The Wedding Ring Finger - The Meaning of Each Finger for Wearing Rings

February 8, 2024

In the intricate tapestry of wedding traditions, choosing which finger to wear a wedding ring holds profound symbolism and cultural significance.

The ring finger, often adorned with the emblem of eternal love, carries a story that varies across cultures, religions, and personal preferences. As couples embark on the journey of matrimony, the selection of the wedding ring finger becomes a cherished decision, intertwining tradition, love, and personal beliefs.

The finger on which a wedding ring or band is put on or tied has roots dating back to medieval times. There are recorded cases in ancient times of wedding rings being made to signify everlasting love and a bond of marriage, especially with an old style of ring called a Hercules knot. Let’s explore the intricacies od the wedding ring finger.

The Significance of Each Finger 

How a finger became the ‘ring finger’ is no small answer, as each finger has a different symbolic and spiritual significance. Depending on culture, the ring finger for engagement and wedding rings may be the third finger on the left hand or the right.

Sometimes, in Eastern cultures, the right hand is preferred, but generally, the left hand is the go-to for placing that all-important wedding ring.

Here is a look into what each finger symbolizes so you know the effects of rings worn on each finger as you explore your love for jewelry and accessorizing. 

  • The middle finger (while often linked with insults being given to people that make you angry) is paradoxically related to responsibility, a sense of self and self-control. In terms of a fashion statement, the middle finger is typically thicker than the other fingers, so can support and be used to showcase large, chunky rings and big gemstones comfortably. Some people may do the opposite and style their middle finger with a thin band or even a cluster of rings. 
  • The ring finger has always been a favourite for wedding bands, and it goes back to Greek and Roman times when it was believed that this finger was aligned with the God Apollo and, therefore, had special powers. Marriage is a special bond between two human beings, and it was chosen as the ring that symbolizes fidelity, trust, a special bond, and love that will last forever. 
ring finger
  • The index finger is all about confidence and knowing who you are. It can be styled with a big statement ring and usually is. Wearers prefer to have an impactful ring set aside for the index finger, and if you are a fan of period dramas, you would know it’s a particular favourite with royalty for both men and women. Amethyst and blue topaz are among the stones thought to be the most ideal for the index finger, while more precious gemstones are chosen for the wedding ring and the ring finger. 
  • The little pinky finger is symbolic of hidden wisdom and deep intelligence. Since it is a finger that is often ignored in the way of jewelry, you can spice up the look of your hands with some delicate numbers that will sparkle and shine every time you flip your hair or pick up your bag. The little finger is all about intuition and empathy, which ultimately greatly affects your personal and professional relationships. 
  • Don’t forget about the thumb, as it is still technically a finger! Thumbs have been a favourite of royalty throughout history, and you can often see a ring shining on the thumb in paintings, portraits, and movies. 

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Why Should You Wear The Wedding Ring On The Right Hand?

You might be familiar with the wedding tradition of putting the engagement ring on the left hand. The wedding ring is usually put on the left hand since a vein in the hand is believed to go all the way up to the heart.

In many places around the world, however, it is simply accepted as the wedding ring hand, and modern couples rarely attach a meaning to it beyond that. 

However, many civilizations in history, such as the Romans, thought the left hand to be associated with deceit or impurity (sometimes the left hand is the dominant hand for washing up after using the bathroom), so it wasn’t preferred.

Even today, in some cultures, people do gravitate towards the right hand for the same reason. 

The right hand, as the name suggests, is all about being honourable and upright with a developed sense of responsibility.

For many same-sex modern couples, the right hand has been more of a popular choice for the wedding band as opposed to the traditional left hand. 

How Do I Measure My Ring Size? 

Picture yourself as someone who wants to propose but doesn’t really know their significant other’s ring size. Another scenario can be a newly engaged bride-to-be who is told to pick out the prettiest ring in a jewelry store but isn’t quite sure what her ring size is!

The answer is simple. Most jewellers carry a cluster of metal rings that are numbered in different sizes, and they ask you to simply try on appropriate sizes and determine which one is the most comfortable. 

With some people, an exact number may not be the best fit, so some points may be added; for example, someone’s size may not be 18, 19 or 20 but, in fact, 19 and a half or 19.25.

Weight changes or water retention are other concerns when you are shopping for wedding rings as they can lead to a variation of the size as well, and many people find their ring sizes may increase in their middle age, so take into account all those changes.

Smaller rings can usually be pressured to become a size bigger in some cases, but larger rings stay the way they are. In terms of smaller rings becoming slightly bigger, that depends entirely on the type and purity of the metal, as a weaker metal may simply crack. 


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Wearing Your Wedding Ring All The Time

A question for all manner of modern couples is whether or not they should wear their wedding rings all the time. With life getting in the way, it can be hard to wear your ring all the time, especially if the ring is large and you worry about it getting tarnished.

For sizable diamond rings, it should be noted that diamonds are very resilient and tough, especially if they are a higher carat, and it is virtually impossible to scratch them in the course of everyday life. 

Diamonds feature about ten on the Mohs hardness scale, so you cannot scratch them unless there is a severe and also unlikely impact on them or if they scratch against another diamond. For that reason, always store your jewelry in separate pouches or boxes.

That doesn’t mean diamonds cannot be altered by chemicals and so forth, so always remove your ring or wear gloves if you are cleaning with bleach or other powerful cleaning agents. 

Many people find wearing a diamond ring inconvenient when they are grocery shopping, for example, running or hiking, since the ring can be an impediment to carrying items or operating gadgets.

This is not everyone, though, so if you are comfortable wearing your wedding ring for routine or high-intensity tasks such as exercise, go ahead by all means. 


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Wedding Rings & Engagement Rings 

In many cultures, the engagement ring is the same as the wedding ring, so after the engagement, the bride simply wears the same ring with the rest of her jewelry on the wedding day.

For some couples, however, there may be a different engagement ring or even a promise ring and then a simple or inscribed wedding band for the wedding ceremony.

Many brides continue to wear their engagement rings for daily use as they can be simpler designs in some cases or delicately use small gemstones. 

wearing ring and engagement ring

Is The Ring Finger Different For Men?

The ring finger is not different for men, and in parts of the world where the right hand is preferred, it applies to the groom’s ring finger, too.

The different fingers on which rings may be worn do vary somewhat for males, such as the index finger being connected to social status and the middle finger leaning towards the degree of natural balance in a man’s personality. The thumb is all about power and exuding that influence, and the ring finger is loyalty and a great matrimonial bond. 

Cultural Indicators 

Many years ago, the popular myth that the veins connected to the third finger on the left-hand lead to the heart was debunked.

Many wedding traditions we know of and practice may not be logical in the modern world, but it is still important to learn about, celebrate and enjoy them as a way of staying connected to our culture. Let culture play a huge role in all your wedding festivities since that is where most of the fun is! 

In the Nordic culture, for example, the wedding band is worn on the left hand, and the engagement ring is simultaneously worn on the right hand for the full effect.

Tie in culture with practicality when deciding if you want to wear your wedding ring all the time or keep it safe for special occasions only. 

The wedding ring finger and the concept of wedding rings have had a long journey in our collective consciousness, and this tradition will not ever go out of style and will always be a part of beautiful unions and marriages everywhere. 

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