Plain or Fancy? Diamond Wedding Rings vs Simple Bands
For centuries, a plain gold ring worn on the fourth finger of the left hand has been the traditional symbol of a married woman in most western societies. Within the last 50 years, this tradition has also become a more common practice among husbands, with brides and grooms now exchanging both rings and vows as part of the marriage ceremony. Just as the nature of the wedding ceremony has changed, with many spouses now preparing their own personalised vows over and above those included in the order of service, many are also forsaking the traditional gold ring in favour of diamond wedding bands.
In the past, the juxtaposition of these traditionally designed rings and an engagement ring with a solitaire or cluster tended to create a complementary effect, in which each one tended to enhance the appearance of the other. Among the possible drawbacks when both of these rings are set with precious stones, is the risk that the two may clash and, instead, detract from rather than complement one another’s appearance. There is also a risk that their individual designs could simply make it physically difficult to wear them both together. That said, providing that such potential snags are considered before committing to a purchase, it should not be too difficult to ensure that you make the appropriate choices to avoid them.
One reason that many women now favour the inclusion of a few precious stones is that they are seen as an investment. This, unfortunately, is not necessarily true. For instance, in the case of diamond wedding bands, if one chooses to purchase an off-the-shelf item from a typical retail jewellery store, the chances are that it will be subject to a mark-up of at least 300% and, in some cases, this could actually amount to as much as 600%. Under these circumstances, it could take a very long time indeed before such an investment might succeed in even covering the purchase price. Finally, only rarely are these products accompanied by certificates of authenticity.
The second potential snag is that, whatever you receive in exchange for your money, will be a mass-produced product that is purchased by many others and a design that says nothing of you as a unique individual with your own ideas of perfection. As it happens, however, all of the problems referred to above can be eliminated simply by designing your own rings and having them manufactured to your specification. Furthermore, this is an option that offers the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone by ensuring that your engagement ring and plain or diamond wedding band will be guaranteed to form a perfect pair.
A single quality stone can be worth more than several of a lesser quality and this means that there is plenty of scope to be creative without spending a fortune. Today, value for money is important to everyone and when you are in the market for precious stones, you can be assured of both top quality and rock-bottom prices when you deal with Naturally Diamonds on Cape Town or Johannesburg. In fact, we offer R1000 cash to anyone with a written quote that we are unable to match.
As well as an extensive range of stock items, we offer the services of skilled goldsmiths with the talent to create any item to your specification. Or, if necessary, we can partner with you in order to develop a concept together.
Whether your heart is set on a matching engagement ring and diamond wedding band or a matching pair of the latter for husband and wife, we have access to more than 10 000 certified stones of between 0,3 and 5,0 carats from which to make your selection. Given our versatility and competitive pricing, why look further than Naturally Diamonds?
Tips for Choosing Diamond Shapes and Sizes for Engagement Rings
Are you browsing for diamond engagement rings at jewellery stores in cities such as Johannesburg or Cape Town? Now you no longer have to visit shop after shop; you can choose from an extensive range of diamond engagement rings or even custom-design your own diamond engagement ring with our online design facility. However, understanding the various shapes in which diamonds are set in engagement rings will help you choose a design and diamond shape that will fit your lifestyle, budget, physical features and style preferences. A few of the popular diamond shapes used in engagement rings are briefly discussed below, giving you the basic information to help make an informed decision.
Perhaps the all-time most popular shape, the round brilliant has been in use for quite some time. This, of course, also means that it is highly unlikely that it will lose its standing in the future. The round brilliant shape looks amazing on any type of finger. Whether your finger is short, slender, wide, or long, this is one diamond shape that will balance the overall look and feel of the ring. With it being such a popular shape, it is also well-suited to anyone who has to buy a diamond engagement ring on a tight budget. You can get a stunning end-result using the round brilliant diamond shape in the ring design at a cost significantly lower than the less popular shapes. Keep in mind that the diamond size still makes a difference on how the ring will look on your finger. If you have a wide finger, then you will want a larger diamond and if it is slender, then opting for a smaller diamond makes sense to create the perfect balance.
Almost as popular as the brilliant round shape, the princess cut, as the name suggests, is a rather popular choice amongst royalty. What is important to consider here is to balance the size of the diamond with the width and length of the finger. If you work on a tight budget, you can use the princess cut shape, as it is one of the more affordable diamond shapes. If your finger is short or rather slender, you stand to save some money, since a smaller diamond can appear larger simply because of the dimensions of your finger.
Think of the traditional way that a teardrop is drawn and you have a picture of what the shape is about. This type of shape is rarely used in diamond engagement rings, but with enough design skill, it can work. It is more suited to a pendant though. If you do select the teardrop, follow the same rules as for the oval shape.
