Though engagement rings get most of the attention, wedding bands are a ring that should not be ignored. Serving as a sign of commitment, this piece of jewelry is a huge symbol of love for all couples who have embraced the union of marriage. In fact, wedding bands predate engagement rings (dating back to ancient Egyptian and Greek times) and were founded as a physical representation of love and devotion within a relationship.
Today, this special accessory has evolved in its outward appearance, now coming in various styles, colors, and shapes to suit the essence of modern-day nuptials. Couples have the freedom to purchase wedding bands that fit their unique love stories, and the choices are truly endless when it comes to finding a style that's long-lasting and memorable.
For those currently searching for a wedding band to express their own love story, expert Joshua Sherman, director of marketing and branding at Grown Brilliance, is here to help. Ahead, he breaks down everything you need to know when it comes to finding the perfect band for you and your partner.
Meet the Expert
Joshua Sherman is the director of marketing and branding at Grown Brilliance, an industry leader in lab-grown jewelry and engagement rings.
A Guide to Wedding Bands
As mentioned, wedding bands have evolved since their ancient beginnings, and there are so many options to choose from when it comes to finding a piece that's right for you. So, before you embark on shopping for a style, it's important to understand the basic characteristics of wedding bands, which Sherman highlights below.
"White gold is by far the most popular metal for wedding bands and engagement rings," shares Sherman, but additional hues, such as yellow gold, rose gold, platinum, and palladium, have also increased in popularity throughout the years.
When selecting a metal, it's important to consider your lifestyle and the other pieces of jewelry you often wear. For instance, most brides chose to select the same metal used in their engagement rings for their wedding bands, as this is a way to keep all jewelry cohesive and effortlessly paired. (However, there’s no hard and fast rule here and you can certainly mix metals if you're looking for a unique touch.) Additionally, if you work with your hands, consider a stronger metal such as tungsten or platinum, which are both harder than the classic white gold and are able to withstand continuous wear and tear.
Many couples utilize the addition of stones and gems—like diamonds, sapphires, or rubies—to make their wedding bands unique. While pavé and channel styles add lots of sparkle and flair, this decision is a personal choice and isn't required. According to Sherman, "this is entirely based on the individual's preferences, but they should consider their lifestyle to ensure it is practical. Budget is also a factor since bands with stones are more expensive."
Engraving and Etching
From vintage art deco designs to stars and florals, there are endless ways to make the metal on your band a work of art. Just keep in mind that intricate etching is more likely to trap dirt (and is harder to clean), and any additional designs (or engraving on the inside) will add to the final price. Expect to pay anywhere from $25 for 15 machine-carved characters to $75 for 8 hand-engraved characters.
Ranging from 1mm to 8+mm, the width of your band is arguably one of the biggest choices you'll have to make. "Men typically prefer a wedding band between 4mm to 7mm, and the choice for women varies with younger generations preferring skinnier, daintier bands," notes Sherman.
In general, though, most brides will opt to match the width of their wedding bands to that of their engagement rings, with the most common widths ranging from 2mm to 4 mm. That said, mixing widths can create a unique look, so don’t be afraid to shop for something bigger or smaller depending on the overall vibe you want to achieve.
When it comes down to the final details of your band, a finish can really set the accessory apart and help your ring stand out. Whether you long for a more textured look found in stone, brush, matte, hammered, or sandblast, or you prefer a satin or high polish, a finish is a final touch that will truly make your band your own.
Wedding Band Shopping Tips
As you embark on your wedding band journey, the biggest piece of advice to remember is to start shopping early. "It’s important to start early, especially if you want something unusual, or with diamonds or gemstones," advises Sherman, who also notes that most couples should start their search at least three months before the big day. "Most wedding bands are made to order, so don’t risk an unforeseen delay." Simply put, the more time you have to figure out the details, the better your chances of selecting something that will stand the test of time.
Decide who will buy the ring.
Sherman notes that today, "it's becoming more common for couples to purchase their own wedding bands," as opposed to the responsibility being placed on only one person in the relationship. This is a personal choice, though, and you should ultimately do what works best for you and your partner.
Sherman also adds, "the decision of who should buy the wedding band can depend on the couple's personal preferences, financial situation, and cultural background. Some couples may choose to pay for each other's bands as a symbol of their commitment, while others may opt to split the cost evenly or establish a shared wedding account to contribute to the purchase."
Understand the standard costs.
However you decide to buy your wedding bands, expect to spend around 3% of your wedding budget, though prices can vary significantly depending on the metal, finger size, and width of the ring. For instance, on average, you can expect a simple 14-karat gold or platinum band to cost around $1,000, with an increased price tag if you opt for additional embellishments and engravings.
Decide if you want matching wedding bands.
Wedding bands are very personal, and there’s no rule that says a couple needs to agree on a metal hue or style. It’s all about finding what you love and what reflects your individual styles, together. If you do want similar bands, though, consider a gender-neutral option, like a braided band that blends two metals you both love or a similar element such as a hammered finish. Whether you match, find something unique, or forego bands altogether, coming to a solution you both love is what it’s all about.
Consider jewelry insurance.
"It’s never a bad idea to insure valuable items. Adding a jewelry rider to homeowner’s or renter's insurance is usually quite inexpensive, and now there are established insurance offerings available specifically for jewelry," notes Sherman. "A warranty really depends on your appetite for risk and the likelihood that you’ll need it. As always, read the fine print carefully to make sure you understand exactly what to expect if you need to make a claim."
How to Care for a Wedding Band
"You should keep [your wedding band] clean by using a brush and lightly scrubbing it with a cleaning solution or even just a couple drops of dish soap in warm water. Wipe it with a microfiber cloth and it should be clean again," shares Sherman.
Additionally, remove your wedding band when cleaning, swimming, cooking, gardening, playing sports, sleeping, and showering. While plenty of couples love the idea of never taking their rings off, removing them before any activities that could tarnish, scratch, or result in loss is the best way to help your rings stay intact forever.