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The correct way to wear wedding rings on the left or right hand?
How are engagement rings and wedding rings different? Let's understand it all at once.

Wearing wedding rings is as normal as it gets, but have you ever wondered:

Where does the tradition of wearing wedding rings come from? What are the differences between engagement rings, proposal rings, and wedding rings? On which finger should wedding rings be worn? Should men and women wear wedding rings on the left or right hand?

Let Olivia Yao help everyone understand the origins of wedding rings and the correct ways to wear them in different Eastern and Western traditions.

Origin of Wedding Ring Customs

In fact, the origins and legends from different regions have silently influenced the form and wearing methods of modern wedding rings. Understanding the customs of wedding rings can somewhat help us understand where the current customs of wedding rings come from.

  • Origin and Legends of Wedding Rings in Egypt

In ancient Egypt, rulers carried "seal rings" symbolizing authority as tokens for making agreements or displaying status. Additionally, the circle represented "eternity" in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, and thus was incorporated into important rituals like marriage. Egyptians believed that the bloodline from the ring finger on the left-hand leads directly to the heart, so wedding rings were worn on this finger. Both engagement and wedding rings were considered contracts in ancient Egypt. When the groom placed the ring on the bride's ring finger, it symbolized a lifelong commitment and absolute loyalty between them.

  • Origin and Legends of Wedding Rings in Ancient Rome

The origin of wedding rings in ancient Rome can be traced back to Greek mythology: Zeus punished Prometheus for stealing fire for humanity by chaining him to the Caucasus Mountains. Centuries later, Hercules rescued him, and the chains magically transformed into Prometheus's ring. Since then, rings have come to symbolize "mutual support" and have become tokens of commitment between couples, representing life and eternity. Romans also believed that the ring finger was protected by the sun god Apollo, hence the tradition of wearing wedding rings on this finger. Additionally, Romans believed that diamond rings held the power of the sun, making love more steadfast and enduring.

  • Origin of Wedding Rings in Ancient China

In ancient China, dating back to four to five thousand years ago, archaeologists discovered the custom of wearing rings and bracelets as adornments. The significance of wearing rings began during the Han Dynasty when palace maids would wear gold rings on their left hands, indicating pregnancy or menstruation, signifying that the king should not approach them. They would wear silver rings on their right hands otherwise. As the tradition of wearing rings spread to the common people, it evolved into decorative adornments and symbols of marriage.

What are the differences between engagement rings, proposal rings, and wedding rings?

The legends from ancient times have influenced the significance of different ceremonies. As mentioned in the above myth, the exchange of rings is sacred and solemn. However, many soon-to-be-married couples often confuse the proper way to wear engagement rings, which can lead to embarrassing situations if done incorrectly. To help everyone quickly understand the meanings and classifications of different wedding rings, let's start with a quick guide!

  • Western-style Wedding:

Engagement Ring = Proposal Ring = Promise Ring = Diamond Ring = Ring with a main stone

In the Western tradition, the day a proposal is accepted marks the engagement. The groom typically places the engagement ring on the bride's ring finger.

Wedding Ring = Wedding Band = Wedding Band = Wedding Ring

During the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom exchange wedding rings.

  • Chinese-style Mixed Wedding:

Proposal Ring = Diamond Ring

While the proposal ceremony is a modern and romantic ritual, it's not a traditional Eastern custom. Therefore, the choice of proposal ring usually follows Western customs, with options such as diamond rings or more elaborate rings. These rings are often single-stone designs, emphasizing subtlety and elegance.

  • Engagement Ring

In a Chinese-style engagement ceremony, the groom prepares a set of pure gold engagement rings. In the presence of family members, the couple exchanges engagement rings. If there's a proposal ceremony, the proposal ring can also serve as the bride's engagement ring, or it can be worn together with the gold ring.

  • Wedding Ring = Wedding Band

In Taiwan's mixed-style ceremonies, engagements and weddings are often combined. Therefore, many people merge engagement and wedding rituals and prepare a single set of wedding bands.

Typically, the bride will have two rings: the engagement ring and the wedding ring, while the groom will have one ring: the wedding ring.

Every piece of custom jewelry is a magnificent adventure, where designers strive to capture the best creation within the trust zone of consumers.

