Engagement rings and wedding ceremonies are some of the most incredible traditions throughout the world.
Most cultures have wedding traditions, allowing couples to exchange symbols of love and bind themselves to one another before their friends and family.
In Western cultures such as Australia, one of our most storied traditions is the finger on which you wear your engagement ring.
The engagement ring finger is a custom that dates back thousands of years.
Although it’s a simple touch, wearing your engagement ring on the correct finger carries symbolism that can make your commitment all the more special.
You have the choice of how you wear your engagement ring, but we’re going to explore the most common options and the symbolism behind the gesture.
Which Finger is for Your Engagement Ring?
Brides typically wear their engagement ring on the left ring finger.
That’s the fourth finger, counting from your thumb to pinky.
It’s also common to wear your engagement ring on the right ring finger, depending on your preferences.
This is the tradition for Western couples, but many other cultures exchange rings, and they may be worn on other fingers.
In many parts of Europe, such as the UK, Germany and Norway, it’s common for a woman to wear an engagement ring on the right ring finger.
After they’re married, the ring is moved to the left ring finger to symbolise the next chapter in life.
Traditions in Chile and other parts of South America are similar.
Couples may exchange engagement rings that are worn on the right ring finger, and then move the ring to the left ring finger as part of the wedding ceremony.
Ultimately, there is no “correct” finger to wear your engagement ring. Depending on your culture and preferences, you can choose to wear an engagement ring on any finger.
Is the Engagement Ring Finger Different for Men and Women?
In the West, men and women both wear engagement rings on the left ring finger.
While it may be less common for men to wear engagement rings, they are still a beautiful symbol of love, and the ring can be worn on any finger you like.
Men who wear an engagement and wedding ring will typically wear them as a set on the left ring finger, the same way women do.
Which Finger is for Your Wedding Ring?
The bride and groom both wear their wedding rings on the left ring finger.
If you also wear an engagement ring, the wedding band is usually worn underneath, with the engagement ring stacked on top.
Wearing the wedding ring underneath places it “closer to your heart,” solidifying the symbol of your love.
This is a simple tradition, but many brides also choose to wear the wedding band on top of the engagement ring to help secure it in place.
The order of your wedding band and engagement ring also depends on the design – some rings are intended to be worn as a set that fits together in a particular order.
As with engagement rings, the bride and groom may choose to wear their wedding band on any other finger, but the right ring finger is the next most common option.
The Symbolism of Your Wedding Ring Set
Your engagement ring and wedding band come together to form a set.
This set of rings looks stunning, but they represent so much more than simple gold and stones.
An engagement ring is a symbol showing that you have accepted an offer of marriage.
In modern cultures, it’s a display of the love you have for your partner, and your intention to marry one another.
Wearing an engagement ring is intended to be a public display of commitment, much the same as Ancient Romans wearing their gold ring in public.
Diamond engagement rings are a common choice for many couples.
However, engagement rings are supposed to be a symbol of your love for each other, so it’s best to choose a ring that matches your relationship.
For example, some couples may use a simple band as an engagement ring, while others may opt for different precious stones, or a completely custom design.
The wedding band shows that a couple has bound themselves to one another through marriage.
It’s also a memento of your special day and a reminder of the love you share.
While it’s more common for women to wear engagement rings, both men and women will wear a wedding band.
Wedding rings are typically simple and elegant, with many couples choosing plain bands of gold, platinum, silver or another precious metal.
The bride and groom may wear matching rings, or their rings may feature different designs, precious metals and inscriptions.
Eternity rings are a modern concept that has become increasingly popular with couples.
An eternity ring is intended to be worn on top of the wedding band and engagement ring as a symbol of everlasting love.
Couples may gift an eternity ring to one another for a major milestone in the relationship.
This could include an anniversary (such as the 25th or 50th anniversary), or it could be the birth of a child.
Eternity rings are typically more elaborate than a wedding band, but less elaborate than an engagement ring.
For example, an eternity ring could be a band set with a row of small diamonds.
These rings are designed to complement the rest of the set, and they’re often custom made by a skilled jeweller.
Tradition of Wearing an Engagement Ring
Wearing an engagement ring seems like a small gesture, but it’s one that is steeped in thousands of years of tradition.
For western cultures where the ring is placed on the left ring finger, this custom has been traced all the way back to Ancient Rome.
The Ancient Romans believed in the Vena Amoris, which translates to the “vein of love.”
They held the belief that the vein of love ran from the left hand all the way to your heart.
This created a direct connection between the left ring finger and your heart, which was considered the centre of emotions.
Wearing a ring on your left ring finger was a public symbol that your heart had been claimed by another person.
In Ancient Rome, a man would give two engagement rings to his beloved – one made of gold and one made of iron.
The gold ring was worn in public to impress others, while the iron ring was worn at home as a more staid gesture of love.