In all the excitement of choosing an engagement ring and planning your wedding, the actual wedding rings can be an afterthought for most couples. After all, an engagement ring is a statement piece of jewellery--for many women, it's the first really important piece they own. 


The gemstones in these rings are larger, and the ring design itself is generally more intricate than the wedding bands, and your engagement ring is typically more of an investment. 


That said, your wedding rings are ultimately more important symbolically, and you'll both wear those for decades to come - alongside photos, wedding bands are the most visual reminder of your big day. 


The Origins of Wedding and Engagement Rings


Betrothed and married couples have worn some sort of token to signify their status for millennia. The circle represents eternity in many cultures, and the earliest rings were not metal, but reeds, papyrus, or leather. Later rings, made from ivory or bone, lasted longer, and finally, metals were worked into rings around 4000 BC.


Then, as now, the metal denoted the status and wealth of the man, but the ring also marked the woman as his property. The ring is worn on the fourth finger of the left hand since the Romans believed there was a vein that ran directly to the heart from there. There isn't, but who wants to buck thousands of years of romantic tradition?


Christian weddings started to incorporate rings around 860--around that time, Pope Nicholas decreed that men should give their betrothed a ring, primarily to let the other fellows know that she was soon to become someone else's property. Fortunately, the property part of the equation is now an antiquated footnote, but rings have become more elaborate over the centuries.


Those early rings started out as simple bands of iron or gold, but as metalworkers became more skilled, the bands were more intricate--decorated with doves, lyres, or linked hands--much like the Irish Claddagh ring. A turn away from decorative arts in the Church in the Middle Ages started the plain ring--the court ring--trend that is still popular with many men today. The Renaissance period hailed the return of intricate rings to show off the fancy gems coming into Europe from Asia and India.


As for diamond engagement rings, that custom started with Emperor Maximilian when he proposed to Mary of Burgundy in 1477. Mary Tudor holds the record for the youngest fiancee to get a diamond; she was two when Henry VIII contracted a marriage with a prince of France--but that engagement broke off when she was six. Henry, being Henry, more than likely kept the ring and passed it along to another wife or two.


Tips to Design Your Perfect Ring


You're set on a custom wedding band. Perhaps you have a unique style that you want to show off, or maybe you want to be able to say that you have a piece of jewellery unlike any other. Before you dive into the design process, however, take the time to look at what's already available on the market. Here are some tips for you to be guided.


Tip #1: Do Some Browsing Before Choosing Your Ring


Sometimes, you may discover that you fall in love with a specific type of design: that you adore a specific style of ring, or a specific thickness, or a certain type of metal. Other times, you'll just get great ideas that will help shape your final ring choice. The more time you spend browsing, whether you head into jewellery stores to check them out ahead of time or you prefer to look online, the better the idea you'll have of exactly what you want.


If you're choosing a wedding band to go with your engagement ring, this step is particularly important. You might have a great imagination and be able to picture in your mind exactly what your wedding band will look like with your engagement ring, but trying on a few options will give you a better idea of exactly what looks best with your specific ring. You do, of course, have the option to wear your engagement ring on your other hand or to make alterations to make it match your wedding band, but by customizing your wedding band to go with your existing ring, you can show both off to full advantage.


Tip #2: Choose a Reputable, Trusted Jeweller


When you design your ring, you want to get exactly what you're imagining. Not only that, you want to be sure that it's a high-quality piece that reflects exactly what you want. Choose a jeweller that has extensive experience in designing custom wedding bands. Ask to see some of their past work so that you can be sure that they have experience working with ring designs like yours. Take the time to get to know a potential jeweller. Make sure their process agrees with your idea of how it should work. For example, jewellers ought to allow you to see a mould of your custom piece before it's finished, and check about changes to the piece once the design has been decided. Take the time to carefully talk with your jeweller about their process and make sure that you'll get the gorgeous custom piece you're hoping for.


Tip #3: Know Your Budget Ahead of Time


You and your future spouse have a lot of expenses coming up, from the wedding itself to your honeymoon--and then there are all the little expenses associated with combining your households or moving into a new place together. Getting married can be as expensive or as inexpensive as you want it to be--and designing a custom wedding ring is a little different. Before you start designing your ring, make sure you understand your budget. Discuss with your spouse exactly how much you can afford to spend on both of your rings. Clarify how flexible you are able to be when you choose your diamond or your band.


