It is such a simple thing at heart, a single band of metal worn around the ring finger of the left hand indicating the wearer to be married. Originally in the United States, it was only married women who wore wedding rings. During the 20th century, it became customary for men to wear them, as well, and for most of the 20th century, the rings were as basic as they come.
But no more, fellas! With men being more fashion forward than ever, the wedding ring is not just a statement of commitment; it's a statement of lifestyle and fashion, as well. With so many options available, how are you to choose?
First, let it be known that you no longer have to match your partner's ring exactly. Even wedding site extraordinaire The Knot agrees, saying, "There's no rule you have to wear matching wedding bands." Many couples are opting for complementary rings, while letting their own individual style shine through. You could pick the same metal but different cuts, or get an inscription to tie the rings together. But honestly? The rings can be completely different. That you've committed yourselves to each other is matching enough!
So, gentlemen, what are your options?
First, you need to choose between a domed fit versus a flat fit. Domed, sometimes called comfort fit, has an interior that is slightly domed, making it easier to slide on and off of your finger. Generally, it's recommended for men because it's easier to get over large knuckles. Flat fit is more traditional, and if your ring is less than 5 millimeters wide, the doming is not noticeable as far as comfort is concerned. Because it costs extra, be mindful of the ring width when choosing between the two.
Next, consider your lifestyle and what your wedding ring will need to withstand. If you're an extreme-sports participant -- someone who does the Warrior Dash on the weekends for fun in between rock climbing and surfing Mavericks, then you're going to need a ring that can handle that kind of punishment. If your life is a bit more sedate, then you can pretty much choose anything you'd like.
Gold is by far the most popular and traditional wedding band material for both men and women. It comes in a variety of hues from yellow to white to rose and can have a shiny or matte finish. Gold is a softer metal and can scratch, but its affordability and ubiquity make it enduringly popular. Silver and sterling silver are also popular choices, but they have many of the same problems as gold. Gold and silver are easy to engrave, making them a favorite choice for couples who want that.
For grooms who need something stronger or just want something different, platinum is the trendiest choice. This white metal is precious and expensive but very durable. It can be scratched, but scratches easily can be buffed out.
If you like the look of platinum but not the trendiness or the price tag, consider cobalt. It has a similar sheen and luster, but it's much cheaper. Cobalt is also harder and therefore stronger than platinum.
For something darker, many grooms are turning to tungsten carbide. Not only is this dark silver metal highly durable and scratch-resistant but it's affordable, to boot. The only problem is that if you're not used to wearing rings, tungsten is very heavy, and that can take some getting used to. Titanium, on the other hand, is lightweight and unbreakable. It also has a natural matte finish, for guys who are no frills.
If metal isn't your thing, ceramic rings are gaining popularity as wedding bands. This is not your lumpy high school art project. High-tech ceramic has been used in the aerospace and medical industries for years and recently has become a fashion darling. Tough and glossy, these bands have more in common with tungsten carbide than with the memorial plates and figurines hawked on QVC.
Once you've chosen the fit and the metal, it's time to choose the finish. Do you want something super-shiny or matte? Certain metals tend to have a natural luster that makes one preferable to the other, but any jeweler will be able to help you with your choice.
Finally, does your ring need any flair? That's right, gents; patterns and jewels are not just for the ladies anymore. You can bling yourself out if you so desire. In today's anything-goes world of fashion, too much might be just enough. But never forget the meaning behind the ring -- or that you will be wearing it for a very long time.