What are the etiquettes of an engagement ring?

An engagement is an exciting time! Not only for the couple but for their family and loved ones. Once you are engaged, the first thing everyone wants to see is the beautiful ring on your finger. (That may also be why about 30% of brides-to-be get a manicure if they suspect a proposal is about to happen).

While toting around a stunning and unique diamond has its perks, there are some common engagement ring questions many couples have to figure out along the way. Luckily, we've got you covered with this guide all about the best etiquette for engagement rings!

The road to engagement and marriage can set off all kinds of emotions – from pure joy to excitement, to frequent stress. You'll have lots of decisions to make, and will learn a lot along the way, such as the proper etiquette for wedding rings. Let's start with some engagement and wedding ring basics.  

When do you commence wearing the ring?

Again that is a personal choice, and it is indeed unusual to not commence wearing the engagement ring immediately, after all, it is a symbol of marriage.

It is frequently flashed before near-and-dear relatives and friends as a way of announcing the event.

However, proper engagement etiquette would discretely hide the hand with the ring until the announcement is made and then to produce it already on the finger.

If there is an engagement party, the groom-to-be's ring may be produced at the party and formally placed on the lady's finger to give solemn significance to the event.

For those girls who don't know (smile) ... The engagement ring is placed on the left hand's third finger since in ancient times this finger was believed to be the only one with a vein running directly to the heart.

Therefore, it was believed that a ring on this finger would ensure a long and loving marriage.

Our exclusive range of jewellery Sydney will help you find an ideal engagement ring.

Engagement Ring Etiquette on the Big Day

Confusion often arises about where the engagement ring should be worn during the wedding ceremony.

Engagement ring etiquette dictates that the engagement ring and wedding ring will usually go on the left hand. The bride's ring finger and the wedding ring are usually placed right next to the engagement ring during the wedding ceremony. Problem solved.

Just before walking down the aisle, move your engagement ring to the opposite hand. After the ceremony, place it back on the left hand in front of your wedding ring.

If you are wearing gloves, there are two ways of dealing with your new wedding ring; remove your gloves and hand them to your Maid of Honor or you can purchase gloves made for this situation.

The wedding ring finger on the glove is made with a slit down the middle. It is quite easy to slip the band onto your finger by separating the glove to expose your ring finger.

Traditionally, the ring bearer was a young boy; today, and you can choose either a little boy or little girl.

Engagement Ring Etiquette You Need to Know

Can I Help My Partner Pick the Engagement Ring?

62 per cent of couples now go engagement ring shopping together. If you don't feel comfortable doing so, be sure to communicate those feelings to your S.O. tell them that you don't want to make a joint shopping trip because you think it's more romantic to be surprised. Then, show your mom, sister, and/or BFF some photos of rings you like and ask them to share some guidance.

Can My Sister Help My Partner Pick the Engagement Ring?

Absolutely! You want someone who already knows your style to be at their side steering them toward the rings you love and away from the rings you don't. Feel free to be as specific with your sister as you'd like. If you're obsessed with emerald-cut diamonds nested in a perfect ring stack, tell her. If you've been spending every lunch break shopping for rings online, send her links to all your favourites.

If you'd rather have a bigger diamond with a few flaws than a smaller diamond with none, slip her that little nugget of info, too. With your sister involved, your partner will get a sounding board, you'll get a ring you'll adore, and she'll have the thrill of being part of one of the biggest moments in your life.

How Much Is Too Much to Spend?

The answer depends entirely on your future spouse's financial situation. It's a widely held belief that they should shell out about three months of their salary, but this is a misconception—your partner should spend whatever they feel comfortable with. For instance: If they're heavily in debt or concerned about job security, they may want to consider scaling back. Worried your S.O. will be tempted to go overboard? Let them know that in a casual conversation.

What If My Partner Doesn't Know My Ring Size?

If you don't already know your exact size, check out our extensive ring size guide for an accurate measurement. You could also get your ring size professionally measured at a jeweller and have your mom or sister pass the info along to your significant other if the proposal is under wraps. Or, if you own a ring that you frequently wear on your left ring finger, conspicuously leave it out for your partner to steal and take to a jeweller for size comparison.

What If I Don't Like the Ring?

