How to wear an engagement ring! Are there rules to wearing an engagement ring? Do they have to be followed, and which ones are made to be broken? And what about engagement traditions in other cultures around the world? We’re diving down the engagement ring rabbit hole and answering all these questions.
The Traditional Way in the West - Left Is Best
Here in North America, it’s traditional to wear your engagement ring and wedding band on your left ring finger to symbolize your fiancé-status or wedded bliss.
Why the left hand? In ancient Rome, people believed that a vein ran directly from the heart to the left ring finger. They called it The Vein of Love (Vena Amoris) and it symbolized a couple’s eternal love and fidelity. How delightfully romantic is that?
Do You Have To Wear Your Engagement Ring/Wedding Band on the Left Hand?
Women, rules are made to be broken, and if you prefer the right hand, feel free! Also, some ladies’ fingers shrink during the winter months so they move their rings to their right hand (the right side tends to be a hair bigger).
Of course, a properly fit ring should accommodate weather changes and daily fluctuations, but some people see more fluctuation between seasons than others.
Do I Just Get One Wedding Band? Are There Rules on What It Looks Like?
We’re all about bands aplenty! Stack em’ up to your heart’s content! And as for what it looks like – that’s totally up to you! We’re devoted band lovers (wedding and gift-yourselfers) and there are no limits on design! Whether you’d like a simple gold band, a heavily engraved band, a diamond-encrusted eternity band, a bejeweled tiara band, an ultra-chic pointed band, the limit does not exist!
One thing to keep in mind: a simple gold band is the most durable and can be worn 24/7 without the risk of stones falling out or other damage. So, if you plan on never taking off your band, that’s your best bet. Of course, you can still stack it with other more delicate and ornate bands and simply take them off while sleeping and for higher impact activities.
Or if you’d rather skip the wedding band altogether (or skip the engagement ring), that’s totally up to you! It’s 2020 and time to do what we want!
To Match or Not To Match?
In the past, couples bought matching wedding bands to signify their soon-to-be wedded bliss. Nowadays, you can pick (or custom create) whatever wedding band design stirs your soul, and have your partner do the same!
You’ll be wearing your ring every day after all – you should LOVE it just like you love your partner. If you both happen to pick the same design, that’s perfect too! Whatever feels right to you – pay no attention to the so-called rules of engagement.
Do You Have To Wear Your Ring(s) 24/7?
Definitely not! Truthfully, if you’d like your sparkling new engagement ring to last a lifetime, we recommend taking it off during any activity that could possibly damage it. While it’s beautiful that your ring represents your eternal love, it’s also not invincible. Show your ring love by removing it during heavy workouts, while sleeping, in chlorinated pools or hot tubs, and in the sand or dirt.
In general, if you have a feeling your ring might not like what you’re about to do, play it safe and put it aside!
Do I Have To Wear The Ring on My Finger?
No way! Think Carrie Bradshaw and her engagement ring-on-a-chain vibe! While that didn’t work out so well for her and Aiden, it’s not a bad omen, we promise. Also, sometimes your engagement ring just won’t fit on your finger! In times like pregnancy, fingers swell up like crazy, and instead of putting your ring away until your fingers deflate post-baby, you can wear it around your neck and keep it ‘close to your heart’ as Carrie would say!
White Diamond or Nothing?
While white diamonds are still the most popular choice, the scales are slowly tipping towards gorgeous alternatives like salt & pepper diamonds, colored gemstones, champagne diamonds, fancy colored diamonds, and rose cut diamonds.
Whether it’s a matter of maximizing your stone size within your budget, or just that you love the look of a cosmic salt & pepper diamond or a royal blue sapphire, choose the stone YOU love and forget about ‘the rules’.
One thing to keep in mind when choosing your stone is durability. Diamonds are the hardest stone available, so are perfect for everyday wear and definitely the right choice for those with high-impact lifestyles. Sapphires are just slightly softer, but still suitable for a worn-daily engagement ring. Some other colored stones however, are more delicate and better suited for lesser-worn rings. Check with your jeweler if you need help deciding!
Can Men Receive Engagement Rings?
Of course! We’re all about turning those limiting gender norms on their head! If you want to propose to your man and treat him with a stunning ring to symbolize your engagement, that’s a beautiful thing! Men deserve to be treasured and treated too, and we are all about bending the ‘rules’.
Engagement Ring Traditions Around the World
While it’s second-nature in the west to wear our engagement ring and wedding band on the left ring finger (with diamonds still reigning supreme), this is not the case in many other parts of the world. Just to further prove that love is love no matter which finger you’re wearing your ring on, let’s look at how engagement is done around the world:
IN GERMANY, RUSSIA, SPAIN, NORWAY & HOLLAND
Ladies wear their engagement rings on their right hand instead of left. In Holland, brides move their engagement ring to their left hand once they say ‘I do’.
IN SWEDEN & CHILE
In Sweden and Chile, both partners receive engagement rings, not just the bride! They’re usually simple silver or gold bands and are worn on the right hand.
Once they’ve officially tied the knot, both partners move their rings to the left hand. This represents the transition from engaged to married.
Lots of ladies in France prefer engagement rings made with colored gemstones like sapphires, emeralds, or rubies rather than diamonds. Hello, Kate Middleton’s heirloom sapphire stunner!
Many couples in Argentina only exchange engagement rings and skip the wedding band tradition altogether.
In some areas of Kenya, couples exchange ornately beaded jewelry as engagement symbols, with materials and styles varying between regions, religions, and climates.
IN HINDU CULTURES
In some traditional Hindu cultures, women opt for toe rings (called bichiya) as symbols of their engagement. At the same time, some Hindu cultures choose the more western style of left-hand engagement ring also.
It’s customary to give the bride amber jewelry – whether as a stone in her engagement ring or as a gift on the wedding day. The Lithuanian equivalent of our ‘something borrowed, something blue, something old, something new’.
The traditional engagement ring in Ireland symbolizes the Irish culture – it’s two hands holding a heart, topped with a crown. During the engagement, the ring is worn with the crown facing the wearer, and once married, it’s flipped around.
SOME INDIAN CULTURES
In areas of India like West Bengal, it’s traditional to give glass, gold, or iron bangles rather than a ring to symbolize an engagement.
Some Native American tribes celebrate engagements with silver and turquoise/coral rings, sometimes engraved with traditional Native American symbols. The groom will often wear silver and turquoise jewelry also to ward off evil.
The moral of the engagement ring story: don’t let yourself be ruled by rules! You and your partnership are unique and one-of-a-kind – let your engagement ring rituals speak to all that is distinctly YOU!