Think of the shape of a rugby ball or even an American football to picture what the marquise diamond shape looks like. This cut is recommended for the bride who has slender, long fingers. The diamond looks odd on short or wide fingers, but with the right setting and ring design, it could still work.
Almost in the shape of the marquise, the oval diamond shape is a good all-round choice for thin, wide, long or short fingers. That being said, design balance is everything. If you have long and slender fingers, go with a medium-sized diamond. If you have short and slender fingers, then a smaller diamond is suggested because with this shape, the diamond appears wider than it is and a diamond that is too big can easily look out of place.
Diamonds come in many more shapes and we recommend viewing our extensive range or to call on us for professional assistance in custom-designing your engagement ring.
Cape Town Driving New Trends in Men’s Wedding Rings
The idea of a gold band to confirm the bond of matrimony between a husband and wife is nothing new. Its circular shape was considered to be to a symbol of eternity and, consequently, it was seen as representing a union that, like a circle, has no end. In past times, when precious metals such as gold and silver were affordable only to aristocrats and wealthy merchants (although working class people shared the same beliefs), they had to make use of cheaper materials such as wood and grass to fashion their wedding rings.
Today, a working man is free to walk into a jeweller’s shop in Cape Town or in any large city in the world, and simply take his pick from among dozens of gold or platinum bands, either plain or adorned with engravings and/or precious stones. Traditionally worn on the fourth finger of the left hand (a custom based upon the ancient Egyptian belief that it contained a vein that connected directly to the heart), until the mid-1900s, this was an adornment worn solely by wives. However, during the Second Wold War, many fighting men also chose to wear them, seeing them as a constant reminder of their wives back home. Since then, the trend has gradually become far more fashionable and most western wedding ceremonies now make provision, not just for the giving of these symbols of eternal union, but also for their exchange.
Today, more men than ever are sporting wedding rings and, just like their wives, many of them are also inclined to seek out something a little trendier. Another factor that has fuelled this interest worldwide is the growing acceptance by governments, including that of South Africa, of the rights of gay men to marry. Manufacturing jewellers have responded to this demand with some stunning new designs that should appeal to most males, whether gay or straight, from Cape Town to Copenhagen.
The idea that one size fits all is no longer acceptable when applied to these matrimonial tokens. Jewellery craftsmen everywhere are now focussing on designs that, in some cases, are simply more comfortable and practical, whilst, in parallel, catering for a growing number of males who now want something that displays more creativity and style than a plain gold band.
For greater comfort, the traditional profile is giving way to an ergonomic design with a curved interior surface, while the need for more durable wedding rings, specifically by men working in heavy industries, is being met with platinum or tungsten bands with polished surfaces rather than the matte finishes that are more prone to scratching.
For those whose jobs are less physically demanding, the sky is pretty much the limit today. In particular, it is clear that diamonds are beginning to hold much the same appeal for men as they do for their spouses, when mounted in simple, masculine settings. Two tone designs, combining yellow and white gold or silver are proving to be popular as is the coppery hue of rose gold, while near-black tungsten carbide inlays combine style with a sense of strength that is one hundred per cent male.
Cape Town jewellers Naturally Diamonds offer a substantial range of traditional and modern, ready-made wedding rings for both men and women. However, our true strength lies in the creative abilities of our skilled and experienced designers. Maybe you have individual preferences or have your mind set on a matching “his and hers” pair. Whether you have developed a specific design of your own or simply have the germ of an idea, we can help you to turn that rough sketch or dream into a reality.
Should you decide on a diamond or two, you can choose from our stock of over 10 000 certified stones, all at highly competitive prices, when purchasing bespoke wedding rings from our Cape Town store.
The Most Popular Metals Used for the Making of Wedding Rings in South Africa
Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each of the most popular metals used in the making of wedding rings in South Africa will help you make an informed buying decision. Palladium, tungsten, white gold, yellow gold, and platinum are certainly the most widely used. We look at a few of their features below.
Palladium is a metal that belongs to the platinum group and is known as a noble metal because of its exceptional resistance to corrosion and oxidation. As such, wedding rings made from palladium do not corrode, get spots or discolour, and because palladium is also hypoallergenic, it can be worn by most people. One problem often experienced with white gold is that it does not stay white. Special treatment is necessary to maintain the beautiful white colour. Palladium does not have that problem, since it does not lose its white colour and will not tarnish. High durability is one of the most important characteristics of this metal that does not require any additional plating for protection. One disadvantage is the price tag, since the metal is extremely rare, but it is still more affordable than platinum.
The sister metal of palladium, platinum is a popular choice for wedding rings in South Africa because of its white colour. Some people prefer platinum because it gets a silver sheen with time, which gives the wedding band an authentic, classical or antique look and feel. However, if you do not like the antique look, regular cleaning with a mild lukewarm soap solution and a soft-bristle brush will help maintain the natural white sheen. You can also use a lint-free cloth to buff its surface.
