If you’ve ever wondered which hand the engagement ring goes on or what the history behind the engagement ring is, you’re in good company. We’ll dive into the rich history of the engagement ring and why the ring finger became synonymous with both wedding and engagement rings.
The History of Engagement Rings
Engagement rings have been around for hundreds of years. They’re the universal symbol of love, a union between two partners to symbolize their devotion to one another. However, today’s particularly classic diamond engagement rings weren’t always in fashion. Historical engagement rings didn’t usually have diamonds. Diamonds didn’t become a popular choice for engagement rings until the 1940s. Very early engagement rings were made from materials like ivory and copper. Gold rings were, and remain to this day, very popular.
Getting Ready for the Engagement
Before you even think about popping the question, consider what kind of engagement ring your partner would like. You may be able to get insight from your future in-laws or your partner’s bestie. If you don’t want to play a guessing game, you can even ask your partner directly. No matter what you choose to do, you have options when it comes to choosing an engagement ring and wedding band for your partner.
Surprise Your Partner
Asking for your partner’s hand in marriage from their family can be seen as an outdated tradition, but it may still be an expectation of your partner and their family. It’s something to consider before picking out the engagement ring. You may also want to go to their close family and friends for guidance on what kind of ring your partner may enjoy. If you or your partner wouldn’t want their family or friends involved in you picking out the ring, you may have to find other ways to surprise your partner. Take a look at their social media, like their Pinterest boards, and see if they have any dedicated boards for their dream rings or wedding.
Get Your Partner Involved
If you and your partner want to team up to pick out the engagement ring, that will save you both money and disappointment when you two pick out the ring you’ll both love together. You can still propose to them without their dream ring and make it a point that you two will go ring shopping together. Browse rings online or go to a boutique together in person.
How to Wear the Engagement Ring
You may think that there’s only one correct way to wear an engagement ring, but you’d be pleasantly surprised to hear how engagement rings are worn in different cultures.
The Left Hand and Ring Finger
Wearing your engagement ring on the left hand and ring finger may be the most common way you’ve heard of wearing your ring. Wearing the engagement ring on the fourth finger of your left hand is a tradition that dates back to the Ancient Romans. The Ancient Romans believed that the fourth finger has a vein that runs directly to the heart. This vein was known as the vena amoris, the “vein of love.” What better way to show your love than by wearing your engagement ring on the finger connected to your literal heart? Both partners would wear the engagement ring on the ring finger of the left hand to symbolize their forever love and commitment to one another. While the “vein of love” isn’t actually anatomically correct, the enduring symbol continues to this day.
The Right Hand
In countries like India and Norway, it’s more common to wear the engagement ring on the right hand. Some cultures believe that the Latin word for “left” is close to the meaning of “sinister,” so it’s considered unlucky or unreliable to wear an engagement ring on the left hand. Some Asian cultures believe that the left hand is unclean, so it’s more favorable to wear the engagement ring on the right hand instead.
Not Just Brides
In Chile and Sweden, it’s not just the women who wear engagement rings. Grooms-to-be typically wear engagement rings, too. In Chile, men and women wear the engagement rings on their right hand until the marriage ceremony, when they are exchanged on the left hand.
The Trendy Promise Ring
Promise rings have become part of mainstream trends, with celebrities like Joe Jonas using promise rings with their significant others to represent the power and importance of lasting commitment. Engagement rings and promise rings are often compared to one another, but they are different. You may also wonder how to wear a promise ring compared to an engagement ring. Let’s dive in.
What Is a Promise Ring?
A promise ring is often a precursor to marriage, but it doesn’t have to mean that marriage is coming in the near future. It may just symbolize a deep commitment to one another without marriage. Engagement rings typically have a center stone. Promise rings usually feature a plain band or birthstones instead of a center diamond.
How Is a Promise Ring Worn?
Promise rings don’t have to be worn just by couples. They can be worn by best friends who want to symbolize their forever friendship. For the couples who do wear promise rings, they can wear them on their left hand and ring finger just like an engagement ring. Others may opt to wear them on their right hand instead to differentiate the promise ring from an engagement ring. There are some superstitions that say that wearing any other ring but an engagement ring or wedding ring on your left hand can be bad luck, but don’t let superstition stop you from wearing your promise ring in a way that makes you feel comfortable or happy.
