Weddings Rings vs Engagement Rings – What is the Difference?

bride and groom wedding rings

I know this may seem like a dumb question to many people but the fact is, I receive frequent emails from readers with questions about the differences between a wedding ring and an engagement ring.

Now, depending on which part of the world you are in, you may hear the usage of one term more often than the other. The problem here is that many people use the terms “wedding rings” and “engagement rings” interchangeably. However, an engagement ring and a wedding ring isn’t the same thing!

So, let me set things straight and clarify the confusion between these 2 terms…

What’s The Difference Between Wedding Rings And Engagement Rings?

classic high dome comfort ring

A simple 14k white gold wedding band

pave set surprise diamond ring

A 14k white gold engagement ring with pave setting

Timing – The engagement ring is presented to a woman during a proposal. On the other hand, the wedding rings are exchanged between partners during the marriage ceremony and are worn starting from that time.

Design – Engagements rings tend to be more extravagant and usually have a center stone made of diamond (thanks to De Beers’s advertising campaign). In contrast, wedding rings tend to be plain looking and have simple designs.

To sum things up, the engagement ring is worn by your fiancée after a successful proposal. The engagement ring symbolizes a pledge of love and tells other people that a woman is no longer available.

The wedding ring (wedding band) is worn by both spouses after exchanging vows during the marriage ceremony. The rings are worn on the 4th finger of the left hand and it represents the commitment, love and faithfulness of your spouse to you.

Should You Buy a Wedding Ring Or an Engagement Ring First?

Well, I would say it depends on individuals.

Speaking strictly from a practical point of view, I recommend that you only buy the engagement ring if you aren’t sure whether she will say “yes” to your proposal.

On the other hand, if you and your partner had already discussed marriage beforehand and you are confident that she’ll agree to the proposal, it makes sense to get the wedding ring at the same time as the engagement ring. After the engagement, the newly engaged couple can start making their wedding registry.

Do I Need to Get a Complementary Matching Set For The Rings?

In general, I recommend my readers to buy matching ring sets so that both rings will display a consistent appearance. On top of that, another benefit of buying a matching ring set is that it prevents skin nipping problems which occur with poorly matched rings.

classic tiffany solitaire matching ring set
glamour shot of marriage jewelry
handshot of tiffany inspired rings

The evergreen Tiffany inspired classic 6-prong ring design by White Flash.

Also, a good choice of wedding band design can help to accentuate the beauty of the engagement ring.

18k white gold pave engagement ring wedding band set
marriage ring matching flower shot
how the ring looks like on your hand

A sleek pave set engagement ring design with a complementary wedding band.

That said, there are no hard and fast rules on how you should go about matching your rings. Whether you decide to buy a matching set or not, what is most important is that you always plan in advance.

How Many Rings Should You Wear After Getting Married?

It’s up to personal preferences and depends on an individual’s culture. Most married women wear both the engagement ring and the wedding band together while some may prefer to wear only one of them for symbolic reasons.

That said, I do know of married women who don’t wear both rings on a daily basis due to occupational hazards (surgeons) or social stigma at the workplace.

I had also heard of cases whereby women don’t want to wear both rings because they don’t look good together! Please don’t make the same mistake! And that’s why I recommend buying a matching sets of rings instead of buying your wedding band and engagement ring separately.


Finding the Perfect Set of Rings

18k white thin wedding bridal ring set

The engagement ring and wedding ring represents the unity and bond towards your significant half. Whether you are looking for an elaborately designed ring or a modest looking ring, you will be spoilt for choices.

The sky is the limit when it comes to available ring designs.

I strongly encourage you to spend some time browsing around in order to get a better understanding of what’s available. And if possible, you should also discuss preferences with your partner before pulling the trigger.

Good luck with your shopping! And feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions or require further information about diamonds or diamond engagement rings…

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  1. Kristian-
    September 13, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    Do you think I should buy an engagement ring and wedding ring at the same time? The purpose of this question is that I am based in Germany. If I get them at separate times, it means I would have to pay a significant amount of shipping fees to get them separately shipped. Also, are there any rules for engagement rings to be worn once she agrees to the proposal?

