Engagement Ring vs Wedding Ring: What, Why and How

Symbolizing marriage with rings has been practiced since ancient times. There are many questions about engagement rings versus wedding rings in the modern world. What is the difference between the two?

Although engagement rings and wedding rings have meanings separate from one another, there is a connection between the two. People misunderstand the terms “engagement rings” and “wedding rings” because they are often used interchangeably, especially with different traditions all over the world. 

A diamond solitaire engagement ring didn’t become widely popular among Americans until the late 19th century, a custom that continues today in Western cultures. 

Nowadays, engagement rings and wedding rings are a mix of tradition and modernity. 

Promise, engagement, wedding… The right wedding jewelry can be difficult to find with so much to consider when you’re planning a wedding. 

We encourage you to choose what feels right for you, but let’s go over some answers to these questions so we can clear up any lingering confusion about these romantic symbols.

Jump to:

  1. Engagement Ring vs Wedding ring: What’s the difference?
  2. How Should You Wear Your Engagement and Wedding Rings?
  3. Frequently Asked Questions About Engagement and Wedding Rings

Engagement ring vs Wedding ring: What’s the Difference?

Engagement Ring

Three diamond engagement rings, with Whiteflash, Blue Nile and James Allen engraving visible on the bottom inside of the ring

An engagement ring is usually given after a proposal or soon after an engagement is announced. There are a variety of setting styles available, but typically there is one dominant stone set in the middle. Solitaire, halo, pavé, bead set, fishtail… The descriptions go on and on. 

Diamond shapes that are commonly sold are round brilliant cuts and princess cuts (a square-shaped stone) and emerald cut (a rectangle-shaped stone), a marquise, an oval cut, and a pear-cut stone

In many cultures today, the diamond ring symbolizes the everlasting qualities of marriage. Whether it is a simple circlet or a diamond-encrusted design, the durable engagement ring signifies a lifelong relationship.

A contemporary choice includes three-stone rings, cluster rings, bands that are more subtle like bezel settings for active lifestyles and even designs that could be likened to typical wedding ring style.

We can help you identify the best cut quality diamonds with our special tools if you want to buy loose diamonds online and customize your styles! With over a million loose diamonds to choose from, you can start your diamond search today. We have filters to help you find natural, lab, fancy color, and fancy cut diamonds to suit every bride-to-be.

Wedding Ring or Wedding Band

Silver wedding ring band encrusted with diamonds around the exterior of the ring

An exchange of wedding rings (or wedding bands) is usually an official symbol of marriage during a wedding ceremony. Most wedding bands do not feature large stones or a centerpiece gemstone; they are usually simpler in style.

Wedding rings can be as simple as a plain band of platinum or more intricate with metal details like milgrain and featuring pavé or channel set diamonds.

The trend today is to wear your wedding ring and engagement ring in unique ways, either on different fingers, or stacked with other equally exquisite rings. 

Both rings are traditionally worn together, often as a bridal set or even soldered together so they become one piece in some cases which we’ve covered in more depth below. 

Our selection of vetted vendors are the best in the business at providing affordable diamonds and engagement rings of the highest quality. Check out Blue Nile for a variety of styles, Whiteflash for exclusive in-house diamonds, and James Allen for both natural and lab-grown diamond selections.

How Should You Wear Your Engagement and Wedding Rings?

Woman showing off her large engagement ring and wedding ring on the same finger

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In most cultures, engagement rings and wedding rings are worn together on the same finger, commonly called the ring finger. It’s located right next to your pinky on your left hand. 

It is believed that the custom of exchanging rings as a symbol of love originated in Egypt and the vein in the fourth finger ran directly to the heart, which strengthened the commitment and pledge of love. This practice was adopted by the Romans and spread throughout Europe, forming the basis for the U.S. tradition.

Although there is no such vein in reality, the symbolism and tradition persist.

It is standard to wear your engagement ring on your ring finger when you receive it as it’s not until the wedding ceremony that you receive the wedding band.

If you want to wear both rings together, bridal sets designed to match and wear well together are a popular choice. By doing this, you will ensure the rings sit nicely on your finger without rubbing or scratching the metal when worn together. 

The traditional approach is to wear your wedding ring every day. However, some people prefer adding additional bands for a unique stacking look.

Our vetted vendors Blue Nile, Whiteflash and James Allen sell exquisite rings and bridal settings that are truly outstanding with gorgeous ringspiration. Better yet, they can be complemented with dazzling diamonds graded by top-tier laboratories supplied with all the specs and certifications you need to make an informed buying decision.

How to Choose The Right Ring?

If you’re not sure where to start and have so many options to choose from, shopping for an engagement ring can seem overwhelming. A diamond engagement ring will be among the largest purchases you’ll make in your lifetime. From classic to cutting edge, the world is your oyster when it comes to engagement ring styles.

So we’ve decided to put together a step-by-step comprehensive guide on How to Buy an Engagement Ring. This article will walk you through everything you need to know to get a “Yes” to the ring. 

Both engagement and wedding rings are undeniably becoming more and more personal as brides take part in the design process before the big day. For this reason, we recommend asking recipients what their preferences are if you’re not precious about keeping it a surprise. The bride-to-be may want to design a single masterpiece. 

Candidly, if you’re unsure about her preferences, you can always propose with a simple solitaire setting. It’s a timeless, affordable classic which can be upgraded or changed later.

