Non-Traditional Engagement & Wedding Ring Sets Are Worth Considering, Even If You're Big On The Classics

Before I was engaged, I stumbled into a newly opened, family-owned jewelry store with my then-boyfriend, now-husband. It was then I decided I wanted a non-traditional engagement ring and wedding band. Located on a quiet street in my Southern college town, Walker & Son Inc. specializes in custom designs for those who wish to steer clear of the classic Pearl Girl aesthetic. The array of intricate knots, ancient-looking trees, and tiny animals adorning all manner of jewelry and sparkling from the glass cases had me hooked. I imagined my jewelry box — a small trunk I picked up at a flea market in Scotland — overflowing with these baubles, each one more enchanted than the next.

When more serious talk of marriage came a few months later, my boyfriend asked what sort of non-diamond engagement ring I wanted. Together we scrolled through dozens of photos from ethical, eco-friendly jewelry websites and, each time, it was the simple, yellow gold and yellow citrine rings that most appealed to me. I've always been drawn to warmer colors and am fond of my November birthstone; my college class ring is also yellow gold and yellow citrine. More importantly, both aesthetically and symbolically, was my desire for my wedding band to be the standout piece.

Though my boyfriend ordered my engagement ring from Gemvara, we headed back to that little shop in Richmond, Virginia for my band. After some sketching and brainstorming, the designer and I came up with a 14K yellow gold band with hand-carved silhouettes of songbirds in flight, offset by a wood grain texture. I added a simple citrine and 14K white gold band, also from Gemvara, for a little contrast.

My wedding band is far more elaborate than my engagement ring because I wanted it to anchor the ring set, just as our marriage anchors our long-term commitment to one another. While my husband and I would uphold that commitment to each other just as well without a ring set, the rings serve as a beautiful daily reminder of our love and devotion to one another. Plus, even as a girl not huge on the standard Tiffany's bling, I'll admit it: I still wanted a piece of something shiny.

Overall, I chose a ring set with an earthy feel as a unique expression of my personality and marriage that also feels comfortable and fits my eclectic wardrobe. But traditions can be hard to buck, even if, in your heart, you might not be all for them. Here are three reasons you should jump for a non-traditional engagement ring, wedding band, or both, if that's what you actually want.

1. Your ring set is a personal symbol.

The engagement ring tradition is not that old, especially when you compare it to the institution of marriage, so if you're letting the argument of tradition guilt-trip you into wearing a ring style you hate, you're doing yourself a disservice. Your ring set is meant as a symbol of your love. Whom you love, how you love, why you love — these are all very personal matters, just as your ring style is a very personal choice. Just as you chose the person you love, you should choose the ring style you love. Your parents, your hometown, and the advertising industry didn't choose the love of your life. You did.

2. You will be wearing your ring set everyday.

Imagine looking at something at you hate every single day. That is exactly what will happen if you wear a ring you don't like for the sake of tradition. You will likely wear your wedding band, if not your engagement ring, everyday, everywhere. Possible exceptions include cooking, cleaning, gardening, and working out. Otherwise, that ring is on your finger. Looking at your ring set should renew your spirit the way looking at a piece of art renews your spirit. It's an act of appreciation for something visually appealing that also holds emotional and sentimental value. There's no point in wearing the ring if it doesn't make your heart flutter.

3. Ring sets are expensive.

Whether your ring set costs hundreds or thousands of dollars, that's no chump change. No matter how good-paying the jobs you and your fiancé have are, buying a ring set is an investment. If you don't put that money toward a ring set you adore, you will resent it. Even if your fiancé or your parents assume the full cost of the ring set, won't you feel silly seeing all that money go toward something you don't like? Those dollars should be well-spent.

Whatever kind of engagement ring or wedding band you choose, may it be exactly what you want.

Images: Azcolvin429/Wikimedia; Christine Stoddard; RLHyde/Flickr; lovemaegan/Flickr; 3BL Media/Wikimedia