Which Finger Is the Engagement Ring Finger?
Alicia Briggs | July 26, 2023
Alicia Briggs | July 26, 2023
Proposing with a diamond engagement ring is a long-standing global tradition. But the engagement ring finger, and how to wear your ring, differs throughout the world. Today, there are numerous engagement ring traditions, depending on your culture, religion, and the country that you live in.
Below, we’ll cover the history and tradition of the engagement ring finger and how best to wear your ring today.
What Finger Does an Engagement Ring Go On?
The engagement ring is traditionally worn on the left ring finger, especially in Western cultures. While the left ring finger is the most common finger for engagement rings, many people also choose the right ring finger.
Depending on where you live, how you identify, and your personal preference, you may choose to wear your engagement ring on a different finger.
What Is the Ring Finger?
The ring finger is the fourth finger on the left hand. For many countries and cultures, the ring finger is considered to be the fourth finger on the right hand. Some countries use both ring fingers, wearing the engagement ring on one and the wedding ring on the other.
Engagement Ring Finger for Male and Female
Traditionally, engagement rings have primarily been worn by women, on the left ring finger. In some countries, such as Brazil and India, women commonly wear their engagement ring on their right ring finger.
Globally, it’s still not common for men to wear engagement rings, but more couples are choosing to. As gender roles and norms continue to evolve, and more women propose, men are starting to wear engagement rings. Some men, especially in the U.S., wear an engagement ring on their left ring finger.
In Chile and Sweden, men traditionally wear engagement rings. They wear them on their right ring finger during the engagement period and switch to the left ring finger once married.
For same-sex and queer couples, some people prefer to wear an engagement ring on the right ring finger or around their neck as part of a necklace.
Overall, the engagement ring finger differs in tradition and continues to evolve as we do.
Which Finger Does a Wedding Ring Go On?
The wedding ring finger is often the same as the engagement ring finger and is worn on the left ring finger. Historically, wedding rings have been worn on almost every finger depending on the country and culture.
Today, some religious communities (such as Orthodox Christians) wear the wedding ring on the right ring finger. This is also a common practice in numerous countries such as India, Spain, Russia, Greece, Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway.
Just like the engagement ring, the wedding ring finger will vary depending on the wearer.
Why Are Engagement Rings and Wedding Rings Worn on The Left Hand?
Wearing the engagement ring and wedding ring on the left ring finger dates back to Ancient Rome. At the time, the Romans thought that the vein on the ring finger was connected to the heart. They called it the Vena Amoris (vein of love). As such, this finger was a symbolic choice for an engagement or wedding ring.
While the ring finger doesn’t share the same meaning today, as our understanding of science has evolved, the left ring finger is still commonly chosen for engagement and wedding rings.
History of Engagement Rings
Engagement rings began in Ancient Rome. In 200 BCE, Roman women were wearing rings to symbolize love or a business contract (which is what marriage was for many). Rings were first made from natural materials such as bone or copper with gold rings worn by 2 CE.
Engagement rings weren’t given their official meaning until 850 CE. Pope Nicholas declared that these rings officially signified a man’s intention to marry a woman.
The first diamond engagement ring was given in 1477 when Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed to Mary of Burgundy. However, diamonds were primarily only available to European royalty, so they weren’t widely used for engagement rings.
Between the 1500s and 1900s, engagement rings changed drastically with the times and weren’t universally worn. Gimmel rings, and silver engraved posy rings were popular styles for engagement rings.
It wasn’t until 1840 that diamond engagement rings appeared in the U.S. As more diamonds were mined in South Africa, diamonds became more accessible. By 1940, diamond engagement rings were the top-selling jewelry item.
But it wasn’t until 1948 that diamonds solidified their association with engagement rings. De Beers created their infamous marketing slogan, “A Diamond Is Forever,” to increase engagement ring sales. The campaign worked and diamond rings have been widely used for proposals since the 1950s.
By the early 2000s, De Beers’ involvement in the blood diamond trade and the civil wars in Africa over mined diamonds became widely known. Today, many people choose to propose with lab-grown diamonds instead of mined diamonds. Couples can now wear a diamond engagement ring that symbolizes both their love and their values.
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Engagement Ring Traditions Around the World
There are numerous engagement ring traditions around the world. Many people in Western countries wear their engagement rings on their left ring finger.
Another common practice is for people to wear engagement rings on the right ring finger. You’ll often see this in countries such as Norway, Poland, Austria, Greece, Latvia, Ukraine, Germany, and Denmark.
In India, Russia, and some of the countries above, the left hand was historically considered unlucky or unclean, so the right hand is still often used. In some Orthodox Christian and Roman Catholic communities, people wear their engagement rings on their right ring finger.
For men in Sweden and Chile, and both partners in numerous Latin counties, engagement rings are worn on the right ring finger until they are married. They are then transferred to the left ring finger.
Engagement Ring Finger FAQ
Below you’ll find answers to common questions about how to wear engagement rings.
What Are the Rules for Wearing Engagement Rings and Wedding Rings Together?
Traditionally, most people wear the wedding ring first and then the engagement ring. But there are no set rules on how to wear your rings.
If you’re stacking your rings, ensure that each ring pairs flush to prevent damage or chipping. Many shoppers choose to purchase a wedding ring set or bridal set when buying an engagement ring to ensure that both rings can be worn together.
Can You Wear Your Engagement Ring After You Get Married?
Yes, you can wear your engagement ring after getting married. Most people choose to wear their wedding ring and engagement ring together. Some people choose to just wear their engagement ring - it’s up to you!
Do You Have to Wear Your Wedding Ring and Engagement Ring on the Same Finger?
Traditionally, people wear their wedding ring and engagement ring on the same finger, but some people choose to wear each ring separately. You can wear your rings however you’d like.
Should You Sleep With Your Engagement Ring On?
We recommend removing your engagement ring before sleeping. This will protect your ring from potential scratches or chipping.
Do You Wear Your Engagement Ring Every Day?
Many people choose to wear their engagement ring daily, but it’s up to you. We do recommend removing your engagement ring if you’re planning to go swimming, work out, or if you work with your hands.
Can You Wear a Ring on Your Left Finger If You’re Not Married or Engaged?
You can wear rings on your left ring finger, even if you’re not engaged or married. However, if you do choose to wear a ring on your left ring finger, people may assume that you’re engaged.
Which Finger Is for a Promise Ring vs an Engagement Ring?
A promise ring is commonly worn on the left ring finger. Promise rings are given as a “pre-engagement” ring. They represent a couple’s intention to get married when they’re ready or old enough. However, you can wear a promise ring on any finger if you’d like.
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GIA. “The History of the Engagement Ring.” https://4cs.gia.edu/en-us/blog/history-engagement-ring/
Elle. “The Evolution of Engagement Rings Throughout the Years.” https://www.elle.com/fashion/accessories/g32710699/engagement-rings-history/
GIA. “The Origin of Wedding Rings: Ancient Tradition or Marketing Invention?” https://4cs.gia.edu/en-us/blog/origin-of-wedding-rings/