When is a wedding ring not a wedding ring?
January 11, 2017 9:02 AM   Subscribe

When we got engaged it was with a cheap comedy ring and my now-husband offered to get me a proper engagement ring if I found one I liked. I'm not a big jewellery person so it wasn't a priority. Now we've been married over a year and I do have a wedding ring, which is just a plain band, which is what I wanted. I've now found another ring that I love, and would like to get as my belated engagement ring. However, it's being sold as a wedding band. Is that a problem?

It's another plain ring without a stone, but it has a twisted shape to it, which I really like. I'd probably wear it on my right hand rather than my left hand (i.e. not the same finger as my wedding ring) if that makes a difference. I'm a woman, if that makes a difference too.

Would it be weird to buy a 'wedding band' that is not going to be my actual wedding ring? Would it be any less weird to regard it as just a special ring rather than my engagement ring? I know nothing about jewellery so I don't know if there is any significance to calling one ring a wedding band and another ring an engagement band in terms of the material object, like is it just marketing? Please help me figure this one out!
posted by maybeandroid to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (37 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
No there's nothing weird about it. It will appear to most other people as a double-band style wedding ring set. Enjoy!
posted by DarlingBri at 9:04 AM on January 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

Best answer: This whole ring thing is just marketing. You can have any ring you want, wear it on whatever finger you want, and have it mean whatever you want! I'm not saying that's easy: I just got married recently too and I get that the way others perceive this has a lot of significance, but no one will know that the ring you like was marketed as a wedding band not an engagement ring. If you wear it on the same finger as your wedding ring, people will perceive it to be an engagement ring. If you wear it on the other hand, they might not without you explaining that. But you will know what it means to you!
posted by latkes at 9:07 AM on January 11, 2017 [37 favorites]

What matters is what you (and your partner) think. You can explain everything else.
posted by bonehead at 9:11 AM on January 11, 2017

Whatever you love is perfectly ok.
posted by goggie at 9:12 AM on January 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Well, you could call it a first or second anniversary ring if you want it to be meaningful to your marriage and temporally related.

But when I lost my engagement ring after I got married, we bought another one and felt no shame about calling it an "engagement ring."
posted by muddgirl at 9:14 AM on January 11, 2017

Is there anyone whose opinion you *care* about who would think it was weird? My engagement ring (which will do double-duty as a wedding band) doesn't necessarily read as an engagement ring. But who cares?
posted by mskyle at 9:15 AM on January 11, 2017

Who is going to call you out saying "That's not a proper engagement ring!"?

No one.
posted by demiurge at 9:15 AM on January 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It doesn't matter what the person selling the ring calls it. The Schwartz is in you.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:16 AM on January 11, 2017 [11 favorites]

I have two rings with stones in them (rather than one with stones and one just a band).

One is my engagement ring, which is beautiful and whose center ring is a sapphire (I told my husband I thought the diamond industry was a racket before we got engaged).

After we got engaged, my husband's mom let him know that his grandmother had left him her engagement ring, so we took the diamond from that, reset it and I used that as my 'wedding band'.

So, in summary, do what you want. I wear my 'wedding band' on my left hand and my engagement ring on my right.
posted by CharlieSue at 9:21 AM on January 11, 2017

You should wear whatever *you* want and love!
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 9:25 AM on January 11, 2017

Response by poster: Okay thanks everyone for the reassurance. I was definitely over thinking it. I am sure none of my friends and family will care or judge. But I am still a bit worried about the actual business of going into the shop and buying it. Will I need to give them an explanation?

If I get this ring I'll need to get a special order of a bigger one than they normally carry in stock. When I got my wedding ring I had a bad experience and the salesperson made a big deal of me having fat fingers. This one will be from a different shop, needless to say! But now I'm super self conscious about ring shopping so I'm overly anxious about it.
posted by maybeandroid at 9:31 AM on January 11, 2017

Your previous salesperson was a serious doofus. Who makes fun of a client?

Get the ring you want, you don't need to explain anything about it.
posted by msbubbaclees at 9:33 AM on January 11, 2017 [5 favorites]

You don't need to explain anything to any one. My aunt always wore a thin gold band on her pinky. I decided I would like to do the same and bought a thin wedding band that I wear on my right pinky, too. No one even batted an eye.

Also agree that your previous salesperson was an idiot!
posted by sarajane at 9:42 AM on January 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Wedding bands are not made out of actual weddingite or anything, no. I've replaced my wedding band several times, generally for under $20 each time. My husband refuses to upgrade his or have it resized and I assume one day his finger will just fall off.

