From Yes to I Do: Understanding Engagement and Wedding Rings

      When it comes to the world of fine jewelry, few items carry as much significance and tradition as engagement rings and wedding rings. While both symbolize a couple’s commitment, they serve different purposes and are worn at different times. 

      Understanding the distinctions between these two types of rings can help you make the perfect choice for your special day. In this guide, we'll explore the key differences between engagement rings and wedding rings, ensuring you're well-informed for your next jewelry purchase.

 

History of Engagement and Wedding Rings

     Rings as symbols of eternity and everlasting love can be traced back to ancient Egypt. Usually made of one piece of unbroken stone, rings were initially used by Pharaohs as seals and symbols of power. 

     During the Greco-Roman period, rings were not only symbols of eternal love but also represented status and wealth. The Romans, in particular, popularized the practice of wearing rings on the fourth finger of the left hand, believed to have a vein, known as the "vena amoris," that connected directly to the heart. Although this belief isn’t anatomically accurate, the tradition of wearing rings on the ring finger continues to this day.

     At the time in Medieval England the process of getting married was extremely straightforward. To be married, couples simply needed to exchange their 'consent'. This consent was often symbolized through the giving and accepting of an object known as a ‘wed,’ which was frequently a ring. Hence, a ‘wedding’ became the ceremony where a man presented a woman with a ring, and she accepted it. However, since often there were no witnesses during the ceremony it was easy for one or both individuals to later deny that a wedding had taken place.

     And so in the 12th century, the Christian church declared marriage to be a holy sacrament and established formal church ceremonies for weddings. Rings became an integral part of these ceremonies, and it was decreed that no man should place a ring on a woman’s hand unless he intended to marry her. Prior to this decree, rings did not exclusively signify marriage; they were often given as tokens of devotion or symbols of betrothal.

     The official recognition of marriages led to the emergence of two distinct types of rings: the more personal engagement ring and the church-sanctioned wedding ring. The engagement ring symbolized a promise and a forthcoming commitment, while the wedding ring, exchanged during the church ceremony, represented the official union of marriage.

What is an Engagement Ring?

Engagement rings are given during a proposal as a symbol of promise and commitment. They often feature a prominent center stone, usually a diamond, and are designed to be eye-catching and luxurious.

Some key characteristics include:

  • Design and Appearance: Engagement rings typically feature a single, large gemstone (the center stone) which can be surrounded by smaller accent stones. Popular settings include solitaire, halo, and three-stone designs.
  • Symbolism: The engagement ring represents the promise of marriage and is usually worn from the day of the proposal until the wedding day, and beyond. 
  • Styles and Trends: Classic diamond solitaires are timeless, but modern trends also embrace colored gemstones, vintage designs, and unique settings.

Popular Engagement Ring Styles:

Claw Rings:

Claw rings, also known as prong rings, feature metal prongs that hold the diamonds securely in place while allowing maximum light to enter and reflect off the stones.

Pros:

  • Allow more light to enter the gemstone from various angles, enhancing its brilliance and sparkle.
  • Provide a timeless and elegant appearance that highlights the gemstone.
  • Securely hold the gemstone in place

Cons:

  • Prongs can wear down over time and may require regular checking and maintenance to ensure they remain secure.
  • Can catch on clothing or hair
  • Depending on the style and height, prongs may feel less comfortable against the skin compared to lower-profile settings.
  • Susceptible to bending, especially if the ring is subjected to rough wear.
DIAMOND AND YELLOW TOPAZ ENGAGEMENT RING, SOLARA

Solitaire:

The solitaire is a timeless and classic choice, featuring a single gemstone as the focal point. This style highlights the beauty and brilliance of the stone.
OCTAGON NATURAL DIAMOND RING, KALI
SINGLE BAGUETTE DIAMOND RING, ANNIE

Halo:

The halo setting features a central gemstone surrounded by smaller diamonds, enhancing the overall sparkle and making the center stone appear larger.

HALO SETTING ROUND DIAMOND ENGAGEMENT RING, MARIAH
DIAMOND FRAMED BLUE TOPAZ ENGAGEMENT RING, AZULIA
MOONSTONE AND DIAMOND ENGAGEMENT RING, CLAIRE

Pavé:

The band is encrusted with small diamonds, giving a continuous sparkle.

DIAMOND AND BAGUETTE TOPAZ RING, MADILYN
PERIDOT AND DIAMOND ENGAGEMENT RING, ANGELA
MARQUISE DIAMOND HALF ETERNITY RING, MARCIA

Three-Stone:

The three-stone setting represents the past, present, and future, making it a meaningful choice. It usually features a central diamond flanked by two smaller diamonds.

RUBY AND DIAMOND ENGAGEMENT RING, LAURYN
ROUND AND PEAR CUT DIAMOND RING, SAIGE
DIAMOND AND OVAL AMETHYST RING, BLAIR

Cluster:

Multiple smaller diamonds grouped together to create the appearance of a larger stone.

