Have you ever wondered which hand and finger is for the engagement ring and why? The “ring finger” is the third finger on the left hand so you may be confused if you see a recently-engaged lady wearing her engagement ring on the third finger of the right hand, instead. So, which hand does the engagement ring go on?
Well, there is actually no definitive answer as to which hand the engagement ring should go on, although most of the time in the UK, the USA and other Western countries, the engagement ring is worn on the ring finger of the left hand.
A lot, though, depends on geography, cultures and family traditions!
Read on to find out why.
The Ring Finger
Since Roman times it was believed that the third finger on the left hand, known as the ring finger, had a vein – known as the ‘Venous Amoris’ (the vein of love) – which ran directly to the heart.
The obvious romantic connotations that the expression of love in wearing a wedding band ran straight to your beloved’s heart, made it the perfect finger on which to wear the engagement and later the wedding ring.
Of course, we now know that, anatomically speaking, all veins run to the heart!
But throughout history, wedding bands have been worn on any of the fingers – even the thumb!
If you go to Russian, Germany, Norway or India and you will find that ladies wear the engagement ring will be on the right hand. Orthodox Christians also wear their wedding bands on the right hand.
There are also different “meanings” associated with certain rings and which finger, hand and even direction they are worn on! For instance with the beautifully designed Irish Claddagh ring which has different meanings depending on which way the ring points on the finger, and on which hand (they should be worn on a ring finger). You can read more about this here.
Which Hand Does the Engagement Ring Go On?
The engagement ring obviously comes before the wedding ring and most people in the UK and the United States world wear the engagement ring on the ring finger (the fourth finger) of the left hand.
However, the engagement ring was traditionally worn on the right hand until after the wedding ceremony. For this reason, the fourth finger of the right hand is called the “engagement finger”.
It was also said that the right hand signified trust, honour and virtue and so the ring was placed on this hand before marriage.
The right hand ring finger has also been associated with self-love and a ring is sometimes purchased for a significant achievement or occasion as a self-celebration.
From a purely practical perspective, the majority of people are right-handed and so it’s probably more practical to have a ring on your non-dominant hand so that it didn’t get in the way. This could be particularly true for men, who were traditionally in more active jobs.
So, which finger is right for an engagement ring? The answer is, it really is up to you! There is no “correct” engagement ring etiquette, only traditions and norms which vary from place to place.
Wearing your engagement ring on the right or left hand will depend on where you live, what your cultures and traditions are and even your family traditions.
Which way around is the correct way to wear the Wedding Band?
It is traditional to have the wedding ring slide on your finger first, then the engagement ring. The idea being that the wedding band, with its huge commitment and ceremony, trumps the engagement ring in importance and therefore should sit closer to your heart.
In reality, the engagement ring is purchased first and so worn for some time before the wedding band is added. For this reason, most ladies remove their engagement ring from the left and and wear it on the right for the day of their wedding and then slide their engagement ring “on top” of the wedding band after the ceremony has taken place.
Many people, for this reason, wear the engagement ring on the right hand from the time of the engagement until the wedding has taken place and then move it to the left hand.
Remember also, that the majority of people are right-handed and this means we use our right hand more which may cause our most precious of rings to be damaged. Keeping the wedding and engagement ring on the left hand could well help to protect them if you are right-handed.
For this reason, you should always remove your rings each day and not sleep in them (with the exception of your wedding band).
To Sum Up …
So, whilst it is accepted that the engagement ring is supposed to go on the fourth finger there are no definitive rules as to which hand it should be worn.
Anything goes, and it’s entirely up to you. However, tradition in the UK and USA at least is that it’s the ring finger of the left hand, unless you wear the engagement ring on the fourth finger of the right hand (the engagement finger!) until you get married and then slip your engagement ring on after your wedding band on the big day after the ceremony.
Whichever hand you wear your engagement ring on , treasure wearing your rings, the symbolism they carry is enormous. ❤️