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Find a Wedding Ring That Fits Your Lifestyle

gold wedding bandsThe process of getting married can be daunting. There seems to be a million decisions to be made, and all of them important. But once the caterer has packed up and left, and the thank you notes are written, there are only a few tangible reminders of the day -- and none more important than your ring.

The wedding ring is how you show the world that you're married. You'll wear it everyday, whether you're dressed up for a night on the town, or spending a lazy afternoon on the couch. So it's important to choose a ring that not only fits your personal style, but also your lifestyle.

Luckily, today there are more choices in rings than ever before. No longer content with only choosing between yellow gold and white gold, brides and grooms have a host of alternative materials, finishes, embellishments and designs to select from. But it's important to know why some rings may be a better choice for you.

"There are many reasons besides aesthetics that a person will consider in selecting a type of ring," says Steve Blackwell of e- Wedding Bands, one of the Web's most trusted e-commerce sites. "Someone who works with their hands may want a stronger metal, like titanium, to avoid scratches and nicks. Or if someone's daily life involves messy work, they may want to select a solid band without much of a design."

Whatever type of ring you choose, make sure you buy it from a reputable retailer who will stand behind their rings and answer any questions you might have. Here are some of today's most popular metal choices:

"We're often asked questions about the differences between 18 karat and 14 karat rings," says Blackwell. "It's important for brides and grooms to understand these differences so they can choose the strength and price that best suits them."

Gold is combined with other metals -- called alloys -- to make it more durable. Alloys add strength, but dilute the value of the gold. In an attempt to achieve the best balance between the strength of alloys and the valuable and desirable properties of gold, three different karat gold combinations have become standard: 18 karat, 14 karat, and 10 karat -- and all three are available in white or yellow gold. While many people are familiar with 24 karat gold as the finest, it is also the softest, and not a good choice for a piece that will endure everyday wear and tear.

The metal of choice in the early part of the 20th century, platinum was restricted for nonmilitary use during WW II and fell out of favor as people became accustomed to using white gold. Today, brides and grooms are once again drawn to the luster, rarity and heft of platinum wedding bands. When selecting platinum, make certain that the ring is stamped "PLAT" or "PT950." This designation ensures that your ring is 95 percent pure.

You will pay more for a platinum ring, because it takes more effort to obtain the metal. It requires nearly ten tons of ore to yield one ounce of platinum, compared to the three to four tons of raw rock required to produce the same amount of gold.  There are also far fewer platinum mines, which adds to the metal's allure and exclusivity.

A newer choice for rings, titanium is popular with those people looking for a strong durable, lightweight ring. It is becoming increasingly popular for those who work with their hands, as well as people who might find wearing rings uncomfortable.

Weighing only 1/3 as much as gold, titanium offers a clean, modern look in a gun-metal gray color. "Our titanium rings are made from solid bars of high Aircraft Grade titanium, which results in a perfectly seamless ring," explains Blackwell. "These rings provide a great look on a budget, as you won't pay a premium like you would with a precious metal."

With a weight comparable to platinum and incredible strength and scratch-resistance, tungsten is quickly gaining popularity as a jewelry metal. For rings, tungsten is mixed with alloys to create tungsten carbide, a material so strong, it needs to be worked and formed with diamond cutting tools. Because its strength is superior to other jewelry metals, rings made from tungsten may long outlive the wearer.

Diamond bands
Originally introduced to the public as anniversary bands, diamond bands have recently gained popularity as engagement and wedding rings with brides-to-be searching for a clean, modern look. Customers need to keep in mind the same "4 Cs" often associated with shopping for a diamond solitaire: cut, clarity, color and carat.

No matter what type of ring you choose, it's a purchase that shouldn't be taken lightly. Be certain to find a jeweler you can trust, who offers a large selection, so you can find the perfect ring for you.

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also see -> How to buy a wedding ring | Picking the perfect diamond

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