If you're like many brides-to-be, you don't feel that you're really getting married until you've got that ring firmly on your finger. "No other piece of jewelry will ever be as important," says Antoinette Matlins, a gem expert and author of Engagement & Wedding Rings: The Definitive Buying Guide for People in Love (GemStone Press, 1999). "No matter how magnificent other jewelry purchases might be, nothing carries with it the same excitement and magic."
Often that excitement and magic emanate directly from the stone. And even if you love the classic look of a single centerpiece gem, there are a number of ways to make your solitaire ring truly one of a kind.
There's no denying diamonds are the definitive rock for marriage. As far back as the 14th Century, they were coveted because of their scarcity and reputation for being an indestructible force, much like the marital bond. Well, times have changed, and diamonds are now about as rare as water. That doesn't mean you can't set your diamond apart from the pack.
An increasing number of couples are having hidden messages inscribed directly onto their diamond's perimeter. For as little as $50 for 15 characters, you can have anything from your wedding date to your initials lasered on the stone's girdle. "It's a unique way to personalize your ring," Matlins says, "and since the message isn't noticeable to the naked eye, it will be shared only by the two of you."
If the romance factor doesn't entice you, the inscription can also be used to identify the ring, should it be lost or stolen, and it can be easily buffed off without affecting the value of the stone. Your jeweler arranges the service for you through organizations specializing in this technology, like the Gemological Institute of America and the International Gemological Institute, located in New York City. The turnaround is usually from 24 to 48 hours.
Color Me Unique
A vibrant hue on your hand can be striking. Many members of the British Royal family would agree: Diana Spencer wore a sapphire engagement ring; Sarah Ferguson sported a ruby. As Matlins points out, "colored gems are a more personal choice for brides, because [variations in tones make] each individual stone distinct from any other."
Red has long been a popular choice, for its connotations of the heart and love. One of Matlin's favorite crimson stones is the red tourmaline, which is an affordable alternative to the ruby. Others include spinel and garnet, and if money isn't a consideration, red emerald. The rarest of the scarlet rocks, it's only found in one spot in the world: Utah.
Green expresses faithfulness and continuity, but Matlins warns against choosing an emerald for everyday use. "Since most people don't have the budget for stones of rare enough quality to be durable, it's wise to buy them only in pieces of jewelry that will be worn on special occasions."
In lieu of an emerald, she recommends tsavorite. This stone, which is found in Kenya, comes in a wide range of greens and is considered to be more brilliant and durable than emeralds, not to mention a tenth of the price. Many experts believe it's poised to replace the emerald as the most popular green stone.
If you're looking for a large selection of colors, your search ends with the sapphire. Not only is it one of the most durable stones available, but it also comes in an array of shades from yellow and peach to brown and black. For something that represents spirituality and purity, stick with the true-blue sapphire. Just make sure you go for a lighter shade. "Choose a sapphire in a rich blue color, but not so dark that it looks blackish," Matlins says, since blackish stones are usually lower quality.
If you want something closely connected with love and marriage, an obvious choice is pearl. For 3,000 years it has been an emblem of modesty, chastity, and purity. Like emeralds, however, only the most expensive pearls are considered durable enough for everyday use, so Matlins suggests wearing them on your wedding day in the form of a necklace, earrings, or bracelet.
No matter what stone you choose, with proper care and attention, your gem should last as long as your marriage—forever.