The Diamond Pro

Engagement vs. Wedding Rings: Here’s What You Should Know

By Michael Fried
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Bottom Line Recommendation: Both engagement rings and wedding rings carry significant meaning. Choosing rings that match your unique style and taste allows you to own jewelry you’ll want to wear for a lifetime. Decide on a matching set like this French pavé diamond eternity ring in 14k white gold or select a stunning engagement ring like this Round Cut diamond in 18K yellow gold and pair it with a wedding ring later.

Engagement Ring VS. Wedding Ring

Engagement Ring vs. Wedding Ring

The difference between an engagement ring and wedding ring is that an engagement ring is given at a proposal or when a couple decides to get married. A wedding ring is exchanged at the wedding ceremony and represents the official bond of marriage. Both rings are often worn together as symbols of love and commitment.

A wedding ring is usually a simpler ring, such as a classic band like this rose gold ring or one with small diamonds, like in this white gold eternity ring. In most cases, wedding rings don’t feature large diamonds and gemstones. Some brides choose a plain, pavé, or channel set band to complement their engagement ring.

Engagement rings can be any ring—they don’t have to be a diamond ring or an expensive ring. The most important aspect is choosing a style that your partner will enjoy wearing. Engagement ring styles range from simple designs like this solitaire engagement ring to intricate vintage rings like this custom design.  

The engagement ring can also be the wedding ring (if you want it to be), as some people don’t buy a separate wedding ring. It depends on your personal preference and if you want to use your engagement ring as a wedding band. That means you can wear an engagement ring with no wedding band, even after the ceremony.

You can buy an engagement ring and wedding band together, especially if you want to ensure the two match and complement each other. These are called bridal sets. The sets fit together seamlessly and usually match metal colors. Plenty of people buy the rings separately, though, and follow guides like Blue Nile’s tool for finding complementary rings. As an example, it’s important to match the precious metal color (i.e. white gold or yellow gold) and ensure the rings fit well next to each other on the finger.

How well the rings match is up to personal preference, as your wedding band doesn’t have to match the engagement ring. You can wear two different styles or two different colors of gold if you want. Also, your spouse’s wedding band doesn’t have to match yours, although it can. A bride can have a white gold engagement and wedding ring, while the groom has a yellow gold wedding band.

How do you wear an engagement ring? Your engagement ring finger is the finger next to your pinky finger on your left hand. Your wedding ring finger is the same. Most people wear their engagement ring and wedding band next to each other on the same finger. The wedding ring is placed closest to the hand as its closest to the heart.

Wedding Ring VS. Wedding Band

Wedding rings and wedding bands are the same: a ring given at the wedding ceremony that symbolizes the marriage. Some people call it a “wedding ring” while others say “wedding band.” The two terms are interchangeable. Wedding bands are worn by both men and women.

Most male wedding bands are a simple metal ring, like this tungsten carbide ring, while other styles are more intricate like this diamond channel-set ring. Female wedding bands range in style from classic bands like a low dome comfort ring to detailed rings like this trellis diamond eternity band.

Engagement and Wedding Ring Combinations

Pairing an engagement ring with a wedding ring—that were bought separately—requires some careful comparisons. The metal type and color, style and fit need to be a near match, in order to look like a cohesive unit and avoid unwanted rubbing between rings. Most jewelers are happy to assist with such a matching request and can help in designing a beautiful pair.

An alternative to matching the rings on your own is to select a matching wedding and engagement ring set, also known as a bridal set. This ensures the metal colors are identical and that the rings will fit together perfectly.

We suggest looking for matching wedding rings—or any rings, for that matter—from trusted and reputable online vendors. Our years of experience have taught us that when customers work with a reliable dealer, their experience is exponentially better.

We recommend Blue Nile to our readers, as they’re an industry leader for diamonds and jewelry. They offer a range of matching engagement and wedding ring sets. A few excellent examples of Blue Nile’s offerings:

You can even build your own matching set with the exact setting you want, using Blue Nile’s Build Your Own Ring tool.

James Allen is another diamond vendor we highly recommend. James Allen provides high-end customer service and boasts an expansive inventory of exceptional diamonds and settings.