  2. Paul Gian-
    September 13, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    I would stand by my original point of view. If you are fairly certain she will say “Yes”, I would recommend that you get both at the same time for the purpose of saving shipping fees.

    With regards to wearing the rings, it really depends on individual culture and personal practices. There are no rules that are engraved in stone that states rings must be worn or vice versa.

  3. SashaMonique-
    January 23, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    Thank you for writing this article to state the difference between engagement ring and wedding ring. One of my rings is a .50 carat diamond ring and it is very plain and sits pretty low on my hand and it is a pear cut. I would like to know what is the best way to dress up this ring to make it look fancier on special occasions. I also would like to know whether it would be okay if a person uses their wedding ring as an engagement ring because some people like to wear a band ring instead of a solitaire?

  4. Paul Gian-
    January 24, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    Without looking at details, my guess is that the setting is probably the biggest factor that affects the outlook of the overall ring. If you want it to look fanciful, consider changing the setting to a halo design or one with more details to it. As for the choice of wedding ring to be used as an engagement ring, it is totally up to individuals. There are no rules here except for those you set yourself.

  5. Kalfin-
    April 8, 2017 at 1:52 am

    We make jewellery ourselves and see a lot of couples coming in and out of the door. One of the best things we see is couples coming in together and choosing wedding bands together. Yes get the engagement ring yourself but might be worth considering holding off getting the wedding ring because we see it as such a special moment when a couple come in and choose it together. Just my opinion though :)

  6. Tokaniman Salona-
    August 22, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    Can i enquire and place my order for both engagement and wedding ring at the same time and i request to print the name on both if possible together with the date of marriage. I will await for your response

    many thanks

  7. Paul Gian-
    August 23, 2017 at 9:00 am

    I don’t sell rings or diamonds. This is how I keep my website as neutral as possible. Engraving is a pretty standard service that any jeweler will offer and what you are asking for is a typical request that can be done.

  8. Taple Rinmak-
    September 30, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    Are engagement rings and wedding rings the same? Can a plain ring be used as an engagement ring? One without a stone and plain looking.

  9. Paul Gian-
    October 1, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    I don’t see why not. To me, engagement rings and wedding rings are a matter of symbolism and it is what it means to you.

  10. Linda-
    February 26, 2018 at 9:19 am

    Here in Sweden in Europe, it´s the opposite. We get the engagement ring as the wedding band (the big ring when the ceremony takes place) and the wedding band as the engagement ring (normally the plain ring) on the proposal.

  11. Paul Gian-
    February 26, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing. I didn’t know that and learnt something new today. I didn’t know that the giving of an engagement ring vs wedding ring is opposite of what normally happens in other parts of the world. If it’s OK with you, could you also share who pays for the rings in Sweden? The groom? The bride or both?

  12. Adam-
    September 4, 2018 at 11:21 pm

    When I bought my fiancé’s engagement ring, I found a band (pavé) that I liked and separately found a diamond that I liked. The jeweler mounted the diamond on the band and, viola, her engagement ring!

    Now we’re shopping for her wedding ring and my question is: should we just buy the same pavé band she already has on her engagement ring for the wedding ring or can we pair it with a different pavé wedding band (e.g., one with smaller diamonds)?

    Also any input on mixing band colors (e.g., white gold engagement and yellow gold wedding)?

  13. Paul Gian-
    September 5, 2018 at 6:22 am

    It really depends on personal preferences. If there’s a design for the wedding band that you like, I would like that be the priority. Personally, I love having matched bands because of my OCD nature but that’s just me. I recommend getting bands in the same color as the ring but again, I will reephasize, get whatever works for you.

  14. Susie R-
    February 21, 2021 at 12:57 am

    One thing that bothers me in the photos above is the positioning of the engagement and wedding rings. I was always told that the wedding ring/band is to be worn closest to your heart (so, on the inside), since it represents the formal life-long commitment made to ones spouse. I know I’m old-school (I’m 60 years old), but I believe in that tradition. Nowadays, though, most photos show the wedding ring worn on the outside.

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