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One of the most important aspects of a marriage proposal is the engagement ring. This ring is traditionally a beautiful gemstone set on a band and is what has come to be known as a symbol of wedding culture. This piece of jewelry is oftentimes mistakenly referred to as the wedding ring, and the two terms seem to have become interchangeable in everyday vocabulary. But, what really is the difference between an engagement ring and a wedding ring? Do you need to have both? We answer these questions and more to help clear things up.
What is an engagement ring?
An engagement ring is given to someone at the time of a marriage proposal. Traditionally, women receive the engagement ring and are expected to wear it starting from the time of the proposal. Having a ring on her finger will indicate to the world that she is taken and is committed to her partner. These rings can vary greatly in terms of extravagance and price, but the most common type of engagement ring has a diamond or another gemstone set atop a pretty band. The engagement ring is worn on the third finger of the left hand (the one next to the pinky).
Photo Credit: Flameville
What is a wedding ring?
Wedding rings are exchanged between partners during the wedding ceremony. They are typically more simple bands in comparison to the engagement ring and do not have a center diamond or prominent gemstone. Both partners receive a wedding band during the ceremony and they each wear them on the third fingers of their left hands. Because the wedding band is placed on the same finger as the engagement ring, many brides choose to move their engagement rings to their right hands for the ceremony and then move them back to the left hand afterwards so that their two rings are stacked.
Photo Credit: Weddingbee
The meanings behind the rings
The tradition of the engagement ring dates back many centuries, when a man would ask for his lady’s hand in marriage by giving her a valuable ring in exchange for the father’s approval and exchange in “ownership” of this lady. These rings became more and more extravagant over time because they came to represent the man’s wealth, which was very desirable for both the man and the woman and her family. Although this notion is clearly very dated, the tradition of offering a ring for one’s hand in marriage has lived on.
In addition to the historical meaning of the wedding ring, there is also a symbolic aspect as well. The circular shape of a ring represents eternity and infinity, and the hole through the ring signifies a doorway leading to events in the future. To give someone a ring indicates the commitment of never-ending and immortal love.
Photo Credit: Robbins Brothers
Do I need to wear both an engagement and wedding ring?
Because the engagement ring is traditionally the flashier and more extravagant ring of the two, most women wear the engagement ring on their left hand ring fingers. Many women will wear their wedding bands stacked underneath the engagement ring as well, while some women choose to only wear one ring to represent both. Many jewelers sell engagement rings and wedding rings as a set so that they match one another and look stylish when worn together. However, this is absolutely not a requirement and you and your partner can choose to buy wedding bands at your own leisure if you wish to have them at all.
Photo Credit: Gigmasters
Men typically receive wedding bands on the day of their wedding ceremonies. These grooms wedding bands are generally thicker in width than bridal wedding bands and are usually made of one type of precious metal, such as gold, silver or platinum. Some men’s wedding bands may contain small diamonds or jewels and the design and style of the band is up to their personal preference.
How much do wedding and engagement rings cost?
Wedding rings and engagement rings can vary greatly in price depending on the materials used to make it, the size and your location. Most engagement rings include at least one diamond and most wedding bands do not have any gemstones, so engagement rings are usually much more expensive than wedding rings. A general rule of thumb that many people choose to follow is to spend about two to three months’ salary on an engagement ring. Of course, how much you choose to spend on any of your wedding jewelry is entirely up to your preference and tastes.
Photo Credit: Onewed
Your engagement ring and wedding ring both represent the unity and bond that you’ve committed to one another on your wedding day. Whether you choose to go with an extravagant jewel or an understated band, this piece of jewelry is something that will indicate to the world and to yourselves your commitment to one another as a married couple. There’s so many different types and styles of both engagement rings and wedding rings, guaranteeing that you and your partner will surely be able to find the perfect ones for you.
Recommended Retailers for Your Engagement and Wedding Rings:
Helzberg Diamonds Engagement Rings
Jared – The Galleria of Jewelry Wedding Rings
Kay Jewelers Engagement Rings