An Engagement History – Which is the Engagement Finger, When Did They Start, and More

March 7, 2019
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You’ve picked out the ring, you got down on one knee, the question’s been popped and they said YES! You go to place the ring on the engagement finger and for the briefest of moments, your mind goes blank. Which one is for the engagement ring?! Of course, it’s the fourth on the left hand. Phew, that was close. But wait, why is that the engagement finger? This time on the Stewart Kuper Jewelers blog we’re looking at the history of engagements!

The short answer to that first question is ‘tradition.’ Weddings are steeped in tradition. As one of the Big Moments in a lifetime, it makes sense that it is so laden with them, the right way to do this, the proper way to wear that. When it comes to rings, it is all about tradition, from where to wear them, how to exchange them, or what they should be made of. But where did these traditions start?

The Engagement Finger

First, remember that the engagement finger is the same as the wedding band finger, in general. In western cultures, this is all traced back to the ancient Romans! Back in the old days, Romans believed that inside the ring finger was a vein that ran directly to the heart. Dubbed the Vena Amoris, or the Vein of Love, it represented that most wonderful of feelings – love. If there was any better place to wear a symbol of unending love, they never found it. And so the ring finger entered tradition.

In the US (and many other countries) the engagement finger is especially the fourth finger on the left hand. Others wear them on the right-hand fourth finger, it varies by country, religion, and other factors of tradition.

When Did People Start Getting Engagement Rings?

The concept of engagement rings is much newer to marriage traditions. The first use of an engagement ring, at least in the recorded history, was in the 15th century when Austria’s Archduke Maximilian gave his lady Mary of Burgundy a ring with baguette diamonds arranged into the letter M. Pretty flashy no doubt, but when you’re the Archduke you do you.

The choice of a diamond covered ring became the start of a trend that continues to this very day.

The Future of Engagements

While the traditions of old dictate the man is the one responsible for proposing marriage, this is no longer the case of today and surely won’t be the tradition of the future! This is one of those traditions that while old-fashioned and often sweet, it has grown into something even more beautiful. Women proposing to their husbands, same-sex couples proposing to their partners; which means that men are getting proposed to and enjoy wearing engagement rings too.

Now you know a bit about the traditions and history of the engagement ring, perhaps you’re looking to find the right one for your dearly beloved? Contact us here at Stewart Kuper Jewelers and we’d be happy to be a part of your traditions. We can help you find the perfect ring whether for your future wife or husband or even make the custom piece you deserve. We hope you have found this blog to be entertaining and enlightening and we’ll see you next time on the Stewart Kuper Jewelers blog!