Groom’s Guide: With This Ring
A handy primer on finding the perfect finger bling for you and your beloved | By Dan Engler
I’VE HAD THE SAME bottle-opener key ring for 20 years and yet I’ve managed to lose not one but two wedding rings. The first, a plain gold band, escaped from my pocket after I removed it for a tour of a beer can factory that prohibited jewelry on the manufacturing floor. The second ring wasn’t even mine: it was loaned to me by a friend out of concern for my wife’s honor. The loaner (it was a little loose) now resides on the bottom of a lake north of Toronto. Lessons learned: make sure that symbol of your eternal love is properly sized, and if you have to remove it, consider securing it somewhere safer than the pocket of your Carhartts. But first, check out our guide to picking rings that will hopefully be yours to have and to hold happily ever after.
1. YELLOW, WHITE & ROSE GOLD
The, ahem, gold standard when it comes to rings, naturally yellow gold doesn’t tarnish, is hypoallergenic, and boasts a mirror-like gleam when polished. The pliability of its pure form (24K) makes it ideal for creative design but also prone to damage; thus, it is usually alloyed with other metals for strength. “Gold has a beautiful luster and can easily be antiqued,” says Alexandria Rossoff, owner of Alexandria Rossoff Jewels.
White gold is actually not a true white metal; rather, alloys like nickel, manganese, or silver are added, for a pale tint—the ring is then plated with reflective rhodium to boost whiteness. Adding copper instead produces on-trend rose gold.
2. PLATINUM, SILVER & PALLADIUM
Typically the highest-end option due to its rarity, prestigious platinum is known for its naturally bright white brilliance, 90 to 95 percent purity, density (making it weightier on the hand), and durability. When scratched, this hypoallergenic, tarnish-resistant metal is moved aside rather than lost.
Sterling silver has a similar lustrous hue and is substantially less expensive; however, its softness makes it susceptible to damage and a tendency to oxidize requires frequent polishing. A more affordable but longer-lasting option is palladium— newer to the jewelry realm, this platinum-family ore looks and behaves much like its fancy kin, but has a lower density.
If your budget precludes precious metals or you simply dig strength, a lightweight feel, color, and/or character, check out titanium, tungsten, ceramic, carbon fiber, and wood. (I even know a guy who proposed with a rubber O-ring: “They fix leaks.”) “The only con to a ring made from alternative metals,” says Lisa Magetteri of Fremont Jewelry Design, “is that there is often no sizing it.”
FOR A RING THAT’S SET TO LAST, ROSSOFF SAYS: “Fine platinum will outlast a white or yellow gold ring by many years.”
» Consider This Is her engagement set in platinum, but her heart pines for a romantic rose gold band? Go for it! “I really love the contrast when it’s done right,” says Stephanie Tomczak Selle of With These Rings. “The wedding band represents the entire life of your marriage. Why not let it stand out?”
COLOR ME RAD
Engagement ring stones in nontraditional hues are on the uptick: Kate Middleton sports a blue sapphire, Halle Berry has an emerald, and Ashlee Simpson rolls with a ruby. “There will always be the classic solitaire diamond ring, faceted and brilliant. But black diamonds and rough-cut diamonds in all colors, even diamond crystals, are also stunning,” says Zoey Mann of Fox’s Gem Shop. “These stones are all being used today with varying sizes of bands, incorporating unusual textures and sometimes reclaimed metals. Often these rings are more versatile, much in the way that Seattleites tend to be more informal and fun.” Also note that diamonds come in canary, pink, pale blue, and beyond.
Plunking down a hefty chunk of change for such meaningful tokens can be nerve-racking, so play it safe by making appointments, window shopping, or looking online at least six weeks in advance— potentially longer if you hope to nail a great sale or want custom work. “Trying on rings is key,” insists Meg Rankin of J. Rankin Jewellers. “It’s like clothing: You may like something in a picture, but it may not look the same once you have it on your finger.” Start with jewelers who are recommended by friends or are industry accredited. Things to ponder: Do the two of you want matching rings? Do you want a curved or bespoke band that accommodates an engagement ring? What’s the store’s return policy?
