Wondering how to choose the best wedding ring for you? Here's everything you need to know before you buy.
If you're in the market for a wedding band or engagement ring, I highly recommend JamesAllen.com.
Proposing to your girlfriend or boyfriend is one of the most nerve-racking events a man will go through.
Most guys spend a fair amount of time obsessing over engagement rings and trying to find the perfect one for their soon-to-be better half.
This means internet research and trips to local jewelry stores, which always includes fending off high pressure sales people who want you to spend more than you had planned.
But despite all the time you spend finding the perfect ring for your future fianće, many guys barely put any thought into the wedding band they’ll be wearing. Which is why most men pick a simple yellow gold band.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with this kind of wedding band, as long as it’s the one you want. But even if you buy a simple band, it should be well-fitted and comfortable, and it should complement your style.
Speaking of which, I wear a 4mm Platinum, slightly curved, traditional fit wedding band in size 7.5. And if you have no idea of what any of that means, you will by the end of this guide.
So without further adieu, here’s the men’s wedding band guide I wish had been available when I was shopping for my ring:
Types of Bands
First, you’ll want to select the type of wedding band. There are four options:
This is the traditional wedding band. It’s plain with no stones, carvings or other accessories.
Timeless and traditional, this is one of the most popular options for men. These rings have a sleek, classic style.
This is a modern twist on the classic look. Instead of a smoother curved shape, these rings have a beveled design with etched edges.
Many guys think they look more masculine or just more interesting than the classic curved shape.
Want something a bit flashier? Diamond wedding bands are a popular choice.
There are no specific rules here. Diamond bands can have a single diamond, a row of diamonds or other diamond designs. As you might expect, the more diamonds used, the more expensive the ring will likely cost.
These rings are made from non-traditional metals like titanium or cobalt chrome.
Edges are usually rounded or beveled. Alternative wedding rings are often favored by guys who already wear rings, necklaces, and other modern jewelry.
Rings can be made from medical-grade silicone. These rings are great for active lifestyles because they fit very securely and can’t become snagged on clothing or other loose objects. Plus, you can easily wear gloves without having to take your ring off.
They’re a good choice for food service workers, firefighters, police offices and a variety of other busy professionals.
Types of Metal
Let’s be honest here. If you had to pick an ideal metal for your ring, you’d pick adamantium.
Unfortunately, this practically indestructible metal alloy only exists in the fictional Marvel universe – at least for now. But you still have plenty of options to choose from.
Platinum is one of the most popular metals used in rings, which is a bit ironic because it’s one of the rarest elements found in the earth’s crust.
This white/silver metal is durable, sophisticated and hypoallergenic. It practically never causes any rash or other skin irritation.
When shopping for a ring, don’t be surprised if you have a hard time finding one made from 100% platinum. Most platinum rings are 95% platinum with the remaining 5% consisting of other metals.
That mixture doesn’t impact the look or characteristics of the ring but is often significantly cheaper than a 100% platinum ring.
Palladium is a metal found within the platinum family. As you might expect, the two metals look and feel very similar. Palladium is silver-white and soft.
You might hear palladium referred to as “the poor man’s platinum.” But don’t worry, this mainly refers to palladium’s lower cost. Palladium is a bit softer than platinum, but it’s still strong and durable.
This metal is made from gold plated with rhodium, a soft metal found in the palladium family. Well, most white gold is plated with rhodium. Nickel, silver, and palladium can also be used.
Regardless of the specific metals used, white gold will always have a bright white color. However, this color will typically fade after about ten years. To restore the white color, the ring will need to be re-plated.
Yellow gold is considered a classic material for a ring. It gives off a soft, pleasant glow which is noticeable but understated. These rings are usually mixed with another type of metal.
Note that gold purity is measured in karats, with a “k.” Each karat is 1/24 of a gold portion. Pure gold is 24 karat gold. Fourteen karat gold is 14 parts gold and ten parts of another metal (so the ring is 58% gold).
Just for, well, clarity, a carat is the unit of measurement for the weight of a diamond.
Also, don’t assume that karate gold is better than 14 or 18 karat gold. Most people won’t be able to tell the difference by looking at it, and rings with less gold tend to be lower maintenance in the long run (and less expensive).
This metal is a mix of gold and copper with usually a dash of silver. Depending on the exact amounts, the ring will be either reddish or pink. While not every guy wants a pink ring, it does create a distinctive, vintage look.
Looking for something a bit more non-traditional? Plenty of options are available. Sterling silver and titanium are popular, non-traditional metals. But so are a variety of non-metals including rings made from silicone and even wood.