Ultimately, your budget will determine the bespoke wedding band that you can afford. You want to choose a wedding band that is perfect for you--one that reflects the love between you and your spouse as it grows every day--but you also want to be sure that your wedding band fits into your budget. This isn't the time to go above your budget and create increased debt early in your marriage. By discussing your budget ahead of time, you can better keep your ring design within reason and ensure that you don't fall in love with something you simply can't afford.


Tip #4: Be Practical


There are a lot of people--ladies, in particular--who falls in love with an extravagant wedding ring design, only to discover that it isn't practical in their everyday lives. Think through what you do with your hands every day. 


Ladies, do you need a wedding ring that will stand alone when you don't want to wear your engagement ring? Nurses, for example, may find that they're unable to wear an engagement ring with sharp prongs or a large diamond on a daily basis. Does your ring fit with your lifestyle? Do you need a practical ring made of specific materials that will allow you to participate in sporting activities or other high-intensity activities? 


While it's perfectly fine to have a gorgeous bespoke ring that you wear for formal events and a simpler ring for everyday use, you'll want to think through those decisions as you're creating your ring's design so that you aren't surprised by them later.


Tip #5: Choose the Right Metal for Your Band


When you design your wedding band, you want to be sure that you choose the right metal. Ask these key questions:

  • Are you happy to match the metal of your ring with your existing engagement ring, if you have one? This is the normal route brides travel.
  • Do you prefer silver or gold jewellery? For women, this might include the colour of jewellery you're most likely to wear, if you want your wedding band to match.
  • Do you want a traditional ring style? Gold is, in general, considered the traditional colour for wedding bands.
  • Are you looking for a wedding ring that is more durable? Platinum has become an increasingly popular choice for many couples who want a more durable option for their bands.
  • Do you want your band to match your spouse's? For some couples, this doesn't matter. Other couples want their bands to look alike or to fit well together. It's all up to you!


Tip #6: Leave Plenty of Time


If you want a custom, bespoke wedding band, this is not an item to leave until right before the wedding. You can't just dash out and quickly take care of your bespoke wedding ring a few days before the wedding! Instead, start the process several weeks before your wedding. Ideally, you need to leave at least a couple of months to design your ring, talk with your jeweller, and pick out the perfect design. Remember, this is the ring you will wear for the rest of your life. You want to leave time to get it exactly right!


Tip #7: Think About Your Cut


Many people--men and women alike--now choose to add a diamond (or several) to their wedding bands. Diamonds add a little bit of sparkle and help commemorate the most important bond in your life. If you really want that bright sparkle, the cut matters! Take the time to research different cuts to learn which one will give you the sparkle and clarity you want. You should also consider the size of your diamond carefully.


If your budget is tight, going down just a little bit from your preferred carat size will help you save a considerable amount on your custom ring. Ideally, you should have an idea of the cut and carat you want before you go in for your appointment--but if you aren't sure exactly what you want yet, your designer can help you better understand these key elements of your ring. Matching the wedding band to your engagement ring as a complementary pair is essential!


Tip #8: Listen to Your Designer


Remember, you started with a designer that you knew you could trust as well as a general idea of what you wanted your ring to look like. As you move through the design process, make sure that you listen carefully to your designer. They have a great deal of experience in the industry and have put together many rings for many other couples. 


By listening to them, you can take advantage of all of that experience, improving the design and practicality of your ring as well as helping you design a piece that will stand the test of time. If you're stuck or struggling for inspiration, your designer may be able to help with great suggestions that will help shape the design of your ring. If your ring design just isn't working or you're struggling with something that just isn't working according to plan, your designer can help provide that extra bit of advice that will get you to the ring of your dreams.


The Best Band To Enhance Your Ring


As weddings have evolved from formal, rigid affairs to celebrations that express the spirit of the bride and groom, so have wedding jewellery options become more personal and evocative of the people wearing the jewellery.


The first rule of wedding rings--your rings don't have to match, more on picking out the man's ring later. Fitting a wedding ring to an engagement ring is trickier, so let's talk about that first.


Ideally, your wedding ring fits with your engagement ring that is, it comfortably nests on your ring finger. The two should also complement each other in style--the metals should match, and the stones should be set the same--if your engagement ring has channel set stones, so should your wedding ring.


Some couples choose a wedding ring set, where the two are designed to work together. If you want an unusual setting for your engagement ring, this is a good option. If your engagement ring is bespoke or an heirloom, consider having a bespoke ring made that will stack well.


As long as your groom's ring is of good quality, the metal you choose can vary--from traditional yellow gold to platinum to the more modern titanium or carbon fibre. Consider your lifestyle as you check out rings--titanium is a popular and economical choice for active lifestyles, but these metals cannot be resized if the need arises. 