PRINCESS-CUT DIAMOND ENGAGEMENT RING, JUNO
NATURAL DIAMOND CLUSTER RING, AELLA

Cathedral:

The diamond is set high with arches of metal resembling a cathedral.

ROUND PERIDOT ENGAGEMENT RING, JADA

Toi et Moi Ring:

This design features two gemstones, symbolizing the intertwined lives and love of a couple, making it a romantic and unique choice.

MIXED DIAMOND OPEN RING, LANA

Princess Cut:

A square or rectangular cut diamond, known for its modern and elegant style.

SQUARE PERIDOT BRAIDED BAND, SAGE

Emerald Cut:

Features a rectangular cut diamond with stepped facets for a sophisticated look.

EMERALD AND DIAMOND ENGAGEMENT RING, AILANI

 Oval Cut:

An oval-shaped diamond, providing a unique twist on the classic round cut.

OVAL CITRINE WITH DIAMONDS ENGAGEMENT RING, DEVI

Marquise Cut:

An elongated shape with pointed ends, designed to maximize carat weight.

DIAMOND AND MARQUISE EMERALD RING, BRANCA

Pear Cut:

A combination of round and marquise shapes, resembling a teardrop.

PEAR DIAMOND FLUSH SET ENGAGEMENT RING, JALEAH

What is a Wedding Ring?

Wedding rings, also known as wedding bands, are exchanged during the wedding ceremony. These rings symbolize the official union of marriage and are typically more understated than engagement rings.

Here are some defining features:

  • Design and Appearance: Wedding rings are usually a lot simpler in design, often consisting of a plain metal band or a band with small, channel-set or pave-set diamonds. They can be made to match or complement the engagement ring.
  • Symbolism: The wedding ring is a symbol of the marital bond and is worn from the wedding day onwards.
  • Styles and Trends: Classic plain bands, diamond eternity bands, and custom-engraved rings are popular choices for wedding rings.

Popular Wedding Ring Styles:

Classic Plain Band: Simple and timeless.

CLASSIC WEDDING BAND - 2 MM, SOFIA

 

Pavé Band: Small diamonds set closely together on the band, creating a glittering effect.

 

PETITE DIAMOND HALF ETERNITY RING, KIMIA

Bezel Set Band: Diamonds or gemstones are encircled by a metal rim, offering a modern and secure setting.

DIAMOND AND BAGUETTE RUBY ETERNITY RING, TAMIA

Channel Set Band: Diamonds or gemstones set in a channel within the band, providing a smooth finish.

THICK DIAMOND CHANNEL SET RING, ISLA

Flush Setting: Flush setting wedding band features diamonds set level with the surface of the band.

BAGUETTE DIAMOND DOME RING, AULI
SOLITAIRE DIAMOND WEDDING BAND, VIOLET

Milgrain Band: Features tiny bead-like details along the edges of the band for a vintage look.

MILGRAIN EDGE WEDDING BAND, MILANA

Braided Band: Interwoven metal strands create a braided effect, symbolizing unity and strength.

TWISTED DIAMOND RING, EMILY

 

Twisted Band: Features a twisted design for a contemporary and stylish appearance.

 

PETITE BRAIDED WEDDING BAND, FIONA

Hammered Band: Has a textured, hammered surface for a rustic and artisanal feel.

HAND HAMMERED WEDDING BAND, DEBBIE

Half Eternity Band:

A half eternity band features diamonds set along the top half of the band. This style offers a balance between sparkle and comfort.

Pros:
  • More comfortable to wear since the stones are only on the top half of the ring, reducing the risk of irritation.
  • Less expensive than full eternity rings 
  • Easier to clean and maintain 
  • Less prone to damage since the gemstones on the bottom of the ring are less likely to get knocked or scratched.
Cons:
  • Less sparkle and continuous appearance compared to full eternity rings.
  • Can be more challenging to resize than plain bands, although easier than full eternity rings.
ROUND AND MARQUISE DIAMOND RING, NIA
      BLACK DIAMOND HALF ETERNITY RING, COCO

      Full Eternity Band:

      A full eternity band features diamonds set all around the band. 

      Pros:
      • Maximum sparkle and brilliance.
      • Visually stunning and luxurious.
      • Symbolizes eternal love and commitment.

      Cons:

      • Most expensive type of band.
      • Difficult to resize.
      • Can be less comfortable for daily wear due to diamonds around the entire band.
      • Diamonds on the bottom of the ring are more prone to damage or falling out.
      PRONG SET DIAMOND ETERNITY BAND, MILLENIA

      Open Rings:

      Open rings have a gap in the band and can be worn alone or stacked with other rings. They offer a modern and unique look and can be adjusted for a perfect fit.