You do not need to provide proof of marriage or intent to marry to buy a wedding ring. Dealing with humans is always fraught, especially when they think they smell a sentimentally-vulnerable upsale (or when they're just assholes, sorry that happened to you), but if you must deal with a person you can make up whatever story you want. Grandma will write you out of the will if she finds out you're not married, you're a spy, you're a nun and don't like the ring Jesus gave you, etc.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:43 AM on January 11, 2017 [14 favorites]

But I am still a bit worried about the actual business of going into the shop and buying it. Will I need to give them an explanation?
I guarantee they do not care why you are buying anything from them, and the only thing they will want you to explain is how you will be paying for it. Relax, get the ring you want, and enjoy it!
posted by Dolley at 9:44 AM on January 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

I suppose they might congratulate you on your upcoming wedding, I guess, in which case you can smile and thank them or you can say it's for your sister or something. It is entirely okay to lie in this kind of small-talk situation. Enjoy your ring!
posted by corvine at 9:47 AM on January 11, 2017

Good heavens, why would any of this be a problem? Just buy the ring you want; you don't have to explain anything to anyone at all, least of to all the person you're handing your hard-earned bucks to.
posted by holborne at 9:48 AM on January 11, 2017

I'm sorry you got a terrible salesperson in your past shop! They were awful, but I do think in general they are really just interested in your money. :) If they are rude to you, I'd leave and go to a different shop -- it's their problem, not yours!
posted by rainbowbrite at 9:54 AM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

My father lost his wedding ring. Over twenty years later, for their 40th anniversary, he gave Mom a neckchain for her rings (her fingers were swollen and she couldn't wear them anymore) and she gave him a new, replacement wedding ring. No re-commitment ceremony or anything, they just gave each other gifts.

Did that mean his new ring was not a wedding ring? He said it was, and she said it was, so as far as I'm concerned that's all that matters. Ditto with yours: if you say it's an engagement ring, it is.
posted by easily confused at 9:56 AM on January 11, 2017

I bought a random ring in a jewelry shop for less than $60 as my wedding ring. I also bought it after the wedding. It's pretty and I like it and nobody has ever asked me anything about it, in the shop or otherwise. You're okay.
posted by epanalepsis at 10:01 AM on January 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

"But I am still a bit worried about the actual business of going into the shop and buying it. Will I need to give them an explanation?"

No, but if you do in the course of small talk, any salesperson worth their salt would enthusiastically agree it was a lovely idea and a great engagement ring. I mean honestly if they give you any guff whatsoever about the proper use of the ring or the size, I'd immediately ask for another salesperson or ask to speak with the manager. Don't give a commission to a jerk.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:08 AM on January 11, 2017 [5 favorites]

I just bought a stacking set of nice sparkly-rocl rings as an early 5-year anniversary gift, and started wearing them in lieu of my plain band. Nobody noticed. They were marketed as engagement rings. Buy and wear what makes you happy, with impunity!
posted by Fig at 10:09 AM on January 11, 2017

I have a traditional wedding band/diamond solitaire engagement ring that I wear on the middle finger of my left hand. People occasionally ask about it. Sometimes I tell them that in the middle Ages it was traditional to wear it on the middle finger because they believed that vein went directly to the heart. Sometimes I admit that I lost weight and didn't want to resize it. To be honest, they are just making small talk and I could say anything I wanted and it would be fine.

If you wear your ring on the right hand, people will not recognize it as an engagement ring. Some people will just comment "nice ring" and you can choose to tell them story about it being your engagement ring or you could tell a different story (like how you found it in this special store) or just say "thank you, I like it too" Any of those answers are fine - just pick what feel comfortable to you and respond with confidence and it will be fine.
posted by metahawk at 10:30 AM on January 11, 2017

I think it's lovely that you plan to get an engagement ring now, instead of thinking, "It's too late!" I'm reminded of my parents--when they got engaged, they didn't have money for much and there was no ring, though they got plain bands for the wedding. Maybe 15 years ago, when they'd been married for about 40 years, my mom decided she'd like one and saw a unique ring made by a jeweler at an upscale craft store that she loved. My dad bought it for her. It was a wide band with a cabochon stone and looked nothing like a traditional engagement ring. She wore it on her right hand, and since it was unusual, people did ask her about it all the time. She loved telling people the story of how it was an engagement ring she got forty years late. (She doesn't wear it much now because of arthritis.) I think you should go for it!
posted by pangolin party at 10:49 AM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

But I am still a bit worried about the actual business of going into the shop and buying it. Will I need to give them an explanation?

It'll be fine (or, nthing Eyebrows McGee, if they're weird about it, give them the boot).

My now-wife and I got her wedding ring at an antiques store that specializes in wedding stuff, and the staff and owner were nothing but lovely about the fact that (1) she didn't have an engagement ring (we were and are too poor), and (2) the ring we were buying looked more like an engagement ring than the wedding ring it was destined to be. They said, "The only thing that matters is that you feel good in it every day."

