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a man proposing to a woman on a cliff

Source: LL_studio/

An engagement ring isn’t an engagement — it’s a symbol of the engagement. 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 — 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.

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. 

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

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.

a woman holding the enchanted the meadow and the sophia rings

Featured: The Enchanted, The Meadow and The Sofia

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 partners want 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?

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. 

a man putting the elena engagement ring on a womans finger

Featured: The Elena

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. 

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.

That 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. 

Shop All Our Affordable Engagement Rings