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The Jewelry Hut
Engagement and Wedding Rings
The Buying Guide
Engagement Rings and Wedding Rings through the Ages
Choosing the wedding bands (or rings)
There are virtually hundreds of styles of wedding bands from which to choose, for both the bride and the groom. While the traditional band for both is a simple, round gold ring, today they can be simple or elaborate, wide or thin, gem studded or not. It is not unusual, even in the groom’s ring, to find gemstone accents.
Traditionally, the woman receives two rings; one upon consenting to marriage and the second at the wedding ceremony. Today, this tradition continues to be the most popular choice. However, couples sometimes opt for a more important wedding band that incorporates the gem of choice and eliminates the need for an engagement ring, as such. For example, rather than purchasing an engagement ring with a one carat diamond followed by a simple wedding band, one might purchase for the same price a diamond wedding band that contains four carats total weight of diamonds encircling the finger.
The diamond wedding band then becomes the single focal point and combines the symbolism of the simple round ring with the symbolism of the diamond or other gemstone of choice. It can create an important and classic look. Another example might involve the purchase of a single diamond that is then set within a very wide, gold wedding band, again combining the gem traditionally received at an earlier moment within the wedding band itself.
The choice as to whether to have one or two rings is largely personal, but keep in mind that the engagement may affect your decision. If the engagement period is going to be long, rather than waiting for the wedding day the bride to be may prefer to have an engagement ring to announce her commitment and, thus, the change in her status and the upcoming event.
Important considerations before you make a choice
To help you make the right choice for the wedding ring, here are some important factors to consider.
How does the wedding band look with the engagement ring?
If an engagement ring is given, it is very important to consider how the wedding band will look with it on the hand. (We hope that before making the final decision on your engagement ring, you also give some thought to your wedding band.) It’s a good idea to try on different styles of wedding bands with the engagement ring to see how they look together. The width of the band can dramatically affect the way it works with the engagement ring. Remember also that certain details such as milgraining or a particular type of finish may look great when worn alone, but can detract from the overall appearance when worn together with the engagement ring.
What width looks best?
The width of the wedding band is measured in millimeters. The standard ladies’ simple gold or platinum band ranges from 2 - 4 millimeters; the men’s ranges from 3-1/2 - 6 millimeters. Stock sizes can go as wide as 10 millimeters. It is important to try the same style band in different widths because you will be surprised to see how different the effect created by the width alone can be. Avoid very wide rings that feel uncomfortable when you try them on. You will not get used to them. While a very wide band may be beautiful from a design standpoint, keep in mind that it may be less comfortable in very hit climates.
Do you prefer a “flat” band or a “half round” band?
A flat band is flatter on the finger, while a half round has somewhat curved or dome like shape to it. The decision is purely a matter of personal taste.
Do you prefer matching bands?
Most wedding ring manufacturers today offer a wide selection of matching ladies’ and men’s wedding bands.
Do you plan to wear the wedding band without the engagement ring?
If you think you may frequently wear your band without your engagement ring, you may prefer a different type of band. for example, some women prefer to wear only their wedding band at the office; some prefer to wear their engagement ring only in social situations. If you think this might be the case with you, you may prefer a large or more important looking band, one that will stand on its own.
For gem studded bands
Should the gemstones completely encircle the ring?
This is a decision that depends on personal taste, budget, comfort, and fit. Many prefer that the gemstones continue around the entire finger, while others want the gemstones set only across the top of the ring. The primary benefit in having gemstone all around is that you never need to worry about the ring twisting on your finger. A significant disadvantage is that some of the gemstone (those on underside of the finger) are subjected strenuous wear, which can result in breakage and loss. The choice is really not an economic one; by juggling the size and quality of the gemstones and the width of the ring, you can get either look on any budget.
Does the ring fit properly?
When selecting a gem studded style, be sure to try rings that actually fir your finger properly. Otherwise you may find that a ring feels very uncomfortable on your finger, when, in fact, it would be very comfortable if it fit properly. This is particularly true for rings with larger gemstones held by prongs. Also, for rings with gemstones going part way around, proper fit is critical to comfort because it affects the contour of the portion of the ring.
The heirloom ring
Rings passed from one generation to another carry the history and tradition of a family, and add a romantic element; and emotional value, difficult to match with a new ring. In addition to the true “heirloom,” which has passed down through the family, young couples today enjoy the unique and distinctive character and workmanship found in antique rings and rings from earlier by-gone days. Antique as well as antique reproduction rings have also become very popular and offer a distinctive look with a nostalgic element. Some of the most popular periods include the Art Nouveau period (1895 - 1915) with its graceful, curving lines, floral motifs, and other images form the nature; the Edwardian period (1901 - 1914) with its lacy character and romantic themes such as garland of flowers; and the Art Deco period (1920 - 1930) with its clean, geometric feeling and use of interesting shapes such as trapezoids, triangles, and half-moons, often combined with tiny colored gemstone accents. Simple pieces from the 1950s and 1960s are also gaining in popularity.
If you are thinking of giving an heirloom or estate piece as an engagement or wedding ring, or are considering taking gemstones out of an heirloom piece, you must remember that the gemstones may not be what they appear to be, especially if purchased from a source other than a reputable jewelry firm, or they may have been chipped or damaged in some way that might pose a problem if you are remounting them.
The first step is to have the piece appraised by a qualified gemologist appraiser. The appraisal will verify that the ring is what you believe it to be, will fully describe its quality, and identify whether or not there are any problems; that is, if the stone is chipped or cracked in such a way that it may be vulnerable to breakage. With full knowledge of the gemstone, you can take any necessary precautions when wearing or setting it.
