Selecting engagement and wedding rings is a process with many facets

Like bridal gowns, wedding rings are powerful wedding icons, representing a significant portion of the wedding budget and requiring considerable time and thought early in the wedding planning process. Becoming familiar with the myriad of options before shopping for engagement rings and wedding rings saves time and avoids overspending. This is particularly valuable for couples planning a modest budget wedding and for wedding planners advising novice couples. Unlike bridal gowns, wedding engagement rings and the wedding rings exchanged by the couple will be worn long after their wedding day. So it's essential to seek the advice of an experienced, impartial jeweler in determining correct ring size and selecting a setting and stone suited to the couple's vocation, lifestyle, and finances. Conscientious couples and principled wedding planners also need to recognize the humanitarian challenges posed by past practices of the international diamond mining industry. Now more than ever before, professional wedding planners and couples getting married have compelling ethical, economic, and practical incentives to more fully understand the many facets of engagement and wedding rings.

Photo courtesy Kiet Do

Wedding Rings Are Ancient History, but the Slogan 'A Diamond is Forever' Is New

For centuries engagement and wedding rings have been given to brides as tokens of commitment, symbols of union, and a visible sign of the underlying financial connection being made between the families of the couple getting married. But the ceremonial exchange of rings by both brides and grooms is a 19th century European innovation. And modern Madison Avenue marketing, not tradition, made gold wedding rings set with diamonds the 20th century American marriage norm. The international diamond trade's controversial past, rooted in the bloody excesses of 19th century European colonialism, may be history. But despite the industry's insistence that only 'a diamond is forever,' 21st century couples have more options than ever before when selecting stones, metals, and styles for their engagement and wedding rings. Tungsten and palladium are more affordable than platinum or gold. Recycling an heirloom stone, selecting a birthstone, or choosing a sapphire is an increasingly acceptable alternative to buying an expensive diamond. The ideas and materials available for imaginative, affordable engagement and wedding rings are more varied than ever before. In the hands of today's creative jeweler, these enduring wedding icons are molded to suit the style and budget of couples getting married, whatever their culture, interests, or orientation.

Photo courtesy Kiet Do

Course Video Tutorial: 'A Graduate Gemologist Teaches Engagement and Wedding Rings' (21:58)

Jeanette Blacy is a third-generation jeweler and Graduate Gemologist with a diverse and discriminating clientele at Blacy's Fine Jewelers, her upscale store. Although she isn't wedded to diamonds, she can detail every facet of their character, composition, and cost. She's equally knowledgeable about custom ring fabrication techniques, calibrating ring size with precision, and suiting a ring to the style of the wearer. And she's adept at explaining technical matters that professional wedding planners and couples getting married must understand before they buy: why hand style matters as much as finger size when choosing the right ring, how mixing and matching work equally well when selecting engagement and wedding rings, and why couples on a modest wedding budget are wise to plan for an upgrade later in life rather than overspending before their wedding. In this course video tutorial, Jeanette teaches Members the facts they need when making the dazzling decision about engagement and wedding rings. She also demonstrates how to use a jeweler's loupe, how to evaluate and grade diamonds, and how the rainbow sapphire really sparkles.

Jeanette Blacy, Graduate Gemologist

Learn 12 essential elements of evaluating, selecting, and buying engagement and wedding rings:

  • When to shop, size, and order engagement and wedding rings
  • Why custom-made wedding rings are cost-effective
  • Why lost-wax casting is preferable to fabrication
  • When resetting heirloom stones is the most meaningful choice
  • How to suit ring style to hand style, lifestyle, and wedding budget
  • How to mix and match engagement and wedding rings with ease
  • How diamonds are examined, evaluated, and graded
  • How sapphires and diamonds compare
  • Alternative ring metals for men
  • How to protect the stone with a bezel setting
  • Tips on where to keep your ring when it's off your finger
  • Replacing a modest wedding day ring with a more expensive upgrade later

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