An engagement ring is worn to signify the promise of marriage and commitment between two individuals. It acts as a signal to others that you’ve found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. However, where it is placed distinguishes it from being just another ring on your hand.
Often, the engagement ring is placed on the fourth finger of either the left or right hand. But wait, I hear you ask. Does that mean I can wear it on either hand? Shouldn’t it be worn on the left hand together with the wedding ring?
As you’ll see, culture and religion largely determine the chosen finger for the engagement ring.
The Fourth Finger of the Left Hand
Wearing the engagement ring on the fourth finger of the left hand is common in many countries, English-speaking and otherwise. People from countries such as Italy, Egypt, Mexico, Britain, America, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Ireland, to name a few, tend to wear their engagement rings on their left hand. Protestants also tend to choose the left hand for engagement rings.
The tradition of wearing a ring on this specific finger goes back to ancient Egyptian and Roman times. Back then, before medical science, it was believed that there existed a vein, which they called the ‘vena amoris’ or the vein of love, which ran from the fourth finger of the left hand directly to the heart. In this way, this finger was seen as being directly connected to the heart. Wearing the ring on this finger demonstrated love and commitment.
Although this was a beautiful and sentimental notion, today we know that such a vein does not exist. There is no vena amoris and the fourth finger of the left hand does not have any connection to the heart. Even so, while the myth has been debunked, the tradition continues.
The Fourth Finger of the Right Hand
In some countries, the engagement ring is worn on the fourth finger of the right hand. This tradition is commonly followed in Russia, India, many Scandinavian countries, as well as some East European and South American countries. As a rule of thumb, Catholics prefer to wear their engagement rings on the right hand as well.
As far as we know, there is no specific or historical reason for this tradition. It has simply evolved over time and become widely accepted in those specific regions.
Either This or That
In some countries, such as Germany, it is common to wear the engagement ring on the fourth finger of either hand. There is no discrimination between the hands and either is considered just fine.
In other cultures, such as Brazilian and Jewish cultures, the engagement ring is initially worn on the ring finger of the right hand and then transferred to the ring finger of the left hand after marriage.
Another point to note is that there is an increase in the number of men wearing engagement rings in general. In fact, roughly about 5% of men in the USA prefer to wear an engagement ring. For men, there is no rule regarding the appropriate hand for the ring. They can choose to wear it on either.
To Wrap Up
All this goes to show that there are many rules and traditions on the right engagement ring finger depending on your region, culture and religion.
So, which should you choose?
All things considered, there isn’t a right or wrong way for wearing an engagement ring. In today’s modern world, you can get as creative or unique as you like.
Some people wear their engagement rings on their middle fingers while others prefer their index fingers. Sometimes, it may be more practical for you to wear your ring on a certain hand as per your lifestyle. For example, if you are left-handed, wearing the ring on your right hand will offer more protection to the ring and keep it safer from impact and blows.
If you want to hold onto the traditional significance of an engagement ring, then stick with the fourth finger of either the left or right hand. But if you are one who likes to try something new, then you can choose what works for you and go with that.