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What You Need to Know About Picking a Temporary Engagement Ring

by Willyou.net * Mar 26, 2022

Key Takeaways

  • Temporary engagement rings are a great idea, whether you’re saving up for a permanent ring (but don’t want to delay the engagement any longer), or want to invest in something your partner can wear when the ‘ring proper’ is at the jewelry store, or being kept somewhere for safe keeping.
  • There’s no reason why a temporary engagement ring can’t still feature a diamond, although you may want to opt for something smaller than the final ring will feature.
  • Consider the importance of maximizing the longevity of your ring. Diamond is hard enough to withstand years and years of wear, just like gold and platinum. Diamond simulants and weaker metals like sterling silver don’t last, and this can be devastating.
  • Even if this engagement ring is only a temporary placeholder, it’s vital you design something that will last.
solitaire temp ring - What You Need to Know About Picking a Temporary Engagement Ring

We’ve heard a lot of proposal stories. True, some of our favorites will be those movie-worthy moments coordinated to the last second – sunset, butterflies released into the air at “Yes”, a photographer crouched in the bushes and two sparkling glasses of champagne on standby at a nearby picnic spot – but there will always be a special place in our hearts for those spur-of-the-moment proposals, where love takes the wheel.

An impromptu engagement is a great story to tell, but, unless you’ve got a savings account ready to take on a purchase worth thousands of dollars – or already know exactly what you want – closing the deal with a ring isn’t quite so simple. That, or it could just be that neither of you have any idea what sort of ring you want to make the ultimate investment into, and want to delay the decision until further notice.

Whatever your reasons, temporary engagement rings are a thing, and they’re a great option for plenty of people planning to get a permanent ring at some time or another. Here are the details…

What is a temporary engagement ring called?

They are often referred to as placeholder rings, or ‘token’ engagement rings. In either case, they refer to rings designed to symbolize your engagement until you’re able to find something you want to wear for the rest of your life.

Plenty of couples agree that the proposal should be a surprise, but also want to be able to pick out the engagement ring together. A placeholder ring, used just for the proposal, is a great option for keeping the big moment traditional, without running the risk of a major disappointment over thousands of dollars’ worth of precious materials.

When used in this way, placeholder rings might only need to last a few weeks or months.

In other instances, placeholder rings are a great option if your finances aren’t quite up to speed with your readiness to get engaged. If you know the sort of ring you want, but aren’t yet in a position to drop $10,000 on it, then a temporary engagement ring is the perfect solution. There are plenty of beautiful options out there, and they don’t need to disappoint. A temporary engagement ring may be worn for weeks, months, or years before it is upgraded.

From time to time, shoppers get confused between promise rings and temporary engagement rings – and for good reason.

A promise ring is traditionally given as a symbol of someone’s commitment to getting proposed in the future, meaning that it acts as a sort of ‘placeholder’ for the engagement ring. For some couples, the line between a promise ring and a placeholder ring might be a lot blurrier than it is for others, so it all comes down to how you view your ring, and your proposal. So long as you’re both on the same page, that’s all that matters.

Is it OK to give a temporary engagement ring?

Absolutely. Different people will, of course, have different opinions on whether they’d rather wait to get engaged until after that dream ring has been found, or whether they’d prefer to get engaged and think about the ring later, but there’s nothing inherently wrong or disappointing about investing in a temporary ring first.

In many cases – and particularly if your partner has some very specific ideas about what they want in their engagement ring, whether in regard to design or cost – it makes a lot more sense to hold off on the big spend until after you’ve popped the question already.

Ultimately, whether or not it’s a good idea will come down to what you know about your partner, and their dream for the proposal. There’s a lot to be said for picking out an engagement ring for your partner, and for that moment you go down on one knee being the first moment they see what you chose, but it’s not the ‘ideal’ for everyone.

What can you use as a placeholder ring?

Anything can be used to keep that spot on your partner’s finger ‘engaged’ until the permanent ring arrives. If you’re still

For some couples, a placeholder ring will be something very temporary, like a ring pop. For the majority, however, they’ll have been as carefully and thoughtfully and intentionally chosen as the long-term ring will be in the future.

