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Do Men Wear Engagement Rings?

By Alina

Marketing and Communications Advisor with a passion for diamonds and a nose for trends. Always happy to share the latest developments in the jewelry business with you.

January 23, 2020

We all know the idyllic scene: The man goes down on one knee. He proposes with a (diamond) ring and she says yes. The couple is engaged, they plan their wedding, get married and they live happily ever after. At the wedding ceremony, the couple exchanges rings. He puts on her wedding ring and she puts his wedding ring around his finger. But wait a second: this means the woman gets two rings and the man only one. Is this custom, or is there another way? Of course there is. After all, there are also engagement rings for men.

History of engagement rings

First, let me tell you a bit about the history of engagement rings. Engagement rings date all the way back to the ancient Egyptians, almost 5000 years ago! It was the first known culture where people exchanged “rings of love”. These rings were not diamond rings of course but made from reeds or leather. The band, or circle, represented eternal love and life. Our modern-day eternity rings are based upon the same principle. Even though the Egyptians were the founders of idea of an engagement ring, we can’t give all credit to them. It was the ancient Romans who linked the ring to marriage. However, this was less romantic than it sounds. When a man gave a woman an “engagement ring”, it symbolized that this woman was taken. The ring stood for ownership of that woman.

roman woman wearing a ring

The first diamond engagement ring

Throughout the years, many cultures and religions adopted the idea of engagement rings and wedding rings. The meaning of the engagement ring also shifted. From a sign of ownership, it became a sign of betrothal: a promise for a future marriage. We don’t know exactly when the first diamond engagement ring made its appearance. But the first documented use was by the Archduke Maximilian of Austria. In 1477 in the imperial court of Vienna, he gave a diamond ring upon his betrothal to Mary of Burgundy.

The popularity of the diamond engagement ring

The engagement of the Archduke and Mary of Burgundy influenced the entire higher social class. After all, everybody wanted to be like the royals. Many men wanted to show (off) their wealth and started to propose with a diamond engagement ring. Over the years, there were also other engagement rings. Like those with a gemstone. But diamonds always remained quite popular. But when the diamond cartel De Beers began a marketing campaign about diamond engagement rings in 1938, the diamond engagement ring became more popular than ever.

man holding box with engagement ring

Did men use to wear engagement rings?

The history mainly focuses on men giving an engagement ring to women. Does this mean it was never the other way around? Well, basically not. Almost 100 years ago, the American company L. Bamburger & Co. (nowadays known as Macy’s) tried though. They placed ads in the newspapers with engagement rings for men. The ads featured sporty men with ditto rings that wore manly names like “the Stag” and “the Master”. Needless to say, it didn’t catch on. But a lot can change in 100 years…

Men’s engagement rings today

A typical Western groom privately purchases a diamond engagement ring to pop the question with. But more and more, women start to giving their partner something as well in return for the engagement. Some couples are very practical and split the engagement ring bill. We call this phenomenon “going Dutch on the engagement ring”. And while unimaginable a few decades ago, nowadays women can also propose. Some do this with an engagement watch. Others do this with a “mangagement ring”.

man and woman looking at rings

Mangagement ring: the male engagement ring

But many people, especially millennials, think the concept of only the woman receiving an engagement rings is a bit strange. You both get wedding rings. So why not an engagement ring for the two of you as well? Moreover, both the man and the woman are taken when engaged. The woman can flash her engagement ring to let others know she is betrothed. With a “mangagement ring” he can also show other potential suitors that he is off the market.

Famous examples of men wearing engagement rings

There are a few famous examples of men who wear or wore engagement rings. I won’t go into detail about all of them, but I will mention a few. For example, singer Michael Buble when he proposed to his now-wife in 2010. “The boy also wears the engagement ring in [her home country of] Argentina],” he said. Another famous example is Ed Sheeran. He raised quite a few eyebrows at an event in 2018 wearing a ring on his finger. His explanation for this was pretty straightforward. Sheeran considers marriage as a partnership where both sides take on equal roles and responsibilities. The both of them wearing engagement rings symbolizes that perfectly.

ed sheeran and his engagement ring

Reasons for men to wear engagement rings

There are a couple of reasons for men to wear engagement rings:

  • As a symbol of love and commitment
  • A physical reminder of the precious moment
  • As a promise ring
  • Show you belong together
  • Signal your status to the world
  • Emphasize the equality in your relationship

Should a man wear an engagement ring?

