Everything You Need to Know About Buying Engagement Rings and Wedding Bands

Philadelphia-area jewelers give you an inside look at custom designs, vintage styles, lab-grown diamonds and more.

engagement ring wedding bands

Your guide to engagement rings and wedding bands / Photograph by Grace & Ardor Co.

Buying engagement rings and wedding bands can be a daunting task. They are wearable statements of your love and relationship, and should speak to your style. Here, Philadelphia-area jewelers open up a treasure chest of details on choosing the right rings for you and your partner — from vintage and custom designs to ethical sourcing and lab-grown diamonds. Want more tips on Big Day prep? Head to our local wedding guides for more.

Vintage Gems

If you’re hunting for a ring from the past, Rosa Mesbahi of Good’s Vintage in the Italian Market suggests learning industry terminology. Vintage pieces are at least 20 years old; antiques are 100 years or older; and “heirloom gemstone” rings have been passed down through families. Art Deco rings, from the era spanning 1919 to 1939, are the most sought-after.

Custom Choices

engagement rings

A custom design by Angela Monaco Jewelry / Photograph by James Graves

Couples don’t necessarily have to start from scratch when creating their custom rings. Rittenhouse designer Angela Monaco, who requires about eight to 10 weeks to make a bespoke creation, suggests mining Instagram for ideas. Another approach: Rather than a full new design, many shoppers opt for slight adjustments, like swapping out a stone.

Band Mates

East Kensington jewelry designer Lindley Gray suggests considering the thickness of the band before settling on a style, to ensure comfort and to introduce opportunities to personalize through the shape and finish prior to adding other details. Gray, who launched a genderless line this fall, adds that alloys such as 18-karat green gold are worthy alternatives to traditional metals.

Origin Story

A blue sapphire ombré ring by Bario Neal / Photograph courtesy of Bario Neal

One unexpected benefit of buying an ethically sourced ring? You’ll have a unique story to tell about where it came from. Queen Village-based Bario Neal has put into place exacting best practices in alignment with entities like the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, to trace sapphires back to Montana or gold to a family mine where workers were paid a premium — both examples of how granular ethical jewelers can get with the information they provide clients.

Lab-Grown Diamonds

Take this advice from Ken Black of Philadelphia Diamond Company in Old City: All lab-grown diamonds may be created in a controlled setting, yet not all lab-grown diamonds are the same. One of the biggest differences is the environmental impact of the lab’s emissions. Black advises eco-conscious couples to seek out jewelers who source stones from labs that use solar as an energy source. No matter what style you’re shopping for, Ken’s wife and business partner, Nicole Black, suggests making appointments with jewelers to view different styles and ask questions.


Published as “Rocking Out” in the winter/spring 2024 issue of Philadelphia Wedding.