Tips & trends

ENGAGEMENT RING TRENDS

Colored diamonds

While most diamonds are shades of white, colored diamonds are a much rarer sort. They come in yellows, blues, pinks and the least common, red. Because of their scarcity, natural-colored diamonds (also called "fancies") cost a premium. If you've got money to burn, we say go for it. Heidi Klum dressed up her ring finger with a gorgeous 10-carat yellow diamond, codesigned by hubby Seal and jeweler Lorraine Schwartz, for her engagement.

Vintage looks

These styles are either genuine antiques or are crafted to look that way. While a lucky few may have an heirloom in their family, everyone else can purchase one from a jeweler specializing in estate pieces. Vintage rings often are etched with filagree designs, feature period (such as art deco) detailing and have particular old-fashioned handwork and settings. If you're opting for the new old look, you're not alone: Katie Holmes received a distinctly Edwardian engagement ring from Tom Cruise.

Bezel diamond setting

A bezel setting keeps the diamond in place with a lipped metal rim that encircles the gem, holding it safely in place. This modern setting offers a low profile that is great for women who lead active lifestyles. The bezel not only protects the edges of the diamond but also helps give the impression of a bigger center stone!

Engagement-wedding ring combo

If you never got around to buying an engagement ring, a combination band could be perfect for you. These are often bedazzled bands of gold or platinum studded with diamonds around the circumference. Since these rings have many smaller stones, they can often be a more economical choice than a separate engagement ring and wedding band.

Engraving

With the popularity of personalization, engraving&mdash:an old-fashioned tradition—has become a newfangled trend. The inscriptions on the inside of rings can be simple, like the date of the wedding and initials of the beloveds, or more elaborate such as a line of poetry or lyrics from your favorite love song. Personalized engraving, especially done by hand has a lead time of one to four weeks, so plan ahead.

WEDDING BANDS: FOR THE GROOM

Made to last

Guys play tough, and their rings should too. Eighteen-karat gold, platinum (this one wins nine times out of 10) and titanium (if there ever was an indestructible metal, this is it!) are all durable metals that won't wimp out on him. Of course, if your man works construction, for example, common sense suggests he leave his ring at home.

Comfort is key

A wedding ring may be the only piece of jewelry some men wear, so the less obtrusive it is, the less he'll fuss over it. Ergonomic bands with rounded edges and surfaces are the most comfortable and agreeable styles.

Back to basics

When choosing a wedding ring, many guys go the safe route. This is why the single band is still the most popular style. (A matte finish is too—just beware: It shows scratches more easily and prominently than its shiny counterparts.) Men tend to stretch their style muscle by adding a small diamond—or, depending on the design, several—or by exploring different metal textures and finishes.

The bigger the better?

If trends are any indication, then yes! More and more men are opting for wider bands. Just keep in mind that size does matter: The ring should be proportionate to his body size—for example, a brawnier man would better carry off a wide band than would a guy with a lanky build.

Diamonds in the rough

Bedazzled bands are quickly becoming a guy's best friend—and there's nothing sissified about them. Diamonds that lie flush in the band (as in., channel or gypsy designs) are the most fashionable and the most securely set. And we're not just talking about white diamonds: Black and dark sapphire diamonds are a hot trend, offering a look that's still masculine and suitable for everyday wear.

Textured touch

Special metal treatments give simple bands stylish flair. Hammered metal is an increasingly sought-after look, and embellishments like filigree and etched or engraved patterns—even graphic motives (think Celtic, zodiac or sports—are another way to dress up a band and showcase individual style.

Trendy titanium

This tough guy is quickly catching the eye of many a groom-to-be—and surprisingly it's the metal's "cool" factor (think power tools and Lamborghini rims) that's most responsible for its appeal. Its extreme durability is just a bonus. Titanium's matte finish is also attractive to men who are unaccustomed to wearing jewelry.

Made to match

Complementary his-and-hers wedding rings are a sweet tradition many couples embrace. While the widths may vary, the bands often share the same metal and finish.

