As we all know, the traditional symbol of eternal love and marriage is exchanging rings. Both engagement ring and wedding ring have that meaning, bringing up a question about their differences. For example, what are the main differences? How do they differ in history, and what did they represent? On which hand and finger do you wear them and can you wear them together? And finally, how do they differ in price and in overall style and design? Well, let’s answer these questions once and for all.

The main differences

The main difference between those two rings is the timing. An engagement ring is given during the proposal. However, a wedding ring is given during the wedding ceremony, while the groom and bride exchange their vows. They both represent eternal love and commitment between the partners. 

Also, traditionally, an engagement ring usually has a dominant centre stone, surrounded by small individual gems. On the other hand, a wedding ring is more simple and timeless. It usually includes a plain metal band, sometimes with little details, but traditionally not much. Also, the price of these rings can significantly differ. We’ll cover that later in the article.

The history of wedding rings

Wedding rings have been a tradition since ancient Egypt. Back there, a circle was a symbol of love and eternity. That was because a circle has no beginning and no end. Also, it mirrors the shape of the sun and the moon, which they worshipped. They also believed that the space in the middle is a gate to the unknown.

Ancient Egyptians wore their wedding rings made out of reed on the fourth finger of their left hand. The choice of that finger was simple. They believed that the ring finger had a vein connected straight to their heart. 

Later in ancient Rome, Romans used more durable materials for their bands, such as iron and gold. The idea of the wedding ring symbolising eternal love was passed through generations and is nowadays an important tradition.

The history of engagement rings

The history of engagement rings started in Ancient Rome. Back then, Romans wore rings made out of ivory, flint, bone or even copper or iron as a sign of ownership. Then later in the time of Pompeii, gold rings started to occur.

Hundred years later, in 850, engagement rings received their official meaning. That lasts till today. At that time, pope Nicholas I said that gifting an engagement ring represents a man’s goal to marry someone. Gold was the metal of choice back then. 

Diamond wedding rings became favoured in 1947 when a British company mining diamonds in South Africa called De Beers first created an advertising campaign.


How to wear your rings

Most traditionally and in most cultures, both rings – engagement and wedding ring – are worn stacked up together on your left hand on the ring finger. They should also be in the correct order, with the wedding ring placed first, so it’s closer to the heart. The engagement ring follows being on the outside.  

Many people love having their rings combined on the same finger. So ring sets are commonly found on the market nowadays. Those are designed to match the style, design and detail. That can ensure that the bands will fit each other perfectly and won’t rub against each other, and be comfortable. Many brides even have their sets soldered or adjusted together to prevent movement between the rings.

However, some brides prefer buying non-matching bands and wearing their engagement ring on the ring finger of their right hand. In this case, the wedding band is still traditionally on the ring finger of your left hand – so it’s closer to the heart. That can be an ideal option because the rings differ and can’t be stacked together easily.


The cost of engagement rings and wedding bands

Generally, engagement rings are much more expensive than wedding bands. That happens, as said before, because they usually feature a large gemstone and small other stones engraved with complicated details. On the other hand, wedding rings are plainer – they are often just a simple metal band, sometimes with some details.

However, that doesn’t mean that if a bride chooses a luxury wedding band with diamonds and details that it won’t be expensive. It all depends on the gemstones and the metal used in the ring, meaning high-quality gemstones can be expensive combined with a luxury metal. For both options, platinum is the most pricey option for metal and diamonds are the most pricey gem.

Do you need both rings?

Whether you choose to wear your rings together or wear just one of them is entirely up to you. The tradition says to wear both of them, but it depends on your preferences. Many choose the timeless traditional diamond engagement ring with a sleek wedding band. However, some wear only one ring and are totally happy and comfortable leaving the other one at home. Some even don’t bother buying the second one – that is also an option if you’re on a budget. 

There are many benefits to wearing just one of the two bands. For example, you don’t need to keep an eye and worry about two rings at once. The advantage is the nonexistent need to match them, so they fit each other.

Wedding ring styles

As said before, a wedding ring is supposed to look classic and sleek. It is usually a plain band with minimum detail, a monochrome look, and a timeless and elegant aesthetic. However, modern wedding rings can feature unusual elements, such as entwined bands or engraved writings. On the other hand, some brides fall in love with vintage style wedding bands. This style is known for its unique details and romantic look and feel. Some feature floral engraved designs or milgrain decorating techniques. 

The colour of your wedding ring depends on the metal that is used to make it. The most common and popular metals used in almost every design and style are white gold, yellow gold and rose gold. But white gold is recently certainly the most popular. That is due to its elegant and modern appearance.

 Platinum is another popular metal we can’t forget to mention. This special metal is similar in appearance and colour to white gold, but its other properties make it a high-quality metal. Those are its shine, lustre and durability. 

Popular and desired gems used in wedding bands include Diamond, Emerald, Sapphire and Amethyst, with the most favoured style being the teardrop wedding ring.

Engagement ring styles

Engagement rings can also be classic, vintage or modern. However, they should feature a shining eye-capturing centre stone. The most traditional and classic engagement ring style is the solitaire setting, which includes a band and one centre gem playing the leading role.

Modern engagement rings also feature a bezel gem setting surrounding the central gem. Halo engagement rings that are a favourite nowadays include an extra layer of diamonds around the centrepiece. Same as with vintage style wedding rings, those engagement rings feature exclusive details and patterns to show off the romantic and everlasting look. Also, vintage shapes of the centre stone have to be present together with gems other than diamond.  

On today’s market, engagement rings are offered in the same metals as wedding bands. A white gold engagement ring is also the most popular among others. While selecting your engagement ring, you also need to choose the colour of the centrepiece. White diamonds are undoubtedly favoured the most. Although pink, blue or even yellow diamonds are an exciting modern option. Moissanite engagement ring can be also seen on many brides, as it is a cheaper alternative to a diamond engagement ring. Common gemstone cuts featured in engagement rings are oval, princess or emerald.

Engagement and wedding ring gallery