Oct 15

Wedding Rings vs Engagement Rings – What’s the Difference? 5 Stupid Questions

By Calla Gold

two ring wedding set with 1 ct. diamond and halo of diamonds and diamond band set in 14kt white gold. Calla Gold Jewelry. Wedding rings vs engagement rings

Halo Style Engagement Ring and Diamond Wedding Band

What Guy is Supposed to Know This Stuff Anyways?

In this post I’ll talk about the wedding rings vs engagement rings difference. I’ll also cover when you wear what and why.

I’ll throw in a little historical perspective too. Just a heads up, goats will be mentioned. To keep it interesting I’ll sprinkle in questions I found when Google-ing “Stupid Wedding Ring Questions!”

Wedding Rings vs Engagement Rings

Stupid Question # 1

Question: I know this is a dumb question, but if a girl is engaged, does it always mean that her fiancee will have bought her a ring at time of proposal? and if so, does it mean she will always wear it even if the wedding is 3 years down the road?

wedding bands vs engagement rings

This Black Rhodium and White Gold Thorn Wedding Set Uses a Light Green Tourmaline with Diamonds Engagement Ring with a Plain Band

Answer: I’m wondering if this question has more to do with whether this guy can hit on this girl on not.

But let’s answer it anyway. When a girl/woman accepts her fiance’s proposal of marriage she wears the engagement ring he gives her to tell the world that she is “taken.” Long engagements can happen for a number of reasons. She is a monogamous girl/woman from that moment forward until she says her vows. Hmm, that sounds like once she gets married she goes nuts. Not what I meant to say.

A Bit of Historical Perspective on Engagement Rings

Side view of a halo engagement ring

This Side View of an Engagement Ring Sweeps up Nicely

Historically, the gift of an engagement ring to the bride-to-be was a financial commitment to her family. It was like the guy was financially marrying her whole family. He “bought” her with a valuable ring. The earlier you go in time, the more you see financial gifts to her family.

The young lady then wore the ring to symbolize that she would consider no other offer for her hand. The engagement ring could also be considered a status symbol for the family, showing that a wealthy man was to marry their daughter.

The wedding band is the symbol that a woman or a man are already married. The wedding band is of simpler design and should not eclipse the engagement ring which is always the star.

From city-data.com

Stupid Question #2

Question: How does it work ? Do you get an engagement ring then a wedding ring? or is the engagement ring the wedding ring ? OR is everyone different – I know this sounds stupid but Im clueless.

Wedding Band with flush set diamonds and drawing

This Wedding Band has Flush Set Different Shaped Diamonds in it.

Answer: From a practical standpoint if you don’t know if she’ll say yes, just buy the engagement ring. But if you’ve discussed marriage and she didn’t run screaming from the room, it makes sense to get the wedding ring or wedding band that goes with the engagement ring at the same time. This way you know they fit together well. This is the same if you’re having your engagement ring custom made.

Let’s take a second to define wedding ring and wedding band. A band ring is the same width all the way around from a looks perspective. A wedding band can have designs on it or be plain. It can have gemstones too. What makes it a band is the same width of it all the way around.

A wedding band isn’t given to her when you propose. You give her the engagement ring when you propose and you give her the wedding ring or band at your marriage ceremony.

A wedding ring is a ring that may be tapered or otherwise designed so it is not the same thickness all the way around. It traditionally has diamonds or gemstones on it. It is smaller and less fancy than the engagement ring.

From: Community Babycenter.com

More Wedding Ring History

Let There be Goats

Let There be Goats

Oh yes, I promised goats. Historically, at the marriage ceremony the groom would give the goats, horses or cows to the father of the bride.

She gets the little wedding band and papa gets livestock. I’m thinking the father of the bride was the happiest guy there.

In other pre-marital negotiation history, some girls and women had to come to the marriage with a dowry of animals or gold. Clearly in the old days the parents had many opportunities for bettering themselves through the marriage of their children.

Stupid Question #3

Question: When the guy asks the girl if shell marry him and gives her a ring does the guy get an engagement ring too or just a wedding ring?

A man proposing to a woman

Guys When You Surprise Her With a Piece of Jewelry She Loves it’ll Remind Her of Very Happy Times with You

Answer: When the guy proposes to his girl, he gives her the engagement ring which she wears from that moment on.

