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Diamonds are not always a girl's best friend and it is not uncommon for brides-to-be to prefer an alternate wedding stone for their ring. However, when considering the many different precious and semi-precious alternate wedding stones calling your name at the local jewelry store, it is important to take into consideration the level of durability that your final choice possesses. Also, keep in mind that smaller sizes tend to crack and fall out too easily.
A few popular alternate wedding stone choices include:
This alternate wedding stone represents the birthstone for September babies, representing serenity and truth – perfect attributes for getting a wedding off on the right foot, don't you think? With a typical blue color, sapphires possess an ancient quality that also comes in pink, green, yellow, lilac, and white. I suggest seeking out an Australian sapphire for a deep blue (almost black) alternate wedding stone.
As the birthstone of July, this alternate wedding stone infuses love, enthusiasm, and strength into a ring. From deep blood red to the lesser-known light pink, gorgeous rubies often come from South East Asia, Burma, Tanzania and Kenya. Can you imagine that during the 19th century, the ruby was thought more valuable than the diamond?
Representing love and fidelity, the emerald would make an exceptional alternate wedding stone – quite valuable in the world of jewelry. To actually get your hands on a flawless emerald is highly uncommon. However, the emerald is a brittle stone and could easily chip or crack if not properly taken cared of. If green is your favorite color, I suggest giving the emerald a try, which is also the birthstone for May.
When looking for a stunning alternate wedding stone combination, consider blending the pale, blue shade of aquamarine with diamonds set in a platinum or white gold band. Plus, you'll find no trouble locating this particular stone, as it is mined in countries, from Russia to Argentina. To choose an aquamarine ring is to also embrace the March birthstone, which stands for happiness and understanding.
Pair the semi-precious garnet with diamonds to capture the fiery birthstone of January that most often offers the flash of red or orange, but also exists in a shade of green. A garnet engagement or wedding ring stands for eternity, truth, and faith.
Your wedding ring is the single most important piece of jewelry you will ever wear. It's a sign of everlasting love and commitment. Many grooms and brides have opted to engrave their spouse's wedding ring with a touching phrase, the wedding date or something else that's special to the two of them. Below you will find some helpful information that will help you determine whether you should engrave your ring.
Photo: Jeff Loves Jessica, Jewelry: Bergstrom
Band Width and Type -
Some rings are simply too small to be engraved - that includes rings that are smaller than 3 millimeters. Between 4 and 6 millimeters is the perfect size for engraving and larger than this creates an opportunity to have two rows of text. Make sure your ring is large enough to be engraved, or the words may come out illegible and it may not look that great. Also, think about your wedding ring type.
If it's gold, you might consider getting it hand engraved by an artist who can provide the lettering you want. Gold gives way nicely under a hand engraver's tools while Platinum and other metals are more difficult to engrave this way. For those metals, consider having them laser-engraved. This is usually done by a machine which can provide several different kinds of lettering and even symbols.
What Will You Say?"I Got You Babe." "You Are My Sunshine." "Forever and Always." "My Other Half." "Forever My Darling." "What Have We Done?"
If you have decided that you should engrave your ring, there are many different possibilities. You can stick with the traditional idea of placing your name, your spouse's name and the wedding date - or your can do something a little more personal. Some individuals place phrases from a favorite song, poem, scripture or something else that means a lot to the couple. It can be sentimental, funny or however you want it. Below you will find a few examples of engraved messages:
Depending upon your personality and your spouse's personality, you may opt for a funny message that only your spouse would understand and cherish - or something sentimental and sweet.
Important Tips -
There are a few things you should make sure of when you decide to engrave your ring. First and foremost, ask for samples of the engraver's past work so you can determine whether he or she should be the one to do the work. Also, ask whether the engraving will be done in house or sent out - and whether it's insured if it is sent out. Then, determine how long it will take to be completed so you can ensure that it will be done before the ceremony.
An inscription on a ring is sure to be cherished for many years to come. By going over the basics, you can make sure you actually want to engrave it and that it will be done correctly.
By the Project Wedding staff for our sponsor, Blue Nile
Diamonds have long been a symbol of love and commitment, the preferred stone adorning the ring fingers of the engaged. For ring shoppers, the sparkly options seem endless. The cut of the stone, setting style, band metal and personal style all factor into finding the perfect ring.
