Playing with the band

Find a ring to fit your personality and budget

Dustin Sabo and Kate Armstrong shop for a wedding ring at Robert Ince Fine Jewelry.

Dustin Sabo and Kate Armstrong shop for a wedding ring at Robert Ince Fine Jewelry.


The wedding ring may be one of the most important decisions a couple makes in their premarital plans. With a little time and a lot of research, they will be able to find the perfect set to match their personalities, heritage and budget. Although we live in a culture that has lost many traditions and rites of passage, the wedding band continues to signify love, commitment and the eternal vow of marriage. Shopping for jewelry can be a daunting experience, especially for a piece that will be worn for a lifetime. Fear not. With a little research, a couple can find the right ring.

Wherever you decide to look, it’s best to start off knowing your price range. Traditionally, the groom purchases the wedding and engagement set, and couples tend to shop for the ring together. If the groom goes alone, he usually has a good idea of what his bride has in mind.

It’s good to know the four C’s: color, clarity, cut and carat.There is really no “ideal” diamond, although variations in the above characteristics definitely affect the price. One would think that an antique wedding ring would be worth more than a contemporary one, but that is generally not the case.

“If someone is going to spend thousands of dollars on a ring, they generally prefer that it’s new,” explains certified gemologist Brian Rocca.

The heirloom ring is a lovely reminder of your family, but the monetary value of the piece lies not in the age, but in the weight of the gold and the quality and size of the diamond.

A pawn in the game of love

Many people go to pawn shops to sell their jewelry, but the creative and cash-strapped bride and groom will be able to purchase a wedding band set for a fraction of the retail price.

There’s another bonus: “You get to negotiate,” says Biassou, a pawnbroker at Metropawn. “Make us an offer. There’s no set price.”

Expect to spend between $150-$300 for a wedding band at a pawn shop, but stock constantly changes. The price can rarely be beat, but finding the perfect ring here is a matter of luck and timing.


Other couples prefer the security of a jewelry store. While some favor purchasing their ring at a national chain, local jewelry stores tend to offer competitive pricing and more personalized service—their livelihood depends on repeat customers and word-of-mouth advertising. Precision Diamonds is family owned and operated. Owner Victor Valdez has some advice for soon-to-be-weds: “Two things: Make sure you look for quality, and stay within your budget.”

Made to order

If you are looking for a unique, artisan ring, find a local jeweler with an excellent reputation. Due to the costly nature of a custom, handcrafted ring, it’s nice to know the person who created it. It’s also comforting to leave your ring with a trustworthy person if it needs to be resized or repaired. Robert Ince, owner of Robert Ince Jewelry, speaks nostalgically of the artistry of the old days: “If you had a jeweler, he had to know how to do everything.” If you have an exact idea for your wedding band, it can be created right in his studio. The most popular material these days, he says, is white gold. “It’s like the ’60s again!”