Your wedding band is an opportunity for a style statement, as well as a wink back to all the generations who have done this marriage thing before you. Here’s what to know as you select yours.
As you already know, marriage between two people signifies their legal lifetime commitment. It also joins two families, our first and most intimate social groups. In ancient times, this union had real power to magnify our chances for survival in a wild world. Marriage represented a communal commitment to the perpetuation of the species. It makes sense that an event extending that circle of trust be accompanied by a significant symbol. Small, portable and personal, that symbol often took the shape of a ring.
Artifacts such as gold rings depicting a man and a woman being joined by a central figure, most likely Jesus Christ, have been found dating back to the 7th century AD. Even as far back as ancient Rome, we find examples of gold rings engraved with images of two hands clasped, an eternal symbol of marital union. Objects such as these have always indicated the importance of the couple’s commitment.
In Indian cultures, rings are often exchanged during a betrothal ceremony, where in some cases the bride and groom meet for the first time. Often, gifts of fine garments and sweet foods are presented by the groom’s family, which pledges formally to care for the bride.
Jewish culture includes the formal presentation of a ring within the wedding ceremony itself. In fact, Jewish law requires that a groom present to his bride something of value that is “whole and unbroken.” Traditionally, this translates to a simple gold band with no holes or piercings through the surface. For some couples, the absence of gemstones on the wedding ring is a plus, as their lack means there can be no possibility of fakes being substituted for objects of true and lasting value.
In contemporary cultures, bands worn by both partners symbolize these same sentiments, as well as provide you with an opportunity to express your personal style.
The Band for You
Frequently, grooms choose a band that matches their bride’s band design. An elegant option, whenever the couple appears together their unity is visible for all to see. But matching bands are not required. You may prefer your band to coordinate with your own look or lifestyle needs.
In keeping with the marriage tradition that only the finest will do, you may opt for a high-karat gold band for daily wear. Be forewarned, however. The higher the karat, the softer the metal. This will not be a problem in terms of overall durability, but a high-karat gold surface will show scratches over time. You’ll want to have it polished up every few years to keep it looking good-as-new. White gold and platinum, both of which may also require every-few-year maintenance, are also popular metals for wedding bands, and good options if yellow gold is not your thing.
In recent years, new materials for men’s wedding bands have made a big splash. Titanium is one, so incredibly hard it is more likely to shatter due to cold temperatures than bend out of shape through wear. Available in a variety of metal colors plus black, titanium makes a great style statement. Just be sure to have your finger sized by a reputable jeweler before purchasing your titanium ring. Titanium rings are not sizable using traditional metalsmithing techniques.
Silicone is another material option, this one for active guys, or for those whose skin is sensitive to metal alloys. A soft polymer with a rubber-like feel and flexibility, silicone rings are comfortable to wear to the gym, in the shower, or when working with your hands. Available in metallic colorations, silicone bands can look similar to traditional men’s wedding bands but offer a wink of irony - good for a guy with a quirky sense of humor. Basic colors or even iridescent surfaces give you fun options, and at a super-low price.
As you take the big step into your new life as a married man, remember the community that brought you here. Choose the wedding band that reflects your family traditions, as well as lets you be yourself. You'll find it's just like your relationship: a perfect fit.