The most popular diamond shape is the round diamond, often called the round brilliant. Fifty-eight triangular facets direct light from the bottom of the diamond through the crown for that ultimate sparkle. Created by Marcel Tolkowsky in 1919, diamond cutters have been perfecting this particular cut for nearly 100 years, giving you a versatile stone that shines in both modern settings and elaborate designs.
The princess is the most popular non-round choice with brides-to-be. First created in London during the "swingin' sixties," this many-faceted, pointed-cornered gem varies in shape from square to rectangular and has a mirrored effect. While stunning as a solitaire, the princess works very well in eternity bands, as the edges line up to create a seamless wall of stones.
The emerald cut diamond is one most associated with the term "ice." The art deco shape earned its name in the 1920s when the cut was used primarily for emeralds. Its flat surface with lean rectangular facets spotlights the stone's clarity.
The Asscher cut is named for the Asschers of Amsterdam, gem cutters for Britain's royal family, who designed the shape in 1902. It's essentially a square version of the emerald, with a high crown and stepped sides. The dramatic profile was popular through the ‘30s, and is perfect for vintage lovers.
This brilliant-cut stone flatters the finger with its distinctive elongated shape. The Marquise diamond works well with others; consider setting it with round or pear-shaped stones. The gem can be worn either vertically (as Victoria Beckham does) or horizontally (as per the preference of Catherine Zeta-Jones).
The oval's brilliance and versatility can rival that of a round, but with the added advantage of its shape accentuating slender ring fingers.
The rectangular radiant diamond is known for its trimmed corners. First introduced in the 1970s, the long step-cut and triangular facets optimize its light refraction.
The pear is also known as the teardrop. The unique shape boasts a single point (facing up) and rounded end. Keep in mind that this unusual and feminine diamond often goes solo as few wedding bands can fit beneath this stone's underside.
The unique shape and obvious symbol of love make the heart-shaped stone a distinctive and romantic option. Louis XIV had heart-shaped diamonds in his collection.
The cushion-cut diamond, also known as "pillow-cut," is a square stone with rounded corners and large facets to ensure maximum brilliance and making it a popular choice for more than a century. More shine than sparkle, this diamond is often set with surrounding tiny diamonds.
There are numerous ways to set a ring. Prongs, usually three to six of them, hold a solitaire diamond. This is the most popular engagement ring setting, centering the diamond to reflect the most light.
A three-stone setting lines up three diamonds that represent the past, present and future.
The increasingly popular bezel setting encases a single stone in a collar of metal. This modern style is a great design for active brides, and the encircling metal ring both protects the diamond's edges and makes it appear larger.
The boxter setting features a frame of little diamonds surround a central diamond. This makes a small gem appear larger and creates a unique feminine statement.
Platinum and gold are the top picks when it comes to band metals. Platinum is considerably more expensive but is also the strongest jewelry metal and won't tarnish or wear away. Most jewelers recommend the more secure platinum prongs in solitaire settings, even if the band is gold. Yellow gold provides a warm hue and traditional look, whereas white gold provides a more affordable non-yellow option. Gold is a softer, more malleable metal, yet the 18k gold band remains the most popular engagement band choice.
Custom bands with floral motifs and geometric shapes are also on the rise. Some brides prefer a band as their engagement ring; with the dazzling options and a less-expensive price tag, the eternity band continues to be a favorite.
Choose a ring she'll want to wear forever.
Learn more about engagement rings here!
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Antique Engagement Rings:
The custom of a prospective groom giving his fiancée an engagement ring -originally called a betrothal ring - can be traced back as far as Rome in the second century B.C. While a modern bride-to-be might not be interested in the kind of brass or iron ring used way back then, many couples today choose antique engagement rings. Since they're from an earlier time, antique engagement rings often are one of a kind. That might be part of the appeal for celebrity couples like Courteney Cox and David Arquette and Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas, who celebrated their engagements with antique rings.