James Allen offers a wide range of matching wedding ring sets, including:

You can also build your own matching set with James Allen’s bridal set tool.

Engagement Rings for Men

The majority of men choose to wear only a wedding band, though some desire an engagement ring to display their commitment. Engagement rings for men are distinct in style from women’s rings, and a variety of options exist. Many online dealers list their engagement rings as wedding rings, though they can be used for either occasion.

For example, this platinum engagement ring offers style, while this classic ring is smoother and sleeker. These two designs are on the simple side of the spectrum and don’t contain any gemstones.

On the other hand, some male engagement rings are more intricate than a plain metal band. Ring styles with diamonds like this channel set ring or this bevel setting combine masculinity and decorative stones. Other styles are fashioned from a mix of metals or contain an inlay color that’s different than the outside color, similar to this brush inlay ring.

For those with an active lifestyle looking for a durable option, consider a band like this titanium one from James Allen or this tungsten carbide design from Blue Nile.

Wedding Rings for Men

Wedding rings for men, also known as wedding bands, range from intricate to more simple in style (similar to engagement ring styles). More than anything else, personal preference is the most important factor when it comes to choosing a wedding ring for men.

Lifestyle and favorite activities should also be taken into consideration. If he has an active hobby or job where he frequently uses his hands, it may be better to purchase a sleek and smooth band like this classic white gold ring or this tantalum band. For someone who appreciates more flair, a channel set ring like this one made of 14K white gold or this satin finish one may be more suitable.

Some couples also try to choose rings that complement their fiance’s ring. For instance, if a woman has a white gold solitaire ring like this one, a men’s ring like this traditional white gold one may be a complementary match. Again, this choice comes down to personal preference.

Deciding on engagement and wedding rings gives you the opportunity to consider what is most important to you and create symbols of love that will last a lifetime.

If you’d like assistance with choosing rings or selecting diamonds, contact one of our experts today.

Frequently Asked Questions About Engagement and Wedding Rings

There’s a lot to know about wedding and engagement rings, and we’re here to answer the most popular questions. If you have a question beyond these, feel free to send our experts an email.

Are engagement rings and wedding rings different?

Yes, they are different as engagement rings are given at the time of a proposal, while wedding rings are exchanged at the wedding ceremony. Engagement ring styles tend to be more intricate as well, such as one featuring a center diamond or gemstone. Wedding rings are usually simple in design, such a classic band like this rounded wedding ring or one with smaller diamonds like this wire basket ring.

How do you wear your engagement ring and wedding ring?

While there are no hard and fast engagement ring and wedding band rules, most people wear their wedding ring on the left-hand ring finger closest to their heart, with their engagement ring sliding next to it (closest to the knuckle). 

Before your wedding ceremony, engagement ring etiquette is to wear the ring on your left-hand ring finger (the finger next to your pinky). As far as male wedding ring rules, the band is normally worn on the left-hand ring finger as well.

You can choose to forgo traditional wedding ring etiquette and wear your rings on any finger you want.

Do you wear your wedding ring and engagement ring together?

Most people wear their wedding ring and engagement ring on the same finger, with the wedding ring being closer to the heart. Some people choose to wear their rings on separate fingers or only wear one of the rings.

The engagement ring symbolizes you’re engaged, while a wedding ring signifies that you’re already married.

Why are engagement rings more expensive than wedding rings?

Engagement rings are more expensive than wedding rings because they typically feature a large diamond along with other intricate details like milgrain or pave. Wedding rings are usually more simple in nature, such as a plain metal band or a pave band with small diamonds.

The average cost of an engagement ring in the U.S. is $6,350, but the price can range anywhere from $500 to $45,000 and more. Most couples spend between $1,000 and $5,000 on an engagement ring.

The average cost of a female wedding band is around $1,000 while the average cost of a male wedding band is $500.

About the author
Mike learned the diamond business from the ground-up at Leo Schachter Diamonds - one of the world's top diamond manufacturers. He has been recognized as a diamond industry expert by Time, PeopleMoney, The Daily Mirror, NerdWallet, The Times Herald, Yahoo Finance Australia, The Art of Charm, The Washington Diplomat, The Next Web, and more. See more
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