Until recently, no one really talked about men’s wedding rings.
As men, we agonize over the engagement ring. We want it to be perfect for our bride-to-be. Then once that’s out of the way, we don’t think much about rings.
Sure, we’ll wear a wedding band. Probably something that matches our bride’s.
But surprisingly, we pay very little attention to something that (1) we’ll wear almost every single day, and (2) is meant to symbolize our lifelong commitment to our future wife.
The truth is, more men are actually starting to care about their wedding bands.
If you’re considering proposing or you’re already engaged, here are 6 things you should know before going wedding band shopping.
Watch the video below or continue reading.
Big thanks to our sponsor Rockford Collection! Rockford Collection is changing the game for men’s wedding bands with their highly stylized line of “affordable luxury” men’s wedding bands. Use offer code DM50FREEKIT to get a free cleaning kit when you purchase any ring.
1. Respect Tradition, But Do Your Own Thing
When my wife and I were getting married, I remember that one of the coolest things was learning about traditions…then figuring out how to adapt them to suit us as a couple. For instance, we researched classic vows, borrowed some elements, ignored others…but then we wrote our own.
When you’re shopping for your wedding band, it’s helpful to understand some classic traditions, but ultimately you and your bride will choose what works for you.
The “Ring Finger”?
There are certainly exceptions, but in the US, couples generally wear their wedding bands on the left hand, on the “ring” finger—the finger between your middle finger and your pinkie.
With 4 other digits to choose from, why is THIS the ring finger? Before medical science understood the circulatory system, ancient cultures like the Egyptians and Greeks believed this finger contained a vein leading directly to the heart.
Of course, now we’ve learned that all the fingers “lead to the heart” equally. Still, it’s such a common convention that you may choose to carry it on—or break the mold by wearing your rings on different fingers.
Who Buys the Wedding Rings?
While the tradition of men buying engagement rings is very clear, wedding bands are a different story. With modern tradition, the couple would either purchase both rings together, or the bride could buy the groom’s ring, and groom could buy the bride’s ring.
Either way, that’s a decision that you should make together. That’s part of the fun of it.
Do The Rings Have to Match?
Contemporary tradition suggests that the rings should coordinate somehow—but this doesn’t mean they need to match, by any means.
Often, couples will choose to simply have their rings share a common element, like:
- Using the same metal
- A similar design feature or shape
- A shared engraving
And unlike the engagement ring—which, let’s be honest, is all about your bride-to-be—you DO have a say in this. You’re the one who’s going to be wearing your ring, after all!
2. Know Your Metals
Once you’ve started your search, the most basic question is, what do I want my ring to be made of?
Here are some of the most common metals for wedding bands:
Platinum: White/silver in color, platinum is a great choice for a wedding band. Surprisingly, it’s more expensive than gold because it’s rarer. It’s also extremely durable, and rings made with platinum are typically 95% platinum (with only 5% other metals mixed in).
White Gold: White gold is an alloy made of pure gold, mixed with white metals like nickel, silver, or palladium, with rhodium plating. This plating gives it a look similar to platinum and is often used as a coating on jewelry. Over time, the coating may fade and the metal becomes more yellow in appearance—but it can always be recoated later. White gold is also less expensive than platinum.
Yellow Gold: Most people are familiar with yellow gold. But it’s important to note that gold rings are never pure gold. There’s always another metal mixed in for stability. More on that below when we talk about karats.
Rose Gold: A mix of gold and copper and sometimes a little bit of silver. Obviously, the amount of copper vs. gold is going to affect whether that rose gold appears more reddish or more of a lighter pink.
Palladium: A soft, silver-white metal that looks like platinum. Technically it belongs to the platinum family and tends to be a little bit cheaper and a tiny bit softer. I think of it as the “poor man’s platinum” (my wedding band is palladium).
Sterling Silver: Silver you’re probably familiar with. And while this is a “precious metal,” it’s actually much cheaper than the others we’ve mentioned because it’s easier to find. Sterling silver is silver mixed with copper or other metals to make it more durable. The appearance ranges from bright white to grayish white.
All of these precious metals are pretty common for wedding bands. But there’s also been a recent trend choosing cheaper materials like:
- Titanium or Tungsten Carbide, which are both extremely durable but not quite as elegant
- Silicone, which is obviously extremely casual, since it’s the same material that, well, kitchen spatulas are made of
- And even wood
3. Know Your Basic Jewelry Vocab
Beyond understanding the basic metals, you should be familiar with a few key terms. When you’re shopping for a wedding band, a lot of what you’ll be doing is asking questions. So it’s helpful to speak the language
Standard Fit vs. Comfort Fit: This is important for how the ring feels. Standard fit rings are flat on the inside; comfort fit rings are slightly rounded on the inside to conform to your finger a bit more.
Carats vs. Karats? Totally confusing, I know. As this helpful article explains, Carats with a “C” are used to measure the weight of diamonds and other gemstones. (One carat is equal to 200 milligrams or 0.2 grams. But since diamonds and other gemstones have different densities, 1 carat of one stone may be bigger than another 1-carat stone).
Karats with a “K” refer to the purity of gold. Gold is measured in 24 parts, and a karat is 1/24 of a portion. So 24-karat gold would be pure gold.
