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Are Engagement Rings and Wedding Rings the same?

For life altering moments such as heart-stopping proposals and unforgettable wedding days - nothing proclaims forever more than Diamond Rings. These rings aren’t just about sparkle and beauty, they are symbolic of ancient tradition deeply ingrained into our history. 

While Engagement Rings and Wedding Rings might seem the same to those unfamiliar, they’re far from identical. Each type of diamond ring has a distinct role, rich symbolism and its own set of rituals that influence every facet of their modern designs. Understanding these key differences is essential whether you’re planning your engagement, exchanging your vows or marking an anniversary with something spectacular.

Dive into our guide below to unravel the rich history, traditions and key distinctions between Diamond Engagement Rings and Wedding Rings. From their symbolic pasts to the intricacies of how they are worn today - we explain everything you need to know.

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Engagement Rings
What are they? An Engagement Ring is given by a man to a woman to propose marriage. Generally accompanied with the grand gesture of the man getting down on one knee, it is a symbol of his love and future commitment towards his partner. When a woman wears her engagement ring it serves as a public display of her intention to marry.

Engagement rings and diamonds are synonymous with a modern-day marriage proposal. Today, Engagement Ring styles are typically defined by one large centre diamond which sparkles prominently on a Gold (Yellow Gold, White Gold, Rose Gold) or Platinum Band. Popular engagement rings include solitaire designs, side stone designs, halo designs, trilogy designs and vintage designs.

The age-old tradition is that the engagement ring is reserved for the woman. However, men can also wear an engagement ring if they choose. For him, gifting a diamond engagement ring represents a considerable financial investment to prove his genuine intentions and future promises. And for her, it represents beauty and her devotion and loyalty towards her husband-to-be.

The history: Behind the ultimate romantic gesture of proposing with a Diamond Engagement Ring is a tradition dating all the way back to 2600BC. The very first engagement rings have been traced all the way back to the civilisations of Ancient Egypt. They believed the ring was a symbol of the eternal, the circle a representation of something with no beginning and no end.

Historically an engagement ring may have been plain gold or created with other precious gemstones. The designs would have one dominant stone and/or additional smaller stones. Many engagement rings were heirlooms passed down from generation to generation and full of sentimental value. Engagement Rings aren’t a novelty, they’ve been deeply ingrained in our history for thousands of years. 

The first Diamond engagement rings began with Archduke Maximilian of Austria in 1477, when he proposed to Mary of Burgundy with a custom made ring. But it wasn’t until the more contemporary stone was popularised by Diamond Company, De Beers, in 1947, that they became the most desirable stone for engagement rings. After their widely successful campaign “diamonds are forever” the standard shifted as to what was the most sought-after precious stone for Engagement Rings. Now, around 90 percent of all engagement rings made will incorporate diamonds. 

How to wear it: When accepting the proposal, the Engagement Ring will be placed and worn on the ring finger on the left hand. The reason behind wearing a ring on the third finger is that the Ancient Egyptians believed this vein led straight to the heart. Later in time the Ancient Romans described this same vein as the Vena Amoris (Vein of Love). The romantic connection between hand-to-heart has become deeply ingrained in our culture and even though science has proven otherwise, the tradition remains to this day.

There are some instances or exceptions depending on cultural or religious backgrounds where the engagement ring is worn on the right hand. In countries such as Russia, Poland, Greece, Spain, Norway and Denmark it is customary to wear the ring on the right hand to indicate the intention to be married and the commitment from your loved one.

Before marriage, an Engagement Ring should be worn alone and not paired with other rings on the third finger. Wearing it alone ensures that it stands out, allowing its beauty and symbolism to be the focal point. Additionally, pairing it with other jewellery can create visual clutter detracting from its elegance and potentially overshadowing its significance. It is unconventional and may give the wrong impression to others (for them to think you are already married). Wearing the engagement ring alone, it is given the attention and respect it deserves. 

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Wedding Rings
What is it? A wedding ring is a piece of jewellery traditionally exchanged between partners during their wedding ceremony to symbolise their love and marital commitment. As a mutual symbol of their unity, wedding rings represent a couple's lifelong promises to one another. It also demonstrates equality in marriage and showcases the bond they share. The exchange of rings during the ceremony solidifies their vows and promises to each other as a lasting reminder of their fidelity and unity.

Crafted from precious metals such as 18ct gold or platinum, the circular shape of the Wedding Ring represents eternity, signifying the everlasting bond between the married couple. Wedding rings may also incorporate diamonds, but when they do they tend to be smaller in comparison to engagement rings and more uniform in their appearance. 

