When it comes to matrimonial jewellery, engagement rings and wedding rings both hold special significance, but they serve different purposes in a couple's journey towards marriage.
Deciding whether you need both can be a matter of personal preference, tradition, and cultural norms. Tradition states that the woman wears an engagement ring until her wedding day, and then exchanges this for her wedding band. And on the wedding day, her partner will also start wearing his wedding band.
Already, we can see a problem with this tradition. It only accounts for unions between a man and a woman. And it also doesn’t make way for couples to decide what works for them. For example, some women don’t want to wear a ring. And some women want to wear their engagement ring even after they are married. The good news is that traditions are not rules, so you are free to decide what works best for you.
In this article, we'll explore the distinctions between engagement rings and wedding rings and help you decide if having both is right for you.
The Engagement Ring: A Symbol of Commitment
An engagement ring is traditionally given as a symbol of a promise to marry. It is usually presented during a proposal, signifying the intention to take the relationship to the next level. Here are some key characteristics of engagement rings:
Gemstone or Center Stone:Engagement rings typically feature a prominent gemstone, such as a diamond, sapphire, or another precious stone. This stone represents the enduring nature of love and commitment. Diamonds were pushed as the stone of choice for engagement rings in a 1948 marketing campaign by De Beers. This campaign also pushed the concept of spending at least 2 month’s salary on the ring.
Design Emphasis:Engagement rings often feature intricate and eye-catching designs to showcase the beauty of the central gemstone. Settings may include prong, halo, or solitaire styles. An engagement ring should stand out as a distinct piece of jewellery. Wearing it on the left hand ring finger will also help to distinguish this from other pieces of jewellery.
Worn Before Marriage: Traditionally, the engagement ring is worn on the fourth finger of the left hand, signifying the commitment to marriage. After the wedding, some people choose to continue wearing it alongside the wedding ring, while others move it to the right hand.
The Wedding Ring: A Symbol of Unity
The wedding ring, also known as the wedding band, is exchanged during the wedding ceremony itself. It holds its own unique significance:
Simplicity: Wedding rings are typically simpler in design compared to engagement rings. They are often plain metal bands, although they can also include intricate patterns or engravings.
Symbol of Unity: The wedding ring symbolises the eternal bond and commitment between spouses. Its unbroken circle signifies an unending love and devotion.
Worn After Marriage: Wedding rings are traditionally worn on the ring finger of the left hand after the wedding ceremony, often placed above the engagement ring. In some cultures, the wedding ring may be worn on the right hand. This finger was chosen as it was thought to have the ‘vena amoris’, or the vein of love, which is thought to go from the ring finger directly to the heart.
Do you need to wear both?
Whether you need both an engagement ring and a wedding ring is a matter of personal choice and cultural tradition. Here are some considerations to help you decide:
Symbolic Importance: Both rings hold symbolic value, representing different aspects of your commitment. Some couples cherish the idea of having both to mark distinct stages of their relationship.
Aesthetics and Personal Taste:Some individuals prefer the aesthetics of an engagement ring and appreciate the opportunity to wear a more elaborate piece of jewellery, while others prefer the simplicity of a wedding band. If you have spent a lot of money on the engagement ring, you might want to continue wearing it - especially if it was designed to match your wedding band. Others might prefer to save it for special occasions.
Budget: Budget constraints can play a role in the decision. Engagement rings are often more elaborate and expensive due to the presence of a gemstone. If budget is a concern, some couples opt for a simpler engagement ring or choose to combine both rings into one. You might also choose to sell your engagement ring further down the line and only wear your wedding band.
Cultural and Family Traditions: Cultural and family traditions may influence your decision. In some cultures, both rings are customary, while in others, a single ring may suffice.
Lifestyle factors: If you work with your hands or travel a lot, you might choose not to wear your engagement ring after marriage. You might save this for a special occasion to prevent it from becoming damaged or getting lost.
Adding additional rings
Some people will not only wear both rings, but they will also add to the collection with eternity rings. These are rings with a continuous line of gemstones set in the band. This type of ring is commonly given as a gift to mark special occasions such as a wedding anniversary or a vow renewal.
Some people will therefore wear their engagement ring, wedding band and an eternity ring as they like the aesthetic of the three rings together. This can look very dazzling when the three rings are designed to sit snugly together.
Engagement rings and wedding rings each carry their own unique symbolism and significance in the journey towards marriage. While there is no hard-and-fast rule that dictates the need for both, it ultimately comes down to your personal preferences, cultural background, and budget considerations.
Some couples choose to wear both rings as a visible symbol of their love and commitment, while others may opt for a more minimalistic approach. Whichever choice you make, the most important thing is that the rings you choose hold meaning for you and represent the love and unity you share as a couple