Engagement Ring vs Wedding Ring


Swept by Disney fairytales at a young age, girls all over the world have somehow dreamt of a Prince Charming, a magical proposal, and a happy ending at least once in their life. So, they know what these rings are and the life-changing significance it comes with!

Engagement Ring vs Wedding Ring


As for men, not everyone starts off as an aspiring Prince Charming. As crazy as it sounds, some men think that the engagement ring and the wedding ring are the same, while some don’t even bother.

To tell you the truth, I remember myself not knowing the difference between the two before working at a jewelry store. But it’s nothing to be ashamed about! The important thing is you’re here to learn. So, cut yourself some slack. 🙂


The title “Engagement Ring vs Wedding Ring” isn’t meant to be a debate on which ring is better as they’re used in different milestones. Rather, I want to explain each ring’s significance, impact, origin, and appearance. If you stick around, you’ll also learn how to choose a stunning engagement ring or wedding ring that won’t cost a fortune!

When Do We Buy Engagement Rings?

Engagement Ring vs Wedding Ring 2


Simply put, the engagement ring is mainly the reason you’re reading this right now. You want to spend the rest of your life with someone and ask the iconic question “Will you marry me?”. These days, more couple are buying the engagement ring together for a practical approach on the design and budget.

But if we’re going traditional, the proposal is supposed to be a surprise, and you should be the one to pick the ring that only women (in the relationship) get to wear. Which is probably a good thing looking at the costs!

What About Wedding Rings?



These are the rings that are exchanged during the wedding ceremony after each partner has said their vows. As the nuptial is something both of you will plan far ahead, you will be choosing your wedding rings together. It serves the purpose of making it known to the world that its carrier is married!

The bands usually contain an engraving on the inside such as the date of marriage or a phrase/quote with a special meaning. Quite often, couples try to choose matching wedding rings. In fact, many couples take exactly the same wedding band in their respective sizes. This heightens their sense of oneness. However, there is no universal rule that it has to be like that. So, go wild!

How Did This Age-Old Tradition Begin?

Engagement Ring vs Wedding Ring Origin


The concept of such rings is seen in every race, color, religion, and walk of life. Whether it be for legal matters, ownership, or true love – one thing’s most prevalent, the rings signify union.

It was the ancient Egyptians, 5000 years ago, that first exchanged the “rings of love.” Made of reeds or leather from plants growing along the Nile River, the first ones were woven like a ring because Egyptians see the circle as a powerful symbol. The infinite band connotes love and immortality while its opening is said to be the gateway to the afterlife.


Ancient Egypt Wedding


Rings and signets were highly regarded, and it was passed on to the Greeks and Romans, inspiring some of the first ever betrothal rings in Rome. The ancient Romans were also the ones who placed the engagement ring on the left ring finger as they believe it’s directly connected to the heart.

At around 860, the Christians used embellished rings in marriage ceremonies. But during the 13th century, the Church saw them as irreligious and encouraged simplified rings from then on.

The first recorded diamond engagement ring was given by Archduke Maximillian to Mary of Burgundy in 1477. The trend took Europe by storm and has become a worldwide tradition up until today.

Classic and Modern Engagement Rings

Traditional ones consist of a diamond or gemstone in the center, while the setting is often gold or platinum. These days, new ring setting designs are put on the spotlight, but one major factor remains the same – diamonds that provide a lot of sparkle, brilliance, and scintillation:


        • Solitaire Engagement Ring Setting
        • Pavé Engagment Ring
        • Tension Engagement Ring

(Pictures are courtesy of James Allen)


One commonality between most engagement rings is that one larger gemstone is situated at the center of the engagement ring and attracts all the attention. This, for instance, can be the case for three stone ring settings:


        • Three Stone Ring Setting with Blue Sapphires
        • Three Stone Ring Setting with side stone trelis diamonds


Engagement rings are usually more extravagant than wedding rings. Some types house colorful diamonds, mystical gemstones, or avant-garde settings. A pricing norm was also established by DeBeers decades ago, making men spend at least 2 months of salary for an engagement ring. But remember that the design, size, and price are subjective, so you have the final say.

So, What’s a Promise Ring?

James Allen Promise Ring


It also represents love and commitment but doesn’t necessarily mean marriage. Coined by millennials, it doesn’t really have a label. It could be a promise to be engaged someday or to move to a different country at a certain time.

Some younger couples exchange promise rings instead as it gives them the freedom to just be. There’s no pressure to get married anytime soon. And the design is simpler and not as expensive as usual engagement rings. Sounds tempting, but don’t get side-tracked with a promise ring if your goal is to marry the one you’re with eventually!

Are Wedding Rings and Wedding Bands the Same?

Yes! They’re usually plain without any diamonds or gemstones and are commonly white gold or yellow gold. However, many brides may select a flashier or more intricate band depending on their style:


        • 14 White Gold Flat Comfort Fit Wedding Ring
        • Eternity Wedding Ring
        • 18K Yellow Gold Alternating Bezel Eternity Wedding Ring


I would advise picking your rings at least 2 months before the wedding. This way, you’ll have a decent time allowance if something comes up during the wedding planning. There’s always last-minute fixes!

Which is More Important and Should Women Wear Both?

Engagement Ring or Wedding Ring


Well, most married women wear both rings on the left hand's ring finger with the wedding ring – the ultimate symbol of eternal love – being closer to the heart. Because of this tradition, the engagement ring is taken off during the ceremony, so that the wedding ring can be worn beneath it.