Some couples like the thought of an antique engagement ring linking them to the past, giving their relationship a sense of history, even though they're just starting their life together. This feeling is enhanced when the ring comes from a family member. But not everyone has a relative with a family heirloom they're willing to part with - and even if you do, sometimes that can backfire ... what if your fiancé's Great Aunt Mildred offers you a ring that's been in the family for three generations, but it's big and gaudy and your taste is much more refined.
Antique Engagement Rings: What Qualifies?
To qualify as an antique, something has to be more than 50 years old. The term "antique" often has an association of being costly, and even though it's technically "used," an antique engagement ring can sometimes cost more than a new one. Once you decide you want an antique engagement ring, you can narrow the field by selecting a specific period. Victorian antique engagement rings, for example, from the mid-late 19th century, might have intricate scrollwork or other designs engraved in the metal. Antique engagement rings from this period also might feature different gemstones than we're used to seeing in modern engagement rings. In Victorian times, stones were chosen as symbols: an opal was thought to bring good fortune, a garnet meant the couple would become lifelong best friends. Other periods also popular for antique engagement rings are Edwardian (early 20th century) and Art Deco (1920s & 1930s).
Fine jewelry stores that feature antique jewelry generally offer an assortment of antique engagement rings. Jewelers who sell antique jewelry go to estate sales, pawn shops and flea markets to find merchandise - you can look for an antique engagement ring at these places yourself, but that can be very time consuming. You'll most likely spend more at a jewelry store than an estate sale or flea market, but it might be worth it in terms of time saved and wider selection.
You can also look online for an antique engagement ring, but the Internet might be a better resource for researching the kind of ring you want than for actually purchasing it, since you won't be able to actually see the ring before you buy it. However you shop for an antique engagement ring, make sure to get an independent appraisal to ensure its condition and value before committing to buying it.
Show us your antique engagement rings!
Anniversary rings can be given to commemorate any anniversary, but they are most often given on "significant" anniversaries, such as five, ten, twenty, twenty-five or fifty years. While it's more common for women than men to wear anniversary rings, they can be worn by both as a reaffirmation of the vows made when a couple first got married. Anniversary rings are also often given to women as a special gift when a notable life event happens during a particular year, such as a baby's birth.
What exactly is an anniversary ring?
Technically, any ring that's given as a gift on an anniversary can be considered an anniversary ring, but in almost all cases anniversary rings are wedding-like bands of some kind. As with wedding and engagement rings, yellow or white gold, silver, platinum and titanium are generally the metal choices for anniversary rings. The rings can be simple or sophisticated, unadorned bands or filigreed and fancy with engraving on either the inside or outside. Anniversary rings can just be metal bands, or they can be set with gemstones. Diamonds are the most common gemstone used in anniversary rings, but birthstones (either the woman's or the couple's children's) or the stone that represents the month the couple got married are also popular choices.
Some women choose to wear anniversary rings on the same left-hand finger with their engagement and wedding rings. The anniversary ring would be placed on the bottom, then the engagement ring and then the wedding band. Other women wear their anniversary rings separately, on the right hand; this is a good choice if the pattern or setting or metal of the anniversary ring is markedly different from the original wedding and engagement ring set.
Eternity rings, bands that are entirely lined with closely-set gemstones (most often diamonds), are also frequently given as anniversary ring. This style is especially appropriate for anniversary rings, since the circle of stones is meant to symbolize the eternal nature of love. Another popular choice for an anniversary ring is a 3 stone ring, which features three gemstones set in a row; these are sometimes referred to as “past, present and future” rings, with each stone representing a different phase in a couple’s relationship. Gemstones in an anniversary ring are generally all the same size, to avoid its being confused with an engagement ring. Most anniversary rings feature stones in either round, princess (square) or emerald shapes, but any shape gemstone can be used.
In the same way that there are specific birthstones for each month of the year, there are also gemstones traditionally associated with certain anniversaries. Choices for stones in anniversary rings might be guided in this way, based on when in a marriage an anniversary ring is purchased. Some of the anniversary stones are:
Garnet – 2nd anniversary
Sapphire – 5th anniversary
Amethyst – 6th anniversary
Lapis lazuli – 9th anniversary
Diamond – 10th anniversary
Opal – 14th anniversary
Ruby – 15th anniversary
Emerald – 20th anniversary
Images courtesy: Blue Nile