Even though I was a little insecure about it going in, they totally made us feel great about our decisions. In other words, they did what any good salespeople do.
posted by Beardman at 10:54 AM on January 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

It's your life, and you can do whatever you want.

This applies to pretty much everything.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:19 AM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Eh, a ring is a ring. Unless it's a wedding ring. That is to say, YOUR wedding ring. If you want to use a gum wrapper as a wedding ring, then it is a wedding ring. That's a symbol that is personal and meaningful to only the two of you, screw society.

Don't worry about society's opinion of your ring, your selection of husband, your arrangement for your marriage, and don't buy into advertising and the Repubs crap-awful definition of what marriage is supposed to be. We don't need the return to the fifties.
posted by BlueHorse at 11:19 AM on January 11, 2017

Always remember that as the customer with the money to pay for the thing you want, you're the one with the power in any buying situation. You don't owe the salesperson any explanations or anything besides the money to pay for what you purchase and possibly any fitting information they need to make sure the ring fits well. If they give you grief, you can leave, take your money with you, and leave a negative yelp review.
posted by Aleyn at 11:54 AM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Wedding rings and engagement rings are different from "normal" rings, in two ways.

1) They are more expensive
2) They are made with materials that are durable enough for daily, long-term wear (some normal rings are as well, but it's not as high of a design priority). This is why you rarely see, for example, pearls used in rings designed to be engagement rings.

However, there's no difference between wedding rings and engagement rings, except for the aesthetic style.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 12:19 PM on January 11, 2017

"But I am still a bit worried about the actual business of going into the shop and buying it. Will I need to give them an explanation?"

What would work is: "I like this ring. Please order it in my size, and here's my credit card. Thank you."

Never, ever let anyone give you grief over ... well ... anything!

And ... enjoy that ring that you love. :)
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 1:08 PM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

When I got my wedding ring I had a bad experience and the salesperson made a big deal of me having fat fingers.

Oh golly, I am so sorry to hear that. Several years ago I went dress shopping with my niece and her mom for the niece's QuinceaƱera celebration. This was in San Francisco's Mission district. The dress my niece liked needed to be ordered, and I was shocked because the saleswoman said, no fewer than three times, that my niece should order it in a different size if she were planning on losing weight. Since my sister didn't speak up, I finally said, "Look, she's not losing any weight. She's find just the way she is, she is ordering the size she needs, do not talk about this again."

TL;DR: If anyone at the new place gives you grief, don't take it the way we did. Just spin around and leave. Unless the ring you want is unique, you can probably source it somewhere else. Also, if you are nervous, take someone with you who can speak up on your behalf if need be. No one, no one, no one should ever be shamed the way you are. Not by anyone and, especially, not by staff who are there to help you.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:10 PM on January 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

I have one rule for wearing rings (if you choose to wear them.)

Wear whatever the fuck you want. Serriously.
posted by Crystalinne at 2:17 PM on January 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

My engagement ring is a silver and amethyst ring from a local store, and my wedding ring is probably considered an "anniversary band" or some other silly construct because it has a row of diamonds in it. I picked out what I liked.

I have fat fingers myself and have been shamed in the past in big box jewelry stores (I'm looking at you, Jared, for sniffing that you couldn't possibly do anything to enlarge a ring I got as a gift, probably because it was $100 and not $5000). So I feel for you. When we started getting the stink eye at the fancy jewelry store when we were ring shopping, I just glared at them and walked out. I'm not rewarding bad customer service. If they give you grief, get a picture of the ring you like and have a local artisan make something similar.
posted by cabingirl at 5:39 PM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Your story makes total sense. And you shared it with all of us here. And we all understood it and could relate. So maybe you'll get a salesperson who can understand as well.

Given how many couples now are doing fast engagements and courthouse weddings, I bet retroactive engagement rings will be a thing soon enough.
posted by salvia at 7:13 PM on January 11, 2017

Unless it is a hot dog, it is a wedding ring.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:38 PM on January 11, 2017

Given how many couples now are doing fast engagements and courthouse weddings, I bet retroactive engagement rings will be a thing soon enough.

Oh, hey, I hope this didn't seem like I was saying anything about your wedding. I just meant that I bet there are actually a bunch of people wanting to buy an engagement ring after the wedding for various reasons. Maybe it'll be its own marketing category soon! :)
posted by salvia at 8:14 PM on January 11, 2017

That sales person was horrible, I'm really sorry. May they lose many sales.

I single and don't intend to marry but one day I'd quite like to buy myself a sparkly ring. I may even say I am marrying my cat, just to help smooth the way for people who want to buy a ring for whatever reason they have.
posted by kitten magic at 12:58 AM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

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