An engagement ring can add flare, personality, and sparkle to the ring finger undoubtedly – but what about the wedding bands

The half round band is generally more comfortable and looks classier. Often, flat bands are used to match a particular style, although the sharp corners may be rounded for comfort. ‘Comfort fit’ bands are also popular, being slightly rounded on the inside, which makes them ideal for men’s wedding rings and wider bands in general.

Whatever the case, you might stimulate even more excitement about the wedding by opening a dialogue about another dazzling piece for her finger.

By choosing the right jeweler, you can feel confident that you’re receiving the best advice and information. PriceScope Testimonials will give you impartial opinions on different retailers to get started. 

Would you like to brush up on your knowledge of diamonds? If you're looking for diamond resources, look no further than PriceScope's forums and education. Everything you need to know about these spectacular stones is right here, from the 4Cs to fluorescence, settings to specifications; it’s all available here to explore at your leisure.

Do I Wear My Engagement Ring on My Wedding Day?

James Allen large diamond engagement ring and wedding band on woman's finger

Photo courtesy of James Allen

Customarily, brides-to-be switch their engagement ring to their alternate hand just before walking down the aisle. 

If the engagement ring is worn on the right hand during the ceremony, it is easy to slip the wedding band on the left hand without removing it.

Most brides choose to shift their engagement ring back to the left hand ring finger after their wedding so that the two rings are worn together.  It’s customary on the ring finger to place the wedding ring first, followed by the engagement ring. 

This is because a wedding band is traditionally worn closest to the heart with the engagement ring on the outside due to another tradition symbolizing ultimate love and devotion. 

How Many Rings Should You Wear After Getting Married?

The combination of a diamond engagement ring and an elegant wedding band is a common, timeless choice. For symbolic reasons, most married women wear both the engagement ring and wedding band together. Some even introduce a spacer band to protect both styles. 

That being said, there are no hard or fast rules. 

Wedding sets that are well designed and high quality have the potential to sparkle elegantly, and comfortably. Each individual’s preferences and culture determine what is appropriate for them. It could be a more traditional look and it would be practical to have a second ring when the engagement ring is taken off. 

Even so, we know of married women in our forums who do not wear both rings on a daily basis, either because of occupational hazards or social stigma. 

There have also been instances in which women don’t want to wear both rings together because they simply don’t look good together! Would it not be a shame not to wear your beautifully sentimental rings for a reason that could have been avoided? Please don’t make the same mistake, it would be a shame not to wear them.

Do I Need to Get a Complementary Matching Set For The Rings?

Blue Nile matching complementary set of rings

Photo courtesy of Blue Nile

An engagement ring and wedding ring symbolize the unity and bond between you and your significant other. We’re sure you’re aware of the vast options available, including elaborately designed rings to modest ones. Nevertheless, do the rings need to be coordinated in a complementary way to be stylish?

By purchasing a bridal set, this is the easiest way to ensure the metal and alloy choice is identical and that the rings fit perfectly together. You should note it’s still necessary to select a groom’s ring separately to complete the wedding set. In most cases, if you choose the same designer, you can easily achieve the ‘set’ look.

If a bridal set is out of the equation, pairing an engagement ring with a wedding ring—that were sourced separately—requires some planning and comparison to achieve cohesion. 

A near match in metal type and color, style, and fit will make the rings look harmonious and avoid unwanted rubbing between them which loses materials or creates patina. The majority of jewelers will gladly assist in creating a beautiful pair in response to such a request.

You may be interested in finding matching wedding rings-or any rings, for that matter-from trusted and reputable online vendors. 

What’s Wedding Stack Soldering?

Whiteflash engagement ring and wedding ring bridal setting

Image courtesy of Whiteflash

In the absence of flush fit, when a wedding stack is soldered together, the wedding and engagement rings become one unified ring. Although the rings still maintain their individual looks, they are bonded together indefinitely to prevent separation.

This is a pragmatic option for anyone that prefers to have only one ring to take on and off instead of two. It’s a permanent decision and as a result of our years of experience, we know customers’ experiences are exponentially better when they work with a reliable jeweler.

Why Are Engagement Rings More Expensive Than Wedding Rings?

There is a significant difference between the cost of an engagement ring and that of a wedding ring. In simple terms, engagement rings are more expensive than wedding rings since they usually feature a large diamond as well as intricate details such as milgrain or pavè. 

Contrary to this, wedding rings tend to be more simple, such as plain metal bands or diamond-paved bands. Even if the wedding band is inlaid with gemstones, the total carat weight is likely to be lower than in an engagement ring.

The engagement ring versus the wedding ring question: what’s the answer? Rules are ultimately irrelevant. There is no limit to what you can choose when it comes to proposal, marriage, and symbols. 

Making sure the recipient is ecstatic when he or she looks at that dazzling ring finger is the most important thing.

It is possible to purchase engagement rings and wedding rings with confidence when you are provided with the right information, images, and certifications.

Our vetted vendors, Blue Nile, Whiteflash, and James Allen, sell settings that can be equipped with diamonds that are inspected and graded by credible laboratories, including everything you'll need to sell or upgrade your diamond in the future.

Get fast answers to any question: Ask our community of unbiased independent helpers or use our diamond search to find your ideal diamond. 

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