The hand that the engagement ring goes on is not as easy a question to answer as you might think. The convention in the US is to wear an engagement ring on the fourth finger of the left hand. In fact, the fourth finger is called the ring finger.
But this “rule” isn’t accepted all around the world.
Keep reading! You’ll be surprised to learn that the left hand isn’t always the correct hand to wear your engagement ring.
- What Hand Does the Ring Go on?
- Origins of the Ring Finger
- Can the Engagement Ring Go on the Right Hand?
- Which Hand Does the Ring Go on When Proposing?
- Engagement Ring During the Wedding
- Wedding Ring During the Wedding
- Changing Hands and Exceptions
What Hand Does the Ring Go on?
In America (and most Western countries), the engagement ring will go on the fourth finger of the left hand. After the marriage ceremony, the wedding ring will join the engagement ring on the same finger.
See below for the customs and traditions in other countries.
The primary reason for using the left hand to wear the rings is that most people have a dominant (and active) right hand. They, therefore, prefer to have the expensive ring on the hand they use the least.
See below for a more detailed rundown of what hand and finger the ring goes on.
History of the Ring Finger
Although there is some evidence that engagement rings go back to the ancient Egyptians, it was the Romans who have the credit for bringing the tradition to much of the civilized world.
The Romans believed that the ring finger of the left hand had a vein running through it, which had a direct connection to the heart. This connection, they claimed, best portrays the love and commitment in their heart.
Important Note: Although it has long been proven that the veins in the ring finger have no direct connection to the heart, the custom has survived.
Additionally, the historical preference has always bent towards a diamond ring for the proposal over other jewelry, like a necklace or bracelet. Some say that the perfect circle of the engagement/wedding ring represents the completeness and harmony of an ideal relationship.
Can the Engagement Ring Go on the Right Hand?
Cultural diversity makes our world a wonderful place to live, and the alternative tradition of wearing engagement rings is no exception.
It isn’t even always so straightforward as everybody in the same country following the same custom. Different religions within a
- Russia, for example, is a country where women usually wear the ring on their right hand, but it might be a surprise to hear that the different ethnic or religious cultures in many countries in Europe also have their own engagement ring customs.
- Belgium: It may well depend on which region the couple lives or was born in.
- China: The man will often wear the ring on the left hand, with the woman wearing it on the right to signify the different responsibilities each has in the relationship.
- Netherlands: Most regions place the engagement on the 4th finger of the right hand.
The point is that there are no solid rules.
If you live in a country where everyone wears their engagement ring on their left hand, but you personally prefer to wear it on your right hand, go ahead with it!
Expert Tip: If you have any grandparents from one of the aforementioned countries, you can just blame it on them!
Which Hand Does the Ring Go on When Proposing?
When proposing, it is customary to place the ring on the same finger that she will wear, namely the fourth finger of the left hand.
Sometimes, due to the surprise element of most proposals, the ring won’t properly fit. In that case, pick the index finger or the pinky until you can ask your jeweler to resize the ring.
On the note of proposals, feel free to read our list of over 80 marriage proposal ideas.
Which Hand Does the Engagement Ring Go On During the Wedding?
There are no hard and solid rules regarding the engagement ring’s location during the wedding. Each person should do what they are comfortable with.
That being said, let’s break down the two schools of thought:
- Some brides prefer that the wedding ceremony is strictly about the wedding rings. They want the exchanging of wedding rings to be the highlight of the moment and don’t want it to be overshadowed by the nearby presence of the diamond engagement ring. For that reason, they will place their engagement ring on the fourth finger of their right hand throughout the ceremony.
- Other brides aren’t so particular and would rather start wearing their engagement ring as they always will. They will keep their engagement ring on the regular fourth finger of their left hand throughout the ceremony and not move it.
Some brides won’t wear the engagement ring at all throughout the wedding.
To each their own.
Click here to shop our collection of engagement rings.
Which Hand Does the Wedding Ring Go On During the Wedding?
The wedding band is placed on the fourth finger of the left hand during the wedding ceremony. In the countries where the wedding ring is worn on the right hand, the groom will place it on the right hand during the ceremony.
It is important to note that if the bride leaves the engagement ring on her ring hand during the ceremony, her fiance will place her wedding ring on without taking it off first. After the ceremony, she will remove both rings, first placing the wedding band on her finger and then placing the engagement ring afterward.
Interestingly, in the Jewish Religion, the groom will place the wedding ring on the index ring of the right hand. After the ceremony, she will move the ring to the fourth finger of the left hand.
Changing Hands and Exceptions
It’s certainly true that we live in a society where the concept of tradition has become much looser than it once was. We now think nothing about breaking the seemingly eternal rules of any given custom, including the wearing of engagement rings and wedding bands.
Great Idea. Some brides will move their diamond engagement ring onto their right hand just for the wedding day, enabling the wedding band to be placed on a “clean” finger. After the ceremony, the bride can move the engagement ring back to the left hand.
In Germany, the bride will wear the diamond ring on the left hand throughout the engagement but will then transfer it to the right hand after the wedding. This is an awesome idea, and I’m not sure why it hasn’t spread throughout the world.
In short, no one has yet set hard-and-fast rules regarding how and where to wear an engagement ring. It will ultimately come down to cultural or religious traditions, personal preference, or a mixture of all three things.
If you need to know which hand the ring goes on, you’ll probably also want to learn more! Here are some of our other related articles.
- What Goes on First: The Engagement Ring or the Wedding Band?
- Pictures: How Big Will a Diamond Ring Look on My Fingers?
- How to Clean Your Engagement Ring?
Talk to Jewelry Expert
If you have any jewelry questions or comments, please feel free to fill out the contact form below.