Wedding rings... where to start?
16 Jan 2017
Don't know where to start with your wedding rings? Here's some expert knowledge to help you along the way
To help you feel like an expert, Roz Prest, founder of Buckinghamshire jewellery company Rosalyn’s Emporium, has compiled key information about wedding ring styles, metals and hallmarking... all the considerations when choosing your perfect wedding ring.
D-Shape: flat inside and rounded outside
Court fit: rounded inside and outside
Shaped/Wishbone: a bend fitting around an engagement ring
Flat: flat on all sides
Patterned: repeat designs, initials, dates or messages are engraved into the ring. A hammer is used to create irregular finishes
Diamond set: from a single to multiple diamonds
Two or three colour: combinations of yellow, white and/or rose gold
Mixed metal: a mix of yellow and/or rose gold combined with silver instead of white gold to reduce costs
Bridal set: an engagement ring and matching band bought as one item
Bespoke: a jeweller designs and makes your one-off wedding ring
DIY: you can even learn to make wedding rings yourself. Rosalyn’s Emporium hosts experience days in the field. See the website for more details.
Precious metals are harder or softer than each other. It is important to choose the same metal wedding ring as your engagement ring to avoid long-term damage.
Gold is naturally a yellowy red colour. Pure gold is very expensive and too soft to use in everyday jewellery.
To strengthen gold and change the colour it is mixed with alloys e.g. copper, zinc, silver or cobalt. The proportion of pure gold vs alloy metals gives a 'carat' (ct) or ‘fineness’ grade.
Gold is available in yellow, white or rose colours and 9, 14, 18, 22 & 24 carat. A lower carat is less pure and cheaper. 9 and 18 carat gold are the most popular for wedding rings due to their hard-wearing nature.
Platinum: a noble, rare metal; more valuable than gold. It is hypoallergenic, hard-wearing and a silvery white colour.
Palladium: shares the same properties and colour as platinum but is more affordable due to being mixed with alloy metals.
Sterling silver: a cheaper whitish grey metal. Pure silver is too soft to use on its own so is mixed with alloys such as copper.
Rhodium plating: rhodium is a metal found in platinum ores. It is the most expensive metal and is a bright silver white colour. White gold is often rhodium plated to make it whiter.
Alternative metals: titanium, stainless steel, tungsten and cobalt are hard-wearing and more affordable than the above metals. They are often associated more with a groom's wedding ring due to the use within men’s fashion jewellery and watches.
A hallmark proves what a precious metal is and how much pure vs alloy metal it contains. Metals are tested and hallmarked at assay offices.
UK hallmarks consist of three compulsory marks:
- Sponsor's mark – made up of 2/3 initials relating to the maker.
- Standard mark – this proves the carat/fineness of the metal. Each metal and carat/fineness of metal has its own mark.
- Assay office mark – the UK has four assay offices. The London Assay Office uses a lion's head, Sheffield a rose, Birmingham an anchor and Edinburgh a castle.
Optional marks – date letters, traditional symbols for metal types, commemorative and international convention marks.
Antique items and thosefrom outside the UK will have different marks.