These 9 fascinating engagement ring facts come from all corners of the world. In one country, both women and men wear engagement rings, whilst another nationality is responsible for inventing the ring finger.
Can you guess from which country each fascinating engagement ring fact come from? Scroll down for each answer.
1. In which country do more than 1/3 of women pick their own engagement rings?
Answer: United Kingdom
While gender roles are swiftly changing, at the moment in the UK it’s still more common for women than men to wear engagement rings. With such an expensive purchase that will be worn every day, we can all agree that it’s important that the wearer loves their engagement ring.
It seems that whilst some UK couples still adore the surprise element, many British women already have a clear idea of their perfect ring and that’s why they would like to have some say in the style. What’s more, there are so many designs to choose from that the person proposing may be scared to pick such a special piece for their other half.
In the UK, 37% of women now choose their own engagement rings and 29% become engaged before receiving their ring. This is linked with the decline of surprise proposals. Many couples make the decision to get married before officially getting engaged and choosing a ring.
2. Which nationality invented the “ring finger”?
The history of the ring finger can be traced back as far as the Egyptians. The ancient Egyptians are believed to have founded the practise of exchanging rings as a symbol of eternal love between a couple.
The rings were braided out of reeds and worn on the fourth finger of the left hand. This finger was believed to be a direct path to the heart via the vena amoris, which means “vein of love” in Latin.
The heart is widely associated with romantic love so the wedding ring as a symbol of eternity, connected to the heart as a symbol of love and fidelity, was very significant.
3. In which country do both men and women wear engagement rings?
Even though traditions are changing, across most of the world it is still most often the woman that is presented with the engagement ring during a proposal of marriage.
But in Chile, things are a little different. As an age-old custom, when a Chilean couple becomes engaged, both the bride and groom exchange rings in an engagement ceremony before the wedding day.
Although these simple gold bands are in fact their wedding rings, the couples wear them on the right-hand ring fingers as a symbol of the engagement, before the wedding ceremony. Then on their wedding day, they swap the rings to their left hands.
4. Which culture was the first ever to wear engagement rings?
Answer: Ancient Rome
Although the custom of wearing wedding rings has been traced back to Ancient Egypt, the gifting of an engagement ring prior to marriage is believed to have arisen in Ancient Rome.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has discovered that women of ancient Rome wore rings when they were betrothed. These rings were made of materials such as ivory, flint, bone, copper and iron and were a symbol of love, obedience and their obligation to wed.
The engagement ring was officially recognised by Pope Nicholas in 850 when he declared that an engagement ring signified an intention of marriage. These rings were usually made of silver or gold.
5. In which countries are engagement rings worn on the right hand?
Answer: Spain, Poland, Russia, Greece, Norway and Slovakia
In some parts of the world, engagement rings and wedding rings are worn on the left hand, and in others, they are worn on the right. There doesn’t seem to be any indication as to why this is the case, so we have to mark it down to custom.
Countries, where we can expect to see engagement and wedding rings worn the same way as in Britain, on the left hand, include USA, France, Australia, Mexico, Turkey and Finland. Whereas the countries where we will see them worn on the right hand include Spain, Poland, Russia, Greece, Norway and Slovakia.
You might also like: Engagement and Wedding Rings on Which Finger?
6. Which country celebrates a traditional day when women propose to men?
It comes once every four years on the 29th of February. Leap Year Day, or Bachelor’s Day, is a centuries-old tradition supposedly born when St. Brigid of Kildare complained to St. Patrick that women were tired of waiting such a long time for men to propose.
As a consequence, St Patrick deemed it acceptable for Irish women to propose to men once every four years.
This idea soon also moved to Scotland where a law was passed around 1288 stating that women were allowed to propose to men in a leap year. If the man refused, he would have to bestow a gift on the lady as a way of compensation. This could be a kiss, a silk gown, gloves or, later, even a fur coat.
Nowadays, women can propose to their partners on whichever day they wish. But in Ireland, and also the UK, this old tradition is still remembered with some women seizing the opportunity for a unique and unexpected proposal.
7. A nobleman from which country made diamond engagement rings a lasting trend?
Before the diamond engagement ring became the quintessential choice, sapphires were widely used for engagement rings. This stunning stone was popular for its beautiful blue colour as well as its durability.
But the Archduke Maximillian of Austria changed everything. He is said to have commissioned the first engagement ring featuring a diamond gemstone in 1477. He and his wife were trendsetters of their time, and amazingly, the popularity of the diamond engagement has soared ever since.
8. Where in the world do people believe that it is bad luck to remove an engagement ring?
Answer: Around the world
Superstitions and old wives’ tales are commonplace, but did you know that all over the world, many exist around engagement rings?
- In France, if your ring finger starts feeling itchy or tingly, then you could be close to receiving a proposal.
- Most people around the world believe that once you are engaged and the ring has been placed on your finger it should never be fully removed from your hand.
- In Spain, an heirloom engagement ring that is passed through the family is believed to also pass down the happiness or unhappiness of the marriages that came before.
- According to astrologists, the birthstones or colour of gemstones you pick for your ring hold unique properties.
- It’s widely believed that losing an engagement ring is a sign of coming misfortune. Having said that, if you’re not superstitious, simply having good jewellery insurance will give you peace of mind.
You might also like: 10 British Wedding Traditions Explained
9. In which country do more and more men want to wear “mangagement” rings?
Nowadays there are fewer surprise proposals as couples often come to a mutual agreement to get married. Perhaps that’s why in the USA, many grooms are choosing to wear engagement rings too.
According to a study conducted by XO Group Inc, 17% of men in the US would like to wear an engagement ring and more and more American retailers are catering to the male market with “mangagement” rings.
Additionally, some couples see the bride-only engagement ring as a reminder of ownership and the archaic gender roles. Therefore, they both choose to both wear an engagement ring to represent their equal status in their relationship.
Can you use these multicultural engagement ring facts to create a unique tradition for you?
For now, the traditional surprise proposal where the proposing partner gets down on one knee is still a familiar picture. But perspectives are gradually shifting and many people are expressing their individuality in different ways. It’s quite an exciting idea that we can borrow exotic engagement ring facts from around the world! And why not? You don’t need to follow any particular rule. Just do what feels right for you.
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