Today, there are many styles of rings that can accommodate almost any gemstone, but keep in mind one point when updating or resetting an heirloom: Some require custom made settings that are more expensive than already made settings, especially if the shape of the gemstone is unusual.
It is much easier and less expensive to find a desirable setting if you are using a round gemstone. A gemstone other than a round one may require custom setting or a skilled jeweler who can customize part of another setting to suit the shape of your gemstone.
It is a good idea to closely examine any antique platinum piece minute cracks that may have formed around work or bridge work. A platinum piece that has begun to crack as a result of sulfuric acid can not be restored and is unstable. Be sure to check for signs of deterioration in the prong areas and in other thin places. Note: Should this be the case with an heirloom ring that has been in the family for many years, a skilled jeweler may be able to remake the ring, retaining the original appearance and workmanship.
Caring for your engagement and wedding rings
You will most likely wear your engagement and wedding rings more than any other piece of jewelry, so it is important to know how to care for and protect them. The following tips should help you in properly caring for your rings.
Try not to touch the gemstones in your rings when putting hem on or taking them off. Instead, take rings on and off by grasping the shank or metal portion that encircles the finger. Slipping rings on and off by grasping the metal shank rather than the gemstone will prevent a greasy buildup on the gemstone’s surface, which greatly reduces the brilliance and sparkle of a gemstone.
To keep rings sparkling, get into habit of “buffing” them. This is a little trick we use to remove the dirt and oily film on the gemstone’s surface (which occurs from incorrectly putting rings on and taking them off, or from occasionally “fingering” them; which most of us do without even realizing). Each time the gemstone are touched, a layer of oily film is applied to the top and the gemstone’s beauty is diminished. To restore its sparkle, just “huff” it. Simply hold the ring close to your mouth, “huff” on it with your breath; you’ll see the gemstone fog up, and wipe it off with a soft, lint-free cloth, such as a handkerchief, scarf, or coat/blouse sleeve. You’ll be amazed at how much better your rings can look simply by removing even the lightest oil film from the surface!
Don’t take off rings and lay them on the side of the sink unless you are sure the drain is closed. Also, never remove your rings to wash your hands when away from home; all too many rings have been forgotten an/or lost.
Don’t wear your ring while doing any type of rough work, such as house cleaning or gardening, or sports. even diamonds can be chipped or broken by a hard blow in certain direction.
Avoid contact with chlorine, the principal ingredient in may bleaches, household cleaners, and swimming pool disinfectants. Chlorine can cause pitting and discoloration to the mounting of your ring and to your gold or platinum wedding band.
Do not carelessly toss jewelry in a case. Diamond can scratch other gemstones very easily, and can also scratch each other. To prevent scratching, diamond jewelry should be placed in a case with dividers or separate compartments, or each piece place in a soft pouch or individually wrapped in tissues or a soft cloth.
Have a reliable jeweler check your ring every eighteen months to make sure the setting is secure, especially the prongs. If you ever feel (or hear) the gemstone moving in the setting, it’s a warning that the prongs or bezel need tightening. Failure to repair this may result in loss or damage to the diamond or gemstone.
How to clean your jewelry
Keeping your ring is essential if you want it to sparkle to its fullest. Film from lotions, powders, and your own skin oils will dull diamond and/or gemstones and reduce their brilliance and affect its color.
It is easy to keep it clean. To clean your rings, wash with warm, sudsy water. This is perhaps the simplest and easiest way to clean any kind of jewelry. Prepare a small bowel of hot, sudsy water, using any kind of mild liquid detergent. Soak your ring for a few minutes and then brush gently with an eyebrow brush of soft toothbrush, keeping the piece submerged in a sudsy water. Rinse thoroughly under running water; make sure the drain is closed (some prefer to place jewelry in a wire strainer before placing under the running water) and pat dry with a soft lint-free cloth or paper towel.
To clean your diamonds only, make a solution of hot water and ammonia (half water and half ammonia) and soak your diamond in this solution for about 15 minutes. Lift it out and tap it gently from the sides and back and then brush it gently with a soft toothbrush. This technique is especially effective for a diamond rings with a heavy build up of oily dirt. It may take several “soaks” if the ring has not been cleaned in a long time. rinse and dry with a soft cloth or paper towel.
To clean your wedding band or any other gold jewelry without gemstones, rubbing with a soft chamois cloth will restore much of the luster. Tarnish can be removed with a solution of soap and water, to which a few drops of ammonia have been added. Using a soft toothbrush, brush the rings with this solution, rinse with warm water, and dry with a soft cloth. grease can be removed by dipping in plain rubbing alcohol.
While more convenient, commercial jewelry cleaners are not necessarily more effective than the methods suggested above. Never let colored gemstone jewelry soak in commercial cleaners for more than a few minutes. Leaving stones such as emerald or amethyst in some commercial cleaners for any length of time can cause etching of the surface, which reduces the gemstone’s luster.
It is not recommended to use ultrasonic cleaning for most gems and it should be restricted to the cleaning of diamonds and gold jewelry only. Washing with hot, sudsy water is simple, effective, and safe for all jewelry.
For more information on jewelry cleaning or buy any jewelry cleaning product (from Blitz), click the following link.
Store jewelry carefully
It is important to store your rings carefully, in a dry place. Avoid extremes of temperature and humidity.
Keep gemstone jewelry, pearls, gold, and silver pieces separated from each other to prevent scratching. Keep fine jewelry in soft pouches or wrapped in a soft cloth (or, except for pearls, in a plastic Ziploc type bag) to help protect it.
Do not overcrowd your jewelry box. This can result in misplacing or losing pieces that might fall unnoticed from the case. Forcing jewelry into the box can cause damage, such as bending a fragile piece, or chipping a fragile gemstone.
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