If you’re getting ready to propose you might be wondering what the difference is between an engagement ring and a wedding ring. Do you have to propose using a diamond engagement ring or can you opt for a wedding band instead? Is it recommended to wear both rings once you get married, or do you have options?

In this article, we’ll explore the history of wedding rings and answer all of your burning questions regarding the difference between the two.

The History of Wedding Rings

The history of the wedding ring goes way, way back - In fact, there is archeological evidence to suggest that ancient Egyptians were exchanging wedding rings as long ago as 4000 BC. While not the sparkling gemstones that we see today, these early rings are thought to have been crafted from reeds, leather and bone. However, the message remained the same and these rings were given as a symbol of the love and commitment that two people share in marriage.

A lab grown diamond engagement ring

Additionally, it is believed that ancient Egyptians began the tradition of wearing one’s wedding ring on the fourth finger on the left hand, aka the ring finger. This custom continued in other early civilizations as Greeks and Romans adopted the fourth-finger rule believing this finger to have a special connection via a vein that ran directly to the heart. It was also the Romans who began wearing iron rings instead of ones crafted from more natural materials. The use of gold and stone to create rings became more popularized around this time, too. 

By the middle ages, wedding ring traditions were used in Christian marriage ceremonies. However, the church found some of the designs overly elaborate and instead insisted on more simplified styles. This resulted in the plain wedding bands that we still see today.

Wedding Rings Today

Historically, only brides wore wedding rings. However, that changed about 100 years ago when soldiers who were off to war wanted a reminder of the love that was waiting back home. Since then, it’s been standard for both parties to wear wedding bands. 

As for ring-wearing etiquette, much of the Western world and parts of Europe still place their wedding ring on the ring finger. This is partially due to tradition, but it might also have to do with the fact that much of the population is right-handed. But some countries break away from the norm such as Russia, Poland, Norway, Austria, Denmark, Latvia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Spain and India, all of which wear their forever adornments on the right hand. Additionally, some regions like the Netherlands, Brazil and Germany practice wearing a plain band as the engagement ring on one hand and then swapping them over to the other hand once they’re married.

Are Engagement Rings and Wedding Rings Different?

Traditionally, engagement rings and wedding rings are different. As one might expect, an engagement ring is given as part of the proposal while wedding rings are exchanged during the wedding ceremony. 

An engagement ring and wedding band

In addition to the time that they’re given, there are also some stylistic differences when it comes to engagement rings and wedding rings. Engagement rings typically feature an impressive center stone, that either stands alone or is complemented by additional smaller stones. Wedding bands, on the other hand, are more basic in design often consisting of a plain metal band or a diamond-accented band that is simplistic in comparison to an engagement ring.

Do You Need to Buy an Engagement Ring and a Wedding Ring?

While most people opt to wear the engagement ring and wedding ring combo, some choose to rock just one ring instead. There are a few reasons a person might prefer to wear a single ring instead of two. For example, wearing a single ring can be more comfortable than an engagement ring stack. Additionally, choosing just one ring allows for a larger budget. What you would spend on both the wedding ring and the engagement ring can now be allotted to one piece instead. It can also be hard to find two rings that match if you don’t purchase them in a bridal set. Wearing a standout ring takes away the headache of trying to find two rings that match.

Ultimately, the choice comes down to personal preference. However, if you’re the person buying the ring, it’s important to consult with your fiance-to-be to determine if they prefer the traditional look of an engagement ring and wedding ring combo or if they’re open to wearing one ring instead.

Can You Give a Wedding Band as an Engagement Ring?

When it comes to your wedding jewelry of choice there are no rules. If you or your spouse would prefer to wear a wedding band instead of an engagement ring we say, go for it!

Three wedding bands

Which is More Important: an Engagement Ring or a Wedding Ring?

If you go with tradition, each ring represents a different moment in your life. Your engagement ring represents the day that your significant other asked you to be theirs forever. While your wedding ring serves as a reminder of your wedding day. However, that doesn’t mean that one is more important than the other. The significance behind each ring will vary from person to person, making both important in their own way. 

What Are the Most Popular Styles?

Popular Engagement Ring Styles 

One of the most important components of a diamond engagement ring is the diamond. So it makes sense that the most popular engagement ring settings are ones that showcase the beauty of the center stone.

For a style that really captivates, try a minimalistic solitaire design. In this setting, the center stone is fixed upon a sleek metal band. This no-frills approach draws all eyes to your diamond or gemstone of choice. Alternatively, add a little more sparkle to your ring with an accented band. In this style, several pave diamonds line the exterior of the band for a touch of glam.

A pear cut engagement ring Popular Wedding Band Styles

When it comes to your wedding band there are a few choices to be made. Do you want a plain or an accented band? Which metal will you choose? Rose gold, yellow gold and white gold are the most common offerings, each of which is stunning in its own right. For years, yellow gold was the most popular choice. However, rose gold is rising in popularity and is seen as a trendy option. While white gold offers an icy alternative to these warmer hues. 

If you’re searching for a women’s ring you might like the eternity band, a particularly flashy style where a band of precious metal is set with a continuous line of identically cut stones. These stones are usually diamonds, however, the style can be set using colorful gemstones, too. The only downside to this design is that you might encounter resizing troubles if the ring doesn’t fit properly. That’s why it’s extra important to make sure that you know your ring size before committing to this setting.

An accented wedding band

sources

The History of Wedding Rings

Engagement Ring vs. Wedding Ring: Do You Need Both?

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