Difference Between Engagement Rings and Wedding Rings

Difference Between Engagement Rings and Wedding Rings

Do you really know the difference between engagement ring and wedding ring?

Good! You have come to the right place.

In this detailed guide, you will learn about:

engagement rings

  • Who was the first to wear wedding rings?
  • Why do people wear wedding bands?
  • Why did men start wearing wedding rings?

Difference Between Engagement Ring and Wedding Ring

Ancient Wedding Rings

Ancient Egyptians were the first to ever wear wedding rings. For the Egyptians, rings were a symbol of eternity. It also represented the moon and the sun that they worshipped.

When Alexander the Great started ruling Egypt, the Greeks started observing the ring tradition. Rings worn by the Greeks were made of copper and iron. It is only in marriage ceremonies that you would find wedding rings made of plain metal. During that time, there were no sparkly engagement rings. Everyone got one ring only, the wedding ring.

Plain metal rings came to exist in the 2nd century CE when copper and iron rings were no longer being made. Only gold rings were used and they were either engraved or etched bands. Back then, all gold bands were yellow gold.

Rings that had gemstones were being made during the Renaissance and Medieval periods. There were no diamond rings. A long time ago, people did not like diamonds and considered them ugly because jewelers did not know how to cut them well. All the jewelry was made of colored gemstones.

The first diamond ring was given to Mary Burgundy by Archduke Maximillian of Austria. This band was made of diamonds forming the letter M. being the girl all bachelors wanted, Maximillian really scored with this at that time, the diamond was valued because of how hard it is and not for its brilliance (they were not brilliant even then).


Why Two Rings?

Wedding rings and engagement rings came to be known as two separate rings in the 12th century by the Christian church. Christians believed bands were meant for marriages and should not be given to a woman unless there are intentions of marriage.

There is no particular moment that can be quoted as when one ring became two but it is thought that the wedding ring was given at the church-approved wedding ceremony. The ring given during the ceremony was plain. An engagement ring was given to someone betrothed and was more of a personal attachment than it was ceremonial.

Wedding Rings for Men

The Christian church required men to wear wedding rings in an attempt to keep them faithful to their wives. During the second world war, soldiers wore wedding bands as a reminder of what they were fighting for. Sounds cute, right?

This simple tradition continued through the Korean War and before we knew it, all married men were putting on rings.

Modern-Day Engagement Ring

Diamonds started to be cut and noticed for their brilliance, shine, and sparkle after the 1940s. however, they needed a lot of marketing since the economy had fallen during the 1930s.

During that time, DeBeers being the first diamond supplier controlled more than 90% of the world’s diamonds. They even came up with the phrase “A diamond is forever” in 1947. In 1953, Marilyn Monroe came up with another phrase “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”

The aggressive marketing brought great results since all girls wanted a diamond. In fact, a diamond was the best way to get a girl’s undivided attention.

Right now, you will be forgiven to think that it was too shallow. But humans are not the first to do this. Did you know that penguins look for the smallest pebble to give to a potential mate? The she-penguin must accept the pebble to become his mate. You most probably have watched this in the movie The Pebble and the Penguin.

In the movie, Huey does not have to break the bank or even feel the immense pressure that people feel today when looking for the best engagement ring.

It’s a good thing that the pressure has been reduced by the manufacture of lab diamonds which make the perfect center stones. They are cheaper too. It is easier to know the difference between an engagement ring and wedding ring when one has both.

Wedding Ring vs Engagement Ring

Engagement Rings

Today, an engagement ring is given to someone to declare interest and intention to marry the person receiving the ring. Most engagements last 5years or less, but some people stay engaged for longer periods.

An average engagement band is made of diamonds. It typically has a center stone that is larger than the surrounding stones. These rings also have 4-6 prongs that protect the center stone.

The most popular diamond engagement ring settings and designs include classic solitaire and pave diamonds along with the band. In most cases, the center stone is raised from the band to add dimension to the rest of the smaller diamonds.

Apart from the traditional styles, there are a plethora of other styles to choose from, like the rose gold engagement ring below.

rose gold engagement ring
Nieve Diamond Engagement Ring

Wedding Rings

A typical wedding band is made of either plain metal or metal with stones. Women prefer pave-style wedding rings like the one below.

pave-style wedding ring

Many women have wedding rings that feature small diamonds. When I was at Kay Jewelers, more than 85% of the wedding band sets were white gold.

You will find most wedding bands made of gold, although there are others in alternative metals. In general, men love to wear tungsten wedding rings to a gold rings. Other people prefer comfortable silicone wedding bands.

The least common wedding rings are those made of palladium, cobalt, or ceramic.

RECOMMENDED: Should You Buy a Cobalt Wedding Band?

All in all, style boils down to personal preference. For most people, the wedding ring matches the engagement ring. You can buy an engagement ring singular or in a set that contains a wedding ring.

Check out the matching wedding ring set pictured below:

matching wedding ring
Petite Twisted Vine Contoured Diamond Bridal Set


FAQs About Wedding and Engagement Rings

We have answers to the most common questions about wedding rings and engagement rings. Read them below.

On which hand is an engagement ring put on?

Normally, when someone gives you an engagement ring, it goes on the left hand, the same hand will hold a wedding ring.

When the wedding day reaches, the engagement ring should be moved to the right hand. If you buy a matching set, the wedding ring should be held closer to the heart than the engagement ring.

Why do people wear wedding rings and engagement rings on the left hand?

Not all cultures wear either an engagement ring or a wedding ring on the left ring finger. Most countries in the west do. People started wearing rings on the left hand in the Ancient Romans.

Ancient Romans believed finger number 4 on the left hand had a vein that goes directly to the heart. They called this vein Vena Amoris, to mean “vein of love”. The heart is located at the center of the body, the reason why a ring was the best fit for the person you want to be by your side always. That tradition is still being observed today and the fourth finger is referred to as the “ring finger.”

There is s a great difference between engagement ring and wedding ring, but there is no written rule that says one should own both. While some people will choose just to wear a wedding ring, some will convert an engagement ring into a wedding ring and others will have two separate rings for engagement and wedding.

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