If you’ve successfully accomplished the engagement ring purchase and presentation (i.e., you surprised and delighted her with the ring and didn’t go bankrupt in the process), you probably are thinking that you’ll never have to buy jewelry again. That’s charming but naive. You will have to buy jewelry again, and soon. You’ve forgotten the wedding bands.
Picking out a wedding band can be surprisingly complicated. Once you move beyond the general basics of size, shape, and finish, there’s a whole other set of details to consider. These details will determine how flashy your bands will end up. Below, find out how to choose the style best suited for you.
The Classic Route
Sometimes, you just want to stick with what you know is sturdy, safe, and won’t look dated 5 years down the road. Designer, Ashley Zhang explains that “the most traditional ring style is a simple half round band.” Also referred to as the D-shaped band, the rounded exterior and flat interior is the type that’s been around for generations, clearly withstanding the test of time. Other simple options include the flat band (flat on both exterior and interior sides) and the court band (rounded on both exterior and interior sides).
Yarden and Oren Katz, sister founders of the fine jewelry brand, Carbon & Hyde , agree, and add a metal like white gold or platinum and a high polish finish are the best options for this simple style.
For the Traditional Guy
If you’re the kind of guy who started wearing skinny ties after Mad Men hit big (nothing wrong with that: we’d dress like Roger Sterling if we could pull it off), the milgrain style band might be the way to go. “Milgrain accents became extremely popular during the Art Deco era,” Zhang says. “It was a trendy way to add detail to a traditional wedding band.”
While still holding on to the classic elements of the traditional band, the milgrain style’s miniscule bead lined border lends the ring a vintage feel. This intricate detailing takes a long time to accomplish, and that extra workmanship makes the band seem more romantic A milgrain style band’s delicate frame will also highlight any engravings.
Adding Some Texture
For those who want to try a more modern style band, extra grooves or surface textures are a popular option. Whereas women prefer to have their rings sparkle to accompany the stones of their engagement ring, men tend to choose subtle statement bands, with hammered, brushed, or sandwashed exteriors and small grooves carved into the sides. “It helps add a design aspect to the ring without compromising its masculinity,” say the Katz sisters.
If you’re looking for a rougher finish, try sand-washed or wire brushed, but if you want your band to remain smooth on the outside with just a slightly reduced shine, go with a regular brushed or hammered exterior. “A favorite men’s wedding band is a flat top satin finish band,” Yarden and Orden say. “The flat top is a bit more edgy and modern; the clean straight lines paired with the brushed finish reads super masculine compared to a standard dome high polish band.”
A New Kind Of Shape
Aside from the standard bearer rings, from D-shapes to flat finishes, there are a myriad of architecturally diverse designs to choose from. Sure, their specificity makes them a little less likely to “go” with every look in your wardrobe, but for the guy who wants something really different, there’s no other way. Gentle curves, knots and cut-outs are just a few of the twists and turns your wedding band can take. Shape options can be inlaid with stones, or they can come simple, plain and polished.
Diamonds For Men?
You probably thought picking out the perfect stone is only something you worry about when buying the engagement ring, but it’s common for men to add diamonds or other types of bling to their wedding rings as well. “Men are getting more adventurous with their bands,” Zhang says. “They want something personal and unique. The most popular choice for men has been adding diamonds or stones on the inside.”
Alternatively, if you want to show off your band a little more and veer away from the traditional style, the Carbon & Hyde designers stress that it should be paired with the right metal. “Keeping the ring more gold heavy, but adding an element of diamonds somewhere doesn’t make the ring any less manly in my opinion,” Katz says. “It definitely adds a touch of flare to the right client.”
A two-tone band—a ring that uses two different types of metal— is great for the kind of guy who keeps himself up to date on the latest trends (or who simply can’t decide on one metal or finish).
Pairing silver and gold is a common choice for two-tone rings, but feel free to experiment with other variations, such as a titanium base with rose gold borders, or a brushed steel interior framed by polished silver sides. Going with a two-tone ring is also a good way to highlight the different design aspects of your band, such as a beveled or stepped edge, by contrasting them in a different color metal.
You can also take the idea of two-tone a step further by choosing a band with a colorful inlay. An inlay is a colorful stone set into channels carved out within the ring. Inlays can have one stone—“I love platinum with a turquoise inlay,” says Zhang—or have several small stones arranged into one channel for a more intricate effect. For more color, you can try brighter stones like Blue opal, green Malachite, or the gold orange Jasper. Or, if you’re more of a neutrals guy, there are various wood options and darker stones, such as iron ore and a matte black zirconium.
A Secret Message
On your wedding day, your vows are written for not only your partner but also for everyone around you to hear. More private messages can be added in the form of a wedding band engraving, maybe an inside joke or simply each other’s initials.
Most jewelers offer engraving services, but be sure to confirm that ahead of time, before you start deciding on styles. Certain shaped bands work better for engravings. The Katz sisters suggest picking out a larger width for your band. “When there is more surface space to work with, the engraving always comes out nicer.” They also like to plan out the engraving in the computer software CAD, which, unlike the human hand, can write out longer messages in smaller fonts. “The engraving comes out deeper and has more definition,” Katz adds.
Other designers, like Ashley Zhang, offer hand engraving services, which is more romantic but comes with a hefty price tag. Either way, make sure to double (maybe even triple) check for spelling errors so you’re not in for an unwelcome surprise on your big day.