It is the perfect symbol for love, no beginning and no end -- the wedding ring. It used to be that a man would spend months, maybe years, searching for that special ring for the love of his life and then just get a simple metal band for his own. Not anymore! With more choices in metal and design than ever before, savvy men can be just as stylish as their ladies.
Up until World War II, most men didn't even wear wedding rings. But when the war broke out, many recently married young men were sent overseas and wanted a reminder of home and what was waiting for them. By the late 1940s, 80 percent of wedding ceremonies had rings for both the bride and the groom. Prior to the Great Depression, only about 15 percent of wedding ceremonies were double-ring ones.
At heart, a wedding ring is a simple metal band. Traditionally, it has been made of gold, but traditions change! Nowadays, men can choose from white gold, palladium, platinum, titanium and tungsten -- just to name the most popular.
White gold tends to be popular with younger men. It is more affordable than many of the other options but mimics the shine of platinum. Because gold is a relatively soft metal, it does scratch easily and lose its shine, but with care and maintenance, it can be restored to its original luster. Palladium is a bit more expensive than white gold but is more brilliantly white and harder-wearing than gold, though it's less heavy than platinum.
For those who can afford it, platinum is still king of the precious metals. Naturally white, platinum is one of the heaviest metals and is perfect for a guy who works with his hands or is on a computer all day. Many men prefer the substantial feel of platinum, but it does need a lot of care and can get scratched. Over time, it can develop an antique-looking patina. Some prefer the aged look, but with proper care and polishing, it is easy to restore the shine.
Titanium and tungsten are relative newcomers in the wedding ring market. Titanium is a great alternative for a guy who doesn't want a light-colored ring, as the shades vary from light gray to gunmetal. Titanium has a high shine when polished and is much lighter than gold, palladium and platinum.
Tungsten is the ultimate manly man wedding ring. Harder than any of the other metals, virtually scratch-resistant and able to withstand any sort of punishment inflicted on it, tungsten will keep looking good. Used for decades for industrial applications (think mining and rocket engines), tungsten is one of the hardest-wearing metals on the market but very affordable.
The choices don't end with metal selection. Once a metal has been decided on, it's time to choose the type of band: plain or detailed. Plain bands speak for themselves, simple and elegant, but more and more men are choosing detailed bands to add some individuality to the ring. Woven, knotwork and laser cuts are all in vogue right now. It's even acceptable for men's wedding rings to have diamonds in them.
Plain doesn't equal boring. Stately and austere, there's a reason plain bands are classic. But even with plain rings, there are options. Domed or flat? High shine or antique? Rounded or square?
With all of the options available, it can be overwhelming trying to decide what to choose. Remember that this will be something you will wear daily for the rest of your life, so choose wisely. Don't go for the fads; go for what feels right for you. And think about how it will look with your bride's ring.
Many wedding rings come in sets so the rings complement each other. Though it's not unheard of to have two completely different rings, many couples use the same type of metal in each of their rings and have similar shine. Ultimately, the ring is not nearly so important as what it symbolizes: your love for each other.