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Engagement Ring Traditions Around The World

August 23, 2016

a claddagh-style engagement ring against old wooden background


In America, an engagement ring typically means a big, shiny diamond on a woman’s left hand. Marriage itself is found in almost every culture around the globe, but is symbolized by a diamond by only a small fraction of people. Of course, marriage traditions vary from culture to culture, but many groups use a ring of some kind as a promise of love between two people. Being the marriage connoisseurs that we are, we did some research and put together a list of some unique engagement ring traditions from around the world:

  • According to an old Roman tradition, there’s a vein in the left fourth finger that runs all the way to a person’s heart, which is why brides wear their wedding rings on their left hand. However, in Germany, Russia, India, Norway, and several other countries, brides wear their ring on the right hand instead.

  • In many Native American cultures, engagement rings are made of silver and decorated with natural stones instead of gems.

  • In traditional Hindu cultures, women wear toe rings, called bichiya, or bangle bracelets instead of a ring on their finger.

  • In France, semi-precious stones are usually preferred by brides instead of diamonds.

  • The Irish often opt for the Claddagh-style engagement ring, which features a heart held by clasped hands, topped off with a crown. The Claddagh is sometimes worn simply to symbolize friendship, so in order to represent an engagement, it must be worn on the left hand with the crown pointing towards the wearer. Once the couple is married, the ring is worn so that the crown faces away from the wearer.

  • The Samburu Warriors of Kenya traditionally wear ornate beadings around their necks. When a woman becomes engaged, she wears crimson colored beads to symbolize the engagement.

  • In Romania, it’s customary that couples exchange silver bands on their 25th anniversary that they wear alongside their gold wedding rings from then on.

  • In Chile, both men and women wear engagement rings. The rings are worn on the right hand during the engagement, and once married, the rings are moved to the left hand.

  • In Sweden, engagement rings are traditionally very modest- a simple gold or silver band.


With so much hype around extravagant diamond engagement rings in America, it’s easy to overlook ring traditions in other parts of the world. Whether you’re looking for a brilliant diamond or a ring inspired by a different culture, Sartor Hamann is the fine jewelry source in Lincoln and Grand Island!