How to Wear the Engagement Ring and Wedding Band?

By Alina

Marketing and Communications Advisor with a passion for diamonds and a nose for trends. Always happy to share the latest developments in the jewelry business with you.

April 6, 2018

Whether you’re about to get married, preparing for a proposal or are just curious. It never hurts to know a little ring etiquette. We get a lot of questions about when which ring goes on which finger. Many people know that the ring goes on the ring finger. But which hand was it again? And what happens to the engagement ring once you're married? Of course, we have the answers for you.

Why we wear an engagement ring

The tradition of wearing an engagement ring dates back to many centuries ago. Many believe the idea of a ring as the symbol of betrothal stems from the ancient Egyptians or Greeks. But we can not prove this. What we do know is that at least the ancient Romans already gave engagement rings. In the second century BC, a man gave his bride-to-be two rings. One ring was made of gold. This was the ring she wore in public. The other was an iron ring. The woman would wear this ring inside and around the house while attending household duties. The rings were a symbol of “owning” the woman.

The meaning of the engagement ring

Over the years, the symbol of presenting the rings changed. Instead of getting ready to be owned by a man, receiving an engagement ring meant getting ready for a promise. A promise to love each other unconditionally and be together for the end of days. Later on, the tradition of engagement rings was incorporated into wedding proposals. Who says everything was better in the old days?

How to wear the engagement ring

Nowadays, the promise – or proposal – still often comes with a ring to symbolize the planned wedding and the life together. Even though we are more emancipated than many centuries ago, most of the times it’s the woman who receives the engagement ring. In Western cultures, it is custom she wears it on the ring finger of her left hand.

man knowning how to wear engagement ring while putting on female fingerThe Vera Amoris

The reason to wear the ring on the third finger of the left hand originates from the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. They believed the “Vera Amoris” was a blood vein that ran from the third finger of the left hand immediately to the heart. This way, the ring from the loved one would be as close to the heart as possible. Romantic, isn’t it? Modern anatomy, however, teaches us that the Vera Amoris is just a myth. There is no vein that runs straight from the heart to a finger. Bummer.

Wait, I wear my engagement ring on my right hand

In many Western countries (e.g. the Netherlands, United Kingdom and the United States) it is common to wear the engagement ring on the left hand. However, there are also exceptions. In many countries, people wear the engagement ring on their right hand. The Old Romans stated that right symbolizes everything good in the world and left all evil. The Latin word for left is “sinister”. So, yeah… With that in mind, I guess it makes sense to wear the ring on the right hand.

Some women wear the engagement ring on their right hand

Religious reasons for left or right

And then there are religious rules to tell you how to wear your engagement rings. Which side you wear your ring is subject to the country you live in. In the Netherlands, Catholics wear the engagement ring on the right hand. Protestants wear it on the left hand. When they eventually get married, the ring switches to the other hand. But in some countries, it is exactly the other way around, so it can be quite confusing.

Practical reasons for left or right

Nowadays, people are more practical regarding how to wear their engagement ring. Religion plays a less dominant role in these kinds of situations. From a practical perspective, it makes sense to wear the ring on the left hand. Most people are right-handed and use the right hand more often than their left one. Engagement rings are very valuable. So you want to avoid traces of use or damage as much as possible. By wearing the engagement hand on your non-dominant hand, you reduce the risks of damaging it. If the wearer is left-handed, she can wear it on her right hand for practical reasons.

husband and wife wearing their wedding rings

How to wear a wedding ring

After stating your vows and saying “I do” it is time to put the wedding rings on. Just like the engagement ring, people usually wear the wedding ring on the ring finger of their left hand. People who wear their engagement ring on their left hand can put it on their right hand before the ceremony. Just like the engagement ring, the hand of the wedding ring can also differ between countries, cultures, and religions. Dutch Catholics wear their wedding bands on their left hand (and engagement ring right). Protestants on their right hand (and engagement ring left).

The engagement ring after the wedding

After the wedding, there are basically three things one can do with the engagement ring:

  • Stack the engagement ring on top of the wedding ring. Often women wear the engagement and the wedding ring on the ring finger of their left hand;
  • Some decide to wear the wedding ring on their left hand and the engagement ring on their right. Or vice versa of course.
  • Only a few choose to not wear the engagement ring at all anymore.

woman holding hands wears engagement ring and wedding ring stacked on left handStacking or splitting the engagement ring and wedding band

At Royal Coster, we firmly believe in keep wearing the engagement ring. Sure, the chances of damages to the beloved engagement ring are smaller when it’s always safe in a dark box. But it is such a shame to put that beautiful piece away after the (relatively) short engagement period. Therefore, we prefer it to stack the rings or wear one on each ring finger.

Stacking the wedding ring and engagement ring

Wearing the wedding band and the engagement ring on the same finger can be very elegant. This works best when one ring is quite modest – often the wedding ring – and the other one flashier. For example, a solitaire diamond engagement ring and a simpler (diamond) wedding ring in the same gold look lovely stacked. Another great option is an alliance ring or semi-alliance ring for a wedding band. Stack it with a wonderful halo setting or paved diamond engagement ring and it will look amazing. It is no secret that stacking the love rings on top of each other is popular. For this particular reason, the curved wedding band was invented. This ring is shaped to complement the engagement ring.

curved ring to stack and wear the engagement ring and and wedding ring togetherOne band on each hand

Stacking the rings is not always an option. Not all rings match. Two wide rings for example. Rings in different colors and styles aren’t always a good combination. When the wedding and engagement ring differ a lot, you can wear the engagement ring and the wedding ring on different hands. Most often, the wedding ring is worn on the left hand. The engagement ring is then placed on the right hand. However, this is a matter of personal taste.

pretty bride wearing her engagement ring left and wedding ring rightReady to tie the knot?

Now you know how to wear the engagement and wedding ring. Are you looking for either one of them? At Royal Coster Diamonds we have the biggest collection of diamonds in all of Europe. We have a small collection on our website, but feel free to browse. Our diamond consultants can help you if you’re looking for a specific model for a specific budget. We have almost every setting known to man and if don’t have it, we can make it.

Explore our Engagement Rings

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