January 17th, 2017
On My Mind

Engagement Ring Etiquette

One of the stones in my engagement ring came loose so I took it in to be repaired. I wear my engagement ring stacked with a number of diamond bands that I’ve collected over the years.  At the jeweler I took them all off, except one that wouldn’t budge. Surprisingly, I love the simplicity of just the lone band– it feels minimalist and chic. I knew a woman who traded in her engagement ring and it seemed weird to me at the time, but now I get it. I wonder if there are any hard and fast rules re. engagement rings. For example, does marriage etiquette dictate that the ring remain unchanged? I need to research the customary codes and protocol on this.

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  • The cut I chose for my engagement ring was a marquise. After a while I didn’t like the way it looked when I wore just my wedding band because the band had to have a little “lip” on it to accommodate the stone. After my second child was born, my fingers had swelled a little, so I took my engagement ring to have the original stone reset in a much thicker band. I’ll wear just that as a sort of combination ring. However, there are so many times when I wear no ring at all because I just don’t like the feel. After 35 years, both my husband and I agree that marriage is about what’s in your heart. He has a band that he wears almost everyday, but sometimes not. I honestly think these days you do what you want. Your stacked rings sound lovely and special.

    kimJanuary 17th, 2017  10:54 AM

  • I can only speak as a Dane with strong roots in Austria and the UK: I genuinely think it’s a matter of your own emotions attached to the ring. My mother sold her gold ring many years ago because she was short on money but doesn’t particularly miss it today (going strong 51 years with my dad!). My aunt sold her ring and bought a new one. I personally don’t think I could do it but I am also just 32, have lived with my ring for 6 months, and as it is an eternity band it matches my admittedly minimalistic closet. I understand that fashions have changed a lot in the last 20-30 years, and since it’s something we wear every day, I get the sentiment of having something that fits who you are now. I think the key question is: will it mean the same to you? Will the new ring still be a symptom of your marriage? Perhaps it’s a romantic opportunity to renew your vows, or just an opportunity for a romantic day with ring purchase and dinner. Wow, this became my longest blog-comment ever – I guess I am just a silly romantic and this question got to me 🙂

    LychetteJanuary 17th, 2017  10:59 AM

  • I think your ring shouldn’t feel like an obligation! It’s personal – while I think layering is chic, upgrading your rock is a betrayal to me! My husband explicitly feels that way too, but they are our ‘rules’. It’s okay to mix things up for a while.
    That said though, I wear an eternity band of baguette diamonds and darn if I don’t *still* think it’s the chicest, most elegant thing. Bit stones look so awkward and lumpish to me in comparison. Like they were chosen in the absence of choice! Strong words – but I like a simple band!!

    SanderJanuary 17th, 2017  11:59 AM

  • I had the same conundrum as you. So, for an anniversary gift, I asked for a plain gold band that I’d seen and loved. I wear it far more often than my original diamond “set”, but because we chose it together for an anniversary, it is imbued with romance and meaning for me.

    KathyJanuary 17th, 2017  12:36 PM

  • For our 10th anniversary, my husband reset my stone, it’s the same brilliant cut center stone, but set in a different setting instead of solitaire. I don’t think it’s a betrayal.

    ameeJanuary 17th, 2017  12:48 PM

  • I changed my setting to a three-stone ring ten years ago when my second daughter was born; I wear it stacked with my original eternity wedding band. I have told my family that the two sidestones symbolize the two girls and the middle stone represents the marriage, but really I just always wanted a three-stone ring! The original setting was very high and pointy; it frequently caught on my sweaters. I’m all in favor of updating the setting, but I kept my original center stone and would never “trade up” or trade out; I love being able to look down at the stone with which my husband proposed all those years ago.

    ellaJanuary 17th, 2017  12:59 PM

  • My engagement ring stays mostly in the safe, and I usually wear my eternity wedding band alone. I like the cleaner look.