Platinum is a suitable choice for engagement rings because it brings out the brilliance of diamonds and, like diamonds, the platinum band will last a lifetime. With it being exceptionally dense, platinum provides a highly secure setting for the diamond. As a white metal, it requires no rhodium plating to stay white. Durability, strength, corrosion resistance, and its hypoallergenic characteristics make platinum – though more expensive than palladium and other precious metals – a popular choice for wedding rings in South Africa.
With its unique and distinct yellow colour, gold is extremely popular for wedding bands and engagement rings. The contrast between the yellowish surface and the white diamond is striking. Gold is more affordable than platinum and palladium, but it is also softer. This means in order to prevent the gold from denting and scratching easily, it is mixed with a low percentage of other alloys. However, the purity level is still high and you can get anything from light to deep yellow gold, depending on your preference. The purity level is indicated in karat measure, with 24-karat being the highest and rather soft, and 9-karat the lowest in purity, but very hard.
Yellow gold normally contains a mixture of copper and silver, which gives it the warm and rich colour that makes it a popular metal for wedding rings. White gold has a distinctive silver-white colour. It is very strong, but it is necessary to have it rhodium-treated every few years to keep it beautifully white. The presence of rhodium is what makes it harder than yellow gold. Rose gold, though still rare in the making of wedding jewellery, has a rose pink hue, which is obtained through a mixture of gold and copper alloy.
It is more popular as metal for the groom’s wedding band than for the bride’s. The metal does not scratch or tarnish easily. This makes it a good choice for the groom’s wedding band, especially to cater to an active or outdoor lifestyle. To keep it looking beautiful, the metal should not be exposed to harsh chemicals. Cleaning is done with lukewarm water and a soft cloth.
The Story of the Wedding Ring
Though diamond wedding rings now available through Naturally Diamonds in Cape Town and Johannesburg are still a rather new trend, as opposed to the conventional plain wedding band, the uniqueness of these rings is undisputed. Whether you prefer the more traditional or the modern diamond wedding rings, the wearing of a ring to show commitment to one’s partner has a long history. The first recording of wedding rings goes as far back as Ancient Egypt. The rings were not made from precious metals as is the custom today. Instead, the women wore braided papyrus rings. The symbolic meaning of the ring at that time was eternity, and given the symbolic meaning of diamonds as being forever, we can see why diamonds are now being used in wedding bands.
But, many people simply look at the endless band as depicting eternity. For the Egyptians, the hidden meaning lied in the hole through which the finger goes. This hole in the band symbolised a gateway to eternal knowledge and with that the ring received its deep-seated meaning as a gesture of commitment to one another for eternity. Understandably, papyrus wasn’t the strongest of materials and the people looked for an alternative to truly represent eternal commitment. Soon, people discovered that animal bone and ivory made perfect wedding bands. With durability and beauty gained, the wedding ring soon became a status symbol. The richer couples had ivory rings, the middle class wore bone rings and the poorer people had to settle for the less durable papyrus or leather wedding rings.
Years later, during the rise of the Roman Empire, brides lost some of their freedom and it became apparent how society changed. The Romans added an additional meaning to the wedding ring: it would symbolise ownership, the bride belonging to the husband. Iron replaced bone and ivory and this was the first time metal was used in the wedding ring. The Romans did not add the diamond settings; instead, they opted for engraving on the ring, a custom still followed with engraving on the inside of the ring.
The idea of a wedding ring was new to the Christians. The first recording of it was during the 800s. Detail was important at that stage, so their ring designs were exceptionally complex and the engravings elaborate. Half a millennium later, the Church frowned upon the custom of rings and rejected them as heathen in origin. Christians toned down their wedding ceremonies for a time and engraving joining hearts became popular. The Church might have been somewhat harsh, but one can understand their perception at the time, since the Romans believed that the ring finger was connected to the Vena Amoris vein, which they believed was the vein to the heart and thus love. Today, people hardly think about hidden symbolism and the diamond wedding ring simply means commitment forever. It is a declaration of love and no longer a symbol of ownership.
The ring is still worn on the left hand’s fourth finger, but more out of custom than a belief system. It is doubtful that it will scare off evil spirits and the left hand is chosen simply because most people are right-handed and the ring is less likely to cause inconvenience when worn on the left hand. Fortunately, people no longer have the superstition that obtaining a part of the bride’s wedding gown or even her ring will bring good luck. In an attempt to prevent wedding followers from ripping the bride’s dress or stealing her ring, the custom developed of throwing a bouquet of flowers at the unwedded. This tradition is still popular today, though more as a fun activity than a way of getting good luck or hopefully assuring that you getting married next.
Diamonds still represent eternal commitment and, when added to the wedding band, serve as confirmation of eternal love.