Jewelry Trends

What is an Eternity Ring?

Rachel Akmakjian


Rachel Akmakjian

Everything to Know About This Popular Wedding Ring Choice

Eternity rings (sometimes called an infinity ring) are popular options at the jewelry store. A diamond eternity ring is an excellent choice for a wedding band, as it’s typically more subdued than the engagement ring, but still offers a lot of beautiful bling, with a continuous line of diamonds all the way around the eternity band.

Just as is the case with a wedding band, promise ring, or engagement rings, when you wear an eternity ring, it holds special meaning. A diamond eternity band stands for the eternal love that you and your partner share.

However, this isn’t where everything you need to know about eternity bands starts and ends. Popular eternity ring styles hide an interesting (and even somewhat salacious) history, and come with certain expectations regarding the circumstances under which the ring is given, how the ring is worn, and more.

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What You Will Learn

What are Eternity Rings? The History of the Beautiful Eternity Ring

While you might think an eternity ring is like any other style you could choose for your wedding and engagement rings or simply an evolution of fashion, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Instead, the eternity ring came about due to secretive international affairs, at the heart of which are the De Beers diamond company and the former Soviet Union. According to multiple sources, including the South African Journal of International Affairs and The Atlantic, in the 1960s, De Beers had established a secret arrangement with the country and, through this arrangement, acquired nearly 100% of its uncut, gem-quality diamonds.

Unfortunately, many of these diamonds were on the small side — too small to be used for the standard engagement ring. Facing an issue of too many diamonds and insufficient uses, De Beers had to develop a new style of engagement or wedding ring. The company covered a band of precious metal like white gold with tiny diamonds around the band’s circumference. Thus, the eternity ring was born.

De Beers marketed the eternity ring not to young couples but to those already in a relationship for a while. The eternity ring symbolizes a couple’s eternal love, and De Beers’ marketing plan worked. More than 50 years later, we still think of the eternity ring as illustrating a long-lasting relationship, and the ring is a favorite for many.

A Small Historical Disclaimer

It’s worth noting that while De Beers popularized the modern eternity ring due to its relationship with the Soviet Union, the company was not the first to come up with the idea of a ring that represented an eternal union.

The ancient Egyptians wore eternity-style rings, as did the wealthy in the 1800s.

A Half Eternity Ring vs. Full Eternity Ring


Half Eternity Ring vs. Full Eternity RingWhenever discussing what is an eternity band, it’s vital to distinguish between full and half eternity rings.

What you think of as an eternity ring is likely a half eternity ring, not a full eternity ring.

  • Half eternity rings feature stones on the ring’s face only, so the outside of the ring faces the observer.
  • Full eternity rings feature stones completely covering the band.

Which option is preferable will depend on your tastes. Some like the full option and want the stones to be visible no matter how they position their hand. Some prefer the half option, as it’s a little more comfortable and easier to maintain with daily wear and tear, and there are few instances where the back of the ring will be visible to onlookers.

What Does an Eternity Ring Mean, and What are Eternity Rings Given For?

Eternity band ring meaning is simple. It’s right in the name. An eternity ring represents a couple’s eternal love.

While eternity ring creation and intentions were toward couples already well into their relationships, today, eternity rings are a popular choice for wedding bands. After all, the symbolism fits.

So, what is an eternity ring given for? At any point in any long-term relationship, the giver wants to express their undying love for their recipient via an eternity ring gift.

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What Finger is an Eternity Ring Worn On?

Like any ring, wearing an eternity ring is your preference. However, the eternity ring is traditionally worn on the wedding ring finger (the left hand, ring finger). You can wear the eternity ring alongside your wedding band or in place of the wedding band.

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Are There Downsides to an Eternity Ring?

  • Yes, while there are many reasons to purchase an eternity ring (they’re beautiful, for starters, and the symbolism is touching), there are some downsides to buying an eternity ring.
  • Eternity rings may be more expensive than rings with fewer diamonds
  • Depending on how the diamonds sit in the eternity band, they have the potential to damage other rings on the same or an adjacent finger
  • It’s difficult (or sometimes impossible) to resize eternity rings
  • Some find eternity rings to be uncomfortable

TL;DR: Eternity Ring Basics

TL;DR? Suppose you don’t have time to peruse all of the above details regarding what is an eternity band ring and what an eternity ring means in a relationship. In that case, we have you covered with just the need-to-know points.

What is the eternity ring meaning?

Eternity rings symbolize eternal love.

What is eternity ring history?

Modern eternity rings were popularized by the DeBeers diamond company in the 1960s when they needed a way to use up all its smaller diamonds

What’s eternity ring protocol? How do you wear one?

Most wear eternity rings on their ring finger of the left hand, in conjunction with a wedding or engagement ring, or in place of one, or alone. There are no hard rules, however.

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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.