What Hand Does the Engagement Ring Go On?
When it comes to traditions, the hand the engagement ring goes on has remained fairly consistent over time. But with modern takes on engagement and wedding ring traditions becoming more common, it’s understandable that things can get a bit confusing. So let’s review the essentials about wearing your engagement ring.
Origins & Customs of Wearing Engagement and Wedding Rings
Most western cultures wear the engagement ring on the fourth finger of the left hand - known as the ring finger - due to an ancient Roman belief. Romans believed this finger featured a vein that ran directly to the human heart. This connection with the heart led them to call it the Vena Amoris, or “Vein of Love.” Although this belief has long since been proven false, the tradition has remained strong and widely accepted over time.
In many eastern cultures and some select countries throughout Europe like Denmark, Italy, Norway, and Spain, the engagement ring and wedding band are worn on the right hand ring finger. This practice also reaches back to ancient Rome where it was believed the left hand wasn’t reliable. Also, some cultures throughout Asia consider the left hand to be unclean, therefore a very undesirable hand to wear an engagement ring or wedding band.
The answer to this question can get a little complicated as the rings typically do some shifting in the journey to marriage.
When an engagement ring is first received, it’s most often worn on the ring finger of the left hand. This is typically the case right up until the wedding ceremony.
During the wedding ceremony where there will most likely be an exchange of wedding bands, the engagement ring shifts to being worn on the right hand ring finger. This is done because due to another tradition, as a symbol of ultimate love and devotion, the wedding band is typically worn closest to the heart with the engagement ring on the outside.
Wearing the engagement ring on the right hand during the ceremony also makes it easy for the wedding band to slip on the left hand without having to move a ring. After the ceremony, many will choose to shift their engagement ring back to the left hand ring finger so the two rings start to be worn as a pair.
After the wedding and throughout marriage, tastes and styles may change, and there are several ways to continue to wear engagement rings and wedding bands.
(1) A traditional style is to wear both the wedding ring and the engagement ring on the same ring finger. Depending on the style of your engagement and wedding ring, this may mean the wedding ring first, followed by the engagement ring or as in some cases we've designed a wedding band to accentuate the top of an engagement ring.
(2) Some choose to wear the wedding band solo on the left hand and keep their engagement ring on the right hand, or on another finger on their left hand.
(3) One style we've seen grow in popularity is to add stacking rings to wear alongside and highlight their engagement ring, whether on the ring finger or on other fingers.
(4) Another option is to solder the engagement ring and wedding band together so they become one piece of jewelry. If it’s known that they’re always going to be worn together, this makes a great choice since it will keep the rings perfectly aligned and can even represent the marital bond. This being said, we recommend that you try wearing both rings for some time before making the decision to solder them together permanently. It’s always good to have the option of leaving your engagement ring at home, especially when travelling or engaging in vigorous activities.
There may also be circumstances when you’ll want to wear your ring differently to protect it better. During lengthy travel or a day at the beach, it can feel safer to string the engagement ring on a chain to wear as a more secure necklace. Also, people who use their hands a lot with work and risk hitting their ring often may benefit from keeping their ring on a necklace.
Above all, it’s important to keep in mind that while there are traditions, there are no absolute rules. Just like the designing and choosing of an engagement ring is an incredibly personal and unique experience, so too can be the choices behind how it’s worn.
Wedding band and engagement ring worn on the same finger.
Wearing an engagement ring alone on the ring finger.
Three ring stacked set worn on the ring finger.
A highly coordinated wedding band engagement ring set may be soldered together.
Four stacked rings and additional rings on the left hand.