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Traditionally, when people hear the phrase “engagement ring,” they automatically presume it’s for a woman. But for queer couples, these expectations are thrown out the window. And, as gender roles continue to evolve, more women are proposing, more same-sex couples are getting married, and more gay men are choosing engagement rings to symbolize their commitment before the big day.
In the United States, the typical engagement ring is a diamond on a metal band. But gone are the days when everyone wants to look alike. Many jewelers today are capitalizing on the fact that their LGBTQ clients want to defy tradition and opt instead for unique engagement rings. Thus, nontraditional stones have grown more coveted, and band styles range from simple to utterly extravagant.
Engagement Rings vs Wedding Bands
At its base level, an engagement ring is given to a person as part of a wedding proposal or, if not, at an early point in the engagement before the actual wedding ceremony. It typically has a dominant stone that stands alone or is surrounded by other smaller stones. Engagement rings are usually more expensive than wedding bands.
In contrast, a wedding band is traditionally a plain metal band or diamond-encrusted band you receive during the wedding ceremony.
If you opt for an engagement ring and wedding band, the rings are usually worn stacked together. You can also wear your engagement ring on one hand and the wedding band on a different finger or the other hand.
Do Men Wear Engagement Rings?
It depends on what the couple decides, and it’s totally up to them. Most men only wear a wedding band. However, some may wear an engagement ring for the same reason a woman wears one—to symbolize their commitment to one another and the upcoming nuptials. Ultimately, it’s up to the couple.
Types Of Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands For Men
When picking out a ring, you must know the style your partner desires. While some people opt for unique solutions—silicon bands for a no-fuss ring that’s workout-safe or even wedding band tattoos as an alternative or addition to a traditional ring—a metal band is still the most popular choice.
There are no rules for engagement rings, but here are some popular choices:
- Diamonds: Diamonds are the most selected choice for an engagement ring. Along with standard diamonds, consider if you want lab-grown and other environmentally-friendly options. You can choose something trendy, like salt and pepper diamonds, or a diamond alternative like moissanite.
- Gold: A simple gold band is highly versatile and can include subtle details like hammered or brushed textures. You can also include personalized engraving.
- Platinum: This precious metal has a silvery hue similar to white gold but appears somewhat whiter. Platinum is also stronger than gold and is very durable.
- Silver: Silver is a popular choice thanks to its timeless beauty. Silver is also more affordable than gold and requires less maintenance.
- Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is more affordable than gold, silver, or platinum. It’s incredibly durable and resistant to scratches, tarnishing, and corrosion. It’s an excellent low-maintenance option.
- Titanium: Titanium bands are durable and lightweight. It’s a scratch-resistant material that won’t rust or corrode. One of the biggest pros of titanium is its affordability compared to other types of wedding bands. While similar to tungsten, titanium is naturally shinier and lighter.
- Tungsten: These rings are popular for being stronger and harder than gold. They are also more affordable and are the perfect choice for those who live and work in rough-and-tumble environments. Plus, it will look perfect with your partner’s activity tracker.
5 Gender Neutral Engagement Ring Brands
If you’re unsure where to start when selecting an engagement ring, we’ve chosen five of our favorite LGBTQ+ supporting jewelry brands. Any ring can be an engagement ring; however, these brands offer beautiful options for queer folks.
Atomic Gold Review
Atomic Gold is a queer, trans-owned brand that’s redefining what it means to be inclusive. The brand designs its genderless jewelry with comfort in mind, offering 57 ring sizes (including half and quarter sizes).
The New York City jeweler’s handcrafted pieces are responsibly sourced and feature ethically mined diamonds, lab-made stones, and recycled metals and gemstones. There is a wide variety of pre-designed engagement rings, and you can shop the collection online or in any of the jewelers’ showrooms. Atomic Gold also offers custom designs, typically taking three to eight weeks to make.
Bario Neal Review
Bario Neal is a woman-owned alternative engagement ring designer focused on handmade jewelry made with reclaimed metals, fairmined gold, and ethically sourced gemstones. Their designs showcase a deep appreciation for sustainable sourcing, and their non-gendered designs are a refreshing deviation from an industry that perpetuates heteronormative ideals.
Bario Neal jewelry is handcrafted in its Philadelphia studio. The company offers ready-to-ship rings via its website. To design a custom engagement ring, start by filling out the custom design questionnaire. You can also schedule a virtual appointment, talk to an expert in person at its New York City storefront, or visit the Philadelphia showroom.
Brilliant Earth Review
Brilliant Earth is an American company known for its ethically sourced diamonds and gemstones. It also offers a line of gender-neutral wedding rings. The collection features both engagement rings and wedding bands, from classic styles to contemporary designs. Shop online or visit one of Brilliant Earth’s jewelry stores.
Pieces are designed at a San Francisco design studio and are made with ethical and environmentally friendly ideals in mind. According to Brilliant Earth, 98% of its gold and 97% of its silver are recycled, with the goal of 100% being recycled or certified Fairmined by 2025. The company’s Beyond Conflict Free™ diamonds protect mining practices against human rights abuses and environmental degradation. Brilliant Earth also offers lab-created and recycled diamonds.
Holden is a direct-to-consumer wedding band brand offering gender-neutral, customizable rings starting at $449. How do they do it? Holden offers six basic shapes and allows customers to choose width, metal, finish, and engraving. Each ring begins as a 3D print, which is later cast into recycled precious metals. Using 3D design, the brand can offer highly customizable ring options at a fraction of the price.
Holden’s wedding rings are handcrafted in family-owned NYC workshops using ethical lab-grown diamonds and recycled precious metals. Holden is also Climate Neutral Certified, meaning the company offsets 100% of its carbon emissions yearly. Holden also donates 1% of all sales to The Trevor Project, the leading crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people.
Sofia Kaman Review
Based in Los Angeles, Sofia Kaman makes inclusive jewelry that utilizes conflict-free diamonds and lab-grown diamonds from Diamond Foundry, which boasts a “real-zero” carbon footprint, meaning it has eliminated carbon emissions from its operation.
Sofia Kaman’s eclectic rings are handmade by artisans in their two local studios. Its gender-neutral wedding band collection features a variety of shapes, styles, and sizes.
Best Engagement Rings For Gay Men
If you have a more “traditional” style for rings, online men’s engagement rings are a great option for you. However, if you want something a bit more unique, like men’s diamond engagement rings, you may need to go to a ring designer for assistance. Either way, we’d recommend starting at a brick-and-mortar ring store and getting a sense of what you like. Remember, there’s no rush to purchase at the first store you visit. Take your time and compare prices.
Look online at some of the best online engagement rings to see if what you like is available for less money. If not, then you may need to speak with someone in person about what you desire in an engagement ring. (A friendly heads-up, if you’re searching online, you may need to look under men’s wedding bands because most engagement ring sections are tailored towards women.)
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