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

The engagement ring goes on the left hand. See you next time!

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 to learn when the left hand isn’t the correct hand to wear your engagement ring.

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 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.

When Right Is Right

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.
  • In some predominantly European countries, however, the right hand is normal, so you can see that even cultural or religious convention is a very confusing thing at times!

The point is that there are no solid rules. If you prefer to wear the ring 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!

Changing Hands

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.