There’s a difference between a ring which fits and a ring which “fits.” Just because the ring slides comfortably on your finger doesn’t mean it’s the proper size.
If the ring is too big, even just slightly, it can slip right off, especially when you’re washing your hands or taking a shower. Too small and you can damage the circulation in your finger.
To find your size, one option is to visit a jewelry store in-person so a professional jeweler can measure your ring finger. Most stores will do this for free, and you aren’t required to buy a ring.
Temperature matters. Your finger size can change dramatically based on your body temperature. If the air is warm, your fingers will lengthen. If the air’s cool, your fingers can swell up.
The best time to measure is when your body temperature is neutral. Generally, that means you’ll want to hang out in the store for a few minutes after coming in from outside before having your fingers measured.
Another option is to use an online sizing tool. This allows you to size your finger at home. While not quite as accurate as a professional measurement, online sizers are easy to use and provide at least a start point when ring shopping.
Some online jewelers like JamesAllen.com will send you a free ring sizer in the mail, which is also a great option. And remember, you can always get your ring adjusted for a perfect fit after you buy it.
The width of the band is one of the most important aspects of the ring. Generally, a wide band is considered more masculine.
But don't buy into that. Buy a ring that fits your finger, not one that seems “masculine” because it's really wide. Plus, wider bands are more expensive because they require more metal.
Normally, narrow rings will have a width of 4mm. The widest rings – best for guys with extra-large hands – will be 8mm or 9mm wide. The average width for a men’s wedding band is 6mm.
There are no hard and fast rules here. Try on a few different widths and choose the one which looks best. If you have smaller hands and thinner fingers, a narrow band is often more comfortable to wear. Plus, narrow bands are often the more budget-friendly option.
You have two options here: Standard Fit and Comfort Fit.
As the name implies, Standard Fit is the more common option. These rings are flat on the inside. While they certainly fit fine, they don’t conform to the shape of your finger.
Comfort Fit rings are rounded on the inside. This provides a more natural, comfortable fit. You’ll want to try each type. Some people notice a rather significant difference in the comfort levels – it depends on the specific shape of your finger.
When we’re talking about the shape of your ring, we’re talking about it’s profile In other words, the shape of the outside of the ring, not the inside (which we covered above).
There are many different words used to describe the same profiles, so it can be a bit confusing.
I think it’s most helpful to look at shape (or profile) as a spectrum.
Domed vs. Flat
On one end of the spectrum, you have a high domed ring. This looks like a D shape, and it’s a classic, traditional profile that rises high off of your finger. It’s thick and, in my opinion, best reserved for guys with thicker fingers.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have a totally flat ring. This is a very contemporary look that has a more minimal, modern feel. Many younger guys are going with flat rings.
Keep in mind, a flat ring can still be comfort fit, and a domed (or curved) ring can still be traditional fit.
In between high dome and completely flat, there are plenty of options, such as slightly domed or slightly flat.
I think a slightly flat ring is a really nice middle ground between contemporary and timeless. My ring is slightly flat (just barely curved) with a traditional fit, which lets it sit right on my finger, keeping it short in height for a “barely there” feel.
Where to Buy
As with just about everything these days, you have two buying options. The traditional option is to shop in-person at a brick-and-mortar jewelry store. The advantage here is you can physically hold the ring and place it on your finger.
However, online retailers are an increasingly popular option. Generally, you’ll find far more options available when shopping online. Additionally, you’ll be able to view a variety of pictures of the ring, so you’ll know exactly what you’re buying.
I’ve tried both options. Just like with buying clothes, shoes or watches, I strongly prefer ring shopping online.
Let’s be honest here – a guy’s wedding ring is usually more of an afterthought. But men’s wedding bands are far more interesting than many people think. You have a ton of different options regarding the materials used and the overall style.
Wedding rings are designed to last a lifetime, so you’ll want to take your time and pick out a ring which fits well and suits your style.
Here’s to a lifetime of happiness with your new partner and your new ring!
About James Allen
JamesAllen.com is best known for their Diamond Display Technology – a proprietary technology that displays all 70,000+ certified conflict-free diamonds in 360° HD, along with hundreds of different settings.
You can also shop their huge collection of men’s wedding bands using the same 360° HD viewer, and you can call their best-in-class customer service agents with any questions. I spoke to Josh for over an hour, as he patiently answered all my questions for this article, and Sarah graciously helped me pick the perfect ring.
James Allen offers a lifetime warranty, free resizing, free engraving and free returns in the U.S. And they’re just good people. I highly recommend buying your engagement ring and wedding band from James Allen.