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Complete Guide to Wedding Bands Monday, May 16, 2011 ~ 8:55 a.m.

Ask any woman, and she'll tell you that finding "the one" is tough. Then once the search is finally over and he actually slips a ring on your finger, then it's all about finding the perfect match. For your engagement ring, that is!

It actually shouldn't be a difficult task to find your perfect wedding band. In my mind, the hard part is already over. You hopefully have the man and the ring of your dreams, and now the fun can really begin! When it comes time to select your wedding band, there are a million and one ways you can go. Will you go with diamonds, or mix in a little bit of color? Will you have your band permanently attached to your engagement ring or do you plan to wear it alone sometimes? So much to think about!

Complete Guide to Choosing Your Wedding Bands

Timing. Begin looking for your wedding bands at least two months prior to your wedding. If you think you may want something custom made, then allow even more time prior to your wedding date. Personally, I recommend that you begin keeping an eye out as soon as you set the date. That way, you can take advantage of the best deals and sales available in the months leading up to your wedding day without any added pressure because of time constraints.

Budget. Like every other line item in your wedding budget, there really is no "right" amount of money to spend on your wedding bands. It's really dependent on how important it is to you in the grand scheme of things and your personal preference in regards to style. If you're dying for a number to work off of, the average amount spent on a woman's wedding ring is typically between $800 and $1200, and between $600 and $1000 for the man's band (this number is actually on the rise, as more men are opting for diamonds in their bands, too). The Knot reports that about 5‰ of your wedding budget should go toward both yours and your soon-to-be husband's rings.

To cut costs, consider the following:
Opt for white gold instead of platinum.
Keep engraving to a minimum.
Purchase a wedding band with diamonds that go only half way around the band, rather than the entire ring.
Consider a band with micropaved diamonds, which offers a good amount of sparkle at more affordable prices.
Consider how much the quality of the diamonds really matters in regards to your wedding band. If you're planning on a slim band of diamonds in a channel setting, chances are, no one will notice the flaws.
Filigree wedding bands are pretty popular at the moment because the design most often has a very unique style without necessarily relying on pricey gems. See ring at bottom of post, second from left

Metals. Platinum continues to be the most popular choice for wedding bands. Platinum is white, hypo-allergenic and is considered one of the hardest of metals, which means it's more durable. Palladium is a slightly lighter and less expensive alternative to platinum because it is not as rare a mineral. Gold is obviously a common choice, as well, just be sure to select a wedding band with the same number of carats as your engagement ring so they match in color and wear evenly over the years. It's also good to keep in mind that it's generally a good idea to select the same metal for your wedding band as your engagement ring.

Gold, platinum, rose gold and white gold wedding bands
Tiffany & Co., Robbins Brothers, Tiffany & Co. and Blue Nile.

Diamonds. When purchasing a diamond, it's always important to remember the four C's - cut, clarity, carats and color. You can learn more about this standard of measurement here.

One has numerous choices when selecting a diamond wedding band. Consider the shape of diamonds you'd like. The most popular options are square and round cut, which may or may not match your engagement ring – it's up to you! You may also choose to alternate shapes, if you prefer something a little more out of the ordinary.

The type of setting also has a great impact on the look of your diamonds and your ring overall. A prong setting usually allows more light into the diamonds for maximum brilliance and the least amount of metal is visible. However, many opt for a channel setting instead because a prong setting is not usually very smooth, and is therefore typically less comfortable to wear on the finger. Besides being a more comfortable option, a channel setting has a metal "frame" of sorts surrounding the diamonds, which offers the most protection for the stones and prevents abrasions or wear and tear.

Diamond wedding bands
Robbins Brothers, Tiffany & Co., Ross Simons, Tacori and

Gemstones. Some women prefer to have a little bit of color in their wedding bands. If you love color, consider a design that includes small semi-precious stones such as sapphires or rubies. Generally, the darker the gemstone, the more expensive it will be. Just remember that you'll be wearing this band for the rest of your life, so this is not the time to be following any trends! Above all else, you want to select a ring and type of stone that you love, and will stand the tests of time.

Gemstone, saphires, emerald wedding bands
Robbins Brothers, Tiffany & Co., Tiffany & Co. and Ross Simons.

The largest drawback of including gemstones in your ring is that gemstones are softer than diamonds, and are therefore, more prone to wear and tear. The "Mohs scale" registers a stone's ability to resist abrasion; 10 (diamonds) is the strongest and 1 (talc) is the weakest. See the table below to see how the most popular gemstones rank, and keep in mind that anything less than a Mohs scale 7 is not recommended for an engagement ring. If you are a person who does a lot of activity with their hands (how long does a manicure last on you?) then you may want to consider limiting your selection to the hardest of stones: rubies, sapphires and diamonds.

You should also know that a general rule of thumb is the darker the color, the more expensive the stone.

Stone Mohs Scale
Diamonds 10
Rubies 9
Saphires 9
Emeralds 8
Topaz 8
Aquamarines 7.5 - 8
Amethysts 7
Garnets 6.5 - 7.5
Opals 6

Other Commonly Asked Questions

Does the band have to lie right up against the engagement ring?
Of course not! When deciding on the design of your wedding band, it's important to keep your lifestyle in mind. Do you plan on wearing your engagement and wedding ring together on the same finger all the time? Then maybe opt for a band that curves around your engagement ring stone, or is attached to your e-ring all together. Or, if you happen to work with your hands a lot, do a lot of traveling, or maybe you just aren't a big jewelry person, it may be a good idea to get a wedding band that you can wear independently, as well as together with your engagement ring.

Should my wedding band match my husband's at all?
It doesn't have to, by any means. Make sure you're both happy with your choices first and foremost.

How do I wear my wedding ring with my engagement ring?
Most people will tell you that you should wear your wedding band closer to your heart, and place your engagement ring on top. Personally, I wear my engagement ring on the bottom and my wedding band on top because it feels more comfortable for me that way! I've also seen women wear them on different hands all together!

How to choose your wedding bands, Robbins Brothers, Blue Nile and Robbins Brothers.

A couple other things to consider...
You may opt for two wedding bands instead of one, one on each side of your engagement ring.
Most jewelers will recommend selecting a wedding band that has no indentation, and can be worn alone simply because it's a more flexible and versatile ring that way.
Avoid the trendy stuff. Remember that this is your wedding band that you'll hopefully be wearing for the rest of your life, and maybe even passing on to your own son or daughter.
Generally, a wedding band that is narrower in the back than in the front will be more comfortable than a ring that is the same size all the way around.

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1 Comment

Lisa (USA)

May 19, 2011 2:04 PM

My husband has become really fond of tungsten wedding bands lately. We've heard they are even tougher than platinum.