Engagement rings and wedding bands have a history that dates back thousands of years. There’s even some evidence that Ancient Egyptians were exchanging wedding bands more than 3,000 years ago! This matters because, over the centuries, many different traditions have formed around the union of two people, especially when it comes to jewelry. While some people like to break with tradition, most people want to know that they’re actually wearing their wedding bands and engagement rings “correctly,” or as their parents, grandparents, and ancestors before them did.
But if you’ve never worn an engagement ring, wedding band, or even a promise ring before, you probably have a few questions about how to wear them. For example, is there only one right way to wear a wedding band? Are you supposed to wear engagement rings and wedding bands together on the same finger? Should you wear your rings on a specific hand or finger? Finally, is there a specific order your rings should go in?
In today’s guide, we will answer all of these questions and more, so let’s get started!
Which Hand Do The Rings Go On?
Picking the correct hand for your ring can depend on a lot of different factors, including where you live, the cultural practices you follow, and even the type of ring you’re wearing. In the West (particularly North America and Western Europe), engagement rings and wedding bands are typically worn on the left hand. However, in some other parts of the world, including certain countries in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and South America, it is normal to wear the engagement ring or wedding band on the right hand.
In some cultures, it is customary for widows or widowers to move their wedding band or engagement ring from the left hand to the right hand (or vice versa) when their spouse passes away. Even if you’re not a widow or widower, “switching hands” is still a common practice for many people and cultures. You might wear the engagement ring on one hand before the wedding, and then switch it to the other hand after the wedding. This is a symbolic way of delineating between your life before marriage and the bond you share with your spouse after marriage.
In most cases, there’s no hard-and-fast rule for which hand to wear rings that are not directly associated with marriage. School rings or promise rings, for example, can be worn on either hand. That said, promise rings are typically a precursor to engagement rings, so they are most often worn on the same hand as the engagement ring. In the United States, this means that promise rings are typically worn on the left hand.
The hand you choose ultimately comes down to your personal preference, especially in contemporary times. For example, many people who are left-handed may find it awkward or cumbersome to wear their wedding ring or engagement ring on their dominant hand. It could make it more difficult to write or do other tasks as easily. The same is true for right-handed people. So, at the end of the day, the choice is yours!
Which Finger Do The Rings Go On?
The finger you use for engagement rings and wedding rings can also vary based on cultural practices. In the West, these rings are almost always worn on the fourth finger, between the pinky and middle finger, aptly named the “ring” finger. Much like wedding rings themselves, this tradition dates back centuries. Ancient Romans believed that the vein in the ring finger was connected directly to the heart, making it a symbol of lasting love.
While most cultures adhere to this tradition, your own preferences and even your family culture could determine which finger you choose. Whether you wear the ring on your left hand or your right hand, the most commonly used finger is the fourth finger. However, it can also be worn on your index finger or thumb, particularly if you want to use your ring as a statement piece. The pinky and middle fingers are far less common for engagement rings and wedding rings, but once again, it all comes down to personal preference and comfort.
There are virtually no rules for rings that are not associated with marriage. You can wear school rings or fashion rings on any finger and hand you like. Toe rings are also a popular option if you don’t like wearing jewelry on your hands, though it is very uncommon to see an engagement ring or wedding ring worn on the feet.
The Order Of The Engagement Ring & Wedding Band
The order of the engagement ring and wedding band can get tricky depending on where you live and what your culture dictates. In the United States, for example, it is most common to wear the engagement ring and wedding band in the order they are received. Typically, you will receive the engagement ring first (when you become engaged) and then the wedding ring during the wedding ceremony. This means that most people will put the engagement ring on the fourth finger of the left hand first, and then follow it with the wedding ring.
Many people in the West also see this as a symbolic choice. Since the engagement ring is often the largest and most valuable ring, it is worn closer to the heart. Aesthetically, it can also look better to wear the smaller wedding band on the outside of the larger engagement ring. This way, both rings are readily visible and neither overshadows the other.
However, certain countries and cultures prefer to see the wedding band worn first, followed by the engagement ring on the same finger. This is most common in countries where the first ring to be worn is the wedding ring, which is presented at the wedding ceremony. This also holds symbolic meaning for many people, as the wedding ring represents the sacred vows and commitments made during the wedding ceremony.
Personal preference also plays a big role in how you choose to wear your rings. Most wedding ring sets are designed to make it easy to wear the engagement ring and wedding band together on the same finger. However, you may prefer to wear the engagement ring on one hand or finger and the wedding band on another hand or finger. In fact, wearing the engagement ring on one hand and the wedding band on the other is becoming increasingly popular, since it adds a sense of balance and symmetry to your jewelry.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, you’ll need to choose whatever works best for you and your significant other so that you can be comfortable with the ring order and placement. You might want to adhere to the traditions of your family and culture, or you may want to throw traditions out the window and do whatever works best for you. Either way, you can rest easy knowing that the “right” way to wear your ring can be a little different for everyone!
We hope you enjoyed our guide on how to wear engagement rings and wedding bands! Are you currently trying to buy or sell a used engagement ring? If so, be sure to contact HYSTR today!