We would always recommend something that will last – something strong and of a high enough quality to withstand the test of time. And, for that reason…

Is cubic zirconia good for a temporary engagement ring?

In our opinion, no. While it’s a pretty popular choice for fashion jewelry as a result of its affordability, there’s a major reason why we wouldn’t recommend it.

Consider the fact that one of the key things to know about cubic zirconia is its lack of durability. After only a few months of wear, it will start to look scratched and chipped and, eventually, off-color.

“But the ring is supposed to be temporary anyway,” we hear you saying. Sure, maybe your partner will only wind up wearing it for two, three months – tops. But, even so, consider the amount of sentimental value that placeholder ring will take on, from the moment you use it to propose. Even if it’s a means to an end, that ring will always represent the first symbol of your commitment, and we’re willing to bet that you’ll want to be able to keep it forever.

If not, then it could make a lot more financial sense to invest in a diamond from the get-go, and pursue a diamond upgrade with your jeweler when the time is right (more on that below).

And, even if you can feel okay about the fact that cubic zirconia is no rival to diamond in terms of sparkle or brightness – meaning it can look very, very disappointing when the lid of that box is lifted – the risk of your placeholder ring lasting only a few years isn’t easy to talk up.

Temporary Engagement Rings: Our Tips

  • Start Small, Upgrade Later

A lot of jewelers offer diamond upgrade schemes, which enable their customers to invest within their means now but, one day, trade-in their old diamond for something bigger and better. The original diamond off-sets the cost, making it a strong choice for anyone who has a modest budget to spend now, but the intention of having a larger budget later.

Small diamond engagement rings can be beautiful, impressive, and incredibly romantic, even if they’re intended to represent a ‘steppingstone’ between the proposal, and a time when you can afford to buy the ring you always dreamed of.  

As we mentioned above, whether or not this is the right decision for you and your partner will depend on how you feel about one day letting go of that initial diamond.

  • Don’t Buy it Online

If you’ve spent much time on WillYou.Net already, then it’s probably (hopefully) already drummed into your head that leaving the expensive and hugely important purchase of your engagement ring to the internet is a big no. And, while a temporary engagement ring is obviously going to cost a lot less – and, in some ways, have a lot less riding on it than a ring intended to be worn for the rest of your life – there are still some compelling reasons for you not to shop for this ring online.

The most obvious is, of course, the fact that this is the ring you’re going to propose with. Sure, you’re going to explain your plan to buy a bigger, better ring to your partner, that will come later. When you propose, and at least for those few blissful moments after, your partner’s focus will be on the ring on their finger, and you want it to be something beautiful.

The trouble with the internet is that it’s good for fashion jewelry. If you’re only spending $20 on a ring for occasional wear, the risk is minimal, but as soon as you start looking for something destined to carry a huge amount of sentimental value, you’re in the wrong place.

  • Don’t Get the Size Wrong…

This may seem pretty obvious but, given the number of ring resizing orders jewelers go through every month, it will always be worth pointing out.

Your placeholder ring serves plenty of purposes, and two of the most obvious are reserving a space on your partner’s finger and, of course, being there for the first round of engagement photos. When your heart’s pounding nineteen to the dozen with the joy of being newly engaged, grappling with a ring that won’t go past your partner’s finger joint (or stay put by itself) can be a major disappointment, whether it’s destined for the long-term or short-term.

Don’t try to guesstimate it – check out our guide to choosing the right ring size for your partner first. 

  • …Or the Metal

While the diamond is undoubtedly the central focus for any traditional engagement ring, that doesn’t mean you can afford to overlook every other detail and just pick any setting to hold it in place. Remember that this ring is going to appear in photos, get flashed around to family and coworkers, and prove how well you know your partner – even if it hasn’t got ‘forever’ riding on it.

While your placeholder ring may not feature the same level of detail and opulence as your future ring, getting the metal right – whether your partner is a yellow gold traditionalist, or devoted to platinum and white gold – is a true ‘must’.

Look in your partner’s jewelry box and you’ll likely find a near-definitive clue over where their loyalties lie.