A more subtle design for a wedding ring is the norm - and most choose a more pared-back style to complement, rather than overpower the engagement ring. For women, diamond bands have risen in popularity for wedding rings over the past few decades. Whilst for men, a plain gold band remains the most popular choice.

The history: It was during the European Middle Ages around 900AD, that Christian marriage introduced the ritual of exchanging wedding rings during the ceremonies. Prior to this, Ancient Egyptians are believed to have started the tradition, whilst it was the Romans who later adopted the custom and introduced metal rings (often made of iron) to symbolise eternal love.

In medieval Europe when the church began to formalise wedding ceremonies - was when plain gold rings became popularised by the masses. The ceremonies incorporated the exchange of rings to signify mutual commitment and couples would wear their wedding bands after they exchange their vows. The wedding ring was to be worn on the third finger of the left hand for both partners, demonstrating their commitment and dedication to one another.  

Over time, wedding rings have evolved where both men and women wear anything from plain gold bands, to much more contemporary and elaborate diamond styles. The most conventional wedding rings are plain gold bands or a slim wedding band featuring an elegant row of smaller and uniformly-sized diamonds. These may be the most popular, however, there are thousands of wedding band designs to choose from. This is a deeply personal choice to suit your personal taste, lifestyle, and to complement your diamond engagement ring.

How to wear it: After exchanging the vows during the wedding ceremony, the Wedding Rings belong on the ring finger of the left hand. They are the addition to be worn as a pair with the Engagement Ring for a woman, or worn alone for the man. The wedding band will sit under the Engagement Ring closest to the palm of your hand, for the romantic reason that this will be the closest to the heart. 

Newlywed brides will wear both the Engagement Ring and Wedding Ring paired together as a set. Over time, often practicality or lifestyle takes over and many couples choose to wear the wedding ring alone. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to this, it is completely a personal preference and instead depends on lifestyle factors. 

Both men and women wear wedding rings to signify they are in a committed relationship when out in public. It represents their marital status whilst also serving as a stunning diamond accessory.

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Anniversary Rings/Eternity Rings
What are they? An Anniversary or Eternity Ring is often given to mark a significant milestone or anniversary (such as the 1st, 5th, 10th or 20th year of marriage or to celebrate the birth of a child). Typically more elaborate than a wedding band, these rings often feature multiple diamonds. An Anniversary/Eternity ring is often bigger, bolder and more elaborate than a wedding ring. But instead of a single standout diamond, they usually incorporate many diamonds in their design. When worn, an Anniversary ring will sit above the wedding band and an Engagement Ring as a symbol of faithfulness and everlasting love.

The history: Anniversary/Eternity rings became more popularised over the past few decades, where the concept arose sometime around the 21st century. Unlike engagement rings and wedding rings, there is no exact time or tradition behind when to gift or receive this ring.
Some claim it's after a certain time period after the marriage to mark an anniversary. Eternity bands are also often gifts associated with the birth of a child. But these diamond rings are given for various special occasions and events. 

How to wear it: Anniversary Rings or Eternity Rings can be worn by themselves or stacked with the Engagement Ring and Wedding Ring as a set of 3. If worn stacked together, the anniversary or eternity ring will sit above the Engagement Ring on the ring finger of the left hand. Keep in mind that it depends on your ring style and whether you design this ring to ‘match’ and suit the set or stand out on its own accord. Unlike the Engagement and Wedding rings, they don’t need to pair together unless you choose to do so.

As a set an Anniversary Ring or Eternity ring will add more depth to a set or it can be a bold stand out. These rings don’t need to be suitable for everyday wear so they can be a bit more lavish in design. Anniversary rings and Eternity rings can be designed in many beautiful diamond styles.

Most may be familiar with a classic full-eternity ring, where diamonds completely encircle the band and offer a continuous sparkle and a look of luxury. For those seeking something more unique, they can incorporate mixed gemstones, combining diamonds with sapphires, rubies or emeralds for a vibrant touch. The band itself can vary from slender to wide and bold adorned with diamonds, intricate engravings or milgrain details.

The tradition of the bridal ring set combining both an engagement ring and a wedding band have deep historical roots. Our ancestors presented gold rings as a symbol of honour and promise to marry, a practice that carries the same romantic significance today. This enduring belief in the power and beauty of diamond rings to represent love and commitment makes exploring different ring options a meaningful journey.

At JANAI, our diamond specialists are dedicated to helping you create a custom design to commemorate these life milestones. For a unique and personal touch for your most precious moments. Whatever you are celebrating, our bespoke services ensure your ring reflects your taste and style.

Want to speak with our Diamond Specialists about creating your Engagement, Wedding or Anniversary/Eternity Ring in Melbourne? Fill out your details in our form below 

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