Planning Your Wedding

A Design for Life

A Design for Life

Choosing your wedding and engagement rings

The experts share their advice on choosing a ring to cherish forever


Hannah May
Hannah May - Chief Features Writer

As the symbol of your union you’ll wear for life, choosing your wedding and engagement rings is a big decision. From metals and gemstones to personal touches, the experts share their advice for choosing a ring to cherish forever

When it comes to important purchases, buying an engagement and wedding ring is high up there. And, while the experience of finding or designing a piece of jewellery together that will symbolise your union – and remain emotionally and physically attached to you thereafter – is incredibly exciting, there’s a lot to consider. We’ve enlisted some expert advice to help you get started.

Justin Duance Wedding Rings Wed Magazine6Justin Duance justind.co.uk  Verity Westcott Photography

A question of style
Where to start with choosing an engagement ring? “Have a look at the jewellery your partner already wears to get an idea of what style they like. Think about their personality and the clothes they wear,” advises designer-maker Stephanie Stevens (stephaniestevensjewellery.co.uk). “Perhaps create a mood board of rings you like, and you will see a certain theme start to emerge. Always go with your gut: clients normally go back to what they picked first.”

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Stephanie Stevens Jewellery stephaniestevensjewellery.co.uk

Once you’ve thought about your personal style preferences, it’s important to consider your budget to help you realistically achieve your vision.

“Think about budget – not just for the engagement ring, but also for down the line,” highlights Janie Wolverson at Erin Cox (erincox.co.uk). “If you are buying an engagement ring in 18ct gold then ideally you will need a wedding ring in 18ct to wear alongside it,” she elaborates. “18ct gold is more expensive than 9ct because it has twice the amount of gold content.”

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Armed with an image and price range, the next logical step is to start looking in person to see the array of options – and discover what you’re most drawn to. “My first recommendation is to visit our workshop,” says Jamila Hirtenstein at Justin Duance (justind.co.uk). “We have a really relaxed approach with our customer appointments: it’s all about having a bit of fun trying on lots of rings and narrowing down what you like.”

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“When you are trying rings on, we encourage you to think about what elements appeal to you such as the style of ring, the width that suits your hand, the colour of metal you like best and whether you would like any diamonds or gemstones,” she continues.

“It sounds overwhelming, but it is a fairly instinctual process. I often find people are naturally drawn to certain elements or designs – and it’s our job to put those pieces together and design the perfect ring.”

And don’t forget to think about time frames. “Most rings take between three-four weeks to make, sometimes longer, so make sure you start looking early to give you and your designer enough time to complete your desired ring,” advises designer-maker Corrinne Eira Evans (corrinneeiraevans.co.uk).

Stephanie Stevens Wedding Rings Wed Magazine5Stephanie Stevens Jewellery stephaniestevensjewellery.co.uk

What’s your metal?
Next, it’s time to consider what metal you like. Different metals have different properties, ranging from silver (the weakest) to platinum (the strongest). Matching the metal strength of your engagement and wedding rings is important to ensure that one doesn’t wear the other down.

“You also need to consider lifestyle,” advises Janie. “Will you be wearing the ring all the time? Is the person wearing the ring very practical, or does he/she have a manual job? Your jeweller will help guide you to the right sort of stone, metal and settings to suit how you will wear the ring.”

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Corrinne Eira Evans corrinneeiraevans.com

And if you still can’t quite decide, Janie has the perfect solution. “Erin likes to mix metal colours and so it may be that the ring shank is one colour and the setting a different one. Erin also creates a unique ‘camo gold’ where yellow and white gold is melted together. This is a great option if you wear a range of different coloured metal jewellery and also ensures the ring stays modern with the ever-changing fashions.”

Durability is the most important aspect of choosing an engagement or wedding ring for heritage goldsmith Isabella Day from The Remarkable Goldsmiths (theremarkablegoldsmiths.co.uk). “Because it is hammered to shape, hand forged metal is much harder and the metal is more consolidated than anything that is cast, either from a wax model from an original design or a cad rendition,” she explains. “Cast metal is more porous and softer so it’s nice for occasional wear but for wedding and engagement rings you really want to make sure it’s been hand forged and rolled. At The Remarkable Goldsmiths every one of our bespoke engagement and wedding rings is made like this.”

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Stephanie Stevens Jewellery stephaniestevensjewellery.co.uk

Isabella has a word of caution for those drawn to white gold. “Don’t choose white gold if it is plated. Check with your goldsmith: if the alloy is good, it shouldn’t need plating,” she says. “Your rings should be the colour you want them to be without plating. At The Remarkable Goldsmiths we offer 28 colours and carats of gold including Japanese green gold, pearl gold, peach gold and grey gold so there is something for everyone.”