The guy doesn’t traditionally get an engagement ring, but lately some guys have turned that historical tradition on its head with the “mangagement ring.”

Traditionally the guy gets his wedding ring/band at the marriage ceremony.

From: YahooAnswers

Stupid Question #4

Question: Is the engagement ring a totally separate ring from the wedding ring? Or is the wedding ring a touched-up engagement ring?


The Engagement Ring Has the Big Center Diamond and the Wedding Band is Simpler

Answer: The engagement ring is a stand-alone ring.

The wedding ring is a separate ring and is given at the marriage ceremony to be worn with the engagement ring.

From:  Appleinsider.com

Stupid question #5

Question: I have this old plain band ring from my grandmother. It’s too thin for me. It’s a size four because my previous fiancé wore it for three years. Can it be sized to a seven for my new girlfriend and can it be polished up to look like new? Will the new gold bit show? Can the engraving inside it for my old fiancé be scraped out?

Bent cheap wedding band

Bent up Band Ring

Answer: There’s something underhanded sounding about this whole question.

Since marriage is based on trust and mutual respect, I’d discuss whether she would be comfortable wearing this inherited band that was worn by your previous fiancé.

If she’s OK with it then yes it can be sized. The area of added gold should not show up as different unless the older gold is a slightly different color. In which case there would be a subtle difference in color, but not a big deal.

yellow gold wedding set on the hand

Diamond Engagement Ring and Shiny Gold Wedding Band

The old engraving can be removed, but this would make that ring a bit shallower. Possibly weaker at that point depending on how the band is to begin with.

Traditionally a plain gold band is not used as the engagement ring. An engagement ring traditionally has one main larger diamond or other gemstone with other flanking diamonds. The gold band would be used as the wedding band at the ceremony.

Have you Got a Question or a Story?

A Wedding Band with a Story

I hope I have answered your marital ring questions about the difference between wedding rings vs engagement rings and amused you along the way, with a little help from the internet! And full disclosure, I’ve asked many a stupid question in my day and I welcome all questions. I used the “stupid question” thing for fun, not to be judgmental. I’d love to hear if you’ve got a question in this area or an amusing story to share.

Wedding Rings Jeweler,
Calla Gold

42 thoughts on “Wedding Rings vs Engagement Rings – What’s the Difference? 5 Stupid Questions

  1. Hi Calla,
    These are just great questions. I love the two questions from guys that are kinda out there. Number one does seem like he wants to know if she’s legitly engaged.
    And number five just needs to pony up some dough if he loves his new girl.
    Do you get questions like this from real guys?
    What’s the weirdest request or question you ever got as a jeweler about wedding rings?

    • Hi Tracey,
      I do get weird requests. It makes my life more interesting. I had a sad strange request. A guy wanted to borrow an engagement ring and propose and if she said no he could return it. So he paid for it and I stuck his check in my pending basket. He brought it back, evidently she’d said no.
      I’m so used to all my guys telling me she said yes that this was out of the ordinary.
      I’ve been asked about re-using an engagement ring that came back to the guy after a broken engagement. I tell guys you can re-use the diamond, but it’s not right to re-use the ring another woman wore for a while.
      Thanks for asking!
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  2. Cute post! Some males are adorably clueless.
    I think it’s also worth saying that nowadays, there is no right or wrong way to handle wedding and/or engagement rings. The traditional route- and engagement ring with a matching wedding ring next to it- is still the most common, but not everyone goes that route. And that’s okay! Some people don’t get a matching wedding ring and instead use a single gemstone ring as both an engagement ring and a wedding ring. Other people (like my fiance and me!) choose two very different rings that stand alone to serve as two interchangeable engagement rings for different occasions, and after we get married, both will serve as two wedding rings.
    To each his own! Cheers, Calla!

