For many people, the wedding ring is the first piece of fine jewelry (or even jewelry) they will wear. And it’s something you will wear every day for decades. This can make shopping for a wedding ring feel like a very daunting undertaking. Where do you even start? Like most things in a relationship, a conversation with your partner is the best place. Having met with many ring-shopping couples, I’ve encountered three essential topics to discuss before you start looking.
How important is matching to you?
This is an important issue to talk over with your partner. It’s good to know where you both stand on this. Some couples want their rings to match completely, others don’t care if they match, and others try to find common ground by having one element in common (like style or metal). This is totally up to you. There is no right or wrong.
Having rings that totally match (style, metal, finish, etc.) is much trickier and requires many more compromises. If you go this route, it may mean something other than getting your ideal ring. So if one of you feels strongly that the rings need to match, you’ll want to have a conversation to figure out what you think the most important aspects of your wedding ring will be (like metal color, texture or no texture, classic or modern, etc.). That way, you’ll be prepared and know where to make concessions.
A goal of one matching component (like they are the same metal) is more manageable than totally matching. That way, each person gets a ring that they love. Personally, I love the symbolism of having a shared element and a different element representing two unique people coming together to form a relationship. And sometimes you’ll surprise yourselves. I’ve met with couples that decided to go in that direction but fell in love with matching rings.
Do you want a handmade ring or a mass-produced one?
With a handmade ring, you can usually get something that is more customized. We specialize in handmade bespoke rings, meaning there is a catalog of styles to choose from with many customization options, and the ring is made-to-order. The resulting ring is custom-made just for you but more affordable than a fully custom ring.
We also work with customers to further tweak design aspects for something more customized. You can see examples of this in our custom gallery. Something to keep in mind – the more customizing you do, the longer the lead time and the more expensive it becomes.
Going the handmade route also tends to be more sustainable. Small handmade businesses will have a smaller environmental footprint than large manufacturers. You’re also supporting a local economy and helping keep artisan skills alive. Not to mention that a handmade ring is unique. No two handmade rings will be exactly alike.
The advantages of buying a mass-produced ring are that they will typically be less expensive and may have a shorter lead time than a handmade one. This is why we offer "Simple Bands." These rings are made by another company on a computer-operated lathe. They are still made with 100% recycled metal, but because they are mass-produced, they have only a 1-3 week lead time.
Another big difference between a handmade ring and a mass-produced ring is the difference in the treatment of white gold. Commercially almost all white gold is rhodium plated. This gives it that bright white kind of chrome look. Often (but not always), handmade rings are not rhodium-plated. We don't rhodium plate the rings that we make in-house. This is something to consider if you are trying to match your engagement ring.
Rhodium plating is just a surface treatment, so it wears off and needs to be taken into a repair shop to be re-plated (aka "dipped") every one-two years. It also covers up the lovely color of white gold, which is really a warm white. Un-plated white gold is an excellent option for someone who wants a soft white-colored ring – not a stark white ring like platinum.
What's your budget?Budget will affect where you shop, what metals you choose, the dimensions of the ring, whether it has stones, and how much customizing you can do. Talk over your ring budget before you go shopping. Since your rings and photos are the most lasting part of a wedding, it makes sense to allocate more money to these things (though I admit I'm totally biased because I'm a jeweler). If you have a tight budget for your rings, this will play a more significant role in your choice. Also, be ready to shop around longer and make some compromises.
Metals are a significant component in price. The higher the karat gold, the more expensive it will be. If 18k gold is out of your budget, consider 14k or 10k. Or if you want a platinum ring but can't afford it, consider a white gold one instead.
While I don't typically recommend silver for a wedding ring because it's such a soft metal (it doesn't hold up well for long-term everyday wear), it's a good option if you are tapped out with all the other wedding expenses. In that case, a silver band could be a short-term ring you plan on replacing on an anniversary when you don't have all the other wedding expenses to worry about.
The dimensions of the ring also play a significant role in the price. If you are looking at bands without any stones, a wide chunky band will cost much more than a narrow thin band. When something is made with precious metal (gold, platinum, and palladium), adding or subtracting as little as 1/4mm in one direction can significantly affect the price. So if you are working within a tight budget, be ready to compromise on the width or thickness of the ring. Maybe a 5x1.5mm band is your ideal dimension, but the 5x1.25mm or the 4x1.5mm version is within your budget.
Adding stones, engravings, and other customizations will increase the ring's price. Setting stones is very labor intensive, which can drive up the price. And as I mentioned earlier, the more customizing you do, the more expensive it can be. So if you are planning on going the fully custom route, keep in mind your ring may cost up to 2x-3x than a standard offering.
And while these are important things to talk about before you go swoon over all those lovely rings, remember to stay flexible and leave yourself open to being surprised. Say, you may fall in love with a ring outside your budget – is there another place you can cut costs? Talk about these things beforehand, but be open to changes and compromise once you've started shopping.