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One Ring or Two: Do I Need a Wedding Band to Say "I do"?

Updated on January 12, 2013
A CAD rendering of a Yellow Diamond Wedding RIng: No Band Required
A CAD rendering of a Yellow Diamond Wedding RIng: No Band Required

Ring Ring

After twenty years as a professional jeweler, I've learned to accept it: some women don't feel "really married" unless they are wearing TWO rings, an engagement ring and a matching band.

If you'll feel perpetually engaged without a wedding band alongside your engagement ring, speak up before your wedding ceremony.

There's no rule that says you need two rings, though--I'd rather see most of my clients purchase a second ring to wear INSTEAD OF their big diamond, instead of alongside it.

A classic solitaire with a band is a timeless investment...
A classic solitaire with a band is a timeless investment...
...a fussy ring with many small diamonds is not a wise choice.
...a fussy ring with many small diamonds is not a wise choice.

Adding Mass to a Smaller Ring

Do some window shopping online, walk around a mall .You'll see clusters of small diamonds, set together, often with matching, interlocking bands.

The goal of these cluster rings is to make small diamonds appear more impressive. That idea almost always falls short of its goal: stay within your budget and buy a solitaire or three-stone ring instead of a bunch of small diamonds, set into wispy prongs, often with the addition of a flimsy band.

A solitaire is ALWAYS in style!

Solitaires Scream for Bands

Alright, I admit it: a solitaire can look--and feel--a little lonely without a band.

Sometimes I like a solitaire with TWO bands, one on each side. Sometimes we'll solder one to the big ring, and keep the other one loose. That way a bride can wear a trio, a set, or just the simple band all by itself.

A floating band (not soldered together) looks more 'upscale'--go ahead, pull out a Vogue, Marie Claire, Modern Bride or Elle: fashionistas might wear two rings, but they don't solder their sets.

A Princess Cut Three-Stone Ring
A Princess Cut Three-Stone Ring

It's as Easy as One, Two, Three

If your engagement ring is a "three stone ring", a band is optional. Sometimes, a thin shadow band is added.

Did you know there are really TWO types of three-stone rings? One is the engagement variety, where the center usually sits quite a bit higher than the side stones. Often the side stones are quite a bit smaller than the center in a the engagement ring version of a three-stone ring.

The style that's used more often as an anniversary ring features a lower center, and side diamonds that are more significant. When DeBeers was promoting diamonds on TV and in print, this was referred to as a "past, present, future" ring. The side diamonds were 65% of the size of the center, so if the center was about a 1.00 carat, the sides were about 2/3 of a carat, each.

A three-stone ring can hold its own as a wedding ring, regardless...for its timelessness, simplicity and versatility, it's a great choice for an engagement ring--you can always substitute a color gemstone for the center, or make a pendant and earring set if you get another, larger diamond ring in the future. And unlike a solitaire, a three-stone ring does not scream for a band.

A Typical Wrap.  Note that the marquise diamonds are held in with only two prongs.
A Typical Wrap. Note that the marquise diamonds are held in with only two prongs.

Wraps. Sigh.

Quite a few people on a budget think they'll jazz up a solitaire with a wrap.

Uhh... think again.

Wraps are often poorly made, flimsy, with inadequate prongs (TWO exposed prongs are not enough to hold in a diamond over time, trust me). Though they often 'snap together', the fit becomes wobbly, which leads to premature wear.

Not only will you come up empty when you look for wraps in upscale bridal and fashion magazines, you won't find wraps at many fine jewelry stores. Here at Big Sky Gold, we don't even sell wraps.

Wraps are featured in stores that blow slick inserts in Sunday newspapers, sell at high mark-up and offer long-term financing. These stores often don't promote the quality of the goods they sell, their sales associates talk about "carats, total weight" instead. (Hint: a one carat total weight ring is worth only a tiny fraction of a one-carat diamond).

On Guards...

Guards aren't the same as wraps. I'm still not crazy about guards, but I've seen some that are a more than passable.

A ring guard goes on both sides of a ring. Most guards help a ring fit a bit tighter by serving as a 'sleeve'.

I've made a few custom guard rings for clients over the years, but mostly I see them in mall jewelry stores, or as part of grandma's estate.

If you don't mind the cookie-cutter look of most ring guards, you still need to be vigilant about craftsmanship when you shop for one. Be sure the diamonds are well set, that their color and clarity goes well with the diamond featured in your engagement ring. Avoid lightweight guards. Look underneath. If it's poorly made, pass.

Instead of a guard, I'd suggest you consider two eternity or anniversary bands. It's much more elegant!

A Typical Ring Guard
A Typical Ring Guard

What Should I Look for if I Want One Ring Instead of Two?

If you are active, the lower the center diamond, the better.

Wider bands will have less of a tendency to turn on the finger, but keep in mind the ergonomics and aesthetics for your hand. A petite, short-fingered woman might look and feel uncomfortable with an 8-mm. wide ring.

A cathedral style setting helps to protect your center diamond, too. (Cathedral style rings have 'wings'--like miniature flying buttresses) off the head, angling down toward the shank).

Consider a 'euroshank'--that's a ring with a flattened, ergonomic back. If you are designing a custom ring, a euroshank is a no-brainer: it won't add much to the cost, and it won't affect the look of the ring from the top. A euroshank will be comfy and less likely to turn on the finger.

Check my previous post on white gold vs. platinum and "ring fit" for more important tips.,

An Ultramodern Euroshank (We can put this shank on many ring styles)
An Ultramodern Euroshank (We can put this shank on many ring styles)

I Want Two RIngs: Should I Solder My Set?

Consider soldering your set if:

*Your band is specially curved to fit your engagement ring. These bands look and feel funny if they are worn alone.

*You are picky and the design on top of the engagement ring and matching band doesn't line up to your satisfaction.

*You have been married awhile, and you are always wearing the set together. Many brides think they'll like to wear the band alone sometimes, but in truth, most of us wind up wearing our sets 'as one'.

*Your engagement ring and your band are rubbing together--especially if they are two different metals, and/or they abrading, causing one or both rings to wear out.

*Your rings are turning on your finger.

*You don't mind looking "matchy-matchy".

It's very rare that I recommend soldering a diamond eternity band: the diamonds go all the way around an eternity ring, so they always face the right direction.

What About the Ceremony?

"With this ring, I thee wed."

Many of my brides bring in their engagement rings for a professional detailing a week or so before the wedding. Their partner just puts "this ring" back on during the ceremony.

Strike Up the Band!

Even if you don't get a band to wear with your engagement/committent ring, consider purchasing a plain band to wear in lieu of your big ring.

Gold, platinum, tungsten or ceramic--It doesn't matter. I hope there will be times for you--on a Mexican beach, at a flea market, traveling across Europe on a train--that you'll want to wear a simple ring. There are times for your hand to sparkle and there times for your spirit to shine. Sometimes these moments coincide, but when they don't, it's nice to say you're married without saying a word...


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