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

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

a bride wearing a diamond wedding set & a groom wearing a white gold wedding band

The exchanging of wedding rings as a symbol of marriage dates back to ancient times. In ancient Roman times for example, the groom would represent his future bride with an iron ring. This gesture started the trend of using precious metals in our wedding bands, a tradition which carries on to today. The durable metal represents permanence and strength, representing the bond of the couple. As beautiful as that little bit of history is, it brings up a lot of questions about “engagement ring vs wedding ring”. What’s the difference? Do you need a wedding band? Does your wedding band have to match your beloved's? If you want to wear both, do they have to be in the exact same style and worn together?

While there is a ton of history, tradition and expectations regarding engagement rings & wedding bands, ultimately what you choose should be based on what makes you (the bride-to-be) happy & what you see as symbols of love for each other. To help with that end goal, let’s go through some of those questions together and get a glimpse into helping you make a great decision.


What is an engagement ring?

An engagement ring is given in anticipation of getting engaged or shortly after a proposal. Traditionally, an engagement ring is a solitaire center diamond on a band of a precious metal (like platinum or yellow gold).

an oval cut diamond engagement ring on a pave band

By Noam Carver: An oval cut diamond solitaire engagement ring, set in white gold with a pave diamond band.

Fast forward to our modern day and engagement ring styles have blossomed into many options. As far as the type of ring, three stone, halo and even eternity band styles can be an engagement ring. It just depends on personal preference and your personal style. Another popular way to make an engagement ring specific to you is with a gemstone center instead of a diamond. Some gemstones have better durability & longevity than others and this topic will be covered in a separate article, but the two best options would be sapphire or ruby.

a blue sapphire set with three marquise cut diamonds on each side

By Parade Design: a stunning oval cut blue sapphire is flanked by marquise cut diamonds in this bold gemstone choice.


What is a wedding band (or wedding ring)?

diamond wedding bands in rose gold & white gold

By Noam Carver: rose and white gold bands are available in a variety of diamond shapes & styles to find your perfect match.

A wedding band (or wedding ring) is usually exchanged at the wedding ceremony as the official symbol of the union of marriage. On your wedding day, a bride will wear her engagement ring on her right hand so the wedding band can be placed first on her fourth finger during the marriage ceremony. Thereafter, both rings are worn together on the left hand, and are often designed as a bridal sets.

a white and rose gold diamond bridal set

By Noam Carver: a white pave diamond band is criss-crossed with rose gold on this stunning bridal set.

That being said, there is beauty in the complimentary as opposed to matching. An diamond engagement ring and wedding band of varying colors of metal, or even with different stones can be a wonderful way express your individuality.

An oval halo engagement ring stacked with two different diamond wedding bands

By Noam Carver: a classic oval halo engagement ring is styled with a ribbon band & a chevron wedding band.

Wedding bands are often more simple in style, without a prominent diamond or gemstone. They can be as simple as a plain gold band or have more intricate details like design, milgrain or featuring pavé set diamonds. Total carat weight is likely to be far less in a wedding ring than an engagement ring, even if the wedding band is inlaid with diamonds or other gemstones.

Does your wedding band have to match your beloveds?

Not at all! Instead of a matching set, think complimentary. A detail on your engagement ring can be tied into their wedding band.

A geometric diamond halo engagement ring and a mens band with a geometric interior

By Noam Carver: a bold geometric halo engagement ring is complimented by the interior of the gents band.

Consider having the same metal - if your engagement ring is

What should I know about picking out wedding bands?

For her, picking out a wedding can start when you are engagement ring shopping! Ask your jeweler to show you a variety of wedding bands to accompany your top diamond ring selections. Why is this important? A wedding band, even a matching one, will change the entire look of your ring set. At the very least, you are adding 50% more width: do you like this or should your engagement ring be narrower so that the complete set isn’t too wide for your liking? You may have your heart set on a three-stone diamond engagement ring: but do you like a wedding band with a three-stone style? In our experience, three stone rings can be a challenge to style with a wedding band as there is quite often more details already in this style of ring.


When should we shop for wedding bands?

If at all possible, start at least 4 months from your wedding date. This will allow for two things:

  1. You’ll be able to narrow down a number of favorites, take photos and then step away and think about it. What designs stick in your mind? Is there one you can’t get out of your head? At Perrara, we encourage both bride and groom to leave with a short wish list of favorites and then visit again with fresh eyes.

  2. Any issues that come up can be easily addressed without adding more stress to all the last-minute wedding details and such an important part of your wedding ceremony is taken care of in advance.

In Summary:

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to the task of your wedding ring set. Wedding jewelry can be traditional and timeless (for example a round cut solitaire diamond engagement ring with a plain metal band) or something you had a dream about (like a custom cut diamond in rose gold with floral design elements!) At Perrara, we like to encourage lots of exploring, having an open mind & discovering what will truly honor your relationship and commitment.

With Love, Perrara

Author: Lisa Maloney, Proprietor

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