    • Dear Angela,
      I agree with you that there is no hard and fast rule that you must have an engagement and wedding ring on the same hand to say that you are married.
      It is very enjoyable to work with the creative couples I have the pleasure of designing with.
      Angela you sound like a creative person, thank you for coming by and sharing your viewpoint!
      Personal Jeweler,

  3. Does the engagement ring and the wedding band have to be identical or can it be completely diffent like the engagment ring being a camo design and the wedding band being like plan gold or something or does it have to be a set that matches

    • Hi Mike,
      The engagement ring and wedding band do not have to match. Women especially often like an aesthetic sense of matching to be there, but each couple is different and express their love differently.
      I think if there is going to be a great difference between the two you want to be sure that your girlfriend/fiance is OK with that. If so, absolutely go for it.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  4. Hi me and my girl friend have been dating 2years now.. We had talks about marriage we both are on the same page about that. She’s a women of simplicity.. I want to know how can I get her a good simple engagement ring for when I want to propose? Do I buy the rings separately or what? Please help

    • Hi Jonathan,
      When you choose the engagement ring you want for her see if they offer a wedding band that goes with it. Put a hold on it. After you propose let her know that you’ve reserved the wedding band. Show it to her and ask if that is what she’d want to go with it. Leave her room to say she’d like something different.
      I always recommend buying your wedding band early on and storing it until you get married.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  5. My man got me engagement ring. Then he broke it off… Then he gave it back to me…Can you tell me what it means..?
    I know it can’t be good…
    My ring meant more to me when he proposed to me than it does now. Help.

    • Dear Cindy,
      Your situation is quite unique. Usually when a man breaks off an engagement, he leaves the ring with the woman. He had given it to her as a gift and a promise, if he breaks that promise, it is hers. It sounds like he got the engagement ring back when he broke the engagement.
      Regardless of what he does, in my opinion, you should keep the ring!
      I don’t know what is up with him yes-ing then no-ing and then yes-ing again.
      Guys can be indecisive.
      I think you two need to build up the trust and make sure you like how he treats you before you get married.
      If he comes around and becomes a loving husband, love that ring and all that you went through to wear it with pride.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  6. Hi Calla,
    A bit of a confusing situation here:
    I was engaged and had chosen my ring and band according to my taste.
    Unfortunately, that engagement broke off and he kept the ring.
    I’m now seeing someone new and was wondering if choosing a similar (if not the same) style of ring would be okay? I do love a specific type of ring and can’t really picture getting something different, but I love him more, so I wouldn’t want to tramp on any toes over a ring.
    Thanks for your input.

    • Hello Tess,
      When we love a certain style of jewelry, a certain width, a particular taper ratio, and gem setting style like three diamonds across the top all prongs set or whatever you love. You have choices in each area for little tweaks. You could add hand engraving, or diamonds view-able from the side.
      I feel that sticking with a style that suits you is wise. Do change up just enough details so you think of your new love and don’t see the old ring in your mind when you look at it.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  7. odd question 🙂

    My relationship with my man has lasted 10 years, and we are finally talking about the logistics of marriage. We went to look at rings yesterday and found some GORGEOUS ones. However, I love the bling but I don’t really feel at all comfortable with actual jewelry as I break everything and I am a real tomboy.

    Eventually we will be getting tattoos but until then we will most likely be getting real rings.

    Any thoughts to make wearing a blingy thing all the time more palatable?


    • Hello Anon,
      I can relate the tomboy vibe. I was a horse nut and shoveling corrals and grooming horses to earn money to keep my horses in hay and grain for years. I had one ring I loved and at first I worried about it, but then I just kept wearing it and it became a part of me.
      It generally takes about three weeks wearing a new ring to get comfortable with it.
      I’d suggest starting easy with a design that won’t catch on clothing and objects. Maybe go with a bezel set style, like the setting style shown in this ring:
      If you go with a low, non-catching setting style that’ll make it more easy to comfortably wear and get used to some nice bling.
      I wish you the best in your relationship.
      And rings!
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  8. Hey, I just got engaged to the father of my child we been in a off on relationship for about 3years he finally decided he ready to settle down so he proposed on Christmas gave me a beautiful ring and I was just wondering if I’m wearing my engagement ring how will I wear my wedding ring too

    • Hi Maya,
      Some rings look better worn alone and that is OK.
      Some engagement rings look beautiful when paired with a contoured wedding band. That would need to be custom made.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  9. I know that most women probably have a specific type of ring that they like and may want to pick them out themselves, so here is my stupid question: Before proposing:
    a) Does the couple go ring shopping together?
    b) Does the guy choose a ring that he thinks she’d like and hope she does?
    c) Does the guy use an inexpensive “prop” ring to propose then get the real rings together after?
    d) Something I’m not thinking of

