Catholic Engagement Rings
Welcome and Blessings! If you are looking to get engaged with an engagement ring that reflects love and commitment to both your significant other AND God, then you are in the right place! While there is no specific Catholic teaching regarding the giving of an engagement ring, there is a lot of history and tradition between Catholic marriages and engagement rings. As a cradle Catholic myself, I am still in awe of this beautiful sacrament and love the symbolism an engagement ring can represent for your future life together. Let’s take a look at the history of engagement rings, an appropriate budget, styles of Catholic engagement rings, and why custom designing the perfect engagement ring might be the best choice for you and your future spouse.
Table of Contents
A Brief History of Engagement Rings
Interestingly, early Christian/Catholic practices did not place much emphasis on engagement rings. Marriage is considered a sacred bond, and at that time, the focus was on the commitment made between the couple and their spiritual union in the eyes of God. Engagement and wedding rings were not a common or essential aspect of this commitment.
It was in the Middle Ages that engagement rings began to gain prominence in Western societies, including those in which a majority of the population was Catholic. Rings started to symbolize both love and commitment, with their circular shape representing eternity. This symbolism resonated well with Catholic teachings on the sacramental permanence of marriage.
Within the Catholic Church, marriage has always been held in high regard as a covenant made before God. The exchange of rings during the wedding ceremony is an important ritual that signifies the couple’s commitment to each other and their promise to live out their marriage as a reflection of Christ’s love for His Church.
In the Catholic Church, the engagement ring serves as a precursor to the wedding ring, symbolizing the intention to marry and the period of preparation leading up to the sacrament of matrimony. It’s a visible sign of the couple’s commitment and a reminder of their dedication to the sacramental aspect of their relationship.
While the design and material of engagement rings have evolved over time, the core symbolism remains the same within the context of Catholic marriage traditions. The ring is a tangible representation of the spiritual union between the couple, their mutual consent to enter into the sacrament of marriage, and their pledge to love and support each other as a reflection of Christ’s love for His Church.
Should Catholics Get Engagement Rings?
In my research, I have come across articles that have mentioned the frivolity of engagement rings. Since there is not specific Catholic teaching regarding the gifting of an engagement ring, why should you spend the money? A simple wedding band exchanged during your ceremony will surely suffice, right? This conclusion is not wrong, and you can certainly have a fruitful, faithful, and sacramental marriage without an engagement ring. I believe; however, they do hold a significant amount of important symbolism.
Engagement Rings as a Symbol of Love
God gave us his only son, Jesus in an act of perfect love. It was another act of love when Jesus gave us his physical body for our sins on the cross. Gifts of love are prevalent in Catholic teaching and that permeates into our human experience. I don’t know about you, but I find true joy in giving to people I love, whether it’s my time or a physical gift. Engagement rings are a wonderful way to give a physical gift of love to your future spouse. Every time she looks down at her finger, she is reminded of the love you both share. What makes this gift even more significant is the way in which it is worn. There are very few physical things that are worn or used on a daily basis, but most women wear their engagement ring every single day for the rest of their life. An engagement ring is a gift that spans generations, representing the love of mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles, etc.
Engagement Rings as a Symbol of Commitment
We live in a world that is putting less and less emphasis on the vital importance of commitment. This is why I am so grateful for the Catholic teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. Marriage is a covenant made before God. In that we are promising to commit ourselves to another for the rest of our lives. An engagement ring is the first symbol we physically give to our future spouse to represent this sacred commitment. While words are incredibly powerful, the act of giving an engagement ring creates a visible symbol of your commitment.
Engagement Rings are Pretty!
Getting an engagement ring for the sake of beauty has little to do with specific Catholic teaching, but I think we can agree that God ultimately created all beautiful things. These include the gold, gemstones, and diamonds mined from the earth, as well as the talents jewelers use to create beautiful engagement rings. Celebrating this beauty and wanting to wear something beautiful is intrinsic to our nature. I love wearing certain pieces of jewelry simply because they are beautiful, and I thank God for those little gifts of beauty.
As a Catholic, How Much Should I Spend on an Engagement Ring?
When it comes to a budget, there are a lot of factors to consider before adhering to a specific number. As Catholics, we also have the added layer of service and sacrifice to others above self. Should you spend a lot of money on an engagement ring when you could give that money away? Ultimately, it will all come down to your own personal discernment, but here are some considerations:
How Much Does the Average Engagement Ring Cost?
In 2022, a study was performed that stated the average American wanted to spend between $1000 – $5000 on an engagement ring. At that time, the average engagement ring cost around $5200.
There are, however, a lot of considerations to make when looking at the cost of an engagement ring. You have many different stones and metals to choose from, all at vastly different prices. While natural diamonds are traditional, they are significantly more expensive than most gemstones or lab grown diamonds. 14K white gold will be quite a bit less expensive than platinum. More intricate and heavier designs will cost more than daintier and simpler engagement rings. Ultimately, you can find engagement rings in just about any price range. It is more important to establish your own personal budget first, and then look for options that fit your price point.
Alright, when it comes to the actual number you SHOULD spend on an engagement ring, what factors should I consider?
First, what can you personally afford? I am a firm believer in not going into debt over an engagement ring.
Are there other things you would like to purchase down the road? Perhaps you would like to buy a house or car as a couple. It would not be prudent to spend most of your savings on an engagement ring, leaving little to nothing for other important future purchases.
