With This Ring

By Diane Schlindwein

December 19, 2008 5 min read

WITH THIS RING

There are many choices when it comes to the perfect band

Diane Schlindwein

Creators News Service

Although most couples will always remember their engagement and wedding days, the rings they choose to show their love are permanent reminders of not only those special times, but also of their commitment to one another. That's why it's so important for brides and grooms to pick rings they'll love wearing years from now as much as they do the day they first slip them on.

When most people think of engagement rings, diamonds immediately come to mind. They remain the stone of choice, said Helena Krodel, associate director for media for the Jewelry Information Center in New York City.

"When buying a diamond, it is vitally important to know the four C's," she said. "They are cut, color, clarity and carat weight, and together they determine a diamond's value. It is essential to learn about each of the four C's before purchasing a diamond because each C speaks differently to each individual. For some, the carat weight is the most important, while for others it is the cut."

Diamonds are beautiful, but they're not for everyone, Krodel admitted. Blue sapphires, rubies and emeralds have long been considered appropriate gemstones to be incorporated into engagement rings. However, now they are making way for a rainbow of "hot" colorful gemstones such as tanzanite, garnet and pink sapphire, which are being used as side stones and occasionally as a center stone.

Krodel said women still love the classic round Tiffany setting, with 33 percent of brides now choosing a round solitaire. The Princess cut is the second runner-up. According to a survey by National Jeweler Magazine, 24 percent of all new brides are choosing this brilliant style shape, which has sharp uncut corners.

Amanda Gizzi, associate director for public relations for the Jewelry Information Center, said most modern engagements don't come with surprise proposals, so couples often shop together for engagement rings. In the end, however, the man usually ends up making the final choice.

Brides almost always pick a wedding band that matches their engagement ring, Gizzi said. Men, on the other hand, will choose a ring that fits their own personality. They can pick between hammered textures, wide bands or rings with diamonds.

"In general, platinum and gold are the precious metals of choice for most engagement rings and wedding bands," Krodel said. Platinum, the heaviest of precious metals, is loved both for its strength and hypoallergenic properties. Gold is also highly desirable and can be crafted into interesting shapes with yellow, white or rose finishes.

Titanium is a new alternative and is another popular choice for men's wedding bands, since it is lightweight and modern looking with a shiny steel grey hue. It is affordable, strong and works well for men who work with their hands or participate in sports.

Palladium, a relative of titanium, is a strong metal similar in appearance, but more lightweight and even more affordable. Some men are even choosing stainless steel bands, which are durable and hypoallergenic.

For those who are interested in preserving their love and the environment, Matthew White offers rings through his company greenKarat, located near Houston. White said the mission of greenKarat (greenkarat.com) is to provide an "ecologically and socially responsible jewelry alternative to those who seek change."

White's company specializes in melting down gold jewelry cast-offs to create new designs. "Using recycled gold minimizes the impact that mining and refining gold has on the environment," he said.

At greenKarat, contributed gold is recycled, with the company removing all the alloys, which is what gives the material its color. Depending on whether the customer wants white or yellow, they add fresh alloys and make brand new pieces. Besides being environmentally friendly, gold collected from family members and friends gives rings sentimental value.

A new life begins with the gift of a ring, said Krodel. That's why the process of choosing an engagement ring is collaboration between couples, just like marriage itself. An experienced jeweler can assist couples in selecting jewelry that brings pleasure for years to come.

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