    • Hi Sean,
      Thanks for writing your questions. You might check if your girlfriend has a Pinterest account with pictures of engagement and wedding rings that she likes. That is one way to find out her taste and dreams for an engagement and wedding ring.
      Going into jewelry stores is fun while walking around downtown and if you do it she’ll tell you what she likes. My boyfriend, now husband did this very thing and he found out what I liked and in the fullness of time proposed with a ring I said was “the one.”
      You can ask her mom or best friend for help too.
      There is also the choose the diamond, put it in a four prong ring and propose and say she can design her engagement ring.
      I wrote a little e-book called, “How to Buy a Ring for the One You Love” perhaps that would help too:
      Your questions were excellent.
      I hope you have success picking the right or designing the right ring for your girlfriend.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  10. I am still a bit confused as to what to wear. I get the difference between a wedding band and a wedding ring. But when do you were the wedding ring and when do you wear the wedding band?
    Do you wear the ring during the entire engagement then take it off for the ceremony? Which ring(s) does the husband traditionally put on the wife during the wedding? Do you wear both while your married? Is a wedding band necessary? Sorry for all the questions!

    • Hi Stephanie,
      Thank you for your questions. To clarify for other readers the wedding band which is worn with the engagement ring is the description of a type of ring that is the same width all the way around. Men frequently wear this type of wedding jewelry. A wedding ring is that ring worn with the engagement ring that is not the same thickness all the way around. It may be a thin contoured band snugging into the engagement ring or some pretty design that goes nicely with the engagement ring that has a tapered shape or otherwise is not the same thickness all the way around like a wedding band. Women mostly wear a wedding “ring” instead of a “band” with their engagement ring. To further digress the engagement ring is the one with the center diamond or other gemstone making it the star between the two rings.
      The wedding ring or wedding band is given at the wedding ceremony to go with the engagement ring which the bride is already wearing. The wedding band or wedding ring is not worn during the engagement traditionally. The engagement ring is worn all through the engagement.
      A romantic tradition that some couples observe is this:
      When a man proposes with an engagement ring he promises to love you.
      During the ceremony he takes off her engagement ring that he originally made his promise to love her and marry her with.
      He then vows before God to love her (and the other agreements they make to each other). When he says, “with this ring I thee wed,” he puts the wedding ring (or band) onto her finger closest to her heart and then puts his promise, the engagement ring, on her finger after the wedding ring (band).
      Once they are married she takes the rings off for a moment and puts the wedding ring (or band) on the fingernails side of the engagement ring. This is so the world can see that she is married whenever she extends her hand.
      That is one way of using symbolism in the ceremony.
      To answer the short way, she wears her engagement ring all through her engagement and recieves the wedding ring (or band) during the ceremony for both to be worn afterwards together.
      In the real world once you are married you wear them however you want. Maybe while travelling you only wear the wedding ring or band and leave your showier engagement ring in the safe.
      Some women choose not to wear a wedding ring or band and just wear their engagement ring all the time whether engaged or married. Some women choose a non-transitional type of ring to wear as a wedding ring. They wear it singly and that is fine. It is the choice of the couple how they will wear their rings and how they wear them.
      Hopefully I answered all your questions.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

    • Hi James,
      Are you trying to come up with the bestest stupid question? That would be fun. Or a serious question is OK too.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  11. Hi Calla.
    Here is one easy question for you but not certain for me, i am seriously thinking to propose my girlfriend, but i don’t know, should i buy one angagement ring just for her,or two also for me?

    • Hello Erald,
      Thank you for writing. You would buy the engagement ring for her. Before you get married you’d probably buy her a wedding band to be put on during the ceremony, to got with her engagement ring. She’ll probably buy your wedding band before you get married. Or you two could select it together before your marriage. But her engagement ring is the first piece of that loving puzzle.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  12. Hello Calla,
    My boyfriend and I picked out a 3 band bridal set but we aren’t sure how he’s supposed to propose to me with 3 rings. Does he have to wait until we’re married to place the last two rings on my finger or can I wear the engagement ring and a band until our wedding day and then he can give me the last band when we get married?

  13. Hello Calla,

    I have only seen wedding bands on my parents; never an engagement ring. So one day I took my girlfriend out, and we found ourselves at a jewelry store by mistake. I asked her to look around so that I could get to know her taste for the future. She got really nervous since I haven’t proposed to her yet. Anyways, she said she didn’t like most of the engagement rings because they were too big. She said she didn’t like the diamond sticking out so much. She seems to prefer something like her graduation ring. Can you help me? Also, what are interchangeable rings?

