Engagement rings are a symbol of love and a commitment to spend a lifetime with someone. They are the precursor to wedding bands and highlight what lies ahead for an engaged couple. There are few accessories as meaningful and significant as an engagement ring.
So, which finger do you wear an engagement ring on? Those living in western countries might find this question obsolete: it’s clearly the left ring finger. That may be so for some, but the answer isn’t universal across the globe.
There are plenty of societies and cultures whose people wear engagement rings on the right ring finger. While the location of the ring might differ, the uniting feature is that the placement holds significant meaning.
Ready to learn more about the significance of engagement ring finger placement? We thought so! From symbolism to ring choice by country, here’s how people around the world decide which finger to wear an engagement ring on.
Engagement Ring Finger On The Left Hand
Tracing back to antiquity, ancient people believed the left ring finger was the best place for engagement rings. This theory began because people believed the fourth finger on the left hand had a vein that connected to the heart. That vein, known as the “Vena Amoris,” commenced the tradition of wearing an engagement ring on the left ring finger. Also known as the vein of love, the Vena Amoris strengthened the belief that partnerships were everlasting.
Even as times evolved and science disputed the origin of this fabled tradition, the masses continue to wear it in the same location. Look around you, depending on what region of the world you live in, you’ll either see engagement rings on the left ring finger or the right. Some traditions wane with time, yet the tradition of engagement ring placement has held firm. Let’s find out why!
Can You Wear An Engagement Ring on Your Right Hand, Too?
The sacred tradition of wearing an engagement ring stretches back through the centuries and weaves through generations across the globe. While most western societies honor the tradition of wearing an engagement ring on the left hand, others honor their own cultural tradition: wearing an engagement ring on the right hand. Countries partaking in this custom include Russia, India, and Chile. But wearing the ring on the right ring finger isn’t exclusive to cultural custom, it’s also a religious tradition for Catholics.
While cultural and religious traditions and customs remain the determining factor of engagement ring placement, it’s not hard and fast. In other words, you can wear your engagement ring on whichever finger you prefer!
Some people wear theirs on the right hand because it is part of their culture, but you don’t have to be part of that group to abide by tradition. Likewise, you don’t have to follow the customs of your own cultural traditions either.
Like many decisions in life, you don’t have to follow the herd, you can blaze your own trail! When choosing which finger to wear your engagement ring on, it’s best to follow your heart. Still, the environment you live in will likely influence your decision. Let’s take a look at which finger people around the world wear their engagement ring on.
Engagement Ring Traditions Around the World
Whether you value tradition or are interested in cultural customs and diversity, let’s take a closer look at engagement ring traditions around the world. Starting with…
Chile, South America
When it comes to engagement ring traditions, Chile differs from many other parts of the world because Chilean men also wear an engagement ring. Usually, the man surprises the woman with an engagement ring. But in Chile, the tradition doesn’t end there. When a couple becomes engaged, they each wear their engagement rings on the fourth finger of their right hands. Once they tie the knot, they move the rings to their left hands. How special! Is this tradition of ring finger-switching exclusive to Chile? While it remains a rare tradition, it’s also the same in Sweden.
While the people of France wear their engagement rings and wedding bands on the left ring finger, their tradition differs in the style of the ring. For example, the most common style of engagement ring is a simple band with an amethyst, emerald, ruby, or sapphire center stone. This contrasts with the typical American engagement ring, which typically has a diamond center stone.
In Kenya, the engagement ring tradition is quite unique. Instead of one person presenting another with an engagement ring, Kenyan couples exchange novel and flamboyant jewelry items to one another. Together, they adorn themselves in these gifts and wear them to celebrate their engagement.
Both the women and men provide gifts to one another that represents where they come from. From the colors and the style to the beads and the design, different groups of people in Kenya will wear jewelry that is representative of their origins.
Does it always have to be one finger over the other? Not in Germany, where there’s no distinction between the left or right ring finger. When someone proposes from Germany, the ring can either be placed on the right or left ring finger. It’s ultimately up to what the bride-to-be prefers.
Which Hand Should You Wear Your Engagement Ring On?
When it comes to choosing the placement of your engagement ring, you may take into consideration your culture, religion or personal preference. After reviewing traditions around the world, it’s easy to deduce that there isn’t one preferred choice. If you favor tradition above all else, then follow the customs of your ancestors. If you aren’t tied to any cultural or religious customs, you have the freedom to choose where you wear your engagement ring. Societal norms might influence where you wear your ring, as is the case for many people.
If you’re a romantic, wear the engagement ring on your left ring finger to activate the Vena Amoris. When it comes to engagement ring placement, it’s a small matter compared to the importance of your unique and everlasting love.