Since the 1940s, it has become common in the United States and other countries for both men and women to wear wedding rings as a symbol of their union, and both genders can choose from a wide variety of models. In general, wedding rings are made of precious metal and worn on the ring finger, the finger next to the pinky. While a simple, plain gold band may be the most popular, the choice of styles available for wedding rings can be staggering.
For nearly any style of wedding rings, the man's ring is traditionally wider than the woman's. Many couples choose wedding rings that match or complement each other. Plain bands may be made of anything from gold or platinum to stainless steel. Metals that tarnish are not popular choices. Some couples choose titanium or tungsten because of their hardness, which can symbolize the durability and eternity of their love.
Some wedding rings are patterned bands, incorporating a braid design or Celtic symbols, for instance. One very popular Celtic design for wedding rings is the Claddagh, which consists of a heart held by two hands and topped by a crown. This design symbolizes love, loyalty, and friendship. Patterned wedding rings are also available in vintage styles such as Art Deco. A popular wedding ring style in French-speaking cultures consists of three separate but interwoven bands, symbolizing faith, hope, and love.
Some women wear wedding rings with precious stones. One of the most popular models in this category is the diamond solitaire, a ring with a single diamond as its centerpiece. Others reserve this style for the engagement ring. Wedding rings may also feature a diamond complemented by other, smaller precious stones, known as accents. Alternatively, they may include only precious stones that are not diamonds.
There are many unique designer models of wedding rings available, so each bride and groom can choose styles that really suit them. Some couples use heirloom wedding rings that have been in the family for generations. Others create their own heirlooms by engraving wedding rings with their names and the date of the wedding.