Which is the coveted engagement ring finger? For many, it is the fourth finger of the left hand, conveniently located between the middle and pinkie fingers.
Why? In Western culture, this is the finger which traditionally bears the engagement ring and wedding band, thus signifying a woman's commitment to her partner and her subsequent unavailability to other men. The tradition of placing the ring on this particular finger dates back to ancient times. The fourth finger of the left hand was considered to be the veina amoris, meaning it was thought to have veins that directly connected to the heart. Since then, etiquette and tradition dictate this as the ring finger of choice for modern times in countries such as the US and England.
However, other countries vary in their choice of hand for the engagement ring. For instance, in
Germany and Spain, the engagement ring typically goes on the right hand. A traditional reason to showcase the wedding ring on the right hand dates also dates back to ancient custom. The Latin word for left is "sinistra", a word that evolved into the English "sinister". The Latin word for right is "dexter", a word that evolved into "dexterity". Here, the left hand had a negative connotation and the right a good one. Too add to the mix, in some countries, the choice of hand depends on what region of the country you are from.
Sometimes hand preference is a matter of religion. Jewish couples often place the wedding ring on the right hand during the marriage ceremony and wear it on the left hand post-ceremony. Some Greek Orthodox Christians wear the wedding band on the right hand in keeping with religious tradition.
So now that you know which finger wears the engagement ring and why, how about figuring out how to size the ring to fit the engagement ring finger.
Most jewelers have ring size charts and tools to help determine ring size. If the engagement is a surprise, there are ring size charts available online to help evaluate size using one of the rings your woman already owns. Other charts help you to measure the circumference of the finger, by for instance, wrapping a string around the finger, and stretching it out, to form a size.
When choosing between sizes, go with the larger size, so you know the ring will fit. You can always get it resized and it is easier to make a ring smaller vs. bigger. Be forewarned that certain rings are hard to resize such as engagement ring sets and enscripted bands, so be extra careful with your measurements for these rings. Know that fingers can change in size depending on the time of day, temperature, violent exercise and other variables. In order to get the most accurate fit, take the ring measurements at the end of the day and at room temperature, when the finger tends to be larger.