Jewelry Trends

Engagement Ring vs Wedding Band: What are the Differences?

Rachel Akmakjian


Rachel Akmakjian

Unless you’ve been dreaming of your wedding ceremony since you were a tot, or you’ve developed a keen interest in wedding jewelry, you may not know much about the differences between an engagement ring vs wedding band.

You wear the two rings on the same finger, and you get one before the wedding and one after, but is there really all that much that separates the two?

As it turns out, yes. Engagement and wedding rings are incredibly different, from their price tags to their histories, expectations, and styles.

Here’s everything you need to know about the difference between engagement ring and wedding ring jewelry.

Quote 1

What You Will Learn

Wedding Rings vs Engagement Rings: Symbolism

You might think that a wedding ring and an engagement ring both carry the same symbol. They both represent a couple’s love, right? Well, yes and no.

Yes, both an engagement ring and wedding ring represent love to a degree, but their meanings are more specific than that.

Engagement rings represent a promise of a wedding and life together to come. The engagement ring, in most relationships, kicks off the entirety of the wedding planning. As soon as one member of the relationship pops the question, it’s time to begin looking for a venue and wedding attire (and don’t forget the jewelry insurance, too!).

On the other hand, the wedding band represents the fulfillment of that promise. It is a public decree of love, a promise to honor and cherish the other person in your relationship for the rest of your life.

Wedding vs Engagement Ring: History

Wedding vs Engagement Ring: History

The histories of wedding bands and engagement rings are muddied. Some say that wedding and engagement rings were both worn in ancient cultures, but some say that these rings were wedding rings only, while others say these were engagement rings only.

Whatever the case, though, wedding rings first appeared in ancient cultures when they symbolized fidelity, love, and the payment of a dowry in ancient Egypt, Rome, and Greece.

In contrast, it was not common to wear engagement rings until centuries later, when an “official” engagement ring was recognized by Pope Nicholas I in 850 when he decreed that an engagement ring symbolized a betrothal and a husband’s willingness to make a financial sacrifice for his future bride.

The diamond engagement ring is even younger, first appearing in 1477 when Archduke Maximillian of Austria proposed with a monogrammed diamond ring.

Engagement Rings vs Wedding Ring: Style

Regarding style expectations, an engagement ring is usually much flashier than a wedding band. The engagement ring typically features a large diamond or series of diamonds. Wedding bands tend to be on the plainer side. It can be as simple as a plain metal band. Even if you have a matching wedding band made for your engagement ring — for example, maybe it’s a diamond wedding band inset with gemstones — it will likely still be less luxurious than the engagement ring.

Engagement Versus Wedding Ring: Cost

Due to the differences in style and often the differences between the amount and quality of gemstones and precious metals used in the two rings, there is also often a significant difference between the costs of the engagement and wedding rings. The engagement ring will likely be more expensive, while the wedding band will likely be less.

Wedding Bands vs Engagement Rings: One Big Caveat

All the above taken into consideration, though, there’s still one big caveat you must remember when it comes to a wedding band vs engagement ring. These differences are all based on tradition and average norms. They are not rules.

You can buy a wedding band that’s flashier and more expensive than your engagement ring. You can forgo an engagement ring or wedding band altogether. There’s no rule saying you must have them to be married.

You can wear your engagement ring on whatever finger you want, the same as with your wedding band. Put the wedding band on your left hand ring finger; put the engagement ring on the fourth finger of your right hand. You can even wear them on a chain around your neck.

Both an engagement ring and a wedding ring should symbolize your and your partner’s love, style, tastes, and desires. You can make your own rules.

Engagement Ring vs Wedding Band FAQs

Are Engagement Rings and Wedding Rings Different?

Yes. An engagement ring results from a successful wedding proposal and predates the wedding. Wedding rings debut during the wedding ceremony as an exchange between the couple among their vows.

How Do You Wear Engagement Rings vs Wedding Band?

The traditional way of wearing an engagement ring vs wedding ring is by wearing your wedding ring on the fourth finger of your left hand, closest to your hand, and wearing the engagement ring next to it, closest to the end of your finger. However, more and more couples wear their rings in non-traditional fashion.

What is the Difference in Cost for Engagement Rings vs Wedding Rings?

Quote 2

According to, the average cost of an engagement ring is between $5,000 and $15,000, depending on location, whereas the average cost of a wedding ring is between $700 and $1,200, depending on location.

Engagement vs Wedding Rings: Do You Need Them Both?

Not necessarily! Many couples are bucking engagement and wedding ring traditions, so you can do whatever feels right. There’s no reason to buy them if you don’t want or can’t afford both. Your engagement and wedding should be about celebrating your love — not checking off a list of items you must buy.

Wedding ring set

Wedding Ring vs Engagement Ring: Both are Worth Protecting

Despite the minor differences in symbolism and the sometimes significant differences in pricing, both your engagement and wedding rings are worth protecting.

BriteCo’s comprehensive coverage options can help you keep your most prized jewelry safe in the event of natural disaster, loss, accident, theft, and other situations wherein your homeowners or renters insurance just won’t.

Learn more and get your free quote now.


The Engagement Ring Calculator You’ve Been Searching For and it’s FREE!



UP NEXT: Types of Chains

Rachel's expertise is further enhanced by her distinction as a Graduate Gemologist from the prestigious Gemological Institute of America (GIA), equipping her with exceptional knowledge in gem identification and grading. Her education and experiences have given her an in-depth understanding of the demands and expectations facing jewelers and customers in today’s evolving retail marketplace.