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Which Hand Is Right?

Engagement rings wedding bands on the ring fingers

Perhaps we should have titled this post, “Which hand is correct?” In most Western societies today the wedding ring is worn on the fourth finger of the left hand. In fact, that’s why we call the fourth finger the “ring finger.” It hasn’t always been this way, and there are still cultures that use different fingers entirely. Did you know there are traditions in history that indicate wedding rings have been worn on every finger on both hands? That even includes the thumbs!

Cultural experts believe wearing the ring on the fourth finger of the left hand started because of an erroneous belief in Ancient Rome. Just as many ancients believed the palm of the hand could indicate personalities and even tell the future, ancient romans believed that fourth finger of the left hand had a special blood vessel with a direct connection to the heart. This was the Vein of Love, the Vena Amoris, and the ring was worn there to protect the vein with a symbol of the love in the wife’s heart. Medical science developed enough centuries ago to prove the idea of a vein from the finger to the heart was false but the tradition of wearing a ring on the left hand fourth finger remains strong to this day.

Of course, there are some disagreements. Some anthropologists believe the fourth finger of the left hand placed precious metals in a location least likely to cause the ring damage. Some believe it had to do with early Christian marriage rituals with the thumb, index, and middle finger representing the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost and the ring finger representing the union of like souls. There are more theories as well but the theory about the Vena Amoris is easily the most romantic.

At Bert Levi Family Jewelers, we’re excited when we have an opportunity to help someone with their wedding ring. As a third generation jeweler, we’ve been fortunate to play that small role in the start of a couple’s life countless times. It’s fun to consider the traditions; that’s for sure. To us, though, there’s nothing quite as wonderful as the joy we see in the faces of a couple in love.


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