Everything You Need to Know About Ring Fingers

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hat finger does the wedding ring go on?” We’re willing to bet you’ve known the answer since you were a child. It’s pretty common for most people, particularly in the United States, to sport their wedding ring on the left ring finger. But why is the wedding ring worn on the “ring finger” in the first place? And do brides and grooms absolutely have to?

What Is the Ring Finger?

In many Western cultures, the ring finger is designated as the fourth finger on the left hand. The tradition of wearing a wedding ring on this digit originated from the belief that this finger has a vein running directly to the heart.

“Historically, wedding rings have been documented to be worn on every finger, even the thumb,” says jeweler Stephanie Selle. “Today, wedding rings are most commonly worn on the fourth finger of the left hand. But some countries including India, Germany, Spain, Norway, and Russia traditionally wear their wedding rings on their right hand.” Overall, it seems cultural traditions and norms set the standard for this custom. “It’s interesting that with all of the wedding traditions and trends that people decide to make their own in some way, the ring finger is one that most people keep,” notes Selle. 

Ring Finger FAQs

In What Order Should I Place Rings on My Ring Finger?

If you’ve decided to wear your engagement and wedding rings on the same finger, you may be wondering about stacking. Married duos conventionally wear their wedding bands closest to their hearts, meaning they’re at the bottom of the stack, below the engagement ring and pushed towards the base of the knuckle. If you want to honor this on your wedding day, the most popular strategy is to switch over your engagement ring to your right hand just before you walk down the aisle. Now your spouse-to-be can slide the band right up your left finger. It can be topped off with the engagement ring during the ceremony, or later on. For added pragmatism, some brides opt to have their wedding and engagement rings soldered together into one unified piece. We love how this introduces an entirely new “marital bond” metaphor.

Can I Wear My Wedding Ring and Engagement Ring on Different Hands?

Absolutely! The choice often comes down to personal or cultural preference. Some women opt to wear their wedding ring on the left ring finger and their engagement ring on the right ring finger. Whether you choose to uphold a time-old tradition or create your very own is entirely up to you.

Can I Wear Rings on My Ring Finger If I’m Not Engaged or Married?

An old wives’ tale denotes that wearing a non-committal ring on your left-hand ring finger could be bad luck. Not the superstitious type? If the ring fits, wear it! That being said, wearing a ring on that finger could signify to others that you are in a committed relationship, which might not be ideal if you’re out on the dating scene.

Is It Okay to Wear Rings All the Time?

While it might be tempting to keep those rings on at all times (read: one last step to think about), you’ll want to avoid any potential damage to the rings like scratching the metal, harming the stones, or disfiguring the setting. You’ll definitely want to remove the the rings when cleaning (especially if you’re using chemicals), going to the gym or participating in other physical activities, and even before bed. Removing your rings at night will not only protect your rings and thwart swelling, but it will also keep you (or your spouse) from waking up with scratches.

Have your engagement ring professionally cleaned and checked twice a year. This will not only maintain its brilliance and shine, but also ensure the ring hasn’t been damaged from wear.

How Do I Measure the Size of My Ring Finger?

A surprising amount of factors go into sizing up a ring finger. In addition to the shape and size of your finger, you’ll also need to consider your lifestyle and the actual ring you have in mind. If you’re frequently partaking in activities that may cause your finger to swell like physical exertion or flying, you’ll need to keep that in mind. Climate is an additional factor as hands and fingers swell in the summer and are more slender in the winter due to the cold. The width of the band will also impact the sizing as thicker bands tend to have a tighter fit.

To ensure the perfect fit, the best time to measure is when your body feels at its most normal—so at room temperature during the middle of the day (fingers can swell overnight), preferably not after hitting the gym or post hot meal. Ring guards or beads can help offset slight fluctuations in finger size if they arise. If you feel unsure about your ring size, consider getting professionally measured.

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