It’s a detail few guests will get a good look at, but it’ll stay with you, up close and personal, for as long as you’re married. Wedding bands deserve some attention as you do your planning—and don’t leave this decision to the last minute, since rings can take one to four weeks to arrive once you’ve placed an order.
So what options are out there for wedding-band shoppers?
The classic metal band is still certainly around—but whereas your grandparents might have chosen gold without a second thought, you’ll likely be weighing the pros and cons of gold, platinum, palladium and others. Then there’s the question of stones. Do you crave diamonds, or even diamonds plus a colored gem like a ruby or sapphire? A simple metal band is likely to cost $125-600, whereas more luxurious choices can easily go into the thousands of dollars.
Rob Matthews, manager at Fink’s Jewelers, says his female customers frequently ask for wedding bands that can equally well complement an engagement ring or be worn without it. “When they are doing an activity or going on a trip, they may not want to wear their engagement ring,” he says, “but still want a nice-looking ring on their finger.” Custom bands can be made to contour perfectly with your engagement ring.
As for the men, Matthews says lots of grooms-to-be these days are interested in alternative metals like tungsten and titanium—materials that are more durable and less expensive than traditional gold.
Don’t forget to look for an easy fit, too—some rings are actually labeled “comfort fit”—and something that works with your lifestyle (i.e. don’t go for something fussy if you spend weekends climbing mountains). This might be the one fashion choice you’ll live with forever.
Metals and more metals
Gold is here to stay, but it’s been joined by a number of other metals that you may be getting to know as you hunt for the perfect bands. Here are the basics:
Gold, as we all know, is relatively soft; it can be combined with other metals to create “white gold,” which is essentially a plating that can be scratched off. Platinum has become very popular in recent years and, true to its luxury status, is the most expensive material for wedding bands—yet it’s not especially scratch-resistant. It’s also fairly heavy.
Three alternatives that are more affordable are palladium, tungsten and titanium. Palladium looks similar to platinum, and it feels lighter on the finger. One con: Many jewelers have less experience with it, and it can be hard to repair.
Tungsten is the most scratch-resistant metal, and its hardness means it’ll break rather than bend under enough pressure. Titanium is similarly durable and affordable, but very lightweight.
All of these—except gold—are hypoallergenic.—EH