Not too long ago, men didn’t have much choice when it came to the design of their wedding bands. There was gold; there was silver, and that was about the extent of it. These days, such is not the case, and whilst classic gold and silver bands are by no means a bad option (classics are classic for a reason, people), they are no longer the only option.
Today’s man has literally endless options when it comes to choosing a ring. This broadening of horizons is a good thing, but with more choice comes indecision. Your band can be as conspicuous or subtle as you like, but regardless of your style, it’s imperative that you find something versatile that will compliment both your dress sense and personality. Remember, your wedding band will become a solid constant in your wardrobe – you’ll be wearing it everyday.
For some guys, the sheer variety of options can be a little overwhelming, especially if they’ve never worn jewellery before. For something so small, there’s deceivingly a lot to take into consideration. So, to simplify the process, we’ve broken down some of the key elements of ring design and provided a style-guide that’s guaranteed to help you find the perfect ring. To browse our handsome collection, click here.
The Metal: All that Glitters is not Gold
When considering which kind of metal you want your ring to be made of, there are four main things to consider: colour, durability, carat, and cost.
The first thing you’ll want to decide upon is the colour. Your options are many and varied, but don’t stress. This preliminary decision will actually rule out a lot of unsuitable options straight away, pointing you in the right direction. Ultimately, your looking to choose a metal that compliments your skin tone and fashion sense, and has enough durability to stand up to your lifestyle.
A charming 18ct gold band from York Jewellers
If you’re a bit of classicist and like the sentiment behind time-tested traditions, you’ll probably opt for a classic yellow-gold wedding band and there is nothing wrong with that. Due to its fiscal and cultural worth, Gold has remained the most popular metal of choice for matrimonial rings for thousands and thousands of years.
In its purest form (24 carats), Gold is an inherently ductile and malleable material, so soft that it can actually be moulded by hand and is thus unsuitable for jewellery design. For this reason, most gold jewellery is made by adding a variety of different metals such as zinc, copper, and nickel that lend both strength and durability to the piece.
The carat of gold jewellery refers to the percentage of pure gold in a piece, 24 carats being pure, unadulterated gold. If a ring is 18 karats, that simply means that out of a total of 24 parts, 18 are pure gold, and the remaining 6 are made up of other metals. Expressed in percentages, 18 carats is equivalent to 75% pure gold content. With yellow gold Rings, the choice is usually between 18ct or 9ct. The most popular choice is 18ct, but this is a personal decision that comes down to your lifestyle and, of course, your budget. Remember, the higher the carat, the more gold and therefore the softer your jewellery will be, so if you work with your hands this is something worth taking into consideration.
In recent years, rose gold has undergone somewhat of a renaissance. This beautiful metal (considered by many to be the most romantic of all) has veritably soared in popularity, and not just in the jewellery world. With its arresting coppery hues and gorgeous warming depths, it’s easy to see why.
Rose gold is not a naturally occurring metal, but rather a blend of pure gold and varying ratios of silver and copper. The way that the silver and copper combine with the gold is what gives this beguiling alloy it’s namesake rosy hue. It is a versatile colour that suits most skin tones except those with fair skin and pink undertones (the rosiness of the metal will only accentuate the pink undertones).
As with Yellow gold, the choice is usually between 18ct and 9ct., but rose gold is notably more durable then it’s golden cousin due to the addition of copper in the alloy which is one of the most hard-wearing metals in the world. If choosing a rose gold ring, you can rest easy knowing it will last for years, and like your favourite pair of jeans, look only better with age.
Another benefit of rose gold is that it does not tarnish. After years of wear, however, it will appear slightly darker and a little redder, but this is just the aging process of the copper portion of the alloy. This takes a long time to occur, and most people actually like the distinguished look of mature rose gold.
White Gold and Silver:
Being so similar in appearance, it is often difficult to discern between silver and white gold, but both of these illustrious metals each have their own unique set of characteristics.
As is the case with rose gold, white gold is not a naturally occurring material but an alloy of gold and other metals that have a brilliant silvery-white colour such as palladium. Silver on the other hand, is a naturally occurring element and can be found within the earth's crust. But, like gold, pure silver is too soft to be made into jewellery and must be mixed with strengthening metals such as copper or nickel.
When buying silver, it is worth keeping in mind that there are actually a number of different silvers of varying quality on today’s market . The silver that most people are familiar is known as sterling silver. It is beautifully bright, shiny, and wonderfully lustrous (you can verify if a piece is made of sterling silver by looking for a .925 or 925 STG quality stamp).
Sterling is slightly shinier than white gold, and really pops against darker skin tones. When made into fine and intricate jewellery, it can even look a little too shiny, whereas white gold tends to look refined and sophisticated.
Whilst a little more striking, sterling silver is easier to damage. With prolonged exposure to the elements, it can even bend or become misshapen, and while you can delay silver jewellery from tarnishing, it’s not always possible to prevent it. White gold is more durable than silver and won’t tarnish, which is why many people choose the metal despite the higher price-tag. However, white gold will eventually lose some of its shine over time, and some of the mixed metal may wear off, exposing yellow hues from the original gold. But don’t despair, when this happens, your local jeweller will be able to coat the piece again, bringing it back to its original glory.