    LilyJanuary 17th, 2017  2:36 PM

  • I reset my original diamond four years ago. A plain white gold setting to an ornate one with platinum. I wore it for a few years. On our 10th anniversary my husband gave me a simple yellow gold band 2mm. I love it!! It feels simple and chic. I like it so much that I bought another for the middle finger on my right hand. I often wear those two alone.

    RheaJanuary 17th, 2017  3:12 PM

  • Love all the comments so far! I upgraded my setting from yellow gold to white gold and incorporated an old pair of diamond studs so I now have a three stone ring that I really love!

    Paula BJanuary 17th, 2017  3:40 PM

  • I wear my wedding band everyday and my engagement ring on special occasions, because it’s a big pearl and I worry about smashing it on something (I gesture a lot). While I seldom wear it, I’d never get rid of it because it’s gorgeous, I love it, and it’s a reminder of what we promised to one another and what we’ve built. I fully support your desire to not wear yours and would suggest that you tuck it away for special moments or even consider giving to one of your daughters (if it’s their style).

    As for trading in, I think it depends on what your intention is. My friend’s mum has “upgraded” her engagement ring a number of times as they’ve become more wealthy, and I’ve always found that so odd. At what point is it no longer your engagement ring, and just another accessory?

    NikJanuary 17th, 2017  4:05 PM

  • I’m with Kim. I will be married 40 years Saturday and I rarely wear my wedding band. I don’t really like the feel of a ring either. My husband always wears his and would have to have it cut off at this point. I skipped the engagement ring custom, because I preferred the look of a single band. My wedding band does have stones though and I will wear it Saturday night!

    AprilJanuary 17th, 2017  5:57 PM

  • I had my engagement stone and those if my grandmothers put in a gold band which I stacked with etoile bands. Loved the look. Then my husband bought me the delicate diamond Tiffany metro to add to the stack. It was lost …
    Now wear the single Tiffany diamond metro. It seems precious alone and I like the clean simple look, rather french!
    Plus I can wear my Cartier tank on one arm & my gold bangles on the other and not feel overdone.

    SusanJanuary 17th, 2017  6:13 PM

  • My husband and I went together to a lovely small jeweler to pick out wedding bands – both gold, his smooth and narrow, mine a beautiful solid mesh pattern and a little wider than his. About 20 years later I couldn’t find it. I rarely lose things, so it was a heartbreak. I am pretty certain it flew off when I pulled off a garden glove in the back yard, and then the lawn was aerated the following day . . . a lot of tears! I went without a ring for some time hoping it would show up. It didn’t. We didn’t run out and replace it because we were in full swing raising young children and had all the obligations that come with that. My sister threw a 25th wedding anniversary party for us at her beloved home, Eastgate, and my husband completely surprised me with a Tiffany eternity ring, which he selected and purchased completely without consultation. I was beyond thrilled! We later added a very plain platinum band, also Tiffany, to wear with it. For run around, I wear the platinum band only, but when I wear the eternity ring, it’s always beautiful.
    I loved reading all of these stories! Preston, perhaps you could publish a little book with this theme – it’s fascinating to read all of these heartfelt recounts and feelings! And we all remember the details . . .

    PaulaJanuary 18th, 2017  2:22 AM

  • I don’t know if there are really any formal rules. At this point I’ve been married almost 28 years, and it seems like everyone I know has updated or upgraded or just plain changed their engagement and wedding bands for one reason or another.

    JoannawnycJanuary 18th, 2017  9:42 AM

  • My husband proposed to me with a diamond solitaire, which I loved but then my mother passed away while we were still engaged and planning a wedding didn’t seem important to me anymore so years went by. My daughters were young when my husband and I met and they became “our daughters” in the truest sense of the word so when we decided a couple of years ago to have a small wedding in the backyard we wanted a way to honour the bond. My wedding band was going to have the three diamonds my mother had left me but we decided to put one in my band (bought another for me to symbolize the future) and use the other two to make simple gold bands for the girls with my Mom’s stones inset. It was a beautiful moment in the ceremony when our judge friend who was officiating called the girls to him and gave them the rings.
    I suppose what I’m saying is that for me, stones only have whatever power or meaning you give to them, and for me the setting isn’t as important, the story is.

