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Engagement Ring vs. Wedding Ring: What’s the Difference?

by Caroline Clark
Last updated on December 23, 2021
yellow gold engagment ring and wedding ring next to flowers and leaves

Probably the most recognizable symbols of marriage are the rings. Engagement rings and wedding rings are more than just jewelry; they’re physical representations of powerful love and commitment. And because these rings are such an ingrained and important symbol of matrimony, it’s natural that soon-to-be-married couples will have some questions about them. You are likely wondering, engagement ring vs. wedding ring, what’s the difference between the two?

So, What is the difference between an engagement ring vs. wedding ring?

White gold bridal sets.
White gold bridal sets.

Do I have to stop wearing my engagement ring once I’m married? Do I even need a wedding ring? Do people wear engagement rings and wedding rings together? Do I wear the engagement ring and wedding band on my left-hand ring finger? Will it be uncomfortable to wear the two rings?

Ultimately, how you want to style and wear your wedding ring and engagement ring is entirely up to you, but we’ve pulled together this handy guide just in case you’re looking for some tips. And the first topic we’re going to address is an important one: engagement ring vs. wedding ring — what’s the difference?

What Is an Engagement Ring?

Engagement rings are given in many parts of the world when one partner proposes marriage to their significant other. The diamond engagement ring symbolizes commitment. Many women choose to wear both an engagement ring and a wedding ring after their big day. Diamond engagement rings are a way to show the world that you are spoken for.

This style of ring traditionally features a center diamond, or sometimes a gemstone, or another alternative. Unique styles of engagement rings continue to grow in popularity. The main difference between engagement and wedding rings is that the engagement ring traditionally features a solitaire diamond. Because it is traditional to give a diamond engagement ring, it also tends to be the more expensive of the two.

These rings can range in price and design, from dramatic halo style to more minimal solitaire settings. An engagement ring is intended to be worn until your wedding day to symbolize the promise that you and your beloved are committed to one another. Traditionally, you do not receive your wedding ring until your wedding day, so the engagement ring signifies that you are taken before the wedding ring is in the picture.

What Are Wedding Rings?

While wedding rings are a universally known symbol for marriage, they go back far in history, possibly starting with the Egyptian custom of exchanging rings made of woven reeds. Today, modern-day wedding bands are exchanged between couples during their wedding ceremony.

A major difference between engagement and wedding rings is the wedding ring tends to be much simpler in design. In terms of style, your engagement ring might be more ornate, while a wedding ring is traditionally a yellow gold band. Wedding bands can feature a row of diamonds, like an eternity band, or stick to a classic metal band of white, yellow, or rose gold, or platinum.

Wedding bands are less likely to feature ornate carvings and designs you would find on engagement rings unless they are part of a bridal set. This band will usually match your engagement ring in terms of metal color unless you want a very unique, mix and match look. The two bands stack together, typically with the engagement ring on the top of your finger vs. the wedding ring on the bottom — a symbol of commitment and true love. 

When Do You Buy Your Wedding Rings?

When it comes to the big day, you don’t want to add another thing to stress about. For that reason, we recommend allowing plenty of time to find and purchase your wedding rings—2-3 months out is usually a safe bet. This will ensure you have enough time to adjust sizing, change your mind, or create a customized piece.

We offer 100-day returns, for this reason, to make sure you have plenty of time to see how the wedding band sits and looks against the engagement ring, as well as plenty of time to change your mind. 

Wedding Ring Customs

Traditionally, wedding rings are worn on the 4th finger of your left hand. The Romans believed that the vein in the ring finger, the fourth finger on the left hand, ran directly to the heart. Due to this reason, they called that vein the “vena amoris,” or vein of love. Pretty romantic, right? Unfortunately, this is untrue, but hey, follow your heart if it speaks to you. This tradition is most popular in Western countries, but this can vary depending on one’s culture. For example, in Denmark and Ukraine, the wedding ring is worn on the right hand.