      Pros:
      • Offers a modern and contemporary look with their open-ended design.
      • Often more comfortable and less restrictive, especially if fingers swell.
      Cons:
      • More prone to bending or losing shape due to the open design.
      • Higher risk of catching on clothing or other materials because of the open ends.
      • Less secure than closed rings, potentially making them easier to lose.
            NATURAL DIAMOND OPEN RING, PAOLA

            Nesting Rings: 

            Nesting rings are designed to complement the engagement ring, enhancing its beauty and creating a seamless look. They can be purchased as a matching set or custom-made to fit around the engagement ring. 

            Pros:
            • Allows for creative combinations with other rings to create unique looks.
            • Can be customized to fit around engagement rings or other significant pieces.
            • Adds dimension and interest to your ring collection
            Cons:
            • Can be tricky to find a perfect match, especially if purchasing separately.
            • May be more expensive if custom-made to fit around another ring.
            • Can be harder to clean due to the intricate designs and close fitting of multiple rings.
            DIAMOND CROWN RING GUARD, MAHSA

            When to Buy Nesting Rings:

                 Nesting rings can be purchased at the time of the engagement ring or later as a wedding band. Some couples choose to buy them together to ensure a perfect match, while others may opt to custom-design a nesting ring closer to the wedding date.

              How to Wear Engagement Rings and Wedding Rings

                    Traditionally, both rings are worn on the fourth finger of the left hand, also known as the ring finger. On the wedding day, it is customary to switch the engagement ring to the right hand temporarily so the wedding ring can be placed on the left hand first. After the ceremony, the engagement ring is then placed on top of the wedding ring, keeping both rings on the left hand.

              Stacking Rings

                    Stacking rings are a popular jewelry trend that involves wearing multiple rings on the same finger or across several fingers. This style allows for a personalized and versatile look, as you can mix and match different rings to create a unique combination.

              THIN FLUSH SET DIAMOND RING, REESE
              PETITE DIAMOND BAR RING, VANESSA

              Stacking Wedding Bands

                    The idea behind stacked wedding bands is that the husband can continue to gift his wife additions to her stack on the most special of occasions. This tradition not only adds sentimental value but also allows the collection to grow over time, marking milestones such as anniversaries, birthdays, and the birth of children. Each ring in the stack tells a story, creating a beautiful and meaningful collection that symbolizes the couple's journey together.

              BAGUETTE CLUSTER RING GUARD, CALICO
              DIAMOND AND AQUAMARINE ENGAGEMENT RING, NOVA
              BAGUETTE DIAMOND OPEN CUFF RING, MARINA
              PRONG SET DIAMOND ETERNITY BAND, MILLENIA
              DIAMOND V SHAPE NESTING RING, NEVAEH
              TEAL SAPPHIRE AND DIAMOND ENGAGEMENT RING, OLEA
              NATURAL DIAMOND OPEN RING, PAOLA
              BEADED DIAMOND RING, VALERIA
              DIAMOND CROWN RING GUARD, MAHSA
              SINGLE PEAR-CUT EMERALD RING, ENSLEY
              WIDE DIAMOND ETERNITY BAND, MAYA
              DIAMOND SOLID GOLD ETERNITY RING, CAMILA

              Matching Sets and Custom Designs

                   For those who prefer a cohesive look, matching engagement and wedding ring sets are a popular choice. These sets are designed to fit together perfectly, creating a harmonious appearance. Custom designs are also an excellent option, allowing couples to create unique rings that reflect their personal style and love story. 

              V SHAPE DIAMOND NESTING RING, SHANIQUA
              PETITE DIAMOND ENGAGEMENT RING, SARAFINA
              DIAMOND CLAW RING, ELINA
              THIN DIAMOND ETERNITY BAND, KIKI
              BLUE DIAMOND BRIDAL RING SET, JORDYN
              ENGRAVABLE OVAL SIGNET RING, TRINA

              Key Differences Between Engagement Rings and Wedding Rings

              1. Timing: Engagement rings are given at the time of the proposal, whereas wedding rings are exchanged during the wedding ceremony.
              2. Design: Engagement rings are typically more elaborate, featuring a large center stone, while wedding rings are simple and designed to complement the engagement ring.
              3. Symbolism: Engagement rings symbolize a promise of marriage, while wedding rings represent the actual marriage bond.

              Conclusion

                    Understanding the differences between engagement rings and wedding rings can help you make informed decisions as you prepare for your special day. Whether you prefer the classic elegance of a diamond solitaire engagement ring or the timeless simplicity of a wedding band, choosing the right rings is a meaningful step in your journey together.

                    At Sarah Elise, we offer a wide range of engagement rings and wedding rings to suit every taste and budget. Explore our collections and find the perfect symbols of your love and commitment. 

              DIAMOND CURVED NESTING RING, PIPER
              BAGUETTE DIAMOND ETERNITY RING, EMORY
              DIAMOND ENGAGEMENT RING IN SOLID GOLD, SARAFINA
              BAGUETTE DIAMOND OPEN CUFF RING, MARINA
              DIAMOND BAGUETTE CLUSTER RING, FIN