable (and cannot be cut easily), and doesn’t tarnish or scratch.
Tungsten is made of very heavy, strong metals, and tungsten which contains carbide will not scratch or break.
No matter what kind of ring you end up choosing, remember that it’s a symbol of your commitment and your love more than it’s a symbol of what you’re willing to spend. So it has to be simultaneously romantic and realistic. Just don’t forget the most romantic part of all: have a special message for your beloved engraved inside the ring. When you look at your ring in the years to come, that will be worth more to you than any metal, stone, or style.