Justin Duance Wedding Rings Wed Magazine5Justin Duance justind.co.uk  Verity Westcott Photography

If you’re seeking a ring with green credentials, discuss this with your jeweller too. “There are lots of precious metal options to help the environment: recycled, Fairtrade, SMO (Single Mine Origin) and remodelling old heirloom jewellery into your wedding rings,” asserts Corrinne. “Research these and see what resonates with your ethos – most jewellers can accommodate your requests. There will, however, be different costs involved as some are more expensive so don’t be afraid to ask for several quotes.”

Stephanie Stevens Wedding Rings Wed Magazine6Stephanie Stevens Jewellery stephaniestevensjewellery.co.uk

By discussing the details and sampling a range of styles with your jeweller, you’ll gain a better understanding of what looks and feels best for you (and your budget), from the metal to the band width and ring shape.

Another consideration is the pairing of your engagement and wedding rings, as Stephanie explains. “If you have an engagement ring, you have something to work with and to make the wedding ring fit perfectly alongside it. Think about where you need a curve, and if you would like diamonds or other stones set in the band to make them match the ones in the engagement ring.”

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“If you don’t have a ring to sit alongside then you can have whatever you want,” she continues. “The main thing to think about would be the shaping of the band – this will link to your personality and what design best suits you. Then you can think of different ways to make it unique like adding engraving, stones and textures.”

Hot rocks
Once you’ve decided on your metal and shape, it’s time to consider whether you wish to incorporate any type of stone into your ring.

Selecting something personal to you can help to make the ring your own – perhaps by incorporating your birthstone or a gem with a meaningful colour – while also maximising its visual impact.

Again, think about how the gem will wear, as well as appear. “Erin loves to use naturally coloured stones, including diamonds and sapphires, in engagement rings as they are hard-wearing and durable for jewellery which is going to be worn every day,” explains Janie. “These stones can come in a range of golden tones as well as oranges, pinks, blues and greens. Coloured stones are often teamed with white diamonds either as a trilogy or by having diamonds down each shoulder.”

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Remember to discuss your ideas, however outlandish you may presume them to be, to see if your jeweller can help you find a solution. “People often want an emerald in their engagement ring; however, they are very delicate, meaning they are not ideal for everyday wear. We often suggest alternative green stones such as sapphires or garnets, which are more suited to daily wear,” explains Janie.

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While diamonds remain the perennial best friend of brides and grooms the world over, don’t feel coerced into choosing a diamond when you’re drawn to other stones. “Don’t be convinced that you must have a diamond – before the brilliant advertising campaign run by De Beers in the early 1920s, we used all sorts of coloured stones for engagement rings,” says Isabella. “A coloured ethical sapphire can be easily traced and come in rainbow colours; even better they hold their value and are worth far more in the long run.”

Janie also has a few words of advice. “If you are looking to buy a diamond engagement ring, we would always recommend buying quality over quantity,” she says. “Buy the best quality diamond you can afford, even if it that means going for a smaller size. The clarity of the stone will be far superior and it will really twinkle – often making it seem bigger than it is.”

And remember to consider the sourcing when it comes to stones as well as metals. “If your jeweller can’t tell you where the stones came from then they almost certainly aren’t ethical,” warns Isabella.

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Stephanie Stevens Jewellery stephaniestevensjewellery.co.uk

Many jewellers’ signature making processes will imbue extra meaning, such as Justin’s sandcasting technique, which is most commonly used to reinvent pre-existing pieces. “If you have any heirloom materials, we can remodel them into your wedding rings, and incorporate any existing or new gemstones into the design,” explains Jamila.

Something personal
When it comes to personalising your rings, there’s a host of options to increase the bespoke factor. “There are the finer details such as choosing a beach sand for your ring to be cast in, or the hardwood to be inlaid,” says Jamila. You could pick the cove where you became engaged or the tree in the garden of your first home together.

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Corrinne Eira Evans corrinneeiraevans.com

“We can also engrave the inside of your ring with a personal message, date or fingerprint – to name but a few options!” she adds.

“Personalised wedding rings will always be popular,” agrees Janie. “Engraving or having secret stones set inside the band conveys a special meaning to the wearer. Erin reworks a lot of jewellery, using sentimental gold or stones for additional meaning.”

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“Don’t be frightened to ask for something, whether it’s a slightly wider/thinner band, extra diamonds or a different profile,” says Corrinne. “Creating new designs really excites us!” Her new stackable ‘Moorland’ collection epitomises her imaginative approach, where an old gem setting tool is used to hand stamp each recycled gold band, which also feature a scattering of responsibly sourced one-of-a-kind diamonds and sapphires.

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Drakes drakesjewellers.co.uk

“Choosing a ring is a very special time,” reiterates Jamila. “Whether as a surprise or picking your rings together, we always recommend choosing something that suits you and your lifestyle. Don't get too worried about what is in fashion or what other people do. Ultimately, these are the rings that you are going to wear forever so they only need to be right for you.”

Stephanie Stevens Wedding Rings Wed Magazine3Stephanie Stevens Jewellery stephaniestevensjewellery.co.uk

words Hannah May

Main image Justin Duance justind.co.uk  Verity Westcott Photography


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