Different cultures

have different customs regarding the wearing position of wedding rings. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that the vein of love (vena amoris) ran from the left ring finger to the heart. Therefore, wearing the sacred wedding ring on the left ring finger symbolized the entrapment of love. In the Eastern world, there is a distinction between men and women, with the belief that men should wear the ring on the left hand and women on the right hand. Below, we will provide a brief overview of Eastern and Western customs, allowing newlyweds to reference according to the ceremony they wish to conduct.

  • Traditional Western Ceremony: Which Finger to Wear?

In traditional Western weddings, the groom typically prepares both the engagement ring and the wedding band. When the woman accepts the romantic proposal, the proposer places the pre-prepared engagement ring on her left middle finger, symbolizing the completion of the engagement ceremony, and the couple becomes engaged! Later, in the presence of family and friends, they hold the wedding ceremony, exchange vows, and then slide the wedding bands onto each other's left ring fingers, officially becoming husband and wife.

  • Traditional Eastern Ceremony: Which Finger to Wear?

In traditional Eastern wedding ceremonies, the emphasis is on parental consent and matchmaking. During the engagement ceremony witnessed by family and friends, the bride and groom exchange rings. After the groom and bride put the engagement rings on each other's middle fingers, it represents that they are bound for life as a married couple. There is a saying in the East that men wear rings on the left hand, while women wear them on the right hand. After marriage, both rings will be worn on the ring finger.

  • Modern Ceremony: Which Finger to Wear?

In modern times, couples aspire to romantic proposals and free love. Therefore, Western-style proposals have become an indispensable part of the wedding process in recent years. In a romantic and sweet atmosphere, the man kneels and presents the pre-prepared engagement ring, slipping it onto the woman's middle finger to complete the proposal. Typically, following Western customs, couples choose diamond rings or more elaborate rings as engagement rings, emphasizing understated elegance. They may also pair it with a wedding band or a ring set.

After receiving blessings from family and friends, they begin planning engagement and wedding ceremonies. Some modern couples prefer to simplify traditional customs, arranging engagement and wedding ceremonies close together, even completing them on the same day. For prudence, they may prepare another set of wedding bands for the engagement exchange ceremony. Traditionally, the groom prepares pure gold rings for the engagement, but if the budget is limited, they can use the engagement ring given to the woman as the engagement ring. After the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom will wear the wedding bands. Strictly speaking, it is the third ring for the bride! As a streamlined approach, they may directly move the engagement ring from the middle finger to the ring finger to become the wedding band. However, due to the simplified engagement and wedding ceremonies nowadays, there is typically a difference of 1-2 ring sizes between the middle and ring fingers. If they want to complete both ceremonies in one day, they cannot modify the ring size midway through. Therefore, an alternative approach is to choose an engagement ring that fits the ring finger directly, thus saving the trouble of resizing.

  • Left Hand or Right Hand for Wedding Rings? Comfort and practicality are most important!

Regarding the question of the left or right hand, although there is a traditional Eastern belief that men wear rings on the left hand and women on the right hand, practicality and comfort are prioritized nowadays. If women often need to write or work with their right hand, it may be inconvenient to wear the wedding ring on the right hand. Therefore, many people follow Western customs and wear both wedding bands on the left ring finger.

With the changing times, many people are not too attached to traditional customs and rituals. They are also becoming more open-minded about the form of wedding rings. Instead of opting for branded style rings, why not design a unique set of custom wedding rings according to your actual needs? After all, marriage ultimately concerns you and your partner. Rather than adhering strictly to traditional customs, it's more important to ensure that the jewelry fits into your daily wear and that the rings, symbolizing commitment, are designed to be mutually recognized by both of you, isn't it?


Editor | Olivia

珠寶設計師 / 品牌創辦人 / 會計師 / 旅遊狂熱者,有著不安於室的反骨靈魂,把自小的興趣變成終身職業,從會計師轉換跑道變成珠寶設計師,成立自己的同名品牌,用輕珠寶打動女性的心,現在在全球已經有超過 20 個國際通路可以看到 OLIVIA YAO JEWELLERY,也讓每位有夢想的女性看到更多生活方式的可能。