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a man proposing to a woman on a cliff

An engagement ring isn’t an engagement — it’s a symbol of the engagement. Realistically, getting engaged doesn’t even require a ring. Likewise, a placeholder ring might be a temporary measure, but it’s still the same emphatic token of a long-term commitment. To be clear, it’s not a pre-engagement ring or a promise ring — a proposal has definitely taken place, and the placeholder is reserving a spot for an engagement ring to come. There’s no mistaking that this is the person you are going to be spending your life with — but this just might not be the final version of the engagement ring that they wear.

Ring shopping can be tricky, especially when you’re unsure what your fiance-to-be’s dream ring looks like. That’s where placeholder engagement rings come in. Still not sure exactly what a placeholder ring is or whether you should buy one? Let’s take a closer look. 

What Is a Pre-Engagement Ring?

Why Get a Placeholder in the First Place?

Different Timelines for Proposal and Ring Purchase

Perhaps the proposal is intended to be a surprise, but engagement jewelry is meant to be more collaborative. The final ring is a piece of jewelry your loved one will wear forever, so it only makes sense to include them in the shopping process. Buying a proposal ring to use as a placeholder allows you to pull off a surprise proposal while maintaining the peace of mind that your bride-to-be will still get to pick up an engagement ring she loves. It’s a win-win. 

Or maybe the timeline for engagement has started, but the ring isn’t ready yet — it’s an heirloom, a custom ring or something that still requires a bit more saving. 

Are you planning on popping the question while on vacation? Maybe you don’t want to bring the real engagement ring with you for fear of losing your luggage or dropping it in the waves on a tropical island. Whether the “real” ring is an expensive diamond engagement ring or something that holds a lot of sentimental value, losing it would be devastating. With a temporary engagement ring, you can ask the big question while the real thing remains safely at home. 

Either way, there’s no rule that says you have to choose between the perfect proposal and the perfect engagement ring if the timing for the two doesn’t happen to align.

close up of rose gold radiant cut engagement ring

Featured: The Amelia - Rose Gold

A Chance to Learn More About What You Want from an Engagement Ring

It’s a bit awkward to test-drive an engagement ring without being engaged. Not just in the store, but out in the world where you might have to be pulling latex gloves over the setting, changing through a whole wardrobe of outfits, etc. So if you aren’t sure what you or your partner wants from an engagement ring, this can be a chance to get a sense for what’s a good fit in terms of style and comfort. Who knows? Maybe this will end up being the official engagement ring after all!

What to Look for in a Placeholder Ring

Because not all placeholders serve the same purpose, it should come as no surprise that there is quite a bit of variation in what a placeholder ring might look like and how you should go about selecting it. For example, if it is a test, do you want to experiment with something totally different from what you expect your final choice will be? Or do you want the placeholder to mimic its successor as closely as possible?

Temporary engagement rings come in countless styles and can be made from everything from sterling silver to yellow or white gold to platinum. They can be solitaires or feature multiple gemstones, and the style options are virtually limitless. Typically, though, people choose less-expensive materials when shopping for placeholders. 

No matter what direction you take, there are still a few criteria that the placeholder has to meet. 

The Ring Still Needs to Look Good Though

OK, so it’s a placeholder. That doesn’t mean it has to be like a traffic cone. It’s more like those people who slip in and occupy seats at the Oscars when the actors step away. Like an audience member at the Academy Awards, there’s a good chance that finger is going to be in the spotlight, so you still want the ring to be looking its best. 

If you plan on taking photos immediately after getting engaged, choose a proposal ring that looks similar to the real deal. Think cubic zirconia (or another diamond simulant) instead of diamond and sterling silver instead of white gold. You don’t want it to look drastically different from the final engagement ring in pictures! 

Also, make sure the ring design is something that your partner will like. Even if you’re unsure exactly what style they prefer, you should know them well enough to know whether they prefer something simple and understated or a bold, blingy band. 

engaged woman holding out hand on beach

Featured: The Camille and The Forever

The Ring Needs to Be Ready for Future Work

Even if the placeholder ring doesn’t become the engagement ring, there’s still a good chance that it might be called upon in the future. Placeholder rings often find lifetime tenure as travel rings. Not to mention that it subs for other, more expensive jewelry. So make sure the stand-in ring is something that your future spouse will enjoy wearing later. 

Shop All Travel Rings

The Ring Doesn’t Have to Be Uber Expensive

Since we’ve built an entire brand around affordable engagement rings, we’re pretty sure you’re aware that we think that going into debt over an engagement ring isn’t the kind of romantic gesture that ultimately nurtures a relationship. And that’s obviously doubly true for placeholder rings.

The Ring Needs to Be Approved by Both of You

This is the most important feature of all. Even in a surprise proposal, it’s essential to make sure you and your partner are on the same page. That’s doubly or maybe even triply true of a placeholder ring. It needs to be confirmation that you are, indeed, both on the same timeline and gazing at the same list of priorities when it comes to your relationship.

Closing Thoughts

The vision of a united future is what gives both engagement rings and placeholder rings their power, and it is why Modern Gents is committed to making sure that its collection of high-quality jewelry remains an accessible one. Whether you’re in the market for a placeholder ring, an engagement ring or a wedding band, we have what you need. Browse our complete collection today to find the perfect piece for your loved one!

Shop All Our Affordable Engagement Rings