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So, you’ve chosen your diamond and you’ve chosen your ring metal. But have you considered how wide you want your engagement ring to be?
Just like diamond shape, size, and color and just like the type of metal, ring band width follows trends, varying from wide and bold to thin and dainty.
Aside from trends, the diamond (or other stone) and even the metal you choose for your ring will have a direct effect on the width of the band. So will your partner’s hands as well as their own personal taste.
Here are some things to consider when choosing the band width for your engagement ring.
Ring width is measured in millimeters (mm), so ring width goes up and down in very small increments. The average engagement ring width falls between 2 and 6 mm, with 3 and 4 mm being pretty standard.
For reference a quarter is 1.75 mm thick, while a half dollar is 2.15 mm thick. Meanwhile, 6mm is almost ¼ inch thick.
Ring size often gets confused with ring width. Ring size is the diameter of the ring and is also reflective of a finger size. (Check our guide on how to find your ring size here). The ring width refers to the thickness of the band itself. Wedding and engagement band widths range from 1.6 millimeters all the way up to 20 millimeters with most women and men choosing between 1.6 millimeters and 8 millimeters.
The width you select will always be a matter of preference related to personal factors, visual styling and physical comfort, but there are some typical sizes for women’s and men’s rings.
An easy way to imagine how these sizes look is to pull out some nickels and pennies. A nickel is about 2 millimeters wide and a penny is about 1.5 millimeters wide. So if you play around with a few coins and hold them up to your finger, you can get a rough idea of just what 1.5 millimeters all the way up to 10 millimeters or more would look like on your finger.
While any metal can be used for a ring band, the width will help determine what the best choices will be for durability and longevity. We recommend thinner ring bands be crafted using sturdier metals. Softer metals, like a higher purity gold, can easily bend or become misshapen if the band isn’t thick enough. In the case of using a softer metal like gold, it would be wise to drop down in karatage, going with 14k instead of 18k, to have a stronger gold alloy. Check our guide to learn more about how to choose the right metal for your ring.
Women’s wedding bands
Men’s wedding bands
In a side-by-side comparison, there are going to be certain pros and cons for both wide and thin ring bands depending on personal preferences.
Wider bands have a very modern and contemporary feel and work well with modern settings, like a bezel, as seen with our Hanem. Since they’re more durable, they can be made of a large variety of metals. Also, unique design work like a fingerprint or deep channel settings are much better suited to wide bands, as seen with our Lili & Lito bands.
The biggest con with a wide band is that more metal means a higher price for the band itself before even getting to a stone or setting. Also, wider bands typically mean a bigger ring size since the extra surface area makes it harder to fit comfortably over knuckles and then sit around the finger. The larger size can also add to the cost and since there is more metal, these bands are harder to resize.
Thinner bands offer the exact opposite to the cost scenario of a wider band, so they will be less expensive since less metal is used in the overall construction. Center stones and larger side stones look even more impressive in a thin band, and thin bands open more design choices, like twists or rope bands seen in our Shanel, that would be impractical on a wider band. A thin band will also fit more easily on the finger and be simpler to resize.
But thin bands are going to be less durable and sturdy, so could show more effects of normal wear and tear. Thin bands may also struggle with more elaborate settings or large stones. The weight of the larger stones can actually move the thinner band around on your finger as you move. And certain design features on the band, like a channel setting or side stones, can be trickier to create with less space and surface area.
One of the key features of choosing your engagement ring is selecting the type of setting. The size of the stone and its setting will help determine the right thickness for the band so that certain design features can be achieved and it will have structural integrity.
Thinner to medium width bands can accommodate all types of design features and settings. By their nature, wider bands tend to be more minimalist in design. This is largely because they are already a statement look on their own, but also because the wider the band, the harder it is to manipulate for unique features.
The biggest concern for the structural integrity of an engagement ring is the relationship between the stone size and the band width. A large stone will not only overwhelm a thinner band, but it will compromise the integrity of the setting being secure and fitted to the band. And a wide band on an engagement ring could diminish the size and brilliance of a center stone.
Once the width for your engagement ring is decided, a more traditional choice is to have a wedding band of the same width. This can give the feeling of a balanced set and a polished look. However, many modern designs are going the route of mixing band widths for a unique look with some added dimension. Doing this has become very common for those who find the look of stacking rings to be appealing.
While it’s becoming more and more common to mix band widths for engagement and wedding rings, one element that holds true is choosing a band that suits your fingers and hands. The right physical fit combines comfort with pleasing aesthetics. So, how do you choose the right width for your hands? Here are a few ideas to keep in mind:
Men’s wedding bands vary greatly in the metal used, the design details, and especially in the band width. In general, men’s band widths tend to be larger, more in the 4 to 8 millimeters range, reflecting the usual larger finger and hand sizes of men.
However, there are several reasons why a man may choose a thinner or wider band and the reasons are quite similar to the considerations that women have when choosing their band widths. For instance, men with thinner fingers may prefer a small ring that will better complement their hand. Also, the fuller fit and weight of a wider band may prove to be too obtrusive in your day-to-day activities.
As with women’s engagement and wedding rings and men’s wedding rings, a top consideration should be lifestyle and habits. These are rings likely to be worn all the time and for many years into the future. Busier lifestyles that will put a lot of wear and tear on a ring may benefit from a more durable and sturdy wider width, while those expecting less wear and tear may be happy with a thinner width.
To a modern-day audience, a narrower ring connotes more of a classic, timeless look. A thinner band imparts a sleekness to the ring, and adding a high polish with no embellishing design features creates a ring with a quintessential, traditional style. A wider than average ring width makes more of a statement completely on its own and can be paired with bolder textures and etchings, carvings, or even gemstones to add an interesting distinction.
In the end, you want to choose a ring band width that is the perfect mix of your own comfort and style preference. Remember that your happiness with the ring is most important and that trying on different widths is always a great way to discover what you like. Take your time, ask lots of questions, and pick what is best for you.