Whether you’re shopping for a custom jewelry gift for your spouse or voraciously researching engagement jewelry options before popping the question to your eternal love, you’ve likely come across the eternity band.
But what does an eternity band mean?
While the eternity band has been widely marketed as a gift for milestone wedding anniversaries, we’ll discuss other meanings behind the symbolic diamond ring design and a variety of occasions where an eternity band would make an excellent gift. We’ll also cover the different types of eternity bands you’ll likely find when shopping, as well as options for how to wear this meaningful piece of custom jewelry.
The History of the Eternity Band
We can’t answer the central question of this article—“What’s an eternity ring?”—without discussing the diamond ring’s fascinating position in diamond history.
In the 1930s, De Beers Consolidated Mines (a South African company) unified the world’s diamond mines under one entity to more easily control pricing. In the 1950s, when the Soviet Union discovered a source of small diamonds (usually under half a carat), De Beers convinced the Soviet Union to join their small diamond pricing cartel so that they could continue to maintain stable diamond prices throughout the world market.
The Soviet Union agreed to join De Beers, but the company faced a problem—the Soviet diamonds were small, and De Beers had already spent the previous two decades establishing gemstone jewelry with large diamonds as the ultimate symbol of eternal love and monied status.
As a solution, De Beers devised the eternity ring—a band completely encircled with small Soviet diamonds that would be marketed to older married couples as a milestone anniversary gift.
Are Eternity Bands Meaningful?
De Beers intended the original eternity band to convey a variety of possible meanings:
- Diamonds, one of the world’s hardest, most durable gems, represent enduring everlasting love.
- The complete circle of diamonds brings to mind the unbreakable vows of marriage.
- The numerous stones symbolize the many trials that a couple’s marriage has overcome.
While these original meanings were fabricated to sell small diamonds, eternity band meanings needn’t be overshadowed by cynicism. Ultimately, any piece of jewelry designed for and given to a partner has meaning, and both the giver and wearer can wear diamond eternity rings with their own symbolism of any magnitude.
While traditional eternity bands were given for milestone anniversaries, today’s couples give the diamond eternity ring for a variety of significant reasons.
Occasions for Purchasing an Eternity Band
Since you can now answer, “what is an eternity band?” So when should you buy one? Any circumstance that inspires you to give a gift is special, making eternity rings an excellent gift for a number of occasions. However, a few common instances for giving a diamond eternity ring to a partner include:
- Milestone anniversaries – Someone may give their spouse an infinity ring after a first, twenty-fifth, or fiftieth anniversary to commemorate their relationship’s longevity.
- Births of children or grandchildren – To acknowledge the importance of a child’s or grandchild’s birth, spouses may customize and gift their partner an infinity ring.
- Overcoming significant trials – No marriage or relationship is perfect. Spouses sometimes give a partner precious metal jewelry after overcoming marital conflicts, processing a traumatic event, or navigating unseen or difficult circumstances.
- Commemorating special events – A diamond eternity band makes an excellent gift to commemorate a partner’s birthday, graduation, or career advancement.
Put simply, any occasion that you deem meaningful—or any urge to give a “just because” gift—is a good reason to give a diamond eternity band. Imbuing pieces with your own meaning is one of the best parts of giving and receiving gemstone jewelry.
Types of Eternity Bands
Let’s explore a few common types of eternity bands you might find while shopping. Generally, perfect eternity ring bands fall within three categories—traditional bands, semi and half eternity bands, and bands with colored gems.
Traditional Eternity Bands
Most eternity bands bear some similarities to the traditional special occasion design, which is characterized by a few ubiquitous features:
- A small, slender band made from any precious metal
- A single line of small diamonds (all the same size) set around the entirety of the band
- Diamonds with nearly identical cut, color, clarity and carat weight
While people of all genders can wear eternity bands, the size and design of the traditional eternity band are quite similar to a slim ladies’ wedding band.
Traditional eternity bands only contain earth grown diamonds, but you can also achieve the traditional style with 12FIFTEEN’s ethical, lab-grown diamond eternity bands as well. If diamonds are not what are you primarily looking for, there are numerous other clear stones like white sapphires or moissanite if you’re still searching for a more ethical engagment ring.
Half- and Semi-Eternity Bands
Half- and semi-eternity bands also offer an opportunity to purchase a more budget-friendly gift or personalize an eternity band’s meaning.
