If you — or your significant other — is getting ready to pop the question, then you’ve likely had diamonds on your mind. From solitaires to three-stone rings to bridal sets, there’s a lot to think about.
But before heading to the jeweler of your choice, it’s a good idea to learn more about your ring options and which will be best for you and your future spouse.
Is it an engagement ring that represents a formal agreement to marry at a future date, or a bridal set?
Bridal Set vs Engagement Ring: What’s the Difference?
If you don’t know much about jewelry, especially wedding jewelry, not to worry. Here, we’ll explain everything you need to know about why engagement rings are used for a proposal instead of a bridal set — and we’ll help you figure out which selection is right for you and your fiancée.
What is an Engagement Ring?
An engagement ring is traditionally given at the time of proposal and is worn as a symbol of your love until the wedding day and beyond. It not only serves as a promise of your commitment to one another, but is tangible evidence that the wearer of that ring is off the market.
An engagement ring is, typically, more ornate than a wedding band and includes a large diamond or gemstone center stone. A wedding band can later be paired with it if you wish, or you can wear it on its own.
Here are some examples of engagement rings at varying price points:
- James Allen Platinum Double Row Pavé Engagement Ring
- Jared Diamond Ring 1/2 ct tw Round 14K White Gold
- Blue Nile Classic Comfort Fit Solitaire Engagement Ring
The Pros of Buying Just an Engagement Ring
Bridal set rings must be purchased together. So, if you happen to like the engagement ring but not the matching wedding band in a particular set, you’ll either have to live with a ring you don’t like or look for something else all together. When you buy the rings separately, you can create your own unique ring stack.
2. It’s a surprise
Most men want their future wife to be surprised when they get down on one knee and present the engagement ring. It’s also a moment most women treasure. When you choose a bridal set, you pretty much have to look at rings together before you propose, ruining the element of surprise.
3. Lower initial cost
Buying engagement rings and wedding rings separately prevents you from forking out the money for both rings at once. Depending on your financial situation, it can be immensely helpful to buy one ring and then save up for at least a few months before buying the next.
4. Choosing bands together
Most women want to be involved in choosing the wedding band that will accompany her engagement ring. She may also want to help her future husband choose his wedding band or may be interested in looking for a matched set.
What is a Bridal Set?
A bridal set is an engagement ring and wedding band that were designed to be worn together. Buying a set is often cheaper than purchasing an engagement ring and wedding ring separately because jewelers are more apt to offer deals on a set than on an individual ring.
While the engagement ring is a promise of marriage, the wedding band is presented at the ceremony to solidify that promise.
Here are some examples of two-piece bridal sets at different price points:
- Zales Diamond Past Present Future® Bridal Set in 14K White Gold
- Costco Diamond 14kt White Gold Bridal Set
- Kay Diamond Bridal Set 1/4 ct tw Round-cut 10K White Gold
Is a Bridal Set Two Rings?
A bridal set can consist of two or three rings. A two-ring set made up of an engagement ring and a wedding band is the most common option, although three-ring sets are increasing in popularity. A three-ring set is made up of an engagement ring with two matching bands to be worn on either side of it.
The third band is traditionally given on a couple’s first anniversary or to mark an important milestone, like the birth of the couple’s first child.
Here are some examples of a three-piece bridal sets at different price points:
- Gordon’s Jewelers Quad Princess-Cut Diamond Frame Three Piece Bridal Set in 14K White Gold
- Macy’s Diamond Double Halo 3-Pc. Bridal Set
- Pompeii Diamond Engagement Ring Eternity Guard Band Set
The Pros of Buying a Bridal Set
Buying a bridal set rather than two separate rings on two separate shopping trips is easier and much more convenient for guys who don’t enjoy shopping.
Bridal sets are made to be a perfect match, so they offer a cohesive look on the bride’s finger. It also ensures the wedding band will fit well against the engagement ring. This is particularly important if the bride-to-be prefers a flush fit, meaning a band that sits snugly against her engagement ring.
Bridal sets offer a good bang for your buck. Purchasing two rings at the same time usually translates into some savings compared to purchasing an engagement ring and then going back later to purchase a wedding band.
Bridal sets offer just as many options as buying your rings separately. You can choose from a wide range of gemstones, precious metals, settings and designs for a perfectly matching set that you’ll love.
Are Bridal Sets and Wedding Sets the Same?
While a bridal set consists of the bride’s engagement ring and wedding band, a wedding set includes the engagement ring as well as a matching his and hers wedding bands.
Buying all three rings at once has a variety of advantages. They are:
You can typically enjoy even more savings if you purchase a complete wedding set of an engagement ring and both wedding bands. Sets, which come as a package deal, may seem expensive, but are often cheaper in the long run. That’s not to say that you can’t find great deals buying three rings individually, but you will need to shop around a lot.
If you like the idea of having matching rings with your future spouse, then a wedding set is the way to go. All three rings will be made of the same metal and will have the same design. Also, if you choose a set that has diamond-enhanced wedding bands, the quality of the stones will be the same in both rings.
Wedding sets are perfect for people who have busy schedules or simply don’t like shopping. Getting the engagement ring and both wedding bands all in one set means you won’t have to waste time looking for rings that match.
Here are some examples of a wedding sets:
- Sonia Jewels Diamond Trio Set Solid 10k White Gold His Hers Square Matching Wedding Bands Bridal Engagement Ring
- Pompeii Gold Matching Engagement Wedding Ring Bridal Set New
- Macy’s Diamond Cluster Bridal Set Trio Collection for Men and Women in 14k White Gold
Which Should You Choose: Engagement Ring, Bridal Set or Wedding Set?
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer when deciding which ring route to take. More and more couples are ignoring tradition and doing what works best for their finances and personalities.
Some brides forgo a wedding band altogether, preferring to wear just an engagement ring while other brides prefer to wear a simple band without all the bling a diamond ring affords.
Some grooms prefer not to wear a ring at all, especially if they have jobs that make wearing a ring dangerous while others opt for something less traditional (not to mention cheaper) in the form of a silicone ring.
The key is to forget about ring traditions and do what makes you happy.