Tradition has always dictated the location of wedding rings. For most people, it goes on the left ring finger but in some areas, it gets switched to the right ring finger.
In some cases, cultures implement additional rules. The British Royal Family, for example, have traditionally used Welsh gold for their wedding bands.
But did you know that the ring finger isn't the only one bearing unique symbolism? Wherever you decide to put the ring on, it has certain associations and beliefs.
Let's discuss each of the ring fingers and their associated meanings.
Wearing a ring on the little finger tells of the wearer's artistic and resourceful qualities. It also symbolizes the ability to communicate and easily find a common ground with people, which is useful in negotiations.
The most popular association of rings on the pinky finger is with the Mafia, which movies like "The Godfather" and TV shows like "The Sopranos" have popularized over the years. According to stories, the ring can fund the funeral expenses of the associates should they meet their death.
In North America, pinky rings may signify the profession of the wearer. Engineering graduates, for example, receive the Engineer's Ring from the Order of the Engineer.
This tradition is similar in Canada, where engineering students receive an Iron Ring comprised of crude iron or stainless steel while geologists and geophysicists receive a silver Earth Ring. The recipients put their rings on their dominant hand, which is the right hand in most times as about 90% of the population is right-handed.
As for fashion, the pinky finger doesn't have important meanings in most religions or culture, making it a good choice for making a statement. People often use this finger to display flashy rings, but subtle rings work as well as it naturally stands out whenever an accessory is on it.
In the United States and a lot of other countries, the finger next to the pinky is the wedding ring finger. According to early beliefs, there is a nerve that runs straight from the ring finger to the heart, which might be the catalyst for people to start wearing their wedding bands on this location.
A ring on the left ring finger indicates that the lady wearing it is soon to get married, as the engagement ring sits on this finger until the wedding day. Women then move it to the right hand to make way for the wedding band. After which, they can choose to leave the engagement ring on their right hand, or move it on top of the band.
Some countries put their wedding rings on their right hand, depending on their cultural traditions. The idea is the same, nonetheless - the ring symbolizing the union of two lovers should be on the finger closest to the heart.
Symbolically, the ring finger represents the Earth's moon, the metal of which is silver. It also symbolizes beauty and creativity.
Those who want to wear a ring but don't want people to get the wrong idea about their marital status often put the ring on the middle finger instead. It's the boldest one, and people often associate it with the rude gesture. Because of its prominent location, people might wear rings they want to show off on this finger.
However, being in the center means it also symbolizes balance and responsibility. it has ties to the planet Saturn, so rings made of lead is a good choice for the middle finger.
Other than that, however, wearing a ring on the middle finger doesn't have any interpretations. Wearers may have their own symbolism for choosing to accessorize this particular finger or have no special meaning to it. After all, not all finger rings should necessarily have a meaning, right?
A ring on the index finger may demonstrate the longing for power, depending on where the wearer placed it. It has associations with Jupiter, which symbolizes leadership, authority, and power.
According to the yin and yang theory, which states that the left hand symbolizes the yin energy and the right-hand yang, wearing a ring on the yang hand indicates seeking leadership responsibilities. On the other hand, wearing a ring on the yin hand represents the willingness to accept guidance from the leadership of others.
Perhaps this is the reason as well for kings and queens wearing their rings on their index fingers, which they extend for visitors to kiss. As a ring on this finger denotes power, it is also where prominent families centuries past display their crests and signets. It's a good way to tell the family's status, which is why they didn't even allow people falling below a certain rank to wear a ring back then.
Today, the index finger is still a good choice if you want to wear a family crest, class ring, fraternal ring, or membership crests among others.
The thumb may also symbolize wealth and influence, which is a belief that originated in the past. This may be due to the huge size of the thumb that then requires a similarly-sized ring. Only the wealthy could have afforded a ring that required more amounts of metal than others, or so the assumption goes.
Ancient Greeks' beliefs were more or less in line with this, as they associated the thumb with manliness, dignity, and power. The cost of the ring didn't matter, however, as they chose to wear a ring on the finger because of that belief.
In other cultures, a ring on the thumb has a friendlier connotation. It has associations with friendship (such as in the thumbs up gesture) and interaction.
In fashion, the thumb is similar to the pinky finger in that it's separate from the other fingers. Wearing a ring on it naturally draws the people's attention, so you don't need to wear a flashy one as well.
Although these are the believed meanings of the ring fingers, it's ultimately your choice regarding what to wear and where to put the ring. Popular symbolism only matters when you support it.