Couples have been getting married and exchanging jewelry to signify their marital status since Roman times. Wedding bands were initially worn not only to signal that the wearer was married but to remind them to be faithful, and occasionally serve as an indicator of social status.
Many hundreds of years later the engagement ring was added to the mix and needless to say, after all this time, there are some deep-rooted traditions that go along with engagements, weddings, and the accompanying jewelry.
But hello, it’s almost 2021, why are we adhering to these old traditions if we don’t want to?
Engagement Ring vs Wedding Ring: What’s the Difference?
An engagement ring is usually presented during a proposal. Typically the engagement ring is the showstopper jewelry piece and features one large dominant stone occasionally surrounded by smaller stones or a ‘halo’ of gems. Since the 1940’s, when DeBeers popularized the slogan, ‘A Diamond is Forever’ and solidified the link between love and diamonds, a diamond has been the most commonly used stone in modern engagement rings.
Typically, men don’t wear an engagement ring, however; in the past decade, it has become more and more common for a man to wear an engagement ring. The band is usually of less monetary value than the engagement ring as they’re typically more simple pieces of jewelry. And let’s be honest, most men don’t give a shit.
Traditionally the wedding ring is worn above the engagement ring, so as to be closer to the heart of the bride. Remember in Sex and the City when Carrie wore her engagement ring from Aidan on a chain around her neck so, as she explained to him, it would be closer to her heart? Kinda like that. But without the BS.
Wedding rings are usually a plain metal band or an encrusted band of gemstones. Wedding bands of encrusted stones are commonly called ‘eternity bands’, once again signifying how love – like diamonds – is eternal. A traditional engagement and wedding ring set match each other’s curvature so they fit together snugly. Commonly the two rings are bought and sold in sets. To be honest, this is all very yawn city to us, but it’s the tradition and what you see a lot. But it’s not the only way!
In recent years, between social media, the rise of influencers, and the popularity of reality television, we’re seeing the way others wear their jewelry more than ever. The trend of non-traditional selections when it comes to engagement rings has been making what was commonly thought of as a ‘wedding band’ a highly sought out piece of engagement jewelry.
Who’s Wearing a Wedding Band instead of an Engagement Ring?
The Minimalist Bride
Presenting a wedding band during a proposal makes sense for a more minimalistic style choice. In the age of Marie Kondo we’ve started throwing out everything that doesn’t bring us joy and though it’s hard to believe – a big single stone may not bring some women joy. I don’t know her, honestly. A glittering, simple wedding band is an updated and sophisticated design for a modern bride who wants a versatile ring that can be paired with any ensemble for any occasion.
The Budget-Conscious Bride
As discussed a traditional engagement ring features one large dominant stone, most commonly a diamond, and occasionally is surrounded by smaller stones or a ‘halo’ of gems. Can you hear the dollars stacking up? Yes, depending on a variety of factors such as the stone, cut, color, clarity, and carat weight the price for an engagement ring will fluctuate. Typically, engagement rings will come with a bigger price tag than a traditional wedding band making a wedding band a more budget-conscious proposal choice.
The Practical Bride
A wedding band in lieu of an engagement ring is also considered a highly functional choice. A lower profile ring is ideal for a woman who works with her hands or for a woman who frequently travels and doesn’t want to flaunt a flashy piece of jewelry.
The Trendy Bride
As celebrity eternity band rings are being worn all over social media there has been a noticeable rise in the popularity of wedding bands being worn during engagements. Khloe Kardashian really brought the trend to another level in 2018 when it was rumored that then-boyfriend Tristian Thompson had proposed because she was suddenly wearing a striking baguette wedding eternity band on her left ring finger. But in typical Kardashian fashion, there wasn’t just one-eternity band, in which case, we take back what we said about this being a budget-friendly option! After the debut of her new ring, everyone was putting their own spin on the traditional piece of jewelry. Now, you see baguette eternity bands everywhere. We mean – everywhere.
The Bride Who Just Can’t Decide!
Some women have spent their whole childhood planning every detail of their wedding and a traditional, big sparkly single stone engagement ring is in the plans. But you’re planning to marry someone who can’t decide what she wants for dinner, much less what she’s going to wear on her left hand for a lifetime. If you’re still unsure if a wedding band is a route you want to take for a proposal, it’s going to come down to age-old piece of advice – communication. Drop hints or straight up ask your bride to be if she has a vision for her ring. She may have no vision or she may have too many! Our advice, for the bride (or proposer) who just can’t decide, opt for the wedding band in lieu of a traditional engagement ring and get ready for endless styling options.
Styling a Wedding Band
Worn alone, a wedding band is simple and elegant piece of jewelry; however, when you want to kick things up a notch, there are endless possibilities in styling a wedding band. For the actual wedding ring exchange, adding an additional stacking band to the wedding band you proposed with is a great choice. In fact, every anniversary is an opportunity to add an additional band to that stack to interchange and keep the stack looking fresh year after year. (Louder for the people in the back).
The LOBAS Take:
If The Dutchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton makes a public appearance wearing just her simple gold wedding band and not her internationally famous blue sapphire engagement ring – it makes headlines around the world. Even in this modern age when we’ve redefined marriage, how we choose to physically display our marital status is so deeply steeped in tradition it still feels open to the court of public opinion.
However, the truth is when it comes to your wedding and your jewelry if you want to wear a wedding band instead of an ostentatious engagement ring – or you only want to wear ostentatious jewelry (hello, me) the choice is yours to make – and the choices are endless!
We say: wear what you love, marry who you love, and to hell with tradition.
*Note* LOBAS is about wearing what you love, and we don’t focus on bridal too much. This was a blog post written for another designer who never credited me for my work. So now it has been slightly re-worked to reflect our voice and lives here for the LOBAS community.