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11 Wedding Ring Shopping Rules

Choosing wedding rings that you love and can live with forever can be simple, not stressful, with our 11 easy-to-follow shopping rules.

When it comes to your wedding rings -- that pair of bands you’ll wear for countless anniversaries to come -- a different set of shopping tips applies.

Narrow Your Choices

Because this is one of the few pieces -- if not the only piece -- of jewelry you’ll shop for together and wear every day, make some preliminary choices before you hit the stores. What color metal are you interested in -- yellow or white? Are you interested in something simple or over-the-top? Work out these questions to home in on what you are looking for.

Start Your Search Early

Once you have a basic idea of what you want, head out to the jewelry stores. Give yourselves at least two months to browse, research, price and revisit rings that catch your eye. Allow even more time if you’re interested in a custom piece -- extras like engraving can take up to one month.

Be Different

Don’t fret if you like platinum, while he likes yellow gold. There’s no rule that you have to match metals or even styles. Pick wedding bands that reflect each of your style sensibilities and tastes. However, some aspect (which can be as simple as an inscription) should match.

Set a Budget

A plain 14-karat gold band starts at around $330; plain platinum bands cost upwards of $600 apiece. Diamonds can add considerably more to the cost. The price of engraving on the inside of the wedding band depends on the font and whether you have it engraved by hand or machine.

Be Practical

Keep your lifestyle in mind at all times: What's the point of buying something pretty if it makes you uncomfortable or you have to remove it often (and increase your chances of losing it)? Remember: You will wear this band every day. The idea is to choose something that becomes a part of your life seamlessly. If you work with your hands often, look for a streamlined ring with little to no frills.

Think Long-term

Don't be afraid to be trendy, but make sure the style you choose is something you'll still want to wear in 20 years (not to mention at all the jobs, PTA meetings, and social functions in between).

Size It Right

Most people rarely take their wedding bands off; they wear them through summers, winters, exercise, pregnancies -- all times when your fingers swell and contract due to heat, cold, water retention and weight gain. To find the size that will best weather all these changes, do your “final fitting” when you are calm and your body temperature is normal. Never finalize your ring size in the morning (you retain salt from the night before), after you’ve just exercised (fingers swell), or when you’re extremely hot or cold.

Check for Quality

This applies to all rings, but it bears repeating here. Make sure wedding bands have two marks inside the band: the manufacturer's trademark (proves they stand behind their work) and quality mark (24K or PLAT, for example -- proves that it's what they say it is). If the ring consists of two or more metals, make sure there is a quality mark for each.

Clean It Often

Cleaning your wedding rings is a cinch. For a ring with no stones, simply rub it with a soft, lint-free cloth (chamois is good). If your wedding ring has stones, wash and soak it in warm sudsy water, gently brush with a soft toothbrush or eyebrow brush (too much pressure can loosen your stone from the setting), rinse, and pat dry with a soft lint-free cloth.

Protect Your Investment

Yes, metals -- even platinum -- are vulnerable. Avoid wearing your ring when doing rough work or sports (which can nick and scratch your rings) and when working with concentrated chlorine, which is found in bleach, chemical cleaning solutions, and swimming pool disinfectants (which can cause pitting or discoloration to your band). Nicks and scratches are most obvious on matte finishes and most easily affect platinum, which is softer than white or yellow gold on the surface but more durable overall. Luckily it's easy for your jeweler to reapply -- or change -- the finish or plating on your ring to restore its former glory.

Keep It Safe

You’d be surprised (and probably a bit scared) at how easy it is to lose your ring. Hopefully, you’ve chosen something that you rarely have to remove. When you absolutely have to do the deed, put it in a designated place, so you’ll always know where it is (pockets don’t count), and never near a sink. The most dangerous time to remove your wedding ring? When you’re away from home. That’s when rings are most likely to be lost or set down and forgotten

-- Jennie Ma