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After your stone has been carefully selected, it’s now time to think about the ring you’re going to attach it to. Most people choose to go with a yellow gold ring/band, although white gold, silver and platinum are also options. When judging the value consider carat weight and appearance The term “carat” does tell you something about purity when it’s applied to gold. The carat system designates how many parts out of 24 is pure gold in a given piece of jewelry. Since gold is such a soft metal, it is sometimes blended with another, stronger metal. Therefore, a wedding band that is “18-carat gold” is three-quarters pure. While it may be tempting to choose “pure” gold, gold strengthened with another metal is much more durable.

The way the diamond (or any other stone) is placed on the band is known as the setting. Some rings are set high, meaning that more of the stone is exposed, away from the band; others are set low. Before you decide on a setting, consider the everyday treatment your ring will get. If you work with your hands, or are often in an environment where you are likely to knock your ring finger against something and scratch or dislodge the stone, you might want to have your ring set low.

Don’t feel restricted only to diamonds for your engagement ring. The point is to make the ring an expression of your inner self and your love for your spouse. Perhaps you’d prefer to wear a ring featuring your birthstone, or a stone you’ve always loved. You may decide to design your own ring, and have it specifically made just for you.

Many couples choose to have the inside of their bands engraved, usually with the date of the wedding and their future spouse’s name or initials (which may also prevent theft or aid in recovery).

Order your wedding bands three to six months before the wedding. This will give you plenty of time to make sure the rings are fitted properly.