Both engagement and wedding rings are traditionally worn on the fourth finger of the left hand. In fact, you’ve probably called this finger your “ring finger” for most of your life. But what started this custom? There are nine other fingers that are perfectly capable of holding a ring on either hand. Where did the practice originate?
Keep reading to learn the story of the ring finger and how you can style your engagement ring whether you’re traditional or non-traditional.
The History of the Ring Finger
The Ancient Romans started the Western tradition of wearing rings on the fourth fingers of their left hands. They believed this finger had a vein — the Vena Amoris — that ran directly to the heart. What better place to put a ring than right around the vein of love?
However, not only is this inaccurate science, but it’s also not a worldwide practice. Countries like Russia, Germany, Norway, and India all wear engagement rings on their right hand. This is because the word “left” means “sinister” in Latin, causing these cultures to interpret the left hand as unlucky.
Chile uses both hands. Both women and men receive engagement rings that are worn on the right hand during engagement and the left hand during marriage.
In some cultures, rings are not used at all. The Samburu tribe in Northern Kenya designate engagement using ornate beads around their neck instead.
Wearing Your Engagement Ring
The most common way to wear an engagement ring is solo on the left ring finger during engagement and then stacked on top of the wedding band after the ceremony. Yet, if you don’t like this arrangement, there are several alternative ways to wear your rings. Here are a few ideas.
Choose another finger
If you like the look of your engagement ring by itself, choose another finger on your hand to wear your band. Some brides decide that they want to keep their engagement ring on their ring finger and move their band to their middle. If you’re a “ring person” in general and love to wear a collection of rings, then you’ll love this eclectic look. It’ll go right with your style!
Yet another option is to purchase more than one wedding band that you can layer either on your left ring finger or on any other finger you choose. Make this process about finding your style — not about doing what’s traditional.
There’s no hard and fast rule that says you must wear both rings or any ring on your left hand! If you favour your right for one reason or another, switch them over. It’s your ring, and you can wear it however you want to.
This is often convenient for those who are left-hand dominant. If your engagement ring was previously interfering with your daily activities, switching it to your right hand can help.
Wear them as a necklace
Rings are often challenging for people constantly using their hands or those dealing with medical conditions that cause their hands to swell. While these individuals often love the symbolism that the rings hold, it isn’t practical for them to wear them day to day. A great solution for this is to go hands-free. By slipping your rings on the chain of your choice and putting them around your neck, you’re still able to wear your rings in a way that works better for you.
For some people, this is a temporary fix. A doctor or nurse, for instance, may need to take their rings off at work, but they can put them back on whenever they’re not on the clock. Likewise, pregnant people often use this solution because their hands swell as a side effect of pregnancy. They can resume wearing their rings after they’ve given birth.
That said, if you prefer the aesthetic of wearing your rings as a necklace, you can continue to do so!
No one says you have to have a wedding band! You can get married without one. Today, many women are choosing to have their engagement ring symbolize their marriage as well. During the wedding ceremony, you can simply have your fiancé slip it back onto your hand. Consider this route if you’re not the biggest fan of jewellery and prefer to keep your accessories to a minimum.
Are you and your partner discussing getting engaged? Or are you already engaged and looking at wedding rings? Since 1965 and for 3 generations, Anania Family Jewellers has been custom-making Jewellery on-site right in the heart of the beautiful Sydney City. Do you need some help to get started or some friendly advice? We are always happy to see how we can help you