Platinum is the top standard for durability and it is hypoallergenic, but it is rare and expensive. Palladium is relatively new to the wedding ring market, but it is a good choice for many couples as it has the look and low-maintenance of platinum.


How You'll Wear Your Wedding Ring And What To Choose


If you want more bling to your ring than a simple metal band, there are plenty of ways to incorporate gemstones into your wedding ring. These are a few points to think about when you're thinking about your wedding ring--if you want statement wedding jewellery, it's really never too early to discuss this with your fiancé.


Will you wear your rings every day?


One consideration is the intricacy of your engagement ring and the size of the stones. If you lead an active lifestyle or work with your hands a good deal, a detailed ring with lots of stones may not be ideal--for many women, the idea of removing their ring at work or the gym is unnerving at best. 


If you're comfortable leaving your ring at home when you're really using your hands, then go for the biggest, fanciest ring you can find.


Will you wear your rings together? 


Some women wear their rings together, others wear them on separate hands, some put their engagement rings in a safe after the wedding and only bring them out for special occasions--everybody has a different style. If you want to wear your rings together, they should be comfortable on your finger. Your wedding ring goes on first, closet to your heart, and then the engagement ring stacks neatly on top. 


In some European countries, the wedding ring is actually worn on the right hand, and the engagement ring stays on the left hand. There are Jewish traditions where the bride wears the ring on her right index finger--so thinking about how you'll wear them is more important than you'd think.


Wedding Rings That Pair Well With Some Traditional Styles


Here are some setting styles and tips for the best rings to complement them.

  • Solitaire settings are best set off with a simple band of paving or channel set diamonds in the same metal. These smaller diamonds play off the larger stone and add sparkle and brilliance on your hand. Any band will stack with a solitaire. 
  • Emerald cut rings work well with a notched band that accommodates the elongated cut of the stone. A custom band may be necessary for this style. 
  • Halo settings are a popular style recently; they offer divine sparkly without having to invest in a large centre stone. They do, however, sometimes require the investment of a gemstone band that is curved to fit the shape of the ring. You might have a matched set, or you can commission a bespoke band to wear with your engagement ring. 


Gemstones In Marriage Bands


Engagement rings are traditionally white diamonds, but you can choose any gemstones for your ring, either as the central stone or as accents. A band with the same gemstones is an elegant choice, as it creates a piece of commanding statement jewellery that you can wear forever. Precious stones--rubies, sapphires, and emeralds--have been accenting wedding jewellery for hundreds of years, but modern brides are opting for modern choices--aquamarines, amethysts, tourmalines, opals, and tsavorites--sometimes with a mix of metals (rose and yellow gold).


Custom Rings And Engraving Your Wedding Rings


Your marriage is the touchstone of your life--for better or for worse, it defines you in ways nothing else does (until you have children!). In light of that, don't give your wedding rings short shrift--spend time choosing the rings you'll wear, hopefully, for the rest of your life. Commissioning a set of bespoke rings may seem like an extravagance, but when considering how long you'll wear the jewellery, it's an investment that does last a lifetime.


Custom rings also let you design exactly what you want, and will perfectly match your engagement ring. One of the best things about having your rings engraved is that they are then truly unique--even the basic court band takes on a special significance when you have something meaningful to the two of you carved into the metal.


One couple's ring went viral online a few years back when she had "put it back on" engraved in her husband's ring. You can have anything inscribed--the date you met, your initials, a line from a favourite song, or that gentle reminder that the ring stays on the finger.


Talk To Jacobs, Your Bespoke Jewellery Experts


Perhaps you've window-shopped at Jacobs The Jewellers, or come in for a piece of jewellery or a repair. But did you know that Jacob's features an in-house bespoke jewellery designer and master jeweller?  At Jacobs, we can design and create wedding rings that suit you--often in our workroom, and always on a time frame that suits you.


Many couples have heirloom jewellery that they want to be remade into more modern wedding rings or sentimental gemstones that they would like to incorporate into the rings. Jacobs’ designers have the expertise to take your metal, stones, and ideas, and craft something that is truly unique. If you're starting from scratch, we'll suggest metals, stones, and a design that fits perfectly with your engagement ring, and a man's band that complements yours. 


When you have your rings commissioned you certainly want them engraved. Our engraving is done by hand---a detail that yields a deeper and more legible carving into the metal.


Your wedding rings are an enduring symbol of your marriage, so you can't put too much thought into your ring choices. Please visit us at Jacobs to discuss the rings that will last a lifetime.