Wedding Ring Finger Blog

The Ring Finger Through the Ages

Which finger is the ring finger? Which hand does the engagement ring and wedding band go on? At first glance these questions seem to have a very simple answer – wedding and engagement rings go on the fourth finger of the left hand. Easy right?!

Not so fast. Here in Canada as well as the US, Britain, France, Italy and many other countries, that is the traditional hand to wear your wedding rings, but this is by no means universal. The hand that you wear your engagement ring and wedding band on can be determined by culture, religion and geography. Let’s take a look at what has influenced current traditions.

The Vein of Love

Long before the engagement ring was the wedding ring, which has been traced back to Ancient Egypt. The Egyptians considered the circle to be a symbol of eternity, and the ring to symbolize eternal love. Various Roman sources claim that Ancient Egyptians wore their wedding rings on the fourth finger of their left hand, as they believed that finger has a vein that is directly connected to the heart. This vein is called the Vena Amoris (Vein of Love in Latin), and while it’s a lovely idea, it is not anatomically correct.

The Un-ROMAN-tics

The Romans continued the tradition of wearing their wedding rings on their left hand as they followed the Egyptian way. The Roman marriage was more of a business contract than a romance, with the ring signifying the transaction of the woman being passed from her father to her husband. This meant that the wedding ring was only worn by the woman and not the man. This pattern of only women wearing a ring continued for most of history, until around WWII when men also began to wear a ring.

The Right Side

As Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire and beyond, the wedding ring began to be worn by those of the Christian faith. There is evidence that Catholics wore their wedding rings on the right hand during the early middle ages. This came from the belief that the right hand was spiritually more significant, as God blesses with his right hand and it is also used to make the sign of the cross. In 1054 AD the Greek Orthodox Church broke away from the Roman Catholic Church, and to this day Orthodox Christians still wear their engagement rings and wedding bands on their right hand. The influence of the Orthodox Church in Russia and most Eastern European countries means they also wear their rings on the right hand. Jewish wedding ceremonies began including rings in the middle ages and they also wore them on the right hand, however during the ceremony the ring was placed on the index finger where it was easier for witnesses to see.

The Left Side

In the 16th century the Protestant Reformation saw the Church of England break away from the Catholic Church. King Edward VI declared that the wedding ring must be worn on the left hand and the new church wrote a prayer book laying out the placement of the ring during the ceremony. The Protestant church chose the left hand because it wanted to distinguish itself from the Catholic practise of wearing the ring on the right hand. Since then the majority, but not all, of Western European countries have worn their rings on the left hand. England’s vast colonization spread this tradition to many parts of the globe.

Rules of Engagement

The concept of the engagement ring didn’t occur until 1215 AD when Pope Innocent III declared that there must be a waiting period between the engagement and the wedding to test the devotion of the couple to each other. However, it was only the nobility who were able to afford both an engagement ring and a wedding band. When wearing an engagement ring and wedding band on the same hand, the wedding band traditionally goes on first and the engagement ring second. This originally stemmed from an old superstition that once the wedding band was put on it must never be taken off. These days the wedding band is put on first so that it is closer to the heart.

Rings for All

While the Western part of the world has a long tradition with the wedding ring, many other parts of the world didn’t wear one at all. Traditionally, in Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism there was no ring included in the wedding ceremonies, although they had other symbols and/or jewellery they would wear. Today most cultures have added engagement and wedding rings to their rituals due to the influence of globalization. The hand these countries choose to wear their rings on often ties in to their traditional beliefs. In India they wear them on the right hand because that hand is considered auspicious and the left hand unclean. In China the woman wears her rings on her right hand and the man on his left, because the woman is the one who runs the household and the right hand exerts more influence.

And the Answer Is…

So to the question of which hand does your wedding ring go on, the answer is it depends on where in the world you live. As I live in Canada, everyone I know wears them on their left hand. But if I lived in Russia then they would most likely wear them on their right hand. Also, in most societies, both men and women wear a wedding ring, while engagement rings are still mainly worn by women. Despite these traditions, in today’s society there are no longer strict rules and if someone wants to wear their engagement ring or wedding ring on a different finger or hand, then they should do what feels right for them.

Photo credit: Jeremie Dupont

Engagement Ring Trends

Engagement Ring and Wedding Band Trends for 2015

Here at Kimberfire we spend each day surrounded by diamonds… in rings, earrings, necklaces and every other style of diamond jewellery you can think of. We love diamonds so much that it doesn’t really seem fair to call it work, does it? A lot of our clients come to us to help them create the engagement ring or wedding band of their dreams. Working one-on-one through the design process has provided us with insight on what the top wedding jewellery trends of 2015 are.

I See Your Halo

While this is definitely not a new trend, the halo design has shown it has staying power. A halo setting is one where a larger center stone is surrounded by very small stones, which go all around the stone like a halo (so that’s why it’s called that!). This style of setting is very intricate and feminine and also creates the illusion of the center stone being larger than it is, which is definitely a selling point. In the beginning this style of setting was usually created around a round diamond, but these days we regularly create halos around all the various diamond shapes.

Your True Colours

While the classic diamond engagement ring will always be in style, we have seen more people opting for coloured stones in their engagement rings. There is a lot of interest in fancy coloured diamonds, with a rise in people looking to have a yellow diamond in their ring. Sapphires are also a popular stone to have in engagement rings, as they come in many different colours and are the second hardest gem next to diamond. A coloured gemstone in the center can be a great option for a couple on a tighter budget, and this looks beautiful surrounded by a white diamond halo. Coloured gems are also a great option for side stones, as they create a unique accent and help the center diamond really pop.

From Here to Eternity

It’s not only engagement rings that are following certain trends, but wedding bands as well. While in the past it was common to have a plain gold band as the wedding ring, these days anything goes. These days ladies (and men!) are opting for even more sparkle by adding diamonds to the band. Our most requested style of wedding band for ladies is the eternity band, in which the gold or platinum band is covered in a row of diamonds that circle the entire ring. This style of ring shows minimal amounts of the metal, and the diamonds constantly sparkle as the different facets hit the light. The eternity band is also a sentimental choice as it represents unending love and commitment.

Tickled Pink

While many couples are still asking for rings in white gold and platinum, we have seen a boost in people asking for rose gold. Rose gold is created when yellow gold is mixed with a percentage of copper to make a new alloy. Rose gold is a great choice for people wanting a warmer metal and it looks great on many different complexions. The pink colour is also very romantic and can be a great choice for a more feminine style of ring.

Through Thick and Thin

The last trend we will look at is that of the thin band. No matter what the style of the ring, what kind of diamond, or what colour metal, all across the board clients are requesting a thin band for their engagement ring. For the most part these thin bands are covered in pavé-set diamonds, and from afar appear as a thin line of sparkles. The thin band helps the diamond look larger and looks great when paired with an eternity wedding band. Stacking multiple rings on one finger is another trend, and some people are opting to have two wedding bands, one below and one above the engagement ring. The thin band makes wearing multiple rings a more comfortable option.

While some trends come and some go (thankfully!), we believe the above trends are beautiful and carry a timeless appeal. If you are looking for a custom engagement ring or wedding band in one of these popular styles, or even something completely different, then we are here for you. Contact us today and we’ll walk you through the entire process in your free consultation.