A Guide to Engagement Rings for Men

A man wearing an engagement ring

Typically, women have a stronger interest in jewellery and design than men – their jewellery boxes are filled with different accessories ranging from rings and bracelets, to statement necklaces and dangly earrings, and these are not just reserved for special occasions but for everyday use.

While there are men who have perfected the art of accessorizing with manly silver or golden chains, subtle or sparkling studs in their ear and even rings, the world of jewellery definitely caters more to women than men.

Browsing through shops specializing in engagement rings and wedding bands, you will soon come to recognize that the emphasis is clearly on brides-to-be and you will find men’s engagement rings hard to come by. But what about same-sex couples who are both men? Or what about the woman in a heterosexual couple buying a ring for her husband to be?

Do Men Get Engagement Rings?

Traditionally, it is not common for men to wear engagement rings though some countries do have exceptions. In some South American and Scandinavian countries, both men and women wear a simple engagement band on their left ring finger.

Today, however, couples tend to make up their own rules. Less than twenty years ago, women rarely proposed marriage in heterosexual relationships  – it was viewed as a man’s responsibility and same-sex marriages were illegal.

These days, it is no longer considered strange for a woman to propose marriage, even if it still hasn’t entirely been accepted as a norm. And many same-sex couples are tying the knot.

Younger couples tend to veer from traditional weddings and engagements, making their special milestone moments entirely their own, and with jewellery design and fashion moving swiftly with the changing times, more and more jewellery designers are offering unique engagement rings for men.

Why Is It Not Traditional for Men to Wear Engagement Rings?

A wedding couple next to a car

In Roman customs, the engagement ring symbolized the husband’s ownership of her. By the 19th century, traditional beliefs and customs had evolved, and the marriage between people was starting to be considered one of equality.

Even before De Beers launched it’s famous, “Diamonds last forever” campaign in the late forties, companies like L. Bamburger & Co. (now Macy’s) attempted to popularize what has been dubbed the “management ring” in 1927. Ad campaigns aimed to entice with stylishly clad male models, smoking cigarettes and sporting chunky rings with manly names such as “The Master”, “The Pilot” or “The Stag” – but the trend didn’t catch on. Engagement rings were still associated with being feminine, and not even the manliest of male models could convince their audience otherwise.

Over the past few years however, the demand for management rings has increased, especially in light of the legalisation of same-sex marriages. While many jewellers still offer regular wedding bands as engagement rings for men, some have opened their market to rings specifically designed to act as engagement rings for men. Cultural influences have also played a role in popularizing engagement rings for men, with husbands-to-be adopting the local customs of their future brides, as was the case with Michael Bublé and his Argentinian wife, Luisana Lopilato.

What Sort of Ring to Buy for a Man

Up until recently, jewellers didn’t offer much distinction between engagement rings and wedding bands for men – in fact, most engagement rings sold as such were actually just wedding bands sold under a different title.

Wedding bands for men are typically simple silver, gold or platinum bands with little to no extras. With the rise of the “mangagement” ring, however, came a new attention to detail – yes, even men like to have a little something special if they are going to go the extra mile.

Engagement ring designs for men are obviously not as lavish as those available for women, but there is a wide selection of different styles on offer, many of which come with small diamonds or gemstones, and unique engravings.

Titanium engagement rings have become a true favourite amongst men over the past few years, as their designs are slick, modern and simple whilst still offering a bit of swag by ways of small diamond points. Another popular design choice for titanium rings includes the twin line design, bringing a touch of symbolism that refers to a union. Depending on style preference, these twin line designs can be kept simple and the colour in uniform with the rest of the band, or a bit more fun, with bold colours such as blue or black highlighting the twin lines.

Men who aren’t usually accustomed to wearing jewellery – particularly rings – often opt for rings with groove details or contrasts between polished and matt, keeping it simple yet stylishly timeless. Engagement rings for men are generally more hardwearing, considering many men engage in physical labour on a regular basis and are therefore more prone to breakage, but this doesn’t necessarily affect style. Modern engagement rings for men even come in unusual colours, with black bands and coloured fibre inlays for a playful look.

Even nature has found its way into the design of engagement rings, with designers now offering beautiful textures and engravements inspired by wood and leather. Some designers use special engraving techniques imitating the texture of bark, while others offer actual wood or leather inlays in different shades.

Ultimately, what sort of engagement ring to buy a man rests on…well, your man and his preferences! So, take a good luck at his wardrobe and accessory choices to find the perfect match.

Which Finger Does a Male Wear an Engagement Ring On?

A man putting on an engagement ring

The tradition of which finger to wear your engagement ring on differs from culture to culture, but predominantly, it is worn on the left ring finger. In many countries, the engagement ring is worn on top of the wedding band once it is moved on to the right finger during the wedding ceremony, but in Tamil culture for example, the fiancé/groom wears his ring on his right hand, whereas the bride wears it on the left hand.

There are many explanations as to how this tradition first came into place, one dating all the way back to the ancient Greeks, who believed that a vein – romantically dubbed Vena Amoris (Vein of Love) –  in the left ring finger connects directly to the heart. Modern science has proven that this isn’t quite true, but it’s clear why some may feel adamant to hold on to this story – it’s just too romantic!

Seeing as engagement rings for men aren’t traditional, perhaps which finger to wear it on isn’t of that much importance either. Whether a man chooses to wear his engagement ring on his ring-finger – whether on the left or right hand – or on his middle finger, as was the custom in early Christian ceremonies, should be his personal choice in the end, and you can rest assured that, whatever choice he makes, won’t affect the love he feels.

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