By tradition, the groom buys his future wife’s wedding ring, although these days many couples split the cost. Even if you are paying, it’s a good idea to let your wife choose the wedding ring or at least ask her what type of ring she wants.
Do I need to wear one too?
In continental Europe, it is common for men to wear wedding rings. However, men do not traditionally wear wedding rings in the UK.
If your grandfather was married in the UK, he probably didn’t have a ring. There’s a good chance your father didn’t either. In fact, vicars have to change the wording of the traditional wedding service in order to accommodate a husband’s ring.
Despite all that, times are changing. Many modern brides expect their husbands to wear a wedding ring, and if you’re not keen then you’re probably going to have a tough job convincing her otherwise.
Just be glad you’ll be getting a plain band – the old Greek custom was for a bride to present her husband with a complex puzzle ring that was apparently impossible to remove in anything less than half an hour. Luckily the bridal magazines aren’t pushing this idea (yet).
Should they match?
It’s a matter of personal choice whether husband and wife’s wedding rings should match. Many couples end up with completely different rings, but as this is something you’ll each be wearing for the rest of your lives, it’s important that each of you is happy.
Gold or platinum?
Traditionally a wedding ring should be either gold or platinum. Gold is seen as the classic choice. Platinum and white gold are currently fashionable but bear in mind you’ll be wearing this ring for a long time.
The fashion for silver coloured wedding rings tends to go in forty year cycles. They were popular in the 1920s and 1960s and became popular again at the turn of the millennium. However, if you like them, don’t let that put you off.
If you go for gold, check the carat rating. This refers to the purity of the gold. If gold is 24 carat then it is completely pure. However, completely pure gold is too soft for everyday jewellery. Most gold jewellery is either eighteen or nine carat.
Eighteen carat means it’s 75% per cent pure. The rest is made up of harder metals such as copper and zinc. Nine carat means it’s just 38% per cent pure. Go for eighteen carat for your wedding ring if you can afford it.
Platinum is different to gold in that it has no carat system. It is used in jewellery in almost entirely pure form. Platinum weighs 60% more than gold, so it will feel heavier on your finger. Platinum is also more durable than gold, which means it will scratch less easily (see hardness scale, below).
What is white gold?
Many people will tell you that white gold is just normal gold with a rhodium plating. That’s not strictly true. Eighteen carat white gold is still 75% pure, but the remaining 25% is formed from lighter coloured metals than those used for normal gold. Typically these might be silver or palladium. The natural colour of white gold is actually light grey.
It’s then coated in rhodium – a bright, silver coloured metal – to give it the finished look. This rhodium plating will wear off with time, so the ring will need occasional re-coating to keep it looking good. However, white gold is cheaper than platinum.
The hardness of a metal is measured on the Vickers scale. The exact measurement will depend on the make-up of the alloy, but approximate figures are given below:
9 ct gold: 100
18 ct gold: 130
24ct gold: 40
The traditional option is a plain band, but many people prefer something a bit different. Banded wedding rings, with two or three bands of different coloured metals, are particularly popular for men. Patterned wedding rings are also popular. Remember that these types of rings can be difficult to get re-sized without affecting the pattern.
Even if you just want a plain wedding band, believe it or not, there’s quite a few styles to choose from. For example, do you want a wide band for a “chunky” look, or do you prefer something narrower? Somewhere between four and seven millimetres is pretty common for a man’s wedding ring.
Rings also come in different shapes. When jewellers talk about the shape of a wedding ring they are referring to the shape you would see if you cut through the ring and looked at a cross section.
A ring with a flat outside edge (as with the “flat” and “flat court” rings) gives a modern look, whereas a ring with a curved outside edge (“D-shape” or “court” rings) gives a more traditional look. The choice for the inside edge of the ring depends purely on which you find more comfortable. Most people find a curved inside edge (“flat court” or “court”) more comfortable.
This page is about wedding rings, but if you haven’t bought the engagement ring yet then check out this advice from the Guardian.
Many jewellers sell wedding rings in a matt finish rather than the more traditional shiny finish. The finish of your ring is a personal choice. Remember that a new, shiny wedding ring will scuff up a bit after being worn for a few months and lose some of its shine anyway.
Ring sizes are graded from A to Z, with A being the smallest and Z being the largest. Most people fall somewhere between an H and a U. If you don’t know your ring size, a jeweller will be able to measure you.
A perfectly fitting ring will not move on your finger if your hand is turned upside down. However, you should be able to remove the ring easily by twisting it over your knuckle. Your fingers will be fatter than normal on a hot day and thinner than normal on a cold day, so take this into account when you are being measured.
If you’re in-between sizes, remember the advice that a traditional tailor will give: “You’re more likely to put weight on than lose it, sir”.
Buying the wedding rings
A plain wedding ring is a pretty standard commodity, so shop around. Some good deals are available online. (Tip: try Amazon’s Rings section.)
If you are purchasing from a shop, don’t be afraid to haggle either, especially if you are buying your own ring and your wife’s ring at the same time.
Jewellers will usually have to send away for a ring in your exact size, so don’t leave it too close to the wedding day.
Once your wedding ring arrives, wear it around the house for a couple of days to make sure you are happy with the fit. Most jewellers will change it or re-size it for free provided you are within so many days of purchase.
Living with your wedding ring
If this is the first ring you have ever worn, then it’s going to feel very strange at first. You will find yourself playing with it a lot. This is normal, and within a few weeks you won’t notice it at all. Stick with it.