If your partner took the initiative and went engagement ring shopping entirely on their own, then props to them. Give them some credit where it's due, but at the same time, know that this endeavour can be extremely risky if you end up not liking the ring (worst-case scenario). So, what's a girl to do? First, at least sleep on it. The ring might grow on you. If not, be honest with your future spouse. Start by explaining how much you love them and highlight parts of the ring that you do like, then express how it's not exactly what you envisioned or doesn't match your style. If you're worried about hurting their feelings, you can keep quiet. You're marrying the love of your life, and that should ultimately overshadow any ring woes. Just make sure you get a say in the wedding ring.

Cultural Traditions of Engagement Rings

The engagement ring tradition dates back as far as Ancient Egypt, where lovers tied reeds or other plants around their left ring finger, believing a vein in that finger connected directly to the heart. The Ancient Romans continued the tradition, upgrading to gold bands. In 1477, Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave the world's first diamond engagement ring, with a special design he commissioned for his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy.

Diamonds and other gemstones waxed and waned in popularity until 1947 when De Beers launched the slogan "A Diamond is Forever," popularizing the diamond engagement ring as a symbol of eternal love.

Over the centuries, the prevalence and style of engagement rings have changed with the times. Different parts of the world maintain different traditions, but engagement rings have become a popular rite of passage for couples that decide to tie the knot in the Western world.

How and When to Ask

In terms of how and when to pop the question, there is no right or wrong answer. Tradition dictates that the moment should be a surprise for your bride, and typically, couples wait at least 6 months to a year before deciding to make such a serious commitment. But if the time is right, there's nothing stopping you from asking whenever you want.

Some couples get engaged in a spur of the moment and then choose to select a ring later. Other couples decide to get engaged and select a ring together, but the guy often still tries to make the exact moment itself an unexpected surprise. There's also no rule saying that the guy has to propose to the girl — we support and endorse all relationships and hope whoever wants to pop the question has the courage to have their special moment.

The proposal itself entirely depends on your relationship. Still, a good rule of thumb is to plan something thoughtful, meaningful, and specific to your relationship (maybe involve your hobbies, a callback to your first date, etc.). Be sure to take your partner's personality into account and not plan a large public proposal if they are typically shy and easily embarrassed.

It's up to you whether you want the ring itself to be a surprise or something you select together. If your girlfriend merely drops hints about what she wants or shares her Pinterest inspiration board, it's a good idea to take your lead from her so you can be sure to select a ring you'll know she'll love. If you want the proposal to be a complete surprise, consider popping the question before you ever look at rings, then you can make a choice together on a special outing.

Social Media Etiquette

Showing off your engagement ring in a social media post has become a very popular way to announce your recent engagement – once you tell your family and friends the good news. The most gracious way to share the exciting news is to post a picture of yourself with your groom, and your left hand, with your shiny new ring, gracing your ring finger. Proper etiquette advises against posting simply a close-up of your engagement ring, as this can be viewed as bragging and encourages carat comparisons.

How to Wear Your Rings

An engagement ring symbolizes the promise of eternal love and devotion and is worn on the ring finger of your left hand (right next to your little finger.) While your engagement ring represents a promise, your wedding ring is meant to solidify that promise, with both rings worn on the ring finger of your left hand once you're married.

Your engagement ring should be worn on the third finger of your right hand on your wedding day. Then, once you've said your I-do's, your engagement ring should be placed back on the third finger of your left hand, on top of your wedding band.

Selecting and Purchasing Your Rings

Engagement rings are purchased based on what is known as "The 4 C's" (cut, colour, clarity, and carat). Traditionally, the groom-to-be purchases the bride's engagement ring. While he can certainly do this on his own, many brides-to-be prefer to assist with ring selection by either showing the groom pictures of ones they like, telling close friends what they want or going ring shopping together. While this will limit the surprise factor, the groom can be assured that he bought the exact ring she wanted. After all, she is the one wearing it, and eternal love lasts a long time!

While the groom typically pays for the bride's engagement and wedding rings, the bride pays for the groom's wedding ring. Many couples include the cost of wedding rings in their budget and share the expense.

