Engagement rings and wedding bands say much more than “I’m spoken for.” They can whisper, “I like simple elegance,” scream “Give me something out of the ordinary!” or matter-of-factly remark, “I’m traditional.” The rings that you and your fiance exchange will reveal as much about your style as the furniture you choose for your home.
More and more couples are going for rings with a customized appearance, according to Leonard Strnad, owner of Vivid Jewelers in Bay Village. “They want a unique piece tailored to their needs,” he says. That might mean a round diamond centering an unadorned white-gold ring or a blue sapphire encircled by tiny diamonds.
Those who dare to be really different can have a jeweler create something that won’t be seen on anyone else’s finger. “We did a set of rings for a couple from Chicago,” recalls Steve Greenberg, owner of IMG Jewelers in Lyndhurst. “It looks like a mountain with a crescent moon and star.”
OK, so maybe you’re not feeling that daring. A solitaire diamond set on a plain band carries its own subtle drama. You can obtain a personalized look by mounting the diamond in highly stylized prongs or using an anniversary band — which features a row of channel-set diamonds — for the wedding band.
What a Gem
When it comes to the type of stone used for an engagement ring, the diamond remains a classic. “It’s the only gem that refracts light. And it goes with everything — whether you’re going to wear jeans or dress up,” says Mary Kelly, marketing manager for Marlen Jewelers in Rocky River.
The cut of the diamond is a matter of personal taste, although some cuts are more highly requested than others. The round cut, with its clean, pure appearance, never seems to go out of style.
“Round brilliance is the real McCoy,” says Strnad. “It’s not a trend. It’s the legend.” The princess cut — a square shape with an even distribution of brilliance — has become a very popular choice recently.
You may be certain that you want a diamond, but have you thought about what color of diamond you’d like? Pink, blue and black diamonds are comparable costwise to white diamonds, and they offer their own head-turning appeal. “They have an Old World flavor,” says Strnad, adding that color diamonds have been popular in Europe for the last few years. “Blue has a really unique atmosphere. When people see a blue diamond on a woman’s finger, they go crazy.”
Sapphires and emeralds also make striking stones for engagement rings, especially when surrounded by smaller diamonds. But keep in mind that other gems aren’t as hard or as durable as diamonds. “Emeralds are fragile,” says Steven DiFranco, owner of Steven DiFranco Jewelers in Willoughby. “An engagement ring is going to be worn a lot and it’s going to take some beating. Using another gem [besides a diamond] sometimes makes maintenance costly.”
When it comes to engagement rings and wedding bands, all that glitters is not necessarily yellow gold. Platinum and white gold have been the rage for a few years and continue to be highly sought after. When choosing between the two, consider these facts: A white gold ring is generally about $1,000 less than a platinum ring (and that’s before you add a stone to either of them), and platinum and white gold are essentially indistinguishable to the naked eye.
“People can put the extra money saved [from buying white gold instead of platinum] and put it toward the gem,” notes Greenberg.
To its credit, platinum is denser and heavier than gold, which means that it probably won’t thin on the bottom after extended wear, as white gold tends to do. Platinum does scratch easily and it acquires a dull gray finish over time. If a timeworn look appeals to you, then platinum could be a good choice.
Another hot metal these days is titanium, which is less expensive than platinum or gold and has unusual brown overtones. “But it’s not a noble metal,” warns Strnad. “It has no malleability. You can take gold and melt it down to something else. You can’t do that with titanium.”
Yellow gold still has its fans, according to DiFranco. And for those who don’t want to be tied down to one color, two-tone bands featuring yellow and white gold are a nice option.
Pink gold is a pleasant alternative to other metals because its delicate shine lends subtle elegance. “Pink gold with pink diamonds looks beautiful on a woman with red hair and a light complexion,” says Strnad.
I’m with the Band
Wedding bands for men and women are more stylish than ever. A band with a row of diamonds adds glamour to an engagement ring. It also looks beautiful on its own. “It’s perfect for someone who’s active,” says Kelly. “If you’re going to the gym or gardening and you don’t want to wear your engagement ring, it still looks great.”
Many years ago, engaged couples often bought trio sets, which came with a wedding ring and matching bands for the man and woman. Those have gone the way of the dinosaur, according to DiFranco. It’s perfectly OK for a man’s and woman’s band to have completely different styles. In fact, most men are excited to have a ring with a distinctive flair. “They don’t want the good old Plain Jane,” says Strnad. “They’re not necessarily spending tons of money, but they’re getting something different.” Recently, Vivid Jewelers designed a ring that looked like a sprocket on a mountain bike for an active outdoorsman who was about to get married.
Clean and masculine designs appeal to men and their fiancees, says Greenberg: “Men like platinum for the heaviness. Or sometimes they’ll get two-tone so it matches their watch.”
A man who has never before worn a ring on his finger may be somewhat leery about suddenly sporting a thick, diamond-studded band. But he shouldn’t take drastic measures and select a band that’s too thin.
<p class="blue>Nifty Gifts
“A larger hand will need a ring with some width or it will look out of proportion,” says Kelly.
Don’t forget the wedding party. Pearl stud earrings will match almost any bridesmaid dress, and their classic look ensures they’ll be worn after the wedding. Grooms are beginning to personalize gifts for each usher, Greenberg notes. “They might give cufflinks to one guy and a cigar holder to another. Whiskey flasks are really popular now. And writing instruments always make a good gift.”