  14. Silly question! How is the ring properly worn. My first marriage, I had my engagement ring first, then my wedding ban. It makes sense that my engagement was on first, so just slide the wedding band. I was told I was wrong.

    • Dear Ms. Right,
      Congrats on being Ms. Right!
      There is a romantic way that the wedding band and engagement ring can be worn. During the ceremony the woman is wearing her engagement ring. She can take it off for a moment and put the wedding band on closest to her heart and then put the engagement ring on after it. They finish their vows. Then she takes the set off and flips it around so the wedding band faces outward, closest to her fingernails. This lets the world see at a glance that she is married as opposed to just engaged.
      Some people can’t see the little wedding band if it is still closest to the heart, with the engagement ring closest to your fingernails. Many people like to have the wedding band facing outward.
      This is a personal thing and no one has laid down the law about the order in which your wedding set is worn. Chose the way it pleases you and wear your set that way.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  15. Hey Calla,

    Thank you so much for the help. My girlfriend and I have been dating for 2 years now and our relationship is still just as strong as its always been. I know it may sound like a horrid idea but I’m 15. We’ve talked about the idea and we’re really set on being together forever. I’m not looking to go cheap on this. What is your view on an engagement?

    Thank you,

    • Dear Nova,
      I’ll never judge another person’s love and committment. I will say that we mature a lot between the ages of 20 and 25 and change a lot. But that said I knew I wanted to marry Jeremy two weeks after we met. I was eighteen. My mom was probably kinda horrified when I told her I thought he was “the one.” She suggested I keep that to myself. Smart mom. Two years later we married.
      We married when I was 20 and we’ve been married over 25 years.
      I think engagement might be percieved by others to be too much because of ageism. You might keep it under your hat and avoid endless cold water being thrown on your love. The thing about engagement is that it is quite public. That’s part of the fun. Saying you’re engaged and showing off engagement rings. I don’t mean to sound shallow, but it was a very important part of the joy leading up to getting married.
      I had a few people say it was too soon and be all wet blanket-y about it which kinda sucked. But it all worked out.
      I guess I want to save you agravation. Maybe save up for a nice engagement ring and keep the love flourishing and get engaged when the world won’t just harsh the joy.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  16. Hello my boyfriend is throwing hints that he wants to propose and he also was looking at rings. The only problem is,is that he loves gold and wants to get me white gold because I love white gold….does it matter if I get white gold and he gets gold? What do you think

    • Hi Kisha,
      It is good for each one of your to wear a metal color that you love. I recently added a design element to a man’s wedding band to create a cohesive feel between his white gold band and her rose gold confection of a ring. He went very simple and she went very frothy and fancy. It works! We picked an element from her hand engraving and used it on his ring as a carved in design that was larger and bolder.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

    • Hello Linda,
      I sure didn’t know the answers to these questions when growing up and heard these seemingly interchangeable words and was confused myself. When I joined the jewelry fraternity and learned the secrets and intricacies of wedding jewelry, I forgot that it used to confound me. One day when a guy stumbled and mumbled about not getting all the confusing language, ring names and customs the lightbulb went on. I explained it all to him, designed the engagement ring of his fiance’s dreams and went back to my office and wrote all about it.
      I loved writing this so much. I’m pleased you liked it!
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  17. Great article. I didn’t know much about engagement rings vs wedding rings/bands. I know most girls probably have their ideal engagement rings planned since teenage years, but I never gave it much though until my boyfriend just asked about it. lol. I’d probably be asking these same questions too.

    • Hi Kimberly,
      I’m delighted that the info came in handy. It might be time to start a Pinterest page that you can share with him. And put your wedding finger size in an easy to find place. He’ll want to know!
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  18. What are the essential characteristics of a wedding band? In other words, what does it have to look like for someone to see it and say, “Oh, she’s married” rather than thinking it’s a random/fashion/whatever ring that happens to be on the left ring finger. I’m trying to figure out how simple I can go, and I prefer silicone because I’m a little paranoid about degloving.


    • Hello Kari,
      A wedding band traditionally is the same width all the way around. A tapered band seems like just a ring, but having the same width all the way around make it look like a wedding band.
      For the ceremony I recommend gold or platinum. Wear silicone at work, but pledge your vows with gold or platinum. When the time of your life comes when you don’t fear wearing a metal ring, it’ll be there for you.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

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