Engagement Rings Today
What Is an Engagement Ring?
When you think of an engagement ring, you probably think of the classic diamond rings for women. The engagement ring is given to someone when asking for their hand in marriage. It’s a traditional symbol of everlasting love. Engagement rings can be simple and minimalist. They can also be large and flashy.
How Is an Engagement Ring Worn?
From stunning emerald cut rings to the timeless princess cut diamond ring, there’s more than one way to wear an engagement ring. Most Western cultures wear the engagement ring on the ring finger on the left hand. However, it doesn’t have to always be worn on that hand and finger, depending on the person. It also differs from culture to culture.
Wedding Rings Today
The engagement ring symbolizes the beginning of the promise of a beautiful marriage. The wedding band helps solidify that promise. The circular shape of the wedding ring marks the beginning of a lifetime partnership with no beginning or end, just like a circle.
The Wedding Ceremony
Wedding rings are traditionally exchanged during the wedding ceremony in most Western cultures. As for what happens to the engagement ring, the engagement ring is moved to the right hand first. Then, during the ceremony and after the wedding ring is placed on the left hand, the engagement ring is put back on the left hand.
After the Ceremony
After the ceremony, the wedding ring and engagement ring are normally worn together on the left hand on the ring finger. The engagement ring is usually worn closest to the heart, meaning that the ring is put on the finger first, followed by the wedding ring.
What About Wedding Bands?
Just like there are different ways of wearing engagement rings, there are different ways of wearing wedding bands, too.
Wearing the Wedding Band Alone
You may not want to wear both your engagement ring and wedding band every day. Your day-to-day routine may require you to work with your hands when you don’t want to dirty or accidentally lose your rings. You may decide to have a separate wedding band for simple everyday use instead of a more extravagant wedding band along with your engagement ring. Your “real” engagement and wedding rings can be worn together for special moments or when you’re not at work.
When Should Wedding Bands Be Picked Out?
Once you pick out the engagement ring, you’ll also want to think about the wedding band. You may pick a wedding band that has a similar look and feel to the original engagement ring. You may want to pick out a wedding band that has a totally different look, like a different metal type or gemstone altogether, from the engagement ring. Your wedding band can become a statement piece, too. Choose the wedding band at least several months before the big day in the event any resizes or changes need to be done.
Guide to Wearing Your Engagement and Wedding Rings
Now that you know the typical and traditional ways of wearing engagement rings and wedding bands, you’ll learn about some of the different ways to wear your rings. One popular method is to wear the wedding ring closer to the heart instead of the engagement ring.
Other Ways to Wear Your Engagement Ring and Wedding Band
Some people choose to wear the wedding band on the left hand and keep their engagement ring on the right hand — or vice versa. They may wear the rings on other fingers besides their ring finger. They may not wear them on their hands at all. If you have to commute to work or work with your hands a lot, you may prefer to wear your wedding ring on a necklace around your neck.
Growing Trends for Modern Wedding Rings
Stacking rings on the ring finger to wear alongside the engagement ring to highlight the ring has grown in popularity in recent years. Stacking rings can be done on the ring finger or other fingers. For wearing wedding rings, more and more couples are embracing individuality over traditions.
Wedding Ring Sets
Get a wedding ring set with an engagement ring and wedding band that are designed to go together purposefully.
When it comes to choosing engagement rings, keep in mind that there are no hard and fast rules. There are enduring traditions that serve as guidelines. But just like there are so many different rings to choose from, there are so many ways to wear engagement and wedding rings. It’s up to you and your partner to decide what works best for you.
If you’re looking for the perfect engagement ring for your partner, you’ll want one that they’ll love wearing for the rest of your lives together. According to a survey by 1stDibs, 80 percent of couples drop hints to their partners about what preferences they have for rings. If you need any advice on what kind of engagement ring or wedding band to get for your partner, ask any of our Verragio diamond experts.