Nowadays 5 to 17% of engaged men wear a mangagement ring. This doesn’t sound like a lot so far. But as you know, sometimes these things can take a quick turn. Whether you want to wear an engagement ring yourself or not is completely up to you of course. The most important part is that you feel comfortable about it.

A traditional dilemma

Does this mean a man can only wear an engagement ring if the woman proposes? Of course not! You can still do the traditional man-woman proposal and wear an engagement ring yourself as well. My advice would be to propose to your girlfriend first with a (diamond) engagement ring for her. After you popped the question – and she said yes – you can tell her you want to wear an engagement ring as well as a symbol of your love and commitment.

woman proposing to man

Men’s engagement rings

So you want a male engagement ring. Okay, I’ll also take a maybe. It can’t hurt to figure out what your options are, right. There are so many options for women, even when you only look at solitaire diamond engagement rings. Let alone if you also take all other options into account. The number of options can feel overwhelming. But it can also make things easier because it can help to find out what you like. For men, on the other hand, there aren’t a lot of options so far. So let me help you to explore your options.

To start your quest for a mangagement ring, ask yourself what kind of a ring you want. There are various options for male engagement ring:

  • Classic ring
  • Ring with a single diamond or gemstone
  • Ring with multiple stones
  • Signet ring

Classic ring

This is a mono-color no-fuss ring. It is the simplest version of all male engagement rings. But that doesn’t mean it is dull. Au contraire: we call this ring a classic because it is timeless and sophisticated. It is easy to combine with almost any outfit and they are widely available.

If you opt for a classic engagement ring, all that’s left to do is choose your metal. Since an engagement is a special occasion, I suggest a precious metal:

  • Platinum
  • Palladium
  • Yellow gold
  • White gold
  • Rose gold

Naturally, there are alternative metals like titanium, tungsten, tantalum, stainless steel, carbon fiber, meteorite and cobalt. There are even natural rings made from wood or cork, but these are harder to find and harder to match.

Ring with a single diamond or gemstone

Consider this the male version of the solitaire ring for women. It is a ring with only one diamond as a (literal) center stone. Whereas female solitaire engagement rings have a rather slender shape, those for men are sturdier. When you want a ring with a (gem) stone in it, there are generally three options:

  • Diamond
  • Gemstone (precious or semi-precious)
  • Birthstone

diamond ring for men

Diamond engagement ring
Traditionally, we choose diamonds for engagement rings, so also for mangagement rings. When you want a diamond, make sure to take the 4 C’s into account: Carat, Color, Clarity and Cut. If a white diamond is not your cup of tea, you can also opt for a black diamond ring. Black diamonds are tougher and more mysterious at the same time.

Engagement ring with a gemstone
Gemstones are a great alternative for traditional engagement rings. Especially when they come in your favorite color. Gemstones can be precious or semi-precious. Sapphires (blue), Emeralds (green) and Rubies (red) are precious gemstones. Others are semi-precious, like Aquamarine (light blue), Topaz (yellow), Amethyst (purple) and Onyx (black). But the list of semi-precious gemstones is almost endless.

alliance ring with blue gemstones

A ring with your or her birthstone
A sweet thought is to have her birthstone set in your engagement ring. Opt for your own birthstone or choose the one that has a special meaning to the both of you.

Ring with multiple stones

My personal favorite is the diamond engagement ring for men with a string of diamonds. You may know this type of ring as an alliance ring or eternity ring. More or less the same applies here as for the ring with a single stone. You can choose diamonds (white or black), gemstones or semi-precious stones. Usually, the alliance ring for men features a small line of diamonds with a wide band of gold on both sides. This gives the ring a tough exterior compared to the slender female ring.

engagement rings for him and her

Signet ring

Signet rings are one of the oldest rings for men. For thousands of years, these are associated with wealthy and important men. The signet ring has an engraving, a symbol, series of words, letter or image on the top. This tells something about the wearer. Many signet rings have sentimental value because they are often family heirlooms. But you can also purchase a “new” signet ring and have it engraved with something personal, like your partner’s initials.

Choosing the perfect engagement ring for men

Hopefully, you now have a better idea about your options for a mangagement ring and whether or not men wear engagement rings. At Royal Coster Diamonds, we can make any ring for any budget. But if you still don’t know exactly what you want, that’s not a problem either. We have trained diamond consultants who are standing by to help you find your perfect piece. Are you ready for the commitment of an engagement ring? Contact us now.

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