Ring Fingers: History, Significance, & General FAQ’s

Ring FIngers

The ring finger is the designated finger on your hand in which you wear your engagement ring and wedding band. Historically and around many cultures, all the fingers have been used as the ring finger, including the thumb. But the most famous and popular engagement ring finger remains, till this day, to be the fourth finger of your hand, right next to the pinky finger. While different cultures have different hands for wearing the ring, the most common ring finger etiquette is to wear it on the left hand. In some places, like Syria, Brazil, and Lebanon, the women wear the engagement ring on the right hand, and after the wedding ceremony, they transfer it to the left hand. 

Ring Fingers: History & Significance

The engagement ring finger is considered to be the fourth finger of the left hand for a long time. The earliest record was found in Romans who believed that the left contained a vein that connects directly to the heart, so both the partners will be connected by the heart through their rings. They called this vein *vena amoris* or the vein of love. Since then, the engagement and wedding ring finger is considered to be the fourth finger of the left hand. Sadly, as we got to know about biology, it turns out all the veins of the hands are connected to the heart. But to keep the endearing symbolism alive many couples still believe there’s a spiritual meaning of rings on the particular finger too and isn’t that just so sweet?

What finger is considered to be the wedding ring finger?

Traditionally, for both men & women, wedding ring fingers are worn on the fourth finger of the left hand only, especially in the US & UK. For women, the wedding band will be put first, and then comes the engagement ring. In many cultures and countries though, wedding rings are worn on the right hand, like Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Bulgaria, Norway, Ukraine, Austria, Latvia, and some parts of Belgium. In some countries, like India, the wedding ring finger for females is the left hand and for males, it’s the right hand. 

Often, men opt to wear their wedding rings on the middle finger as opposed to the one on the side of the pinky finger. While that doesn’t take away any love & commitment from the relationship, it doesn’t matter which finger you wear the wedding ring on really, carrying in the middle finger is considered to be a sign of masculinity, responsibility, and balance in males. That’s why you’ll spot many men gradually moving towards wearing their wedding rings in the middle finger as opposed to the ring finger. It’s definitely a sophisticated and bold option, and when noticed, can even be a conversation starter. 

How do we stack the ring on the ring finger?

Traditionally and generally, both the wedding and engagement ring will go on the ring finger of the left hand – with the wedding ring going first. If you also have a promise ring, put it right after the wedding ring and then the engagement right. While this is how it’s usually done, feel free to mix & match by wearing the rings in different fingers and separate hands. Some partners also present their other half with bands on their anniversaries which can easily be worn on any finger or can be stacked along in your left hand’s ring finger. It’s all about the aesthetic, comfort, and preference when it comes to stacking the rings on the ring finger. 

Can a single woman wear a ring on their ring finger?

Absolutely! In fact, many single women are choosing to buy diamond rings for themselves, signifying their rise in economic status as bread earners in the household. Some do it to enjoy their financial independence and while others do it just because they want to! Of course, women who wear a diamond ring on their ring finger usually wear it on their right hand so as to not deter any possible suitors from approaching them. 

You may have heard an old wives tale that wearing any ring before getting engaged/ married is bad luck. To clarify, it was only considered bad luck because spotting a ring on the ring finger would mean “bad luck” for finding a potential match. No one would approach if they’d see a very visible cue on your finger. There are hardly any other superstitions behind it. Although, if you’re the traditional type, you can leave the ring finger bare till that special someone puts it on there.

Which is the ring finger for males in India?

In India, the ring finger for males is the fourth finger of the hand, right beside the pinky finger. The engagement/ wedding ring for males in India is worn in the right hand. The women in India, however, wear the engagement/ wedding ring on the same finger but on the left hand. Traditionally, in India, no concept of engagement rings was being followed and the shagun/ roka ceremony was the *only* thing that made everything official. However, now, with Westernisation and personal preferences, both boys and girls wear engagement/ wedding rings on their ring fingers. 

Who wears the wedding ring finger on the right hand?

In some cultures, the wedding ring is supposed to be worn on the right hand, like in parts of Northern & Eastern Europe and Asian countries like Russia, India, Sri Lanka, Turkey, etc. Traditionally in the US & UK, the engagement rings are shifted to the right hand just before the brides are about to walk down the aisle so the groom can place the wedding band on the ring finger of the left hand. After the ceremony, the engagement ring is stacked above the wedding band. Some other reasons why people chose to wear wedding ring finger on the right hand are as follows: 

  • If they’re left-handed, it’s easier to place the wedding band on the right hand. 
  • When couples are involved in the same-sex union, wedding rings on the right hand signifies more power to their communities. 
  • Code to cheat for couples who want to be involved in infidelity. Strange, but true. 
  • Anyone who wants to honor their spouse after their death can wear the wedding band on their right hand to keep their memories alive. 
  • Personal preference to keep their comfort above what culture & traditions dictate. 