Platinum is an incredibly rare and illustrious material that, while relatively new to western jewellers, has been used by pre-Columbian cultures in South America to make jewellery and artefacts since 600 BC.
Platinum is a brilliant silvery-white metal that gives off an impressive and inimitable shine when polished. Being stronger and denser than both silver and white gold, platinum is often recommended for fine and intricate jewellery designs. However on the other hand, Platinum’s density also makes it a relatively malleable metal, and it loses it polish quite quickly as a result. You may also find that pieces with square edges may eventually round off.
Unlike white-gold, Platinum is a naturally white metal with an astonishing brilliance. It is significantly more lustrous than silver and white gold which can even look slightly grey in comparison. Also, while white gold jewellery usually requires a surface treatment called rhodium plating (required every three years or so) to maintain its silvery appearance, platinum does not.
Whilst being more brilliant than silver and white gold, platinum comes at a cost. Due to its considerable rarity and inherent beauty, platinum is more expensive and more valuable than both silver and white gold. The rarity of platinum has giving the metal a status as both a precious and noble metal, and in the 1800’s King Louis XV of France declared it the only metal fit for a king. Interestingly, the Royal penchant for platinum jewellery has continued into modernity, with a platinum wedding band adorning the left hand of Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex.
Titanium is the hardest natural metal in existence. Naturally silvery-grey in colour, it is incredibly strong, yet surprisingly lightweight. Increasing in popularity, titanium makes for a masculine and powerful ring designs representative of the lifelong bonds you share with your partner.
On top of being notably more dent, bend and scratch resistant than other metals and requiring less care – a big plus for those who want a “no-fuss” ring – titanium is also resistant to corrosion in salt water, so it’s fine to wear it in the surf.
Via a process called anodisation it is possible to obtain an astonishing array of colours from pure titanium ranging from black to bright pink and almost everything in between.
One factor to consider when buying a titanium ring is that they can’t be soldered, meaning they cannot be resized. So, if you are going to buy titanium jewellery, make sure it fits!
Pure titanium is also 100% hypo-allergenic which means that it will not react to your skin, and is safe for anyone to wear. Who said you can’t be strong and sensitive?
Size Matters: Finding the Perfect Fit
The Next thing you’ll need to decide upon is the width of your ring. Finer, daintier bands, whilst elegant, are generally seen as more feminine in design, whereas over-large and chunky bands can look a little hyper-masculine and cumbersome. The average width of for men’s wedding bands is somewhere between 5-7mm., but that’s not to say that one size fits all. It’s all depending on the size of your hand, and you’d be surprised to see how much difference a millimetre or two makes to the look of your ring. There’s really no better way to gauge what works for you than to try on a few rings. You’re jeweller will be happy to help you with this. One important factor to remember is that wider rings require more metal and will therefore be more expensive.
The Finish: A Touch of Character
The finish of your ring refers to the treatment and texture of its surface. This is where you can manifest an element of your personality and style. Finishes don’t just serve aesthetic purposes, they can be pragmatic, too.
With its high lustre and inimitable shine of a high polish will never go out of style; however, it will require a degree of upkeep to maintain that sleek mirror finish.
Matte or Brushed Finish:
The matte finish is the perfect option for the understated gentleman. It is a classy and contemporary look that does not draw attention to itself, but beautifully compliments the hand. Along with a brushed finish, this is a wise option for men who work with their hands or maintain an active lifestyle, as it will reduce the appearance of scratches and unwanted marks from everyday wear.
A highly polished band might not be the wisest choice if you are someone who works with your hands.
For all the outdoor explorers, artisans, and general action men out there, a polished and dainty ring that requires constant care is both impractical and inconvenient. For such men, a ring with a textured finish is by far and away the best bet. Hammer marks, for example, offer a handmade, weathered look that will only be enhanced by wear regular wear and tear. This is the ring Hemmingway would have opted for.
Sometimes, a definitive decision proves impossible: you love silver for it’s timeless class, but covet the strength and understated charm of titanium. With a two tone ring, you never have to choose. Many men these days are opting for the handsome and distinguished look of a two-tone ring, blending to metals together in concentric harmony. For added sentimental value, you could pair the metals in your ring to that of you partners in matching or alternating bands.
Diamonds can be a man’s best friend, too:
It’s not only girls who love a diamond ring. More and more men are falling for the distinction and elegance offered by a diamonds. A tasteful and discreet display of diamonds, whether it be single stone set in the centre, or enviable row circumnavigating the band, can add inimitable disticion and class to your ring whilst maintaining a masculine aesthetic.
York's Head Jeweller, Douglas Ely, crafting a custom ring
A custom designed ring offers your endless possibility and a finished product that is truly personal and unique.
Now, if you have a clear idea of what you’re after, but can’t seem to find a ring that measures up to your expectations, you can always go for a custom design. With years of experience in crafting beautiful custom rings, the talented team at York jewellers in Sydney Sydney are able to turn your dreams into reality. Read on to find out more about their custom design process.