Instead of an unbroken line of diamonds completely surrounding the band, half-eternity bands only feature gems on the half of the band that faces outward. Semi-eternity bands can either feature more or fewer gems than half-eternity designs, but they still create a line of stones that doesn’t completely encircle the ring.
Shoppers may choose a half- or semi-eternity band for a variety of reasons, like:
- Comfort – Some ring-wearers don’t like the feeling of stones and settings rubbing the insides of their hands or the skin between their fingers.
- Future gift potential – Instead of purchasing a traditional band completely encircled with diamonds, a buyer might want to add a new stone (or a few) to their partner’s eternity band each time the couple reaches a new milestone anniversary, welcomes new children into their family, or experiences other significant events in their relationship.
- Versatility – Since you can wear an eternity ring in a variety of different configurations (we’ll cover that in a later section), a shopper may choose a semi- or half-eternity band to give the wearer more (or multiple) styling choices. For instance, if the wearer already has a halo cut engagement ring, they may choose to wear an eternity band on a different finger to give it special attention.
- Resizing – Some individuals may choose to wear a semi-eternity band given its ability to be resized down the line. With the lower half of the ring being a precious metal, the buyer can opt to have the ring sized up or down with ease if need be whereas a full eternity band is a little trickier.
Eternity Bands with Colored Gems
The traditional eternity ring typically uses diamonds or other clear stones, but the use of colored gems offers ring-buyers an opportunity to get creative with a custom ring design, imbue the gift with additional meaning, or match colored stones in the recipient’s engagement or wedding ring.
Both traditional and semi- or half-eternity rings can include (or exclusively use) colored stones. A few common designs with colored stones include:
- A traditional-style ring featuring one diamond (or clear stone) in the center with colored gems throughout the remainder of the ring
- A complete eternity ring with a line of same-colored gems throughout—for instance, embodying the traditional style but using sapphires or emeralds instead
- A semi- or half-eternity ring with a variety of colored stones, perhaps with special significance (like your children’s various birthstone colors or your family colors)
- Any eternity ring style with a repeating pattern of colored gems and clear stones
One of the best qualities of the eternity band is its versatility of design—ring buyers can choose between a full or incomplete ring of stones and any combination of clear or colored stones.
Eternity Band vs. Wedding Band: Are They the Same?
There are three rings that can signify an engagement or a marriage. These include:
- The custom engagement ring, given by one partner to another during a proposal
- The wedding band, which partners typically give each other during a marriage ceremony
- The eternity band, signifying an important milestone or any other meaning
While some couples may choose to have all three rings, others might look for a wedding band that embodies aspects of the eternity ring style, even combining the symbolism of both rings into one.
In essence, some wedding bands are eternity-style rings, but not all eternity rings are used as wedding bands.
How to Wear an Eternity Band
How you choose to wear your eternity band is entirely up to you, but keep in mind, your preference for how to wear your ring may impact your design choices.
Consider these common ways to wear an eternity band:
- Stacking – Ring stacking is a common style choice wherein multiple rings are worn on one finger. While wedding bands and engagement rings are traditionally stacked, an eternity band could be worn on top of the engagement ring, below the wedding band, or between the two rings.
- Using another left-hand finger – Instead of stacking all three rings on one finger, an eternity band could adorn another finger on the left hand, where wedding rings are usually worn.
- Using a right-hand finger – Some ring-wearers only use their left hand for their engagement ring and wedding band, choosing to wear other significant rings on their right hand. The right hand might also be a better option if the cut or color of your eternity band diamonds is different from your engagement ring’s.
If you envision your partner wearing their eternity band in a specific configuration, make sure to choose a ring design that can accommodate their other rings.
Find the Perfect Eternity Band at 12FIFTEEN
If you’re looking for an ethical, economical jeweler, look no further than 12FIFTEEN. We’re committed to our practice of selling lab-grown diamonds only, which are more ethical, sustainable, and affordable than mined diamonds.
Our collection includes engagement rings in countless cuts, wedding bands, eternity bands, and more. Find the perfect pieces to commemorate your most important moments, with 12FIFTEEN.
The Atlantic. Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond? https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1982/02/have-you-ever-tried-to-sell-a-diamond/304575/
Gemological Institute of America. Diamond. https://www.gia.edu/diamond
Zola. Guide to Stacking Engagement Rings. https://www.zola.com/expert-advice/guide-to-stacking-engagement-rings