Can I wear an engagement/ wedding ring all the time?

Chances are – you’re tempted to wear your pristine engagement & wedding rings all the time and stare at them while reveling in their beauty and relishing the bond you share with your partner. Certainly, you don’t want anything to happen to these precious pieces of jewelry. To avoid the same, it’s best to take off your engagement/ wedding ring during times when the metal can bend, lose the shine, and the setting can disfigure. These activities include cleaning, lifting heavy gym equipment, while going to sleep, etc. For a complete guide on when to take off your engagement rings, please click on the linked text. 

Is it OK to wear an engagement and wedding ring on separate hands?

Of course! Traditionally, in many cultures, wedding and engagement rings are supposed to be worn on separate hands. However, if your culture dictates both to be worn on the ring finger of the same hand, and that’s something you aren’t that comfortable with, please go ahead and do you! It all comes to personal preference in the end and has nothing to do with the strength of love & commitment for your relationship. 

Types Of Rings That Goes On Ring Fingers

Engagement Rings

The idea of presenting your lady love with an engagement ring originated in Rome, where the wives wore rings made of bone, flint, copper, and iron to signify the husband’s ownership. Not very romantic, right? Thankfully, that has changed. The tradition of presenting a diamond engagement ring begin in 1447 when the Archduke Maximillian of Austria presented his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy, with a specially commissioned diamond engagement ring. This sparked a trend of diamond rings in European aristocracy and nobility. The Victorians popularised the concept of elaborate engagement rings made with many gemstones and often in the shape of flowers, which were dubbed as ‘posey rings’. 

However, the concept didn’t spread like wildfire until DeBeers company’s marketing campaign highlighting the popular slogan ‘A Diamond Is Forever’. This is when people started associating a diamond’s clarity, durability, and purity with the depth and bond between two lovers. There hasn’t been any looking back since. Despite several other gemstones in the market, there’s none that can compete with a diamond. 

The engagement rings go on the left hand on the ring finger. In many countries, the ring is worn on the right hand, while in others, like India, the ring is worn on the left hand in the case of females and the right hand in males. The engagement ring is mostly worn by females before marriage, although, in same-sex marriages, both parties wear an engagement ring till they get married and then, switch to a wedding ring or use the same one as a wedding ring. 

Wedding Rings

Wedding rings are also worn on the ring finger of the left hand. Again, as per the culture, which hand to wear the wedding ring on can vary, but the most common one remains the left hand. Wedding rings go before the engagement rings so they can be more closer to the heart. That’s why many brides remove their engagement ring and put it on their right hand before the wedding ceremony. After their partner slips the wedding band on, the engagement ring is stacked on after the band. 

To narrate a brief history of wedding rings, they were first used by Egyptians who used to make them with plants. The shape was a circle because it had no beginning or end, signifying the wholeness, perfection, eternity, and infinity of the marital relationship. When the Greeks conquered Egypt, they continued this tradition, and when Romans conquered Greece, they picked up the tradition as well. During Medieval times, the concept had reached and spread in Medieval Europe, from where it then was incorporated by Colonial America. Up until the past century, the wedding ring was mostly worn by women, but now, the wedding rings are common in both men & women and both wear it on their ring fingers. 

Promise Rings

Promise rings are not as common as engagement or wedding rings, but some couples do present them to each other. Giving a promise ring signifies the commitment and devotion of the partner to the relationship, and when the recipient accepts, the same values are promised by them. Many couples give each other a promise ring when they want to have a future together with them, but right now, aren’t sure when the same will happen. Probably they want to build the finances, see career growth, or are simply too young. Commitment is a general intention here, but whether it’s a promise of engagement, working on a particular aspect of the relationship, or abstinence till marriage depends on the couple. 

The promise ring finger hand isn’t dictated by traditions, nor is the finger in which it should go. Some consider the usual ring finger as the most significant; others, wear it on any other finger other than that to avoid any unnecessary questions. It’s really up to you to decide. 

Is It Okay To Not Wear Your Engagement/ Wedding Ring?

Yes, it’s completely okay to not want to wear your engagement ring or the wedding band. While the jewelry has symbolic meaning attached to it, not wearing them doesn’t mean something’s wrong with your relationship. Many couples opt for this simply because of the mutual choice, being scared of losing it, worried about damaging them in the daily chores, or only wearing them during special occasions. 

Summing up, an engagement ring or a wedding band is a token of love and commitment. Whether you chose to wear it on the ring finger or the left or right hand hardly matters. Depending on your culture, you’ll have a certain set of rules though, but in the end, personal preference should take the front seat. To read more about wedding ideas, inspirations, etiquette, and guides, keep reading our blog

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