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What are Eternity Rings?

By Sherry Holetzky
Updated May 21, 2024
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Eternity rings are metal bands that traditionally include diamonds or other stones around the circumference of the entire ring. Typically, each stone has the same shape and setting, giving the ring a uniform appearance meant to suggest everlasting love. They are almost always women's rings, designed to be given at an anniversary or other special event, such as the birth of a child, although there is no precise occasion for which this gift is given. A modern take on this style is the half eternity ring, with stones only around half of the circumference.

Given as a tangible symbol of the promise to love forever, an eternity ring is considered by many people to be a beautiful way for a person to show how much someone else means to him. Although the ring style, type of stones, and stone setting are important for one to consider when choosing an eternity ring, the sentiment that is being conveyed usually is the most important part of the gift. Many eternity rings include diamonds, but sapphires, emeralds, and other precious stones are also available.

Full Styles

The most common and popular eternity rings have stones all the way around the band. Although many different settings are available, the stones often appear as if they are floating around the finger in an unending line. The gems in this type of ring tend to be smaller than in other styles because larger stones can be uncomfortable between the fingers; however, with 14 or more diamonds in each ring, those with 5 carats total weight are available.

Unlike other rings, the continuous line of stones means that full eternity rings can be more difficult to make, and they cannot be resized easily. The size of the ring will determine how many gemstones it contains and the total number of carats; if each diamond is about the same size, fewer will fit on a woman's size 5 ring than on a size 9. This will affect the price as well, as rings with more stones will cost more.

Half Styles

Some women find full eternity rings uncomfortable to wear due to the thickness of the band and, in some cases, the setting of the stones. Half eternity rings have stones across only the face of the band, making them easier to create and to size, which is reflected in their price. They are more comfortable to wear, and larger stones can be used in half rings. Some people also prefer this style because all of the stones can be seen.

Settings

One of the most common ways to hold the gemstones in an eternity ring is the channel setting, in which the stones are set within a channel between two strips of metal. This style may be more comfortable for some women because, although the band is thick, there are no prongs to irritate the fingers. The channel setting is also considered one of the safest, as it is unlikely that the ring will break and a stone will fall out. This style also puts more emphasis on the metal in the ring, which is more noticeable than in other settings. A variation on this style is the bar setting, in which the metal bars hold the stones in place on either side, between the gems, rather than on the top and bottom.

The stones in eternity rings can also be held in place with prongs, small pieces of metal that clasp the stone. There are different types of prongs, including single, shared, u-shape, and four-prong. Prong settings are more traditional for diamond and other rings with larger stones, and allow the gemstones to be seen to their full potential. This style may cause more irritation between the fingers, especially if the stones are large, and may be less safe due to the possibility that a prong could break and a stone be lost.

In a pave setting, the stones are set directly into the metal band with very small beads of metal holding them in place. The diamonds are held close together, and less of the metal shows than in a channel setting. Stones used in a pave setting tend to be smaller, but the style also lends itself to multiple rows.

Stone Selection

Eternity rings are most commonly set with diamonds, but stones such as emeralds, rubies and sapphires also are popular choices. Some rings include a variation, such as diamonds alternating with rubies, all around the ring. Stones can also be set into multiple rows, especially in a pave or bar setting.

The shape of the stones is as important as the type of stone, with oblong or square stones usually being preferred over round stones. Square or rectangular-cut stones are easier to set end-to-end around a band, making them a good choice. Round stones continue to be popular, however, and can be used in any setting style; the look will be different, as there will be more space around the edges of the stones.

Wearing the Rings

When deciding how to wear an eternity ring, personal choice is the most important consideration. The ring is usually worn on the same finger on which one would wear a wedding ring, sometimes in addition to the engagement ring and wedding band or in place of either one. Many times, a woman might choose to replace her wedding band with an eternity ring and wear it along with an engagement ring.

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Discussion Comments

By anon313977 — On Jan 15, 2013

I like eternity rings because they are so beautiful.

By anon155902 — On Feb 25, 2011

@Anon50966: Couldn't care less. The idea behind them is what matters and if it makes the woman I love happy for even a second then the money was worth it!

By anon61146 — On Jan 18, 2010

Gems do not lose their value as precious metals. As long as your gem is certified, it will be appraised a value close the market price. -Wedding Bands

By anon53646 — On Nov 23, 2009

The reason why it's damn near impossible to sell your diamond rings back to jewellers is because many of them believe its bad juju to buy/sell wedding rings- not the diamond market. --facepalm

By anon50966 — On Nov 02, 2009

hah. try to sell your rings back on the market and you'll realize how you've been manipulated by the diamond industry.

By anon18780 — On Sep 29, 2008

I just received my eternity ring from Eternity Wedding Bands - I cannot believe how beautiful my ring is. I was able to select the style, diamond quality and metal, and they made the ring just for me. They specialize in eternity rings, of course, look at the name! Prices lower than anyone, and I've looked, and the quality is amazing. I would highly recommend!

By anon14834 — On Jun 25, 2008

very useful article, this has really enlightened me about the proper meaning of an eternity ring. if only all information websites were this easy to understand and gave this amount of information surfing the web would be soooo much easier ^_^

By anon5992 — On Dec 12, 2007

your site is very interesting. I have the information on jewelry -- friendship rings, eternity rings, etc, helpful and insightful. Plus your site is straight to the point and easy to naviagate.

In short -- "I'll be back!"

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