What's his style?

Is he a suit-and-tie office guy? Or does he spend much of his time in the great outdoors or playing sports? If it's the latter, then a ring decked with diamonds is probably too dressy a look for his jeans-and-tees wardrobe.

Get him involved

He'll be the one wearing this ring, so encourage him to speak up about his likes and dislikes when it's time to shop. It's in everyone's best interest for the ring to reflect his tastes—after all, you want to see it on his finger!

Get with the band

Unlike width, which can overwhelm a smaller hand, there's really no right or wrong ring shape. He'll want to try on several styles to determine which one is most comfortable. Here are some basic shapes, named after the cross-section view of the bands.

  • Round: curved on the inside and outside
  • D-shaped: curved on the outside and flat on the inside
  • Flat: flat on the inside and outside
  • Court-shaped: softly round on the outside and fully round on the inside
  • Easy-fit: flat on the outside and round on the inside

WEDDING BANDS: FOR THE BRIDE

Perfect match

If you plan to wear your engagement ring with your wedding band, a simple metal or eternity (all-over diamonds) band are popular options. You can also have your wedding band custom-made to complement your engagement ring—this is a great way to tastefully add even more bling.

Double duty

If you never got around to buying an engagement ring or are looking to save some cash by purchasing only one ring or don't plan to wear your engagement ring often, opt for a more ornate diamond-embellished band so you can still enjoy some sparkle.

Lasting look

Choose a ring you'll feel comfortable wearing for decades to come. It is wise to avoid anything too faddish. There's a reason the classic option is classic: A simple band of metal really does go with everything.

The eternity band

This is a wedding ring that features diamonds around the circumference of the band. While many men give this style ring to their wife on an anniversary, many women select this style from the start.

Get colorful

White diamonds are traditional, but sprinkling your band with gemstones of another hue is de rigueur these days. Sapphires are a popular choice, but you can also get super personal and alternate diamonds with your birthstone.

PROTECTING YOUR ENGAGEMENT RING
Each diamond is rare and unique—that's part of what you're paying for. The proper care will help you get your money's worth.

Safe storage

Jewelry boxes and dresser drawers are often the first places a thief will look for your valuables, so choose a secure hiding place that is inconspicuous yet convenient for you. Consider installing a home safe, or if you only plan to wear your engagement ring only on special occasions, store it in your bank's safe-deposit box.

Everyday wear

Being extra mindful of your diamond while performing daily tasks—like putting on gloves, which can catch prongs—will decrease the likelihood of your ring being damaged or misplaced. When removing your ring to wash dishes, shower or sleep, designate a save spot—in small bowl or in your jewelry box—that's away from sinks or surfaces where it can be forgotten or lost.

On the road

When flying, always keep your engagement ring with you—either on your finger or stowed safely in your carry-on. When you aren't wearing your ring, stash it in the hotel's safe-deposit box, never the safe in your room or, worse yet, your luggage. And if you find yourself in a place that makes you uneasy, turn your engagement ring upside down so the diamond doesn't attract unwanted attention.

Care tips

No matter which metal you chose, daily wear can take a toll on your ring, so check prongs periodically for loose stones. If you bump your ring, examine it for damage and, if necessary, take it to your jeweler for inspection and repair.

DIY cleaning

A yearly professional cleaning and polishing is recommended, but periodic at-home cleanings will keep your diamond super-sparkly between trips to the jeweler. In a small bowl away from the sink, soak your ring in warm sudsy water. Then use a soft toothbrush to clean between crevices. After rinsing, dry it with a lint-free cloth.

Playtime

To avoid accidentally damaging it, remove your diamond before swimming, sports, gardening or household chores. If you lead a very active lifestyle, you may want to consider a bezel or bar setting (which hold a diamond more securely) over a prong setting.

Insure your ring

This is the wisest thing you can do to protect your sparkling investment. Insurance guarantees your diamond will be replaced if lost, stolen or damaged.

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