Wedding Bands vs. Wedding Rings: Complete Guide

Marriage proposals and a wedding ceremony can take months of planning, sometimes even years. Apart from the fact that you’re making a big commitment, you’re also throwing one of the biggest parties of your life! If you don’t intend to have a blowout for your 50th birthday or retirement, it is likely this will be the biggest celebration you’re personally in charge of. 

If you’d like to take a bit of the stress away, you’ve come to the right place. With flower choices, dress shopping, and venue browsing, wedding bands might be the last thing on your mind. You’re in luck; at Mark Henry Jewelry, we consider ourselves experts in all things wedding jewelry! Allow us to guide you through, and simplify this part of your to-do list. 

It is important to make distinctions in your ring shopping. That is, you need to be able to tell the difference between an engagement ring, a wedding ring, and a wedding band. These labels matter and can drastically change the product you get. They also all have their own special place in the wedding process. 

Stick with us as we break down what’s in a name and which ring comes first. Then we’ll cover how to wear each design on your wedding day and for your happily ever after. 

Engagement Ring Styles and Differences 

Before we can get into the specifics of these pieces of jewelry, it is essential that we separate them from the engagement ring. You probably know that this is the piece that comes first.

It is traditionally given from one partner to another in the form of a proposal. It is famed for kick-starting the lead-up to the marriage ceremony and is key — without it, you wouldn’t be getting married!

Different Price, Different Purpose 

The engagement ring does have a “set” look in most minds, but that doesn’t mean it is kept inside of a certain box. The single diamond engagement ring is the most common configuration of the piece, but even that can be personalized.

Diamonds come in a variety of colors, cuts, and shapes. You can also always spice up the band itself by experimenting with different metals to create a rose or white gold ring.

Engagement rings tend to be more expensive than wedding bands and wedding rings, purely because they almost always include a diamond. If they don’t, you’re likely to see a gemstone included.

Depending on the type of gem, these can be more valuable than regular diamonds. We love unique engagement rings at Mark Henry, and we have a wide selection, including ones with precious alexandrite and Paraiba tourmaline stones. 

Once the proposal has been accepted and your engagement ring has been put on (your left hand’s ring finger in Western countries), it is time to enter the wedding band and ring territory.

Are Wedding Bands the Same Thing As Wedding Rings?

Wedding bands and wedding rings sound incredibly similar. The semantics can make things unnecessarily confusing. The definition of both terms depends on what you’re looking for. Either way, both of these pieces are exchanged by both partners during the wedding ceremony itself. 

It is typical for wedding bands to be considered a plain metal band. These tend to be thicker and most often worn by grooms. A wedding ring may refer to a thinner metal band that contains a row of stones commonly set in a pave design. (Engagement rings typically have a center stone.)

However, it is good to note that this distinction between a wedding band and a wedding ring is entirely based on popular vernacular. The true definition of both is the same. Being able to ask for the style you want by requesting a band or ring selection at a jewelry store might speed up the process, though. 

Wedding Bands: The Historical Perspective

Grooms did not actually receive wedding bands or rings until WWII. After the draft sent most United States men far from their homes, often overseas, they wanted something to signify their marital status and longing for their partner. Besides, rings themselves are known as a symbol of love. 

Nowadays, it is uncommon for one partner alone to get a ring. This means that you’re shopping for two, which can be helpful if you want a second opinion on your ideas. 

Band and Bases 

If you or your fiance is interested in a wedding band, keep an ideal type of metal material in mind. Since these bands are usually composed entirely of metal and don’t have many inclusions, the centerpiece is the material. 

This requires you to have some background knowledge of the best metals. For example, gold is a classic choice, but you should avoid 24K options. These are completely pure yellow gold, and while they are a great investment financially, they are not the most durable in jewelry.

In fact, we actually steer our clients in the direction of 18K gold. This material is a metal alloy, which allows it to take on creative hues, like the rose gold we mentioned earlier. 

You can also look into silver wedding bands or platinum options. Platinum is more expensive than most gold but is premium quality. Over time, any knicks it takes from everyday wear-and-tear can even add to its character. It is well worth the cost and can serve as a great addition to any wardrobe. 

Non-Traditional Bands 

If you’re searching for a wedding band that stands out in a crowd, try a palladium material. It is a very fashion-forward choice and incredibly trendy. In 2010, palladium was classified as a precious metal, placing it among gold and platinum. This alloy in white gold is highly durable on its own and makes excellent choices for consistently worn jewelry. 

If that isn’t personalized enough for you, consider a tungsten ring. The sturdy material comes in a variety of hues like black, which can make it stand out from metal options. It is a lot more casual and can be mixed with other jewelry easily. Wooden bands are also quite popular for their attractiveness with every outfit (but are rather tricky to resize).

Tips for Wedding Jewelry

Ask for Advice and Consider Proportions 

Ask your jeweler about the different setting options that are available. Classically trained jewelers have an eye for creative solutions that might not jump out to shoppers. 

If possible, get your hands on a gemstone or diamond buying guide as well. These can help you identify what stone has the best value based on its color, cut, clarity, and carat weight.

You may opt for a smaller stone in your wedding band so that it doesn’t clash with the engagement ring (if it has a very flashy center stone or setting). 

How To Wear Both 

Now that you’ve weighed your options, a band or a ring, consider how you want to wear them. If you already have an engagement ring, you’ll likely place this wedding piece next to it.

What order do you want it to be worn, before or after the engagement ring? Pieces exchanged during the wedding ceremony are generally placed above an engagement ring, merely for practicality’s sake. 

Nontraditional Combinations 

There is a recent trend of wearing one ring on your left hand, usually your engagement ring, and the wedding piece on your right hand’s ring finger. This way, the two complement each other in a sort of balanced look. It is worth a try!

Ring Sets

For the sake of convenience, you can buy an engagement ring and a wedding band or ring together. This guarantees that the two pieces fit together stylistically. It also makes your future planning easier because the wedding band is one less thing to worry about.

If you didn’t bring your fiance with you to pick out the engagement ring, or it was a complete surprise, this set might not work for you. We’d recommend getting the wedding set separately so that everyone can have input. 

For Both Partners: A Matching Set

Bridal sets can be hit or miss, but matching wedding bands are far more common to purchase. Since you’re wearing these pieces forever, besides your partner, why wouldn’t you want to coordinate? If you’re looking for matching wedding rings, It helps even more if you’re able to shop together. 

Perfect Ring 

The perfect wedding ring or wedding is the one that best fits your needs. If you are more of a precious metal person and lead with tradition, a plain gold band is excellent. If you need that pop of color, check out an exotic gemstone ring. 

From the day the bride-to-be says “yes” and the happy nuptials, your rings are shining. The only question is, what type of ring will define your story?



Wedding rings: Have men always worn them? | BBC

A Guide To Choosing Your Type Of Wedding Ring | The Wedding Avenue

Is There a Right Way to Wear Your Wedding and Engagement Rings? | The Knot

Historical Review of the Swiss Precious Metals Control Act Focused on Platinoids | Johnson Matthey Technology Review

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