First, add a jewelry rider to your home or renter’s insurance, or sign a specialty company like Jewelers Mutual. Next, when redoing the basement, scrubbing pans, or swimming (fingers can “shrink,” too), stash your bling in a bowl or drawer away from sinks. Finally, just like marriage itself, rings require some maintenance. “Ring care is simple,” says Rankin. “We offer maintenance to anyone, one of our customers or not. Bring in the ring as often as you like for cleaning and inspection— it is always free. But do it at least once every six months. Do not wear rings in the shower, sleeping, or doing things like weight lifting, gardening, etc.”
Hey, we’re all snowflakes, right? So why not wear bands built to suit your one-of-a-kind personalities? Try these customizers on for size:
» With These Rings “It’s worth it to take the time to design a band that is unique to you,” says Selle. “The couples that I work with come to my studio and actually make their own rings through guided instruction. They form their bands by hand using a torch and hammer. It definitely isn’t for everyone, but the couples who seek me out really appreciate being involved in every step.”
» Tipp and Co “There is no comparison in the quality between a custom piece and one ‘off the rack,'” says Tipp. “The average timeline for a custom ring from our store is about four to five weeks.”
“Bands don’t have to match, but it’s especially lovely when a mismatched set has some subtle detail that exists in both rings.” – STEPHANIE TOMCZAK SELLE, WITH THESE RINGS
TRENDS FOR THE…
» Aaron Tipp of Tipp and Co says that while he’s seeing a lot of rose gold and yellow gold in wedding rings these days, many Emerald City grooms are leaning toward modern metals like palladium and adding some bling with diamonds in their bands.
» “We are seeing more rose gold used for engagement rings, and some mixed metals like a white gold engagement ring with a rose gold wedding band,” says Rankin. “Women love stacked rings.” She also notes an uptick in yellow gold and colored gemstones.
“For a stacked set select different shapes and a variety of stand-out colors.” – MEG RANKIN, J. RANKIN JEWELLERS
THEY PUT A RING ON IT
The inside story behind two local couples’ stylishly personal picks
Planning to marry November 7, 2015, in Playa del Carmen, Mexico
“Sitting in the first glass case, I saw a ring that I simply fell in love with,” recalls Tannya of a casual shopping stop in Fremont’s Essenza with then-boyfriend, Luis. “The caramel-colored diamond paired nicely with my skin tone, and the yellow gold wasn’t too shiny or bright. It was the perfect piece.” Five months later, Luis unexpectedly popped the question, presenting Tannya with the Anne Sportun–designed ring she had set her heart on. “This ring is perfect for my personality: eye-catching, but not flashy. Anne designs one-of-a-kind pieces to match the stones she finds,” says Tannya. “I had been married once before, but this time around I wanted a ring that was untraditional, unique, and special.” Photograph by Jos Photographers
Wedding Date June 3, 2014, on the Ballard waterfront
“My partner and I had matching rings designed by Sally at Fancy downtown,” says Arizona native Sonny. “The studio is stylish, homey, and the staff is friendly and helpful. We checked out a couple other shops, but really felt comfortable at Fancy. We walked in one day, worked up our designs, and the rings were ready and resized in time for our secret wedding the following month. Both rings were crafted with yellow gold and palladium, but one is hammered and the other has a polished finish. Oh, and Sally gave us funny little animal boxes for our rings—we loved their attention to detail and professionalism without sacrificing their artistic side.” Photograph by Barbie Hull
LET’S GET ETHICAL
Worried that your symbol of everlasting love and commitment may have funded warfare or come from poor mining practices?
» Ask your jeweler to provide proof that your rings’ components were ethically sourced in accordance with the Kimberley Process, the United Nations– approved certification that’ll guarantee your diamond is not of the “blood” variety. Don’t forget about your metals, too: No-DirtyGold.org lists retailers who support responsible gold mining practices. Or even consider an eco-friendly wooden band.
» Another route is reusing. Choose vintage and estate bands from Alana Antique and Estate Jewelry—vintage rings often have top-notch craftsmanship and are more affordable—or select rings from recycled materials. Joseph Jewelry uses only recycled metals for its custom pieces, thus minimizing its eco-impact and sidestepping any unsavory mining practices.