In the throes of wedding planning, buying your bands may seem like just another item to check off your epic to-do list – but don’t rush this decision! You’ll be wearing these bands for the rest of your life (though Kim Kardashian’s 15 carat “eternity band” certainly isn’t getting much wear these days), so this should be a very informed decision.
For a quick, but thorough education on buying bands, we consulted 2 industry experts, Zaven “Zee” Ghanimian from Simon G., and Kate Peterson from Palladium. These industry insiders have agreed to share expert tips on what the savvy or less-than-savvy consumer should know before even starting to shop for wedding bands.
1. Know what type of bands you’re looking for. “Typically there are 3 different kinds of bands” says Ghanimian. “A plain traditional band both for bride and groom, a matching wedding band for engagment ring, and a shadow band which is built to the contours of the engagment ring. Usually the groom wears a plain band.”
Petersen adds: “With palladium and platinum and various purities of gold available, there’s a precious metal option in every price range. Keep in mind that every seller has their biases, and most will do a good job of presenting the upside of their favorites.”
2. Prices are negotiable. “On most wedding bands the price is directly tied to the price of gold and diamonds. You can ask for a discount or incentive.” says Ghanimian.
“It’s always wise to ask for a ‘best price’ quote, but as most educated consumers know, if you’re able to negotiate a significant discount on the price of any non-discontinued item, it’s typically because it was priced too high to begin with.” says Peterson. “Always look at the bottom line dollars. With designer or branded product, the price is usually determined by the designer/manufacturer and will be consistent (for the same ring) from store to store.”
3. Know when to buy. “The right time to choose your wedding band is no less than 3 months before your wedding.” says Peterson. “Many rings can take 4 – 6 weeks to order in your size, made to your specifications and custom-engraved , but allow for complications. You really don’t want to worry about whether or not your rings will make it in time for the ceremony.”
4. Be aware of what you’ll spend. Brides don’t buy their own engagement rings, and thus, they frequently experience sticker shock when it’s time to shop for wedding bands. A simple men’s band made of precious metals is thicker, wider, and generally 2-3X the price of a matching lady’s band. Simple gold bands range from $150-$300 per band, while platinum bands range from $600 all the way up to $2K. Of course, adding diamonds and gemstones can quickly bump up the cost of bands considerably.
5. Know a “karat” from a “carat.” A “carat” is a unit weight measurement that specifically refers to diamonds and gemstones. A “karat” refers to a ring’s gold content, and 24 karats is 100% gold. But 24K gold is useless for jewelry making because of its extreme malleability. All gold jewelry is mixed with an alloy (such as silver, copper, nickel, or zinc) to make it extra durable and resilient. 18K gold is 75% gold and the remaining content is an alloy. 14K gold is 58.5% gold, and so on.
White gold is gold that has been rhodium-plated to give it a more platinum-like look, but white gold is the hardest precious metal to maintain, as its plating needs to be refinished every few years. Platinum is an incredibly durable and valuable precious metal that will never tarnish – but it’s also the most costly of the lot.
6. Know how to spot a quality band. “Apart from choosing the metal that will best suit your long term needs, as with most products, it’s often best to look for a reliable designer or manufacturer brand, and to buy from a reputable retailer who will be there to take care of your investment should you need servicing (sizing, polishing, refinishing, etc.) in the future.” says Peterson.
“In precious metals, look for quality construction. Plain and engraved bands should be seamless – either cast or die-struck – and you should not be able to see any pitting or cracking in the metal. If the ring is hand fabricated or is made up of multiple design components, all fittings should be flush and smooth. Always look for both a manufacturer’s trademark and a metal stamp inside the ring.”
Shop our guides to the best wedding jewelry sets, bridal hair accessories, and designer wedding shoes!