Wedding Customs & Traditions Forum

History of Wedding Bands and Engagement Rings?

This is a question my fiance and I have been pondering for a while and there doesn't seem to actually be a solid answer out.  So I put it to The Knot Community: what is the difference between engagement rings and weddings bands? Or rather, why are there two?

I know the obvious stuff--the engagement typically sports a gemstone and is given when the man proposes whereas the wedding band is given at the actual wedding and worn first on the finger. But why are there two?  It sounds like the wedding band itself goes back quite a long time, so when did the use of a seperate engagement ring pop up?   Thoughts?

This ulitmately won't change anything for our wedding plans (fiance doesn't see the point of two rings and I think two rings look silly unless specifically bought as a matched set) but I am curious if there is a solid historical significance here.

Re: History of Wedding Bands and Engagement Rings?

  • Engagement gifts have been given for hundreds of years (thousands if you count engagement rings in ancient rome). The late 1400s is pointed to as the first diamond engagement ring. Honestly there are hundreds of sites about it. Google it, or start at wikipedia (
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  • Maybe I've just been reading too much into it (or not enough) but it's just seemed there's some blurriness between a wedding band and a engagement ring as you go back.  I never thought too much about it until I was asked point blank "But why does the woman wear two different rings?" and realized I didn't have a better answer than "Because that's how it's always been done."  And maybe that just IS the answer because it does date back so far. 
  • Would it change your mind about not wearing two rings if there was solid historical reasoning? I'm a history buff and I love random little trivia like that, but I fail to see how it matters if your personal preference is to wear one or even no ring.

    Oh, and my rings aren't a matched set and came from completely different places. And look fab together, not silly. I get compliments on them all the time.
  • Nope, it has nothing to do with what I will end up wearing (that's really just coming down to personal preference for me).  I was just curious.
  • EPalmer2013EPalmer2013 member
    First Comment
    edited April 2013
    I don't know the history but I will tell you that I am choosing to use my engagment ring as my wedding ring.  The reason is simply because my ring was made by a local artist and has a non-traditional band that is almost 1 cm wide.  I would not be able to find a ring that would work with it.  I'm happy with one ring.
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