Diamonds have long been a girl’s best friend, but what about her soon-to-be spouse? Traditional engagement rings have adorned women’s left ring ringers for centuries, symbolizing love, commitment and the exciting journey toward marriage. But in recent years, more and more people have started wondering if men can (or should) wear engagement rings, too.
Forget everything you think you know about engagement traditions. Let’s dive headfirst into the evolving world of men’s engagement rings. Whether you’re newly engaged or thinking about asking your partner the question of a lifetime, here’s everything you need to know about male engagement rings!
Are Male Engagement Rings a Thing?
So... Do men wear engagement rings? The answer depends on a number of factors. As customs and traditions evolve, some of those factors change and some become obsolete. In the case of men’s wedding rings, changing perceptions about relationships and the weight of pop culture have helped to shape current trends in a big way.
Once upon a time, engagement rings were seen as symbols of "possession.” Granted, that was long ago, during a time when women were seen as "prized property." Look, the history of engagement rings isn’t perfect. However, for many years, women’s engagement rings were also seen as a sign of a man's commitment to take care of his bride and subsequent family.
In those days, men (at least in Western cultures) didn't wear wedding rings. The attitude was, "Why should men wear wedding rings? Why bother?”
The idea really only started catching on after a photograph of Humphrey Bogart wearing a wedding ring emerged in the media. Engagement ring industry, meet pop culture. Now, of course, both men and women wear wedding bands in the U.S. Engagement rings haven’t caught on quite as much, yet, though.
In other countries, such as Sweden, Chile and Argentina, both men and women have been wearing engagement rings for a long time. In Argentina, tradition demands that engagement rings are made of silver, while wedding rings are made of gold.
Some Numbers to Consider
Compared to centuries past, many more men wear wedding rings now. Even compared to a century ago, it’s a much more common practice. In 2019, a study from The Knot found that roughly half of same-sex couples exchange engagement rings but for heterosexual couples, that number is about six percent. The legalization of same-sex marriage has obviously increased the number of men receiving engagement rings, but it was still a slowly growing trend before then.
Male engagement rings are much more common than ever before and male wedding rings are more common still. However, celebrities like Michael Bublé and Ed Sheeran have caused quite a stir when photographed wearing their engagement rings. That meant that pop culture once again raised the question: Should (or do) men wear engagement rings? There are two sides to this proverbial coin, and there isn’t necessarily a single “right” answer.
For some, it’s a matter of personal choice. Some men feel uncomfortable wearing any jewelry, including a ring. Many, however, wear wedding bands daily once married but feel like engagement rings are only for women. Other men would like to move with the times and hop on the engagement ring trend.
Some guys wear engagement rings comfortably, and others aren’t really fans. While there is a more general acceptance of men wearing rings, rings just aren’t everyone’s thing. The number of men choosing not to wear rings doesn’t account for guys who would wear a necklace or watch instead of a ring, but using that to display the same commitment.
For many women, showing off a sparkly diamond ring is one of the most exciting parts of being engaged. Guys aren’t always as excited about flashy gemstones, though. And that’s totally okay! It’s also one of the reasons engagement rings still aren’t as popular among men as they are among women in Western cultures.
Some men may be leery of wearing a ring for safety reasons. These are often men who are very active or perform manual labor of some kind. There have been cases of men who have lost their ring fingers due to a ring getting caught in the machinery. People have also experienced ring avulsion, or degloving injuries while wearing rings. This type of injury is rare but devastating and occurs when a ring gets caught on a fast-moving object and removes the finger’s soft tissue. Degloving injuries are difficult to treat and, in many cases, lead to amputation. Ouch.
That means for many guys, whether they wear a ring is a matter of safety and practicality, not style or sentimentality. These men can benefit from silicone wedding bands when they are ready to start wearing a ring. Men working in manual labor can safely wear a silicone ring since it’s non-conductive and can break away if met with resistance. Can’t say the same for a solid white gold or yellow gold band.
Typically, commitment levels can play a role. How a man views his relationship with his significant other can determine whether he will wear an engagement ring or promise ring. If he believes in equal commitment from both parties, he should have no problem wearing his own engagement ring — as long as it suits his style. After all, it’s meant to symbolize love and devotion. If you expect your future groom or bride-to-be to show the whole world that he or she is "spoken for," why wouldn’t you want to do the same instead of waiting for the wedding day?
Ultimately, as a couple, you both need to decide on how you want to symbolize your marriage. For some couples, that means wearing matching engagement rings. For others, it doesn’t. It’s entirely up to you.
What Finger to Wear a Male Engagement Ring on
So if the man does decide to wear an engagement ring, this begs the question: Which finger would a man wear his engagement ring on?
This is first and foremost a cultural thing. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. In some cultures, the engagement ring is worn on the left hand's fourth finger, later to be replaced by (or to become) the wedding band. In other cultures, the engagement ring is worn on the right hand's fourth finger, and the wedding ring is then worn on the left hand.
Today, we live in a melting pot of different cultures and customs. They are so intertwined that whether a man wears an engagement ring or a promise ring is really a personal choice. There is no wrong or right answer. Do men wear engagement rings? Yes. Do they have to? No. And if you choose to wear one, it's up to you how you want to flaunt it. Wear it on your left ring finger if you like, or wear it on the index finger of your right hand if you prefer. Traditions and customs play a role, but there’s no law saying that men (or even women!) must wear a ring on a certain finger. Do what feels best to you!
At present, an American man wearing an engagement ring is a small but growing trend. Chances are, men’s engagement rings will become increasingly common over the next several years, so why not jump on the trend early? And don’t let the added cost of a men’s wedding ring deter you from buying one in the first place. Before you discard the idea completely, keep in mind that until that famous picture of Humphrey Bogart wearing a wedding ring, men weren't interested in wedding bands, either.
Another popular trend right now is men wearing promise rings. While this may be new in tradition, the meaning of a promise ring signifies commitment and love. Whether you get matching promise rings or the man gets one for his engagement, this piece of jewelry is a great way for the two of you to celebrate your marriage.
When you look at it logically, an engagement ring is just a small symbol of commitment and devotion. In an ideal world, all people should be equally committed to making their relationship work. That includes being equally willing to wear the perfect ring that declares their intentions to be married to the world. But, of course, no piece of jewelry is as important as the commitment itself.
The history of men’s engagement rings hasn’t always been the most glamorous. We take for granted now all the options that guys have, but it hasn’t always been this way. While women have long had lots of flashy and exciting bling, guys have mainly had the standard gold and silver. While that works just fine for plenty of guys, some are looking for more options. Now, there are all types of precious metals and styles that are used for male engagement and wedding rings, allowing more guys to take part in it. Some guys in years past probably would’ve worn a ring if the jewelers of yesteryear offered options like silicone, tungsten or stainless steel. These are, of course, just guesses, but it’s great now that men have more wedding ring options.
Getting ready to buy a men's wedding ring? Need an extra hand choosing the perfect eternity band for your future woman? Want to show your commitment with his and hers wedding bands? The experts at Modern Gents are here to help. We offer a large selection of wedding ring styles and engagement rings at affordable prices that are perfect for any couple. Whether you choose a traditional band or a unique ring with an elaborate design, we are sure you'll be able to find exactly what you're looking for.