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Q: ring wearing customs ( Answered,   3 Comments )
Subject: ring wearing customs
Category: Relationships and Society > Cultures
Asked by: iluvyai-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 12 May 2002 19:26 PDT
Expires: 19 May 2002 19:26 PDT
Question ID: 15399
What are the current American social customs regarding rings?  More
specifically, is it appropriate for an unmarried young woman (18 years
old) to wear a ring on the third finger of her left hand if it is
neither an engagement ring nor a wedding ring?  I am not looking for a
personal opinion but rather a link to an "expert's" response (i.e.
"Miss Manners").
Subject: Re: ring wearing customs
Answered By: firefly-ga on 13 May 2002 11:20 PDT
Dear iluvyai: 

Current American social customs generally follow the belief that a
ring worn on the "ring" finger (third finger on left hand) either
represents engagement, marriage or a promise. This, however, is merely
custom. There is nothing wrong or inappropriate about wearing a ring
for any other purpose or for no "reason" at all on this finger. A
woman may get a few questions along the way, such as "I didn't know
you were engaged?"  or "When did you get married?" but this
questioning in no way indicates an etiquette violation.

Researching your answer was difficult -- as searching on the term
"ring finger custom or etiquette" brought up a lot of unrelated
information on horse shows, dog shows, rings of fire and more! After
doing some careful sifting and reviewing related information written
by Miss.Manners and Emily Post, I was able to find the following
related links which verified the thought-pattern of my answer.

Additional Links of Interest:

"Etiquette" by Emily Post (1922) on, the link below takes
you to Chapter XX: Engagements:
"A solitaire diamond is the conventional emblem of “the singleness and
endurability of the one love in his life" (about 2/3 of the page down)

A brief history of ring giving (which dates back to roman times when
the ring was placed on the third finger on the left hand because it
was believed that a vein (the vein amoris) and from this finger to the
heart) can be found on the Crew's Nest Holidays & Celebrations
"Weddings: Wedding rings" section:

The Ashton Wedding Invitations website has a section on Wedding
Traditions that deals with the history of the wedding ring:!OpenDocument

A short article by Miss Manners (now Judith Martin) on wearing
"Bejeweled, Bothered, and Bewildered" by Judith Martin (March 10,
2002) on the

I hope this answer satisfies your question, if you need clarification
or further details please let me


Subject: Re: ring wearing customs
From: davidmaymudes-ga on 12 May 2002 22:36 PDT
Here's at least one group of unmarried people using a ring on the
third finger to symbolize something other than marriage:

I suspect the answer will vary depending on what part of America
you're in--your best bet is to ask people in your community about what
they would think if they saw a particular kind of ring.
Subject: Re: ring wearing customs
From: knowledge_seeker-ga on 13 May 2002 06:18 PDT
Hi David, 

Emily Post would be the Queen of Etiquette in the US; she herself long
gone, but her family (and website) living on.

I see no mention of ring-wearing etiquette on her site, however they
do have an email address for asking questions (with the caveat: "not
every message will receive a personal reply") Sure can't hurt to ask.

