What Hand Does An Engagement Ring Go On? January 10, 2017 – Posted in: Jewelry Blog

Well, actually, it’s not quite so 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 4th finger is called the ring finger.

This “rule” which the Western countries take for granted 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.

Sometimes you’ll need to put the engagement ring on the right hand!

What Hand Does the Ring Go on?

Diagram of hands and ring finger

The engagement ring goes on the fourth finger of the left hand. After the marriage, the wedding ring joins the engagement ring on the fourth finger of the left hand.

Other countries have other customs and traditions, but in America and England (and most Western Countries) this is how it is done.

There is also another reason for putting the rings on the left hand. Most people have a dominant right hand (righties). They, therefore, prefer to have their 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.

Origins of Putting the Ring on the Left Hand

Ring on finger
A diamond engagement ring on the left hand

Although there is some evidence that engagement rings go back to the ancient Egyptians, the Romans are credited with 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-portrayed the love and commitment from their heart. Although it’s long since been proved that the veins in the ring finger have no direct connection to the heart, the custom has survived, and there’s no denying it makes a lovely romantic story.

It’s also believed that the proposal is best performed with a ring, as opposed to say a necklace or bracelet. The perfect circle of the band indicates completeness in the relationship.

Can the Engagement Ring Go on the Right Hand?

Engagement ring on Left Hand

Cultural diversity is what makes our world a wonderful place to live, and the alternative traditions of wearing engagement rings are no exception.

It isn’t even always so straightforward as everybody in the same country following the same custom. Different religions within a particular country may choose to do their own thing. In fact, the same religion in different countries may even have different ways of doing things.

  • 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 live or were born. 
  • 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 will have in the relationship.
  • Netherlands: Most religions place the engagement on the 4th finger of the right hand, but there are others from other religions who will choose the left hand instead.

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!

If you have any grandparents that hail from one of the aforementioned countries, you can just blame it on them!

Which Hand Does the Ring Go on When Proposing?

Engagement Ring on Left Hand

When making the proposal, it is customary to place the ring on the same finger that she is going to wear, namely the fourth finger of the left hand.

Sometimes, due to the surprise element, 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.

Here’s a list of 67 marriage proposal ideas.

Which Hand Does the Engagement Ring go on During the Wedding?

Tiffany Style Ring on Finger

There are no hard and solid rules when it comes to the location of the engagement ring during the wedding. Each person should do what they are comfortable with.

That being said, let me break down the two schools of thoughts.

Some brides prefer that the wedding ceremony be 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.

There are also some brides that won’t 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?

Exchanging Rings and Fingers

The wedding band is placed on the fourth finger of the left hand during the wedding ceremony. In the countries where the wedding rings are worn on the right hand, it will be placed on the right hand during the ceremony.

It is important to note, that if the bride chooses to leave the engagement ring on her ring hand during the ceremony, her fiance will place her wedding ring on without taking the engagement ring off first. After the ceremony she will remove both rings and first place on the wedding band and then the engagement ring.

Interestingly, in the Jewish Religion, the wedding ring will be placed on the index ring of the right hand during the ceremony. After the ceremony, it will be moved to the fourth finger of the left hand.

Changing Hands and Exceptions

Diamond Engagement Ring on Finger

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 with the seemingly eternal rules of any given custom, including the wearing of engagement rings and wedding bands.

It’s not unusual, for instance, for brides to switch the engagement ring to the right hand on their wedding day so that the wedding band can be placed on a “clean” finger. The engagement ring will then be moved back to the left hand later.

In Germany, the engagement ring will be worn on the left hand throughout the engagement, but will then be transferred to the right hand after the wedding.

To show a diamond engagement ring, and what it represents, may also dictate on which hand it is worn, as may the type of job done by the wearer.

In short, there’s no hard and fast rule on which finger an engagement ring should be worn, and it will ultimately come down to cultural or religious traditions, personal preference or even a mixture of all three things.

Keep Reading

If you need to know which hand the engagement ring goes on, you probably will also need to learn more about other engagement ring questions!