If you’re planning to propose or have recently become engaged, you may wonder about the correct way to wear the engagement and wedding rings. Different regions and cultures have different customs, but the typical way of wearing the rings in the West actually dates back thousands of years. The decision on how to wear your ring is up to you, but it can be helpful to know what the standard is in your society.
How to Wear Your Engagement Ring
In Western countries, it’s customary to put your ring on the fourth finger of your left hand. This tradition can be traced back to ancient Egypt as the ancient Egyptians believed that the vein on the fourth finger of the left hand ran directly to the heart. When the ancient Greeks conquered Egypt they adopted the belief too.
This vein became known as the “vena amoris,” or the vein of love. Placing a ring around the finger that contained the vena amoris was a symbol of love and unity for newly married couples. Today, we know that the veins in every finger are almost exactly the same, and none of them have a direct connection to the heart. However, the tradition has already been established, so most people continue to follow it despite our current scientific knowledge.
It’s typical to wear engagement and wedding rings on the left hand in the United States and many other Western countries. Certain countries, cultures, and religions prefer the right hand, though. Here are some of the countries where it’s more common to wear rings on the right hand:
Some people wear their ring on their right hand for religious traditions. For example, in the Netherlands, Catholics often wear their engagement rings on their right hand, but Protestants wear them on the left hand. Then, when they get married, they switch the rings to the opposite hand. Orthodox Christians usually wear their engagement and wedding rings on the right hand, too.
There may be practical reasons to wear your ring on your right hand as well. Some people who are left-handed prefer wearing their ring on the right hand to avoid wear and tear from their dominant hand. Arthritis or other joint problems may cause pain or swelling in the knuckles of one hand, so some people may choose to wear their ring on the opposite hand to make it more comfortable.
How to Wear Your Wedding Ring
It’s also customary in most Western countries to wear your wedding ring on your left hand. All the same reasons to keep the ring on the right hand still apply, though. You may choose to wear your wedding ring on your right hand for religious or practical regions, or you may live in a country where it’s more common to put the ring on the right hand.
Another important consideration is what to do with your engagement ring once you’re married. Usually, women stack this ring on top of their wedding ring. The tradition is that the wedding ring should be closest to your heart. However, some women wear one ring on each hand, and some choose not to wear the engagement band at all anymore.
There are many customs and traditions involved with engagement and wedding rings. Ultimately, though, how you wear your rings is a matter of personal preference, and you don’t have to place them a certain way just to follow tradition. What’s most important is that you’re happy with your rings and what they symbolize.