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Which finger are engagement rings and wedding rings worn on?

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Which is the engagement ring finger in the UK?

Traditionally, in the UK, an engagement ring is worn on the fourth finger of the left hand, which is commonly called the "ring finger".

Engagement ring shown on fourth finger of left hand

Which is the wedding ring finger in the UK?

Traditionally, the engagement ring and wedding ring are worn on the same finger in the UK, with the wedding ring being placed on the left-hand fourth finger during the wedding ceremony.

Wedding ring being places on fourth finger of left hand

Which ring goes on first in the UK?

The wedding band is usually put on first in the UK, and the engagement ring is placed on top. Traditionally, the bride doesn't wear the engagement ring during the wedding ceremony, so the engagement ring follows the band after the ceremony. There also is a practical benefit, as you will likely need to remove your engagement ring more often than your wedding ring.

If you've chosen a stackable wedding set with multiple wedding bands, you can arrange them as you see fit. Those with two bands often wear one wedding band on top and the other below the engagement ring.

Countries that share the same ring traditions as the UK

Many countries share the same tradition as the UK, placing both the wedding ring and engagement ring on the fourth finger of the left hand, including, for example:

  • USA
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Italy
  • Sweden
  • France
  • Ireland
  • Switzerland

Other traditions around the world

There is a wide range of different traditions and practices around the world when it comes to wearing engagement rings and wedding rings.

In many countries, weddings rings are traditionally worn on the fourth finger on the right hand, including, for example:

  • India
  • Russia
  • Ukraine
  • Poland
  • Norway
  • Denmark
  • Bulgaria
  • Lithuania
  • Portugal
  • Greece

In China, engagement rings are traditionally worn on the middle finger, and brides wear their wedding band on their right hand, while the grooms wear theirs on the left.

In Germany, women traditionally wear a gold band on their left hand when they get engaged and move this to their right hand when they get married. German men also wear their wedding ring on the right hand.

In contrast, in Brazil, the tradition is for both men and women to wear plain wedding bands on their right hands when they get engaged and to transfer these to their left hand when they get married.

In Spain and the Netherlands, there is no preference or tradition about whether to wear a wedding ring on the left or right hand.

There are also differences in traditions between different religions. In the Jewish faith, for example, there is no tradition of giving engagement rings, and wedding bands are said to go on the index finger of the right hand. Likewise, in the Islamic religion, if a man chooses to wear a wedding ring, it would go on the right hand.

The origins of the engagement and wedding ring

The origins of wedding rings

Archaeological evidence suggests that the tradition of exchanging rings as a symbol of eternal commitment originated in ancient Egypt about six thousand years ago! Thousands of years later, after Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in 332 BC, the ancient Greeks adopted the tradition of giving a ring to your beloved. Then after the Romans conquered Greece less than two hundred years later, in 146 BC, the Romans too adopted the tradition of giving rings.

In Europe, the practice of exchanging rings remerged as a part of wedding ceremonies in the 9th century, before it was adopted by the Christian church in the 12th century when weddings became a religious ceremony.

The origins of engagement rings

The practice of giving engagement rings emerged in Europe slightly later in the medieval period, and for hundreds of years, coloured gemstone rings were far more popular than diamond rings. In 1477 the first documented diamond engagement ring was given by Archduke Maximilian of Austria to Mary of Burgundy. Still, it was not until the 1930s that diamonds became the stone of choice for engagement rings, driven by the successful marketing campaigns of DeBeers.

Gemstones Landscape

In the modern age, there has been a series of periods with distinctive jewellery design styles. The Edwardian, Victorian, Georgian, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, and Retro eras were all notable periods for the emergence of distinctive new designs of engagement rings and wedding bands.


How to remove a ring from a swollen finger

Some people also find their rings feel tighter when they wake up in the morning, and many people find their fingers swell in warmer weather or after exercise. Usually, this doesn't cause any problems, but if you find that your ring is uncomfortably tight and you're struggling to take it off, here are a few things that can help:

1. Cold - submerge your hand in cold water, or run an ice cube along the swollen finger skin next to the ring. This can reduce any swelling as well as providing some lubrication to help you slide the ring off. 

2. Lubrication - if water alone isn't enough, try soapy water, or apply a little bit of lotion or vaseline to your finger.

Can I wear an engagement ring on my right hand?

Of course, you can wear your engagement ring on whichever finger or hand you would like. Traditionally, in most of the world, it's worn on the left hand and the fourth finger, but you are free to wear an engagement ring on the right hand and on any finger you like!

If you are right-handed, there is a benefit to wearing your engagement ring on your left hand: because you use your left hand less, your engagement ring is likely to experience less wear and tear if worn on that hand. However, the opposite is true if you are left-handed, so it may make more sense for you to wear your engagement ring on your right hand.

Which finger is for an engagement ring for a male?

In the UK and much of the world, there isn't a tradition of males wearing engagement rings, Brazil being a notable exception. But gender-based traditions aside, whether you're male, female, or non-binary, engagement rings are traditionally worn on the fourth finger of the left hand in the UK.

Is it okay to wear rings all the time?

We don't recommend wearing wedding rings or engagement rings around the clock. These beautiful pieces of fine jewellery are crafted from precious gems and soft precious metals, both of which can become damaged through excessive wear and tear. Even diamonds, which are famously very hard and have excellent daily wear resistance, can become chipped against other hard surfaces. We advise removing your jewellery during sports and exercise and other manual activities such as gardening, cleaning, and washing up!


The tradition of exchanging wedding rings dates back to about 4000 BC and the Ancient Egyptians. Since then, various traditions have evolved around the giving and wearing of engagement and wedding rings. It is customary for people in the UK to wear engagement and wedding rings on the fourth finger of the left hand. And whether worn on the right or the left hand, most of the world follows the tradition that the engagement ring and wedding band should be on the fourth finger.

David Rhode
Together with Tim Ingle, David created Ingle & Rhode to offer a better alternative to the traditional luxury brands. Since 2007, we’ve provided our customers with genuinely ethical engagement rings, wedding rings and fine jewellery – free from conflict diamonds, dirty gold and child labour. With more than 16 years experience in the jewellery industry, David has deep expertise in diamonds, gemstones and jewellery design and manufacturing.