Bridal Sets

Bridal set in rose gols.

Depending on your wedding band style, your engagement ring may not easily stack against your wedding ring. If you want to keep your wedding band and engagement ring together and ensure they fit well, engagement and wedding rings often come in bridal sets. Bridal sets are created to make a perfect pair, removing the need to figure out what wedding rings will look and fit best with your engagement ring setting. 

If you don’t want an exact match, choosing an engagement ring style such as a solitaire or classic setting will give you tons of options for your wedding ring. These styles have the versatility to easily mix and match with more embellished or pavé wedding bands and more simple plain metal bands. This is a personal decision and simply depends on your own style!

Do You Need Both Rings?

engagement ring vs. wedding ring.
Find the perfect ring for you.

So, in terms of wearing your engagement ring vs. wedding ring, does your wedding band go on top or bottom, and are you expected to wear them both at the same time?

Typically, the wedding goes on first, followed by the engagement ring. And yes, it’s traditional for brides to wear both rings regularly. But this is a completely personal decision. After all, these are symbols representing your unique relationship, so you should wear them however you want—whether or not that choice conforms to an established tradition.

You may choose to wear both of your rings on the same finger. Or, you might want to wear your wedding ring on one hand and the engagement ring on the other. Some brides prefer to stick with just their wedding rings or engagement rings for everyday use. Again, this is totally up to the bride’s personal preference. 

Oftentimes, brides might pick and choose when they’re going to wear their engagement ring vs. wedding ring because they want to keep it in great shape, avoid damaging the diamond, or it’s just more comfortable to wear a simple band. Especially if you live an active lifestyle, wearing a wedding band that sits flush with your finger can help you avoid snags or potentially damaging your expensive diamond engagement ring! Brides also like to wear their more simple, often less expensive, wedding ring when they travel. On the other hand, some women love wearing their engagement ring every day, and it’s just as comfortable and easy to wear day-to-day. 

Men’s Wedding Bands

One major difference between engagement ring vs. wedding ring customs is that engagement rings are typically only given to the bride-to-be (though men’s engagement rings are growing in popularity.) Men typically do not have to worry about wearing engagement and wedding rings together.

Men are given wedding bands during the wedding ceremony. Men’s wedding bands are traditionally simple metal rings ranging from tungsten and titanium to the more popular golds and platinum.

We offer a unique collection of men’s bands detailed with lab-grown diamonds. So if your future husband is looking for some diamonds of his own, he’s able to! We love our Athos band, which features a double groove broken up by three lab-grown diamonds. This unique and modern band is crafted for a lifetime of wear. 

Our Favorite Wedding Ring Styles

We offer an incredible collection of wedding rings, sure to fit your personal style and your setting. If you have a solitaire setting ring, like our Classic Solitaire, you may want to add some extra sparkle with a diamond wedding ring, but without going overboard.

The Juliet Diamond Ring is our most dainty diamond wedding band, offered in 5 different metals and featuring 30 handset lab diamonds. If you have a unique engagement ring, like our Riga 3 Stone engagement ring, we offer many matching bands that twist and curve to sit flush against your setting. One of our most popular engagement ring settings, the Petite Floating Gem Ring, is also featured as a bridal set. This is a classic setting with stunning lab-created diamonds extending just over halfway on both the engagement ring and matching band.

The Single Prong 9 Stone Diamond Ring is another classic wedding ring that features nine lab-grown diamonds in a single shared prong setting. Another Clean Origin favorite is our 1/4 CT. TW. Corin Diamond Ring has a channel setting. Channel settings have no prongs and provide a snag-free and secure design for your diamonds. 

1 Ring or 2, It’s up to You

Now that you know about wedding rings vs. engagement rings, you can decide which route to go. Remember, it’s you and your partner’s choice in the end — find rings that will always remind you of the love you share and that you can be excited and proud to wear for years to come.