Engagement Rings vs. Wedding Rings: Know the Difference

The exchanging of rings to signify a promise (proposal) and legal binding of a relationship (marriage) has a very long history.

There’s still very much evidence of this symbolic nature in our modern world in the form of engagement rings and wedding rings. And in today’s times, there are many factors to consider. For example, an engagement ring vs. wedding ring – what exactly are the differences? Do you need both? Do they need to be of the same style and worn together at all times?

All your questions (and more) will be answered on today’s blog brought to you by a reputable Perth jeweller. Read more from Paul at Claremont Diamonds to find out the basics of engagement rings and wedding rings.

Where did the tradition of wedding rings and engagement rings come from?

Funnily enough, engagement rings and wedding rings were mostly one and the same prior to the 16th century. Wedding rings began as a tradition that dated back to the times of foraging. Can you believe our ancestors made their rings, their symbols of love, out of plants? 

It’s the thought that counts, after all. Right?

As civilisation evolved, so too did our standards and expectations of symbolic jewellery.

Holy Roman Emperor, Maximillian the First, revolutionised how to propose marriage by gifting his fiancée, Mary of Burgundy, a beautiful diamond engagement ring in 1477. This was the first documented account of a diamond engagement ring.

What started in Europe then made its way through to America. Yet, a diamond engagement ring wasn’t considered a ‘must-have’ until the 20th century.

So, why is an engagement ring held in such high regard today? Essentially, it’s their ability to showcase shining diamonds and intricate styles. Plus, they make popping the question that little bit sweeter. 

What’s the difference between engagement rings and wedding rings?

The easiest difference between an engagement ring vs. wedding ring is the reasoning behind their purposeful exchange. 

The second is their style. Let’s break down some more differences between the two.

Engagement rings

  • Are gifted to the wearer at the ‘proposal’ of marriage. Yes, the getting down on one knee, the scattering of rose petals (optional), and the life-changing question “will you marry me?” 
  • Traditionally worn only by women
  • Are worn after getting engaged, during the length of engagement and throughout the marriage. So, basically, until the end of time!
  • Can be worn either alone or with a matching wedding ring.

Wedding rings

  • Are exchanged only at the wedding ceremony – not before
  • Both partners give, receive and wear a wedding ring throughout their marriage
  • Depending on personal preference, wedding rings can be as intricate and ornate to match the engagement ring or boast a simple elegance to complement the engagement ring.
  • Can be worn solo or together with the engagement ring.

Now that you know the differences between the two beautiful jewellery bands, let’s learn about how and why they’re worn the way that they are.

diamond engagement ring

How to wear an engagement ring vs. wedding ring

Tradition dictates how to wear engagement rings and wedding rings. 

For your convenience and own diamond education, we’ve compiled a simplified how-to guide for traditional wearing below.

Before the wedding

When your sweetheart asks you to marry them and presents you with a beautiful bespoke diamond engagement ring, you are now officially engaged. Congratulations!

Tradition notes that you should ideally wear your engagement ring on your left ring finger. Why? We’ll get into that in a moment.

Naturally, you don’t wear the wedding ring until the wedding ceremony.

During the wedding

On your momentous wedding day, a promise to love and to hold, to cherish in sickness and health is made unto one another. During your wedding ceremony, there is an exchange of wedding bands. Typically, the engagement ring shifts from being worn on the left ring finger, to the right ring finger on your right hand. Do this just before the wedding, not during the ceremony. 

Why is this done? Because as a symbol of true love and devotion, the wedding ring is worn closest to the heart. The Ancient Romans believed that a vein ran directly from the fourth finger on the left hand to the heart.

The engagement ring stays on the right hand throughout the ceremony.

After the wedding

The engagement ring goes back to its original placement on the left hand, ring (fourth) finger so that the two rings can form a pair. The wedding ring is placed on the finger first, followed by the engagement ring on top of it.

How do you ensure your rings match the style of the other? The answer is easy: wedding ring sets.

Wedding ring sets/bridal sets are a perfect solution for matching the style of both rings.

Let’s delve deeper into what these sets entail.

marriage proposal with wedding ring

What is a wedding ring set?

It’s true that a lot of emphasis is put on designing or finding the quality diamond engagement ring.

Whether popping the big question as a big surprise or embarking on the design selection process together, the engagement ring is an essential showstopper and scene stealer.

But what about the wedding ring? Many lovers choose to wear both together once married, so making sure they suitably complement each other is a must.

Enter the wedding ring set. 

Sometimes referred to as a bridal set, a wedding set refers to a pair of rings designed with bespoke purpose, making up both the engagement ring and wedding ring, and worn as a set. There are different wedding ring sets: trio wedding ring sets, white gold wedding ring sets, vintage wedding ring sets, rose gold wedding sets and etc.

There are two ways to purchase a wedding ring set:

  1. Buy an engagement ring first and propose, and then together choose a matching wedding ring. At Claremont Diamonds, we’ll happily assist.
  2. Or buy a wedding ring set from the get-go so your bride-to-be (or groom-to-be) can wear the engagement ring throughout the engagement. Bonus! You don’t have to worry about finding the most suitable wedding ring to match the engagement ring before the big day.

There’s definite appeal towards buying a set as opposed to sourcing two rings at two different times. For example, the wedding ring in a wedding ring set is specifically designed to make the engagement ring shine brighter, look more brilliant and make an overall bigger style statement.

Whatever you decide, rely on the personalised service from Claremont Diamonds.

We’re here for you every step of the way, from deciding to ask a life-changing question, to sealing the deal with a beautiful wedding band.

Our diamonds are forever, just like your love…

Transforming love stories into bespoke jewellery pieces

The beloved diamond engagement ring and awe-inspiring wedding ring both have their symbolic purpose and importance. Where one is worn from the moment of the proposal, the other makes its long-anticipated appearance during the wedding ceremony.

Tradition dictates how many engaged or married couples choose to wear their rings, but the ultimate decision on how to wear, comes down to you, your wishes and lifestyle.

Ready to shop beautifully designed engagement rings?

Claremont Diamonds are ready to listen, collaborate and create the perfect piece.

Book an appointment with Paul from Claremont Diamonds today to start the exciting process.