  • Don’t Buy the First Thing You See

This is particularly important if you have plans to pick a ring together immediately after the proposal, since it can be tempting to just pick out anything for the moment itself and not waste too much time overthinking something that’s going to be replaced anyway.

In case the last few points on our list didn’t make the point clear enough, this really isn’t the way to do it. Do not blow your budget on something you’ve spent days picking out, but don’t go too far in the opposite direction by just picking any ring out of any case.

Our best advice? Find a jeweler you’d be happy to work with on the engagement ring itself, and talk to them about your plans. They can help you find something that works for the time being, and you can start laying the foundations for creating the rest of your bridal set when the time comes.

  • Budget first

The whole point of investing in a placeholder or temporary engagement ring is being able to propose without blowing through the budget you’ve saved for the engagement ring proper, or going beyond what you’re currently able to spend.

Sure, a placeholder ring costs significantly less than the engagement ring will (if it doesn’t, you’ve definitely got something wrong), but that doesn’t mean you can just drop money on it without thinking things through first.

FAQ

Still on the fence about proposing with a placeholder? Below, we answer your most commonly asked questions to help you decide what side of the fence you stand on.

Is it OK to shop for engagement rings together?

Yes, absolutely. And, not only is it ‘okay’, but it’s a wonderful way to celebrate your engagement together, and learn more about one another in the process.

These days, statistics show that more than 60% of couples are choosing to work together on finding an engagement ring. Some of these couples will choose to delay the engagement until after they find the ring together. However, if you like the idea of having your partner’s input, but don’t want to spoil the surprise of the upcoming proposal, it’s best to buy a placeholder ring instead.

Choosing an engagement ring together isn’t ‘traditional’, but it is fast-becoming a modern tradition for couples across the country. There’s absolutely nothing wrong or disappointing about it, and, if you’re worried about figuring out your partner’s tastes by yourself, it could be your best option.

Can you propose without a ring?

Yes, but there’s a good reason why most people choose to wait until they have a ring –whether an engagement ring, or a placeholder ring – to propose with. Most of us are, at heart, sticklers for tradition, and a ring formalizes the proposal like nothing else.

Again, this is totally down to personal preference, and those deep-seated expectations you and your partner have for the proposal. Most of us envision one partner going down on one knee, pulling out a ring, popping the question, then sliding it onto their finger and sealing the deal. But just because that’s what most people think of when they hear the word ‘proposal’, doesn’t mean it’s the only way to do it.

If you get engaged in a quiet moment, with nothing more than a well-phrased question, you can go through the process of finding a jeweler, and figuring out how to buy an engagement ring, together.

How do you explain it’s a temporary ring?

Whether you wait until after the proposal, or let her know when you first show her the ring, there is definitely no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to explain the situation.

Our best advice is not to overthink it. Proposing with a placeholder ring, while not the most ‘traditional’ choice, has a load of benefits, and we’re pretty sure your partner will be too caught up in the moment to really process any logistical details.

Pop the question first, then explain your plans to take her shopping for her dream ring. It’s a win-win.

How much does a diamond upgrade cost?

There’s no real limit, since the cost of a diamond upgrade will simply be the cost of the diamond you want, minus the value of your original diamond. Shoppers could make a pretty modest spend, or drop thousands and thousands of dollars on a single upgrade.

The benefit is that upgrading means a smaller upfront payment down the line, when you are ready to replace the placeholder with a permanent ring.

Can your jeweler move a diamond from one ring to another?

Yes, and this is another great option for commemorating your placeholder ring further down the line.

If you pick a smaller diamond for your placeholder ring and don’t want to trade it in for an upgrade in a few months’ or years’ time, then you could have that diamond converted into an accent diamond for your engagement ring. This is a beautiful way of retaining that original sentimental value in something new and more permanent.

So, is a Temporary Engagement Ring Right for You?

There’s no objective answer to this question. While temporary engagement rings are a great solution to many of the common ‘sticking points’ people encounter when they start planning to propose, some of us will find it easier to break from tradition than others.

If you think you and your partner will enjoy shopping for the ring together when time and finances allow, then don’t second-guess your decision. Many, many couples choose to treat the ring used at the proposal as a placeholder for something bigger, better, and even more personal.