Advice on Same-Sex Wedding Bands
The Freedom to be Different
By Michael O’Connor, Jewelry and Style Expert, Platinum Guild
Even though same sex couples may not yet enjoy full freedom under the law and in every state, same sex marriages, by the nature and character of the couples, do enjoy a certain freedom. Freedom from the traditions and expectations that so many opposite sex couples may find themselves embroiled in. Gone, for the most part, are the “bridezillas” and meddling parents-in-law. Gone is the need to invite cantankerous uncle Henry, merely because he’s your grandmother’s favorite. Gay marriage, is to some extent, a true measure of what a wedding should be about. Two persons, who, despite many odds, have found a soulmate and wish to share the joy of their emotion, and that recognition, with others with whom they have an emotional attachment.
This freedom from tradition spans across many of the standard wedding elements from the ceremony itself, to the vows, to the style of “dress” (or tuxedo), to what I consider the most significant and important symbol of all – the exchange of two “circles without end” – the wedding bands.
Following are a few tips to consider when choosing same-sex wedding bands for you and your partner.
Should they match or do they have to be the same?
You are two different people, and while you may have very different tastes in dress or decorating, there are some things that bring you together. Your wedding bands are the signifiers of being together. Therefore, they should have something in common. This is not to say that they need to have the identical pattern or finish, but they should have something in common visually and be comprised of the same metal.
Should they have diamonds or gemstones?
Depending upon your individual tastes diamonds or gemstones can be lovely. A few creative couples that I know have had their rings set with the gemstone from the month they met and fell in love. Another option is setting the wedding bands with your birthstone along with your partner’s birthstone. The important thing is that whether you choose diamonds, gemstones or merely a nice pattern or finish, your rings should be meaningful to the both of you.
Should we have an engraving?
Many wedding bands already have beautiful patterns, finishes or engravings on the outside. The engraving of something special on the inside of a ring that has importance to the couple makes the rings unique. That engraving can be as simple as a special date or as eloquent as a romantic saying or line from a favorite poem.
Should we buy silver, gold or platinum wedding bands?
When purchasing any jewelry you need to determine how that jewelry will be worn and what your expectation is. You’ll also need to know the characteristics of the metals used and how they will wear over time and most importantly, you’ll need to put into perspective the importance of the exchange of wedding bands.
Silver is a beautiful metal used for fashion pieces of jewelry and tableware. However, the idea of signifying the importance of finding your life partner with silver wedding rings may seem a little anticlimactic. Silver is a naturally white metal that is found in abundance but will oxidize or tarnish over time. Silver will also wear down much more quickly than either gold or platinum.
Gold is used for better quality pieces of jewelry including wedding bands. However, gold is primarily alloyed (or mixed with other metals) to help enhance it’s wear and or change it’s color. There is really no such thing as white gold. All gold is mined as yellow metal. The appearance of “white” in gold is created by combining “whiter” metals with the gold in order to dilute the yellowness, then plating the surface with a metal called “Rhodium”, a member of the platinum group metals family. Over time the rhodium plating will wear off, exposing a less white surface. Gold is primarily offered in 18 Karat, indicating that there is 75% gold and 25% other alloys, or in 14 Karat, indicating that there is 58% gold mixed with 42% of other metals. You will still experience a good amount of wear on a piece of jewelry that get’s worn daily, such as a wedding ring. Therefore engravings can wear down and stones may need to be re-set or prongs on stones re-tipped.
Platinum is used for the best quality jewelry in the world. Platinum is a naturally white metal, and therefore won’t cast any of its own color into a gem (if you choose in incorporate them), but more importantly, platinum will never fade, loose it’s color or tarnish. This is partially to do with the fact that most platinum that is sold in usually 90% – 95% pure platinum, with the balance of the alloys usually platinum group metals. This makes platinum hypoallergenic, which is perfect if you have any skin sensitivity. But most important for wedding bands will be worn daily for life, platinum will not wear down like other metals meaning that your patterns and engravings will stay in tact and your stones will be held securely forever.
And one final thought for same sex couples. Unless you really want to go the ultra-traditional route, be happy that you’re free of the drama of the engagement ring, unlike so many opposite-sex couples. Because while the engagement ring is merely representative of a promise, the wedding bands are the true signifier of your important commitment.
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Photo Credit: Kirk Kara, Platinum Guild.