Some women opt for a bridal set where you don’t have to match the engagement ring and the wedding ring. While some only wear one of the two! Still, it’s up to your liking, budget, and time-honored belief.

The Takeaway

Will You Marry Me?


Now that you know which is which and probably have a gist of a style your partner will love, it’s time to hunt for the ring. It’s another journey on its own that will need further reading just like how you went about this one. Don't worry, we have all the guides laid out for you!

Check out my post on “How to Design an Engagement Ring Online.” And read about “Diamond Store Reviews” to learn how digital giants like James Allen has become the #1 go-to for diamond engagement rings and wedding rings.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to write to me. Or comment down below!

I’m always here to help. 🙂




Sebastian Naturski loves to write about diamonds and share his knowledge with his readers.
When he is not working on his website he is studying law at Humboldt University of Berlin.
He has taken part in several international law competitions and likes to broaden his horizons.
His other big passion are languages. He is fluent in German, English, Polish and Japanese and got basic skills in French and Spanish as well.


  1. Any input on “promise rings”? Talked with my gf about it and she INSISTS on getting a 2 carat solitaire! My plan was to start small and work my way up to her “dream ring” when got to the engagement-step! Her reply was, “that is redundant”! HELP

    • Hi Roy,

      Promise rings are usually subtler than engagement rings. The focus is more on the overall design rather than the diamond which is the usual focus when shopping for engagement rings. The meaning varies between couples, but promise rings are widely known to symbolize love, commitment, and devotion to each other. It could be a promise to someday get married. So a 2-carat diamond might be a little extravagant, but if you have the budget, why not?

  2. Thoughts on a 3 carat solitaire diamond ring paired with an engagement ring of a ring stack (2 small ones, maybe different shapes) or a large half eternity band (2 carats total diamond weight). Which looks classier/more trendy in your opinion?

    • Hi Lauren,

      The half eternity band is a classic, although the ring stack seems trendier. Both styles will greatly amplify the beauty of a 3-carat diamond on a solitaire setting. It’s all a matter of personal taste. 🙂

  3. You have done it sir. I am actually on my way to go and buy an engagement ring because I engaged her with a wedding ring. If I am given a chance to redefine life, I would say life is all about learning. Thanks, Cyrus

  4. You should point out that there are two types of wedding rings – a wedding ‘set’ where the engagement ring and wedding band go together (often they fit together to look like one big ring – or with some sets the wedding ring is very similar to the engagement ring – the engagement ring just has a bigger diamond in it) – or if you don’t choose a wedding set, you can instead to have a wedding band which doesn’t go with the engagement ring. With a ‘set’, the man is on his own to pick out any band he likes. When there is no set, often the bride and groom will pick out matching bands.
    In our case, my husband and I were in university and had no money. My husband bought me the wedding ring out of a wedding set (because it was much cheaper, he bought the ring that didn’t have the big diamond!), and we bought matching bands. After graduation he went back to the jewellery store and bought the big engagement ring – so now I have the entire wedding ‘set’ as well as a band that matches his. I had all three soldered together into one big ring, and next month I’ll have been wearing it 25 years!

    • Hi Michelle,

      Thanks for your meaty suggestion! Although some brides like to be surprised, your right, in some cases, it makes sense to purchase a wedding set, especially for practical reasons. This will give the couple comfort, convenience, and uniformity. I will definitely incorporate this topic in my future posts. Thanks again! 🙂

  5. Hey, really great, I was not aware of the difference as think they both the same, it’s really great to know the difference and is amazing.I love the rings as well the bands,love to wear them.

    • Hi Elisagrace,
      Thanks for your feedback! Yes, they each have their own wonderful purpose. I’m glad to be of help. 🙂 Cheers!

  6. The funny thing is I was just like you when I first went looking at wedding rings “I thought an engagement ring and a wedding ring” was the same ring. Little did I know, think it may be a guy thing because you are right a female will school you very quick that they are very different. Lol.

    Engagement ring versus wedding ring is like that: Usually an Engagement ring is the one with the “ROCK” and the one you should spend 3 months salary on or whatever the monetary value should be these days, it was 3 months salary in my day anyway.

  7. Thanks for the post. When I was thinking about engagement ring vs wedding ring I actually thought both are the same thing. I guess you never stop learning.

  8. Hi. Just wanted to say thanks for this informative article. I have been married for 17 years now and am very much looking forward to our 20th anniversary when we will be renewing our vows. To be honest, I never really thought about having a separate ring for the wedding. We just used the engagement ring. After reading your article, I’m thinking about surprising her with a wedding ring. I know it’s 20 years too late, but just curious if you think it’s a good idea? If so, I would appreciate some ideas. Thanks again -Jeremy

    • Hi Jeremy,
      it seems as though you and your wife don’t have wedding bands. After 20 years of marriage it might be a nice symbol to get matching wedding bands through which you might be more connected. Such wedding bands are usually quite plain and don’t contain a large diamond. For wedding bands and anniversary wedding bands it is absolutely appropriate to choose the rings together with your wife. She will be able to assist you much better than I ever could in the choice of your perfect rings 🙂

  9. Hey, I think that the summary of engagement ring vs wedding ring is quite easy. The engagement ring does contain a diamond and the wedding ring does not!

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