Wearing a ring to symbolize your love has been a centuries-old tradition across the world. These days, a lot of attention, planning, and effort goes into picking out the perfect ring; couples look for the ideal wedding bands while people search for an engagement ring to propose to their significant other with great care.
The meaning and tradition of the ring also involves the right wedding ring hand and finger, and also adds the subtle status symbol in terms of the ring’s size and material. That said, let’s dive into the story surrounding the wedding, engagement, and even the promise rings.
The Meaning of the Ring Finger
Traditionally, we wear wedding and engagement rings on the fourth finger of our left hand. These days, we view this practice as a romantic one and even refer to this particular finger as the “ring finger” regardless of whether there’s a ring on it or not.
In ancient Roman times, it was believed that there’s a vein that stretches from the fourth finger of the left hand straight to the heart. As such, this vein was called the Vein of Love (Vena Amoris), which only made it more appropriate for wedding rings to be worn on this finger in particular. The act itself represented true love and devotion due to the closeness of the heart and one of the main lifelines.
This story is truly heartwarming but today we are well aware that this vein doesn’t exist. Of course, many cultures around the world still value the meaning and tradition of the story and continue to wear the wedding/engagement rings on the fourth finger of their left hand.
For instance, this practice is still very popular in the US. On the other hand, some cultures have shifted to wearing such a meaningful ring on the fourth finger of their right hand. This is the case in countries like Greece, Russia, and Colombia, to name a few.
The Symbolism of Wedding Ring Finger
Wedding rings have symbolized eternal love for thousands of years. The origins of this tradition can be traced back all the way to ancient Egypt, around 4800 years ago. The true power of the ring was about its shape; namely, the circle presents eternity as it has no beginning and no end.
And the space inside the circle is not just empty; the meaning goes well beyond placing it on a finger. Actually, this space represents a gateway to immortal love.
The bride and groom give the wedding rings to each other during the wedding ceremony. According to the tradition, they place the ring on the fourth finger of the left hand of their spouse-to-be once they exchange their vows. These days though, deciding what finger to wear wedding ring on is up to interpretation.
The practice even extends beyond the question of the left or right hand, with some people choosing to wear a ring on a necklace, have the band tattooed, or even get a finger piercing.
What’s more, wedding rings come in all shapes and sizes. The couples these days are free to choose the metal, decide on whether they’ll get rings with stones and/or intricate designs, have them inscribed, and so on. Also, there’s no rule that both the groom’s and bride’s wedding rings have to be the same; they can choose bands that best suit their individual taste.
The Symbolism of Engagement Ring Finger
Engagement rings don’t have as long and rich of a history as wedding rings. It’s believed that the practice started in 1477 when Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed to Mary of Burgundy with a ring embellished with baguette diamonds in the shape of the letter M. It was his choice that set the trend that remains popular to this day.
As the hardest and most durable natural material on this planet, diamond is extremely valuable and a perfect choice to symbolize eternal love. Not to mention that every single diamond is rather unique, which tells an original story of promised forever for different couples.
Of course, an engagement ring doesn’t need to feature diamonds. There are plenty of alternatives that may be better suited to the style and taste of the wearer. A great example is the beautiful blue sapphire engagement ring that Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton wears. As such, other precious stones are always a trendy choice for an engagement ring, including other options such as pearls, moonstones, and so on.
The engagement ring is typically placed on the same finger that the wedding ring is meant to be on. Some people decide to wear both their engagement and wedding rings on their ring finger while others opt to move their engagement ring to another finger once they get married and start wearing their wedding ring on the ring finger.
Traditionally, it’s the man who proposes to a woman, which means that in most cases only ladies wear an engagement ring. However, there’s no rule stating that man can’t wear one, which is a growing trend in this day and age.
Are There Different Meanings to Different Fingers?
As mentioned, there’s no specific rule that states which finger to wear your wedding ring on. True, tradition has it that the fourth finger of the left hand is the most popular choice, but that’s not the case in every single culture in the world. Therefore, not only do you have the choice to switch between the ring fingers on your left and right hand, but some people opt to wear their wedding ring on the index finger of their right hand. Furthermore, a pinky ring is also considered a marital status symbol.
In that respect, people have complete freedom to choose on what finger they’ll wear their wedding ring nowadays, and even decide whether they’ll go with the actual ring in the first place to signify their marital bond.
What About the Promise Ring Finger?
It’s a common misconception to use the term promise and engagement ring interchangeably, but the promise ring is not the same as the engagement ring. Essentially, people in a steady relationship can give one another a promise ring to show their devotion and love, as well as their readiness to consider marriage in the future – but not immediately and without the actual act of getting engaged.
In that sense, promise rings are common among both men and women and are typically worn on the ring finger of the left hand, just like the engagement and wedding rings. And after the marriage, tradition dictates to move the promise ring to the right ring finger. Of course, many people choose to wear this ring on some other finger, especially if they don’t want it to be perceived as an official engagement.
Regardless of what your opinion and preference are when it comes to the engagement/wedding ring finger, you definitely can’t go wrong with choosing a top-quality and unique ring to represent your everlasting love. And you can get all that and more at our wedding ring store in Miami.
At Santayana Jewelers we commit to designing timeless yet custom jewelry pieces made just for you! Our recognizable style and competitive prices make Santayana pieces that are more valuable and meaningful. Feel free to check out our online store as well.