The wedding ceremony is sacred to many cultures around the world, although each has their own unique traditions.
The Western World
In the UK, US, France, and Canada, most people wear their engagement, wedding, and eternity rings on the third finger of their left hand. This comes from the old Latin belief that the blood vessel which passes through that finger connects directly to the heart. In fact, the vein was referred to as the vein amoris, or the vein of love in translation. However, women in Germany wear their wedding rings on their right hand instead.
Engagement rings were traditionally given as an outward sign that a woman had pledged herself to a man and would ultimately marry him, but also to show that the man could afford to support his fianc once they were married. Eternity rings were given by a husband to his wife after the couple had married as an affirmation that the bond between them would last for all eternity.
Russian men do not traditionally give engagement rings. The bride is given a wedding ring when she marries, which is worn on her right hand. The ring is made of three gold bands, sometimes embellished with precious stones, but usually plain.
In Hindu cultures, women are given traditional bichiya or toe rings as engagement presents, but some men also present their intended with a Western-style engagement ring too. In India, the wedding ring is worn on the right hand. In some parts of India, metal bangles encrusted with precious stones, gold and platinum are also given as bridal presents.
In Ireland, a unique ring, called a Claddagh, is given as both an engagement ring and wedding ring. The Claddagh can also be given to symbolise friendship. The Claddagh may be worn on either the left or right hand and the direction in which it faces differentiates whether the ring symbolises engagement or marriage. The design comprises a pair of clasped hands or a crown and heart, representing loyalty, friendship, and love.
Scandinavia and the Nordic countries
In Scandinavia and the Nordic countries, men and women traditionally wore plain gold engagement rings, usually on their right hand. However, in recent generations, more ornate designs have become popular.
We hope that this article has given you some inspiration when it comes to choosing your engagement and wedding jewellery.
For more ideas, why not have a look at our selection of beautiful and unique antique and vintage engagement and wedding rings?