Engagement Ring vs Wedding Ring – What is The Difference?

Having both the perfect engagement ring and the perfect wedding ring is something many people are looking for. Thoughts of diamonds and pearls and gold bands probably flow through the minds of shoppers, but a key element often goes overlooked in the search to buy the perfect engagement ring or wedding ring. Both symbols of marital union, the difference between engagement rings versus wedding rings has traditionally been a question of timing and symbolism. Both an engagement ring and wedding ring represent the same commitment expressed in two different ways. By understanding what each ring represents, how they relate to the wedding ceremony and their typical designs, readers of this post can be equipped with all the knowledge needed to browse for either engagement rings or wedding rings, or both!


Why do we wear wedding rings?

Beginning in ancient Egypt, exchanging rings quickly became the symbol for love. Made from reeds and hemp, the Egyptians believed that a vein in your fourth finger on your left hand runs directly to the heart, placing a ring or band upon said finger will aid in strengthening the bond of love and the promise of commitment. This specific vein does not actually exist in your left-hand side fourth finger, but it did not stop the Romans from adopting this tradition, although replacing reeds and hemp ring materials with more solid and valuable materials like iron and gold. With the help of the Romans, the tradition eventually spread through Europe and then further to North America.


Engagement ring vs wedding ring: how do they differ?

Differences in Symbolism and Significance

Shopping for an engagement ring can be a daunting task. Most stores will overwhelm you with the flashy display of diamonds, pearls, multitudes of bands, etc. A wedding ring is no different in that regard. However, there’s a difference in the meaning behind engagement rings and wedding rings. 


What is the significance of an engagement ring?

An engagement ring was historically gifted by a man to a woman and was worn as a symbol of commitment leading up to the wedding. The ring was a way of letting the community know that a particular woman was spoken for and planning to get married.


What about the significance of a wedding ring?

A wedding ring, also known as wedding bands, as opposed to engagement rings, were exchanged at the actual wedding ceremony as the couple traded wedding vows. These rings are worn from that point onward, symbolizing the eternal union between those two people. 

Both rings are worn on the left-hand ring finger, with the wedding ring on the inside.


Differences in Design

Design of an engagement ring

Typically, wedding rings and engagement rings have a few key differences in design. Engagement rings tend to be more grandiose. At the center, a main diamond is set individually or surrounded by a series of accent stones. Although it’s up to the user, most of these accent stones tend to be other precious minerals such as emeralds, rubies or pearls. The band, which is another word for ring when it comes to modern jewelry, may be either naked or decorated with a pave of smaller diamonds. That being said, an engagement ring can be made from literally any material. Make it as expensive or affordable as you wish, as extravagant or simple. You will want to have something that both you and your partner will enjoy wearing, and fit into your daily lives. Do not worry about hidden rules when it comes to engagement ring design, just go with what you and your partner like!

Design of a wedding ring

Contrarily, wedding bands tend to be simple, usually crafted from a single type of metal that is polished to perfection and oftentimes engraved with an intimate message on the inside. It is possible, however, to find wedding bands with some more intricate details like milgrain, or pavé or channel set diamonds. Most wedding rings don’t feature huge gems on top of the band, although centerpiece focal points still can be made. Male wedding rings tend to be simpler, and female wedding rings tend to be found with more intricate styles, but do not worry about that! Pick a ring or rings that fit your tastes and lifestyles. Be bold or be humble: wedding rings are something that only you and your partner alone should care about. 

Both rings can be bought together so they match (referred to as a bridal set) and have the bands and diamonds all matchup. Alternatively, they can be purchased from separate vendors at separate times but it is wise to have them created with similar colours, metal types or at least similar styles in mind. This makes it easy to decide when to pick out wedding bands. Just buy them as you finalize your engagement ring design! Doing this a few months in advance will ensure timely delivery so that nothing’s missing on your wedding day.


Differences in Price

The differences in design come with a considerable disparity in price. Engagement rings are going to cost much more since they are priced according to the value of the diamonds used, and the material used for the ring or band. Since wedding bands don’t usually include a diamond or gemstone (although some designs can include a modest one for her), the price will suit the metal and complexity of design. Keep all this in mind when you are researching the cost of buying an engagement ring in Canada. Remain aware that the complexity of your custom design, the quality and number of diamonds used, as well as how the stones are set on or around the band will all impact the cost of your engagement ring.


Buying One Instead of Two

Although you can purchase engagement rings and wedding rings together in order for them to match, known as a bridal set, many people are beginning to opt for a single ring instead of both an engagement ring and a wedding ring. By having your trusted jeweller design a dual-purpose band, you can have the advantage of splurging on a single magnificent ring instead of dividing your budget between two. The same ring you use to propose with can also be given when exchanging wedding vows during the ceremony. This eliminates the task of designing two rings that match perfectly if you aren’t buying a matching bridal set. 

Oftentimes, it can also be more comfortable for her to only wear one ring on that finger instead of having to accessorize or choose between multiple rings. Pay attention to how she likes to accessorize: if you never see her wear multiple rings it’s probably because she doesn’t like to! It may also just flat-out look better on a small finger to have a single stand out ring instead of stacking two rings together.



How do I begin shopping for Wedding Rings?

Shopping for engagement rings and wedding rings can be a stressful business, but have no fear. Create a budget and talk with your partner (or sneak the details unbeknownst to them if you are planning a surprise) about the type of design, material, and styles he or she may want. Do not worry too much, you know more than anybody in the world who your partner is! Go with a little mix of your own knowledge, trusting your gut, and confidence! 

The last thing you want when shopping for engagement rings and wedding rings is to run out of time. The more detailed a ring, or the rarer the material, the more time it may take to create and produce said ring(s). Plan at least 4 months before the wedding to shop accordingly. Any foreseen or unforeseen issues that may come up can be handled appropriately with the right amount of time and attention.


What happens to the Engagement Ring after a wedding?

Wedding rings, or wedding bands, traditionally go onto the left hand in order to be closer to the heart. So, most people getting married move their engagement rings over to their right hand in order to allow space for the wedding band on the left hand. However, it is known that after the wedding ceremony, a bride and groom may put their engagement rings back onto their left hand, either on top of the wedding band or simply around another finger on their left hand. Other couples are known to pick one ring or band over the other, perhaps alternating daily or simply picking a favourite and sticking with it. Bottom line is that post purchase, they are your engagement rings and wedding rings! Do whatever you like with them, wear more than one band at a time or alternate rings. There are no set rules!


The Bottom Line

With all the expert knowledge from Donj, you should be well informed whether you shop wedding bands and engagement rings online or in person. Our advice concerning when to pick out wedding bands is simple: do it when you shop for your engagement ring. This will give you the opportunity to design a matching set if that’s what you want, and, of course, it will allow plenty of time for the manufacturing process of said rings. 

Our hope is that helping you to understand the expectations as far as design and price differences between an engagement ring and a wedding ring makes shopping for them less intimidating and more straightforward! The less stress you have choosing your engagement rings and wedding bands, the less stress you will have going into your big day. Have you and your partner enjoy an amazing wedding, and enjoy amazing engagement rings and wedding rings!

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