    SueMJanuary 18th, 2017  10:32 AM

  • After being married for 20 years I wanted a simpler but cleaner look than my high- set solitaire engagement ring. It was reset lower with 2 stones on either side- one for each child. Center diamond from husband-Voila! It is sleek and not flashy but holds sentimental value for me. And I wear it every day!

    Mary BethJanuary 18th, 2017  10:50 AM

  • I have many friends who have “upgraded” their wedding rings. My ring is a bit dated….it definitely looks like 1984, which was the year I got married. I like the statement that makes. I am proud to have been married for 32 years. Same ring, same husband! But it’s obviously a personal decision.

    SusanJanuary 18th, 2017  11:22 AM

  • Speaking as someone who hasn’t been married….I can only imagine that trading / changing rings would depend on the relationship dynamic and values the couple placed on the ring.
    I’d imagine the specialness of the engagement and all its sentiments would last several years- together with the thrill of the ring….
    however I guess as with everything the familiar starts to look faded or smaller with time (?) and as with the wish for a face lift etc a refresher or need to feel refreshed / upgraded becomes more necessary/acceptable ….( perhaps).
    What an interesting post.

    RuthJanuary 18th, 2017  11:53 AM

  • I’m with Susan and April. Part of the charm of an engagement/wedding ring is the time in life–both personally and as a couple, and the time in history–when it comes along. Just as our grandmother’s and mother’s rings ‘look like them,’ and reflect the period in history when they married, one day our own rings will be our signature piece. I changed my ring because I lost my first one. The ring my husband selected to replace it will see me through my life. Day to day I wear a small platinum band. I’m also charmed by women who, although they can well afford something much more grand, wear the same ring they started out with at the beginning of their marriage. Happy to report we celebrated 35 years last summer!

    PaulaJanuary 19th, 2017  12:52 AM

  • Wow, what wonderful comments! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and memories, I’m honored.

    PrestonJanuary 19th, 2017  10:25 AM

  • I appreciate this post and plan to read all the comments. I have wanted to reset my engagement ring for 5+ years. At first I worried about it being bad luck (etc) but now just look forward to a classic one stone setting. I’ve actually given up on wearing my engagement ring-so it will be nice to wear my diamond again. xo

    Denise ThomasJanuary 19th, 2017  1:01 PM

  • After 5 years with my 2 ct solitaire engagement ring I was tired of it always feeling too small in some settings and too large in others. My husband wanted to upgrade to a larger stone, but I dragged him to Cartier instead and purchased a simple yellow gold band engraved with our anniversary inside. Now I wear only the plain gold band most of the time and I find I feel much happier about it.

    CJanuary 21st, 2017  1:08 PM

  • I started out with a beautiful Canary diamond that belonged to my husband’s mother (unfortunately I never met her) flanked by two smaller diamonds. I loved it because my husband designed it and it’s a heirloom. But as the years have passed, 22 to be exact, I found the ring didn’t suit me any longer. Plus I got tired of people gawking at it. So my husband bought me a vintage Cartier love ring diamond in platinum. It’s simple, fits my lifestyle and is subtle. I wear the Canary on occasion. Both rings represent the ebb and flow of a marriage.

    RonicaJanuary 21st, 2017  3:12 PM

  • It’s between you and your husband, no one else. My husband gave me a beautiful set of three bands for our tenth anniversary – one engraved inside with the date of our wedding, the second with the date of our daughter’s birth, and the third with all our initials. I took off my wedding bands and engagement ring that day and have worn the anniversary rings ever since. They are now the symbol of our bond. He’s never once asked me where the wedding rings are and we were married 27 years ago. Wear what you want.

    ElsaJanuary 22nd, 2017  2:06 PM


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