Engagement Ring vs. Wedding Ring - What's the Difference?

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So, you chose the perfect engagement ring—a big "congratulations!" is in order. But what's really the difference between engagement rings and wedding rings? And, if she loves her engagement ring so much, do you really need to get a coordinating wedding band to match? Or can she simply wear her engagement ring after you're married instead? Also, can she ever wear one (or both) of her rings on the opposite ring finger? Let's get these engagement ring vs. wedding ring etiquette questions answered, once and for all.

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Mia Ring with a 2.10ct Pear Cut SUPERNOVA Moissanite, Retto Band, Prima Band 

1. The Difference Between Engagement Rings and Wedding Rings

Traditional engagement rings typically have one dominant stone, which either stands alone or is surrounded by additional smaller stones. An engagement ring is usually given as part of the proposal to signify engagement.

By contrast, a wedding ring is traditionally a plain metal band or a gemstone encrusted eternity band that you receive when you exchange your vows during the wedding ceremony and wear from then on. Typically, there's also a fairly significant price difference between engagement rings and wedding rings; even if the wedding band has lab diamonds, moissanite or other gemstones, their total carat weight is generally less than that of the engagement ring.

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Montevalle Pavé Lab Diamond with a 1.25ct D VVS2, Marrio Mi, Civini 7-Stone Band 


You can, of course, throw tradition out the window. According to Taylor Lanore, a  consultant and engagement ring designer for, brides are having more of a say in the choice and design of their rings. And not only are they parting with tradition, but they're opting to diversify their engagement and wedding ring selections. "People are doing whatever they want, and wedding bands offer the opportunity to have more flair," she says. 

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Davio Band, Marchesa Band

2. How to Wear Engagement and Wedding Rings

Traditionally, you wear your engagement ring and wedding ring together on the fourth finger of your left hand. As far as how to stack them, tradition holds that you'll wear the wedding band inside the engagement ring so that it's closer to your heart.

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Miriam Engagement Ring + 9-Stone Civini Female Wedding Ring


3. Yes, Wearing Both an Engagement Ring and Wedding Ring is Gorgeous

Whether you're adding an eternity band set with pavé moissanites or a plain metal band, a wedding ring and engagement ring pairing is a timeless and beautiful look. And a recent trend that shows no sign of waning is building a ring stack of three (or more!) bands, often with mixed metals and styles.
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Miriam Engagement Ring + Via Female Wedding Ring + Affetto Male Wedding Ring