Insuring Your Rings

One thing you'll want to ensure is that your engagement and wedding rings are insured, as jewellery with this kind of value is not typically covered under your renter's or homeowner's policy.

While none of us likes to think about it, you should know what to do if your wedding is cancelled prior to your wedding day. Proper etiquette says if the bride calls off the wedding, she should return the engagement ring. However, if the groom-to-be calls it off, the bride can decide to either keep or return it. Beyond etiquette, you should know that your state's laws may determine the necessary action. If the ring has been passed down through the bride's or groom's family, it should be returned to the family. Legal experts on the matter advise that if the engagement ring is a family heirloom, a prenuptial agreement listing who the engagement ring should go to in the event of a breakup might be necessary.

Chances are, you won't be in this position. However, it's best to be prepared with a little knowledge and information!

Stages Of Wearing The Ring

It's a tradition that the engagement ring is usually worn on the left hand's ring finger during the engagement period. It has been used to make it clear to others who may try to ask them on a date that they're engaged.

During the ceremony, the etiquette that's usually followed is that the groom slides the wedding band on the bride's finger. During the marriage, the wedding band is supposed to be placed closest to the heart, and the engagement is placed on top of it. Having said all of this, you can choose to wear your engagement ring and your wedding band on whatever hand and finger you desire.

Engagement Rings Returned

Some places have made this etiquette a law that an engagement ring must be returned if the engagement is broken off. In other places, the partner has the right to keep the ring if the other person was the one who broke off the engagement.

There are also laws in some places where a partner can keep the ring, regardless of who broke off the engagement.

Sometimes, as uncomfortable as it might be to do this, it could be a good idea to have a written agreement about what happens to the ring if the engagement ends. You should especially consider this if the ring is a family heirloom. Your family may prefer it not be given unless there's an agreement that it will be returned if the engagement is broken off.

Male Engagement Rings

In heterosexual engagements, the etiquette is usually that only the woman wears an engagement ring. The male typically wears a wedding band. Nonetheless, more men are getting engagement rings as a symbol of their upcoming wedding in modern times.

Keep in mind that if you choose to wear an engagement ring with your fiancée, and either you or your fiancée's family members are more conservative, it might confuse them into thinking the wedding already took place. You can politely explain to them that you and your partner preferred to both wear engagement rings.

As male engagement rings have become popular, jewellers have presented couples' options to get his-and-hers engagement rings or rings that complement the bride's ring. In the end, it's all a matter of preference.

You can choose to wear a ring with your fiancée or wear a wedding band. In addition to engagement rings, men may consider getting a playboy ring collection as a gift to their groomsmen for a bachelor party.

Couples have kept the traditions around an engagement ring for decades. Some are still popular among the younger generations, but now, people can choose whichever traditions they want to keep. Feel free to choose to hold whichever etiquette related to engagement rings you and your partner desire.

When it comes to engagement ring etiquette, much of it stems from the tradition and can be ignored nowadays. The bottom line is to do what you makes you and your partner happy and to always proceed with care and love in your heart. If you do that, you can't go wrong.

Frequently Asked Questions

Traditionally, the groom picks out the ring for his bride, one of the few choices he has to make for the wedding. ... Some grooms are so worried about picking the wrong style of ring, they don't propose with a ring at all – instead, he takes the bride ring shopping straight after the proposal

Most states stand the ground that the recipient must return the engagement ring if the wedding is called off, regardless of the reason for the breakup. ... The court ruled that the engagement ring was an inherently conditional gift, meaning there's a presumption that you will get married if you accept it.

The ring is kept by the recipient, even if the marriage never occurs and no matter who broke the engagement. Once the marriage occurs, most states view the gifting of the ring as complete. In the event of a divorce, the recipient of the ring is entitled to keep the gift.

Unless it can be proven that the ring was expressly due to be returned in the event of a divorce, the ring will be theirs to keep. It is recommended that any sentimental items or family heirlooms that one spouse wishes to keep in the event of a relationship breakdown is covered by a pre-nuptial agreement.

Once you're married, tradition dictates that your engagement band be moved back to the third finger on your left hand. When you do so, your wedding ring should remain closest to your heart (where your spouse placed it on your wedding day) and your engagement ring is placed next to the wedding ring.

Scroll to Top