Today's Bride

Engagement Ring Traditions Around the World

Have you ever thought about the origin of what we know today as engagement rings? Countries from all over follow heritage traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. As we talk about engagement ring tradition from around the world, try to think about if you’d ever like to incorporate them into your own engagement experience!

Engagement rings are believed to have originated in ancient Egypt, where circles were believed to be a symbol of eternity. Ancient Egyptian soon-to-be wedded couples would exchange “rings” made out of braided reeds. They would wear these reeds on the left hand. The left hand is said to have a vein called “vena amoris” that runs directly to the heart. As folklore and tradition goes, the heart represents love and fidelity, so the ring should be worn on the finger that has the vein running directly to it.

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Engagement ring traditions as we know them today in western culture, mimic this ancient Egyptian tradition. Women receive a ring from the man to show engagement, and men usually do not receive an engagement ring. However, in other parts of the world, things are done a little differently to show engagement. Here are some other countries and their engagement ring and jewelry traditions.

Western Europe

These countries wear their engagement rings on their right hands, instead of their left. This is also common in England, France, Germany, and Norway.  Russia and Canada also follow this tradition. Many of these traditions get passed down from generation to generation, but the meanings of the rings symbolize the same ideas no matter what finger the ring is worn on: love and fidelity.

Chile

In Chile, both the men and women receive engagement rings, which we do not see in the United States. They also wear their engagement rings on the right hand, but then move them to the left hand when they get married. This represents the crossover from engagement to marriage. This tradition is very much like a graduate moving their tassel on their cap from the right to the left once they have received their diplomas.

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France

In the Western world, we normally wear diamonds on our engagement rings, however in France they wear other gemstones like rubies, emeralds, and sapphire! Kate Middleton has definitely started a trend in the U.S. with her sapphire ring, and more people are straying away from the diamond. You can learn more about alternatives to the traditional diamond engagement ring here!

Kenya

Couples in Kenya exchange elaborate jewelry for their engagement instead of rings and gemstones. Decorative beading has been a part of African cultures for a long time. Each African group, region, and religion play a large role in the colors and types of adornment. Even the climate of the region plays a role in the materials that are used to make the jewelry.

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Hindu cultures

In some Hindu cultures, the women wear toe rings to signify engagement rather than finger rings. The toe rings are called “Bichiya.” However, in some Hindu cultures, women wear western-style engagement rings. Although the reasons for wearing toe rings vary, one belief is that toe rings press on nerves that are connected to the reproductive system that keeps it healthy.

Indian Cultures

In West Bengal, India and other Indian cultures, the women wear bangle bracelets made of glass, gold, iron, or other metals instead of engagement rings. The bangles symbolize good fortune and prosperity, both important to marriage in Indian culture. Indian women are also adorned in a lot of other jewelry on their wedding day like gold necklaces, rings, nose rings, belts, and headdresses! To learn more about Indian weddings, check out this blog post!

engagement rings | As seen on TodaysBride.com

Irish Claddagh ring

The Irish Claddagh ring is one that represents friendship, love, and loyalty. The hands on the ring stand for friendship, the heart stands for love, and the crown symbolizes loyalty. When wearing a Claddagh ring, there are steps to take that let others know your relationship status. You wear the ring on the right hand with the crown turned outward away from you to show you are single. Wear the ring on the right hand with the crown faced inward if you are in a relationship. Move the ring to the left hand with the crown facing away from you to indicate engagement. Wear it on the left hand with the crown turned inward to indicate marriage.


How cool would it be to learn about your heritage and use these traditions for your own engagement experience? Cultural weddings are definitely in and ring traditions would make for a fabulous memory down the road!

For more ring ideas, check out our Pinterest Board.

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