Finally, are you considering the intent behind the amount of money you are looking to spend? By this I mean, are you looking to impress others with the value of the engagement ring in an attempt to show off, or are you focusing on the symbolism of the ring itself? This can look very different from person to person, and it all depends on your current financial situation.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to buy nice things for yourself and others, as long as you never put these things above your love for God. When it comes to an engagement ring, I believe that the intent of the purchase and the quality of the gift is far more important than the amount of money you spend. As a Catholic, I do believe it is important to prioritize the intent behind purchasing and gifting an engagement ring (which as mentioned before can show your love and commitment) over the cost.
Ultimately, this means the appropriate cost can vary greatly from person to person. While some people might be able to spend $20,000 on an engagement ring, others might only have the capacity to spend $1000. Using these thoughts, I always recommend taking some time to decern what amount is best for you, your future spouse, and your financial situation.
What do Catholic Engagement Rings Look Like?
There is no set style that constitutes a “Catholic engagement ring”. Any ring can be used in a Catholic engagement (obviously excluding any design that goes directly against Catholic teaching). You can, however, choose to incorporate Catholic or Christian symbolism into the design of your ring. I have designed and made a few different rings for Catholic relationships that incorporate symbols into the design. Here are two examples:
She Literally Fell Out of a Tree
I had a young man approach me about designing an engagement ring for his girlfriend. They met through the dating website, Catholic Match. On their first date, for reasons I still don’t know, she fell out of a tree and right into his open arms. Well, if this isn’t a sign from God, I don’t know what is.
A few months later he decided to propose. He wanted a ring that incorporated a cross to represent their shared Catholic faith and a tree to represent the unusual way they first met. I set to work to create a few different design ideas. After four or five changes, we finalized on this gorgeous and incredibly unique engagement ring design. I made the ring in 14K white gold and set a 1ct lab grown diamond in the center.
She, very enthusiastically, said yes! They now have two young kiddos, and she wears that beautiful ring every day.
A City Romance
He had moved from Colorado to NYC to finish his education. She has lived in NYC her whole life. Both were looking for the right person for years as they worked and studied to improve careers. It was in a Catholic young adult get together that they met for the first time. In this case, it wasn’t love at first sight. They became friends but did not truly commit to each other until over a year later. Both believe it was the Holy Spirit that ultimately drew them together and showed them the life they were meant to build with each other.
When he asked about an engagement ring, he did not originally think to incorporate anything related to their faith into the design. It was only after a few different design ideas were explored that he had the inspiration to incorporate a dove as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. It took a bit of time to get the design perfect, but he decided on a very classic style with a small dove nestled next to the diamond. I made the ring in 14K white and yellow gold and set a 1.5ct cushion cut diamond.
She was so excited to say yes to this faithful man and absolutely loves how meaningful her engagement ring is.
Both of these stories are examples of very direct ways to incorporate Catholicism in an engagement ring, but you certainly don’t have to follow suit. You could:
Create a design inspired by a church or cathedral.
Create a design inspired by your favorite saint or Mother Mary.
We could even make it as simple as engraving a phrase, bible verse, or short saying on the inside of the engagement ring.
Ultimately, if you choose to custom design a ring, you have an endless supply of options to choose from!
Custom is a Great Option for Catholic Engagement Rings
Custom designing an engagement ring has A LOT of great benefits, but I believe there are even more reasons to choose custom when you are considering how to incorporate your faith into the engagement ring.
Custom is a Great Way to Show How Much You Love Her
I think the most important part about creating a custom engagement ring is the time we take to truly consider what she would love most. We talk about her style, types of jewelry she already likes wearing, her interests and hobbies, and yours and her unique relationship. With all this information, we custom design a ring that she can fall in love with AND wear every day for the rest of her life. This, in my opinion, makes the ring so much more special.
It Can be Hard to Find Elegant Options Online
I don’t know about you guys, but the selection is pretty slim when it comes to engagement rings that incorporate Catholic or Christian symbolism into the design. With custom, however, we can work together to create a design that is beautiful, fits her lifestyle, and incorporates your faith. We have ultimate flexibility in how you would like to incorporate your faith into the design. It can be overtly obvious and the highlight of the design or it could be more subtle and something only the two of you know about.
We Can Create Something One-of-a-Kind
Obviously there are a lot of engagement ring options in stores and on the internet. Many of these designs are worn by thousands of other women. By choosing custom, we can create something much more unique, if not completely one-of-a-kind.
Almost every one of my engagement ring clients are surprised by how fun it is to custom design the ring. Creating jewelry is such a unique process and you get to stick your hands right in the middle of it. From talking about your design ideas, to looking at different design options, to picking out the perfect gemstones and diamonds, and seeing parts of the process firsthand, it is an opportunity to see something a lot of people never get to experience.
So…. Do you have any ideas yet?? 😊 I hope, at the very least, I was able to answer a few of your questions. Designing and building jewelry (particularly engagement rings) is one of my passions. As a Catholic myself, the opportunity to work with someone who would like to incorporate their love for God in their engagement ring design is such an honor. I LOVE speaking with clients, so if you have any questions, thoughts, or if you would just like to say hello, please shoot me an email, text, or schedule a virtual appointment. I would love to meet you!
Hi guys! My name is Virginia and I am the owner, designer, and goldsmith for Virginia Ann Designs. I have worked in the jewelry industry for years, but it was not until I got married and started a family that I decided to go out on my own. Being able to run my business and raise my kiddos has been one of the biggest blessings of my life.
I grew up Catholic, but it really wasn’t very important to me until I got married and had children. Now I realize how incredibly beautiful and true the Catholic faith is and I want it to permeate every part of my life, including this business. Because of this, I approach all of my clients with the knowledge that you are a unique child of God and He loves you more perfectly than we can possibly imagine. I will always do my best to show you the respect and love you deserve. Let’s make something awesome!