by Staff Writer
You'll wear your wedding band for decades, so it should have a style you like and should be appropriate for your lifestyle. Of all your wedding day preparations, your choice of ring will stay with you throughout your marriage. This guide will help you get started in your wedding band search, so you can choose a fitting symbol for your new life together.
Gold: Gold is the traditional metal for wedding jewelry. Although yellow gold is natural and traditional, it can be alloyed with other metals to create white or rose gold. Gold rings can be easily engraved; consider adding your partner's initials or the wedding date. The copper, silver and nickel included in some gold alloys can cause low-karat gold jewelry to tarnish. High-karat gold is tarnish-resistant but soft, making it vulnerable to scratching and bending. A high-karat gold ring may not be the best choice if you work with your hands every day.
Platinum: The most rare and valuable of the precious metals, platinum has a naturally white gleam that sets it apart from silver. Platinum is more hypoallergenic than other precious metals because its alloys typically include a lower percentage of zinc, nickel and other known allergens. Platinum is a softer metal, so it is easily scratched. A jeweler may need to polish a platinum ring to restore the original high-gloss appearance.
Silver: Silver is one of the most reflective precious metals, and a polished finish showcases the metal's beauty. Silver is also very affordable compared to gold or platinum. When shopping for a silver wedding band, choose sterling silver, which is 92.5 percent pure silver. Silver tarnishes, so it requires more frequent polishing than other metals. Rhodium-plating can protect against tarnishing for a while, but it eventually wears away.
Titanium: An industrial metal, titanium is very durable and also lightweight. Its medium grey color is more subtle than the bright whites and yellows of platinum or gold. Like other industrial metals, titanium is hypoallergenic. A titanium ring resists tarnish and discoloration, so the ring is much more likely to maintain its original appearance. Although its color is attractive, titanium doesn't match the luster of silver, gold or platinum.
Tungsten: An extremely hard metal, tungsten resists scratches and will not bend like precious metals. Tungsten wedding rings are actually made of equal parts tungsten and carbon, a material known as tungsten carbide. Tungsten carbide rings can be polished to a mirror-finish, but they are significantly darker in color than platinum or silver. Tungsten is heavier than titanium and stainless steel. Although the metal is extremely hard, tungsten may crack or shatter if struck at high impact. Tungsten carbide rings cannot be resized.
Ceramic: Ceramic rings have a glossy finish, and their rich color does not fade over time. They are lightweight, hypoallergenic and scratch-resistant. Ceramic rings are hard, but brittle. Like tungsten rings, they are not resizable and may shatter if struck against a hard surface at high impact.
Traditional rings: Traditional men's wedding rings include bands made of classic yellow gold, shiny white gold and precious platinum. Traditional wedding bands may have subtle decorative features, such as beveled edges.
Patterned rings: If you want more than a traditional band, look for rings with sculpted edges, patterned inlays and textured finishes. A black ceramic inlay on a steel-grey tungsten ring creates a contrast between the two materials. A band of brushed metal can offset polished portions of your ring.
Gemstones: You'll see gemstones in many contemporary designs. Small diamonds, set flush with the surface of the band, draw attention to the ring and offset the color of the metal. Black diamonds and other dark gemstones update the look and also enhance a ring's appearance.
Sizing: Know your ring size before you settle on a wedding band. Download our convenient ring sizing chart to find your correct size.
Timing: Don't leave wedding jewelry shopping to the last minute. You will want to purchase wedding bands at least two months before the ceremony. This allows time for you to receive the rings and make any exchanges, if needed. Wedding bands with special engravings may take more time, so plan ahead in order to be prepared on the big day.