White gold, yellow gold or platinum; carat size, clarity, and color; princess cut, emerald cut, or round solitaire…
These are the buzz words that often play on repeat in the minds of a soon-to-be-engaged couple. And for a very good reason too! Whether a couple announces their engagement and then later heads to the jewelers or the ring comes as a total surprise to the future bride, it really cements the reality of their not-too-distant wedding bells.
However, it’s important to not get overly caught up in the excitement of the moment and still take time to reflect on the significance of the wedding ring. Most people already know that the ring is used to symbolize the new “forever” that a married couple embarks on. A wedding ring has no beginning and no end; a reflection of the eternal nature of the new union. Furthermore, the hole in the center of the ring is not merely just empty space. It is symbolic in its own right as a passage, gateway, or door, representing a lead into events both known and unknown for the newly married couple.
Some of the earliest rings were made by the ancient Egyptians who twisted and braided reeds growing alongside the Nile river. They placed the rings on the second finger of the left hand because of a belief that a very vital vein ran from that finger to the heart. It seemed appropriate that the ring which symbolized true love should be worn in this manner. The tradition continued as the Greeks conquered the Egyptians and then it was passed on further to the Romans who called this the “vena amoris”; Latin for “vein of love.”
Here are several things to keep in mind after you decide to tie the knot and before you head to the jewelers:
Your ring should reflect your personality
Most people wear their wedding ring more often or longer than any other accessory or piece of jewelry. Many even wear them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year… for their entire life! The engagement ring and/or wedding band should really become a part of you, and therefore also be a reflection of you. Brides with a classic, sophisticated style might be drawn to a gold band with a round, eye-catching solitaire (once popularized by Tiffany & Co.) while today’s rugged, “guy’s guy” type of groom often goes for a durable and masculine tungsten carbide band. Whatever your style may be, make sure you ultimately decide on a ring that you will love and allow to become part of you for many years to come.
Determine a ring budget and stick to it
Engagement and wedding rings are big purchases not to be taken lightly. While every girl has dreams about her ideal engagement ring, often guys have nightmares about the price tag. To avoid anxiety and stress, discuss how much you as a couple would like to spend. While the ring is supposed to be a token of your love for each other, it ultimately is still just an object. Neither the extravagance nor the simplicity of a wedding ring correlates with how much love the couple has for each other. If the determined ring budget is somewhat on the smaller scale, don’t leave the option of a later “upgrade” off of the table. Many younger couples will choose an engagement ring with a beautiful setting, but a smaller feature stone and then opt for an upgrade at their 5, 10, or even 20 year anniversary. Also, cubic zirconia has become a popular alternative that while synthetic, looks and feels nearly identical to the real deal… but has a considerably lower cost.
Your ring should be a good match for your lifestyle
The engagement and wedding rings that you as a couple choose should be well-paired with the type of life you both live. Comfort is often a key consideration, especially for those who frequently are using their hands for either work or recreation. Thinner bands with curved edges often prove to be an easier transition for the future groom who isn’t accustomed to wearing any jewelry. If he works with heavy equipment or objects, he might consider a tungsten metal or ceramic band that will not crush his finger on impact, but would instead shatter. It is just as important for the future bride to keep in mind the type of day-to-day activities that she is busy with. Some rings have settings that stand out higher and can easily snag on objects that are being handled. For example, many women who are in the hair styling business opt for a wide, decorative band with intricate designs and inlaid stones that will not easily tug at their clients’ hair. Both future grooms and brides should be aware of metals that are more susceptible to scratches (platinum, palladium, titanium) and those that are more scratch-resistant (white gold, yellow gold, tungsten). Weigh all of these considerations about your lifestyle and prospective rings and then try to find the best match that you will love!
If you are in the market for engagement rings and wedding bands, then congratulations! You’ve already gotten past the most important decision–to make it official. Remember these considerations when deciding on a ring, but also keep in mind the reasons why you are even seeking after this particular piece of jewelry: it symbolizes the everlasting vows you will soon be making and the new and exciting life that you are embarking upon together.