Although many people’s minds leap to engagements and weddings when they think of rings, this versatile jewelry piece has been used throughout history as a means of identification, to carry a family crest or seal or to denote love and respect. The perfect circle of a ring symbolizes the eternity of life and the cycles of the Earth, making it an ideal presentation for special life occasions.
Wedding rings made solely of platinum, yellow gold or white gold are traditionally used for wedding ceremonies and can be selected or specially designed to match almost any engagement ring. In many cases, couples choose to coordinate the women’s wedding ring with the groom’s ring.
For brides who prefer a more extravagant look, more elaborate women’s rings can be set with diamonds or a combination of diamonds and gemstones. With eternity bands, diamonds or gemstones are often wrapped entirely around the ring. In another variation, a few stones may be set in a row or in a unique pattern. In addition to wedding ceremonies, these are often given as anniversary gifts. Diamonds vary widely in size, cut, color and clarity, and the selection of high-quality stones is essential to the appearance and longevity of your wedding ring.
Men’s wedding rings have become increasingly popular in the past several decades. The male wedding ring is usually part of a pair that the bride and groom exchange during the wedding ceremony to complete their vows.
Men’s rings are traditionally thicker than women’s wedding rings, but there is no set style. They are most often a simple band of platinum, yellow gold or white gold that pairs with the bride’s ring, but they can also be set with small diamonds, gemstones or textured designs. Other types of metals, such as palladium, titanium, tungsten and stainless steel are growing in popularity for men’s wedding rings.
An engagement ring is a symbol of a couple’s intent to marry. Almost always given during the marriage proposal, the engagement ring is usually selected by the groom, often with help from the mother, sister or friend of his future bride. Once a couple is engaged, the woman wears the engagement ring as a token of her devotion to her fiancé.
The most popular style for engagement rings is a classic setting of gold or platinum with a single or “solitaire” diamond taking center stage. The solitaire diamond is a timeless symbol of fidelity and commitment. This simple ring can make an elegant or dramatic statement depending on the size and cut of the diamond and the style of setting selected.
A diamond setting with additional side stones is another popular style for engagement rings. This striking setting features a larger center stone, usually a diamond, flanked by complementary diamonds or gemstones.
Engagement rings and wedding rings are often sold as a matched set. This allows the bride to comfortably wear the two rings together after the wedding without worrying about a clash in styles.
Ring sets are usually designed to allow the simpler wedding ring to slip into place below the diamond engagement ring. You may choose to have the two rings welded together after the wedding to keep them from rotating or slipping apart. This also helps to prevent friction caused by the rings rubbing against one another– a problem that is more common in softer, high-carat gold.
Diamonds are the most popular adornment for wedding and engagement rings, but they are by no means the only option. Many people choose a more unusual gemstone for their engagement ring, such as a ruby, aquamarine, sapphire, pearl or even a semi-precious stone like amethyst quartz or the diamond look-a-likes cubic zirconium or moissanite.
If you’re looking for a more unique engagement ring, an emerald, ruby or other center stone can provide a refreshing alternative to conventional diamond rings. Some of the most popular alternative gemstones include blue sapphires (which represent faithfulness), emeralds (a symbol of peace, hope and revival), and rubies (a sign of passion, love, and glamour). Pearls are a common choice for elegant, antique-styled jewelry and engagement rings and are a symbol of purity, faithfulness and innocence. Any of these gemstones can be used with the same settings and metals as a diamond engagement ring.
A promise ring represents a promise made either to yourself or to another. It can be a vow to achieve an important goal, a promise of loyalty to a friend, or most commonly, the promise that comes before an engagement.
The Claddagh ring is Irish with a long history dating back to the ancient Romans. It bears the symbol of a crowned heart held by two hands. The hands symbolize friendship, the heart means love and the crown equals of loyalty.
If you’re looking for a ring to give as a gift to a friend or simply to wear as adornment, a fashion ring may be an ideal choice. Available in many styles and sizes, fashion rings can be worn by men or women for daily or formal use.
Many women sport prominent diamond rings that are neither wedding nor engagement rings. This kind of ring is usually worn daily on the ring finger of the right hand and is often called a right hand ring, a dinner ring or a cocktail ring.
Men’s engagement rings are rising in popularity, especially in the last 10 years. For many, it’s a symbol for same-sex relationships. For others, they may also want to show their commitment along with their bride-to-be.
Gemstones are the most common choice for fashion rings, partly because of their attention-getting colors. Available in a variety of colors, cuts and sizes, they make classic gifts for recipients of any age.
All-metal fashion rings are perfect for those who want a simpler, neutral adornment without any gemstones. They can vary from the classic elegance of a cool platinum band to ornately worked designs in silver, gold, steel and more.
Religious rings are worn to represent devotion to a deity or a meaningful aspect of a person’s spiritual beliefs. A ring depicting a crucifix, a saint or angel whose presence is significant in one’s life serves as an elegant display of faith.