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


If you're in the market for engagement rings or wedding rings, chances are you've come across different types of engagement rings and wedding rings. What is the difference between engagement rings and wedding rings? Let's take a look at what sets these two types of jewelry apart.

The engagement ring, as the word implies, is traditionally given by a man to his future wife-to-be as an engagement present (or signet). The engagement ring represents love and commitment to be married and symbolizes their new life together as they embark on their new journey. A bride will wear her engagement ring on her left hand, which has long been considered the "giving" hand; while wearing her wedding band on her right hand.

The engagement ring is typically made of platinum, white gold, or yellow gold; although there are engagement rings made of other precious metals and gemstones.

Now, this is an interesting piece of history. According to Reader's Digest, the practice of proposing with an engagement ring first began in ancient Egypt, where the ring was actually placed on the bride's engagement finger (the fourth finger of her left hand) during the ceremony.

In ancient Egypt, marriage was considered a business transaction between two families, and the engagement ring was seen as a guarantee that the bride would not run off with another man (cue Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride.)

While diamond engagement rings haven't always been the norm, they were first introduced to engagement rings in 16th century Italy, where they were used as engagement rings with the intent that the woman would be considered "un-owned" up until her engagement.

Today, engagement diamonds can come in all shapes and sizes, including round cut engagement diamonds (traditional), princess cuts (also traditional) as well as heart-shaped engagement rings.

While society has progressed from traditional norms, in the past, men have typically proposed to women with an engagement ring as it was historically the man's role to provide for his family.

Nowadays, gender roles in marriage proposals matter less.  More and more couples are proposing to each other, or simply exchanging engagement rings as a symbol of their love.

And engagement rings don't just have to be for pre-wedding. Whether you want to wear your engagement ring past your wedding is up to you.  Some couples choose to continue wearing their engagement rings as wedding bands, while others will switch out their engagement ring for the wedding band after the ceremony.

Now let's cover wedding rings. The wedding ring is traditionally given by the bride to her husband on their wedding day and is made of gold, platinum, or white gold. The wedding band signifies the eternal bond between two people.

Typically, the bride receives a wedding ring from her groom, which is typically a gold band to signify their union. In some traditions, the engagement ring and wedding rings are identical in appearance while others will have them be two separate bands.

Men's wedding bands are typically made of gold, platinum, or white gold and can come in a variety of styles that can match the bride's band.

Sometimes, wedding bands are also inscribed with the couple's names and wedding dates as a way to commemorate their big day.

Is it mandatory to have both an engagement ring and wedding ring?  It depends on the culture. In Western cultures, engagement rings and wedding bands are symbolic of their engagement as well as their married life; however, in Eastern cultures such as Hindu-Indian weddings, engagement rings aren't considered necessary - only the wedding band is worn by both men and women after they're wed.

“If I get married, I want to be very married.”

- Audrey Hepburn


In any case, engagement rings vs wedding rings? In this modern world, anything goes! It's up to the couple to decide what their engagement and wedding rings represent - whether it be tradition, love, or something else entirely.

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