Pure gold is too soft for jewelry, so it’s mixed with other metals to hold its shape. Typically you’ll see 14-karat and 18-karat gold. So 14-karat gold is 14 parts gold, and 10 parts other metals, or 58% gold; 18 karat gold is 18/24ths gold, or 75% gold.
Clarity-enhanced vs. Natural Diamonds: More and more men are starting to add diamonds and other gemstones to their wedding bands. As you know, natural mined diamonds have natural impurities. With clarity-enhanced diamonds, they are technically “natural” diamonds to begin with, but the jeweler uses various techniques to either laser drill or fill in impurities. So “clarity-enhanced” diamonds are generally considered much lower quality and are about half the price of natural (unaltered) diamonds.
4. Find a Ring You Connect with Personally
The material of your wedding band is important, but you also need to find a ring design that you connect with personally.
While it’s more common for women’s rings, some people will use family heirlooms like their grandmother’s ring. That’s obviously going to create a personal connection well beyond the value of a ring’s materials.
But if you’re not wearing a family piece, you’ve got to find a ring design that speaks to you—one that represents who you are as a person.
If you want something more understated, there is no shortage of basic, no-frills wedding bands available.
But a lot of guys don’t want a boring old wedding band anymore. Men are starting to wear more interesting-looking bands that have a bit more personality.
Our sponsor Rockford Collection does a great job creating truly unique wedding bands for men—in fact, that’s all they focus on.
Many of their wedding bands have some of the flair and design touches of luxury watches. So even if you’ve never considered yourself a jewelry guy, if you like the idea of wearing a handsome-looking watch and getting compliments on it, then these rings might really interest you.
Also, I mentioned earlier, some men are starting to wear diamonds in their wedding bands. Rockford Collection has several wedding bands that integrate diamonds into their designs in a tasteful, masculine way—not just using natural diamonds, but also using “black diamonds” (which are essentially diamonds coated with rhodium, that plating material I mentioned earlier).
The other interesting thing Rockford Collection is doing with their debut collection, “American Legend,” is that every ring is named after a specific gold mine in the US. Each one has its own story you can read about—and that adds another layer of personality to the rings that you can connect with.
All their rings are all designed and produced in New York using US gold, along with platinum and natural mined diamonds. But to keep their prices down, Rockford Collection doesn’t have a retail location—they are purely online.
Since some guys are a little wary about making big purchases online, Rockford can ship you a silver replica of your ring to try out before you buy it.
Rockford Collection has given us a special offer code for Distilled Man readers: use DM50FREEKIT to get a free cleaning kit with the purchase of any ring.
5. Don’t Take Any Chances With Sizing
Now, a lot of guys don’t pay enough attention to this step. In fact, I wish I would have paid a little more attention when I was getting my wedding band sized.
My ring is actually a little too big, and there have been a few times it’s fallen off and I’ve almost lost it. I also have to remember to take it off when I go swimming, etc., so it doesn’t end up at the bottom of a lake or sucked into some pool drain.
Of course, with most materials, you can resize your ring if you mess up the measurements. But obviously it much cheaper and much less of a hassle if you just get your ring size right the first time.
Some companies, including Rockford Collection, will send you a free sizing kit if you ask for it. But I feel like it’s a bad idea to measure it yourself. The best thing to do is get sized by a jeweler in person.
Even if you plan to order something online, you should go to 2-3 jewelry stores in person to get sized. Getting a few opinions helps because measurements can vary.
Also, it’s generally better to go to a smaller jewelry shop and deal with a professional jeweler who has some experience in the industry rather than a sales clerk in the jewelry department at a larger store.
The other thing to remember is that your fingers change shape depending on how warm it is. During the Summer, your fingers may be larger. And during the Winter if you come into a warm building from out in the cold, your fingers may also swell up.
With that in mind, it’s best if you can try to get sized when your body temperature is pretty neutral—not one extreme or another—and if you can give your hands time to adjust to the environment for a while.
Finally, some men can get false readings because they keep taking off and putting on the ring again and again in the same sitting.
It’s best to try it on once while you’re at the jewelry store, and then come back again later to try for another sizing.
6. Take Care of Your Ring
While many well-made rings are made of materials that are designed to last a lifetime, you’ll still want to exercise common sense so that you don’t cause unnecessary wear on your ring.
Protect Your Ring from Extreme Conditions
You may just want to remove your ring if you’re handling abrasive cleaners or other chemicals. Same goes for any rough “outdoor” work, where the ring may come into contact with hard surfaces.
I generally take my ring off when I’m working in the yard or when go to the gym, just so I don’t scratch it on the barbells. You know, because it can be pretty rough on a ring when you’re benching five-hundy like I do (NOT).
But beyond that, it’s also good to give your ring a regular cleaning now and then.
Clean Your Wedding Band Regularly
Get a bowl of warm water and soap, and soak your ring for 10 minutes or so. Then, use a soft cotton cloth to dry it and wipe away any dirt or oil. You can use a soft toothbrush to clean any nooks and crannies.
I know this may seem like a lot to take in. The most important thing to remember is that you do have a say in what your wedding band looks like.
Contrary to what you may think, your bride will actually appreciate if you have an opinion about it.
And if you arm yourself with a little bit of knowledge, the experience of shopping for your wedding band will be a lot more rewarding for you…and your future bride.
Best of all, you’ll end up with a wedding ring that you actually enjoy looking at every day for the rest of your life.