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Engagement Rings Traditions Around The World: Embracing Love

When we think of engagements, it often brings to mind an engagement ring tradition. There are so many tender sentiments surrounding the engagement period and the traditions of one’s heritage.

It also conjures up images of shimmering diamond rings to many people across the globe. However, you might be surprised to learn that the tradition of proposing with a diamond ring is a relatively new tradition not held by all cultures.

While diamond rings are the most popular form of engagement rings, many cultures adhere to different traditions and practices for engagement rings. Each one holds its own charm and is cherished by those who are part of the culture.

When it comes to including traditions in your own engagement ring, try researching the customs of your own culture even if you are not living in that country anymore. Engagement rings are meant to be very personal to the couple. And while you can embrace long held practices that belong to your heritage, there’s nothing wrong with embracing those of another culture that you have adopted by spending time there or simply valuing their ethos.

Let’s review engagement ring traditions around the globe.

Royal Blue Cushion Sapphire & Triangle Diamond Halo Ring
LEIBISH Royal Blue Cushion Sapphire & Triangle Diamond Halo Ring


Africa

Africa is a large continent with many different countries, and each one has distinct traditions to every aspect of their culture. In fact, in Africa there are 54 different nations, each with their own language, culture and traditions.

So it is no surprise, for example that Kenya’s take on the engagement ring is like nowhere else on earth. The art form of ornate bead work has always played a dominant role in Kenyan culture. So it stands to reason that their engagement jewelry should feature their traditional artwork in place of more well known metal and gemstone jewelry.

Oval Muzo Emerald and Diamond Halo RingLEIBISH Oval Muzo Emerald and Diamond Halo Ring

Asia

Asia is another part of the world that brings us rich traditions, from cuisine to architecture to clothing and more. Indian women (specifically those from West Bengal) are presented with traditional iron bangle bracelets to announce their betrothal instead of with diamond engagement rings as is customary in the West.

Women in Hindu cultures receive toe rings called bichiya. As Hinduism increasingly becomes influenced by Western culture, more engaged Hindu women are seen wearing finger rings.

China is an ancient culture that fascinates all. Their beautiful artwork and architecture enthralls us. Yet engagement rings were absent from classic Chinese engagement traditions. Today however, many modern Chinese women enjoy wearing engagement rings—and they are especially interested diamond bridal jewelry.

That’s not to say they’ve completely discarded age-old customs. With all the westernized influence, many Chinese brides still receive the traditional gifts of money and other goods instead. That’s a true mix of East and West amongst modern Chinese couples.

LEIBISH Round White Diamond 3 Stones Engagement RingLEIBISH Round White Diamond 3 Stones Engagement Ring

Europe

Jewish engagement ring traditions whether in Europe or the US are a rich cultural affair. Count on an engagement party to be hosted at the home of the groom-to-be’s parents. Engagement or wedding rings often have beautiful Hebrew inscriptions engraved on them. During the ceremony, the man places the ring on the bride’s left hand index finger—afterward it’s worn on the left hand ring finger.

Eastern European Quirk: Right Hand Ring Placement


In Eastern European places like Poland, Russia, and parts of Austria and Germany, brides and grooms wear their engagement and wedding rings on their right hand instead of their left hand. And notice we said, the brides and grooms. It’s an endearing custom for both brides and grooms to proudly wear a ring during their engagement period. It’s a charming custom to include the groom since it’s his special time too.

The dual ring tradition, while unusual in the West, is still alive in other cultures as well. In Nordic countries like Sweden for example, an engagement ring is given to both the bride and the groom. Unlike their American counterparts which enjoy stylish engagement rings, Nordic rings are generally quite simple with bands made of plain gold or silver.


French Elegance; Colored Gemstones Over Diamonds

In France, colored gemstones are preferred over diamonds. Parisian ladies choose sophisticated stones like rubiesemeralds, and sapphires. This trinity of precious colored stones are often pricey and reveal their good taste and cultivated style. Rubies can often be more costly than diamonds, so their engagement ring choices represent genuine investments in their life together.


Ireland's Claddagh Rings: A Unique Symbol of Engagement

Ireland –that Emerald Isle, has a distinct custom for engagement rings. Some Irish women choose Claddagh-style rings which feature a heart held by two hands with a crown on top. This highly sentimental choice pays homage to Ireland’s rich history and illustrates a treasured love for their country.

Since other people besides engaged women wear the Claddagh-style ring, there’s a specific protocol when it’s intended as an engagement ring. it is worn with the crown pointing down until the wedding indicating they’re engaged. After the wedding, it is worn with the crown facing up as the couple embark on their new life together.


North America

Unusual engagement ring traditions in North America can be found in the Native American culture. Native tribes in North America prefer silver rings adorned with semi-precious stones rather than more the lavish materials of their Western counterparts.


Central America

A Mexican engagement and wedding is a big family affair. It is customary for the man to secretly ask permission of the bride’s parents privately first. The bride does not know about this. Mexican women are fond of ornate wide diamond band engagement rings, and the man will often wear one too during their engagement period.

South America

Argentina's Unique Approach: Wedding Rings as Engagement

In Argentina, couples only receive engagement rings. This means that they use their engagement rings during the wedding ceremony as well.

Colombian engagement ring traditions are a grand event. The groom often creates a special serenata for his beloved---singing a romantic song written just for the occasion. Together with this lovely tradition, many Colombian brides keep their engagement ring on their right hand ring finger until the marriage ceremony when it is moved to the left hand. Often the engagement ring will be the wedding ring too.

Chile's Blend: Right-Hand Rings Until Marriage, Then a Switch    

Chile has a combination of several traditions. Like Nordic countries, both the man and the woman receive engagement rings, and like Eastern European countries, they wear them on their right hand. However, when they get married they switch the rings to the left hand.

Asia

Japan is a country of rich symbolism and long held traditions. This applies to Japanese engagement traditions too. While it may still be customary for the man to present gifts of tea and luxurious crafts, modern grooms usually present the woman with a diamond engagement ring too.

While it’s not strictly customary for a groom in South Korea to give an engagement ring, couples enjoy the tradition of exchanging rings other to celebrate 100 days of dating.


Breakdown of Diamond Jewelry Consumption by CountryBreakdown of Diamond Jewelry Consumption by Country (Credit: Beyond 4Cs)


Despite the enormous influence that Western culture has on the rest of the world, various cultures manage to retain their individual engagement traditions. While we the exchange of other goods besides jewelry is still popular with engagements in cultures like China for example, jewelry is widely accepted as an engagement marker. Aside for the obvious reason that jewelry is worn to easily acknowledge an upcoming wedding, engagement jewelry also has a very rich history. Dating back centuries, rings were originally worn as a sign of ownership which later evolved into an expression of love and the intention to be married.

These distinct traditions around the globe remind us how powerful a cultural impact is felt on engagement rings and traditions. Cultural heritage where the engagement occurs and the family involvement all contribute to memorializing the upcoming wedding.

What these celebrations all have in common is the love of a couple and the happiness that their families and friends share for their new life together. Whatever traditions you decide to include in your engagement event—it will be memorable, personal, and unique as the love you two share.

Browse through our collection of diamond engagement rings.


FAQS

Do all cultures wear wedding rings?

While it’s very popular in Western culture to wear a separate wedding ring besides the engagement ring, not all cultures have 2 rings. Some brides or even couples wear a ring on their right hand to show their commitment, and switch to the left hand after they are married.


Why do some cultures prefer non-traditional materials for engagement rings? 

Some cultures like Africa for example take great pride in their distinct culture and want to demonstrate their love for their culture by using alternate materials with symbolism to their country.


Are engagement ring preferences shifting towards alternative gemstones worldwide? 

The French have been using alternate gemstones in their engagement ring for a long while. To them this signifies a preference for the individual’s taste and personal style. But modern couples around the world today see the beauty in personalizing the engagement ring with colored gemstones with a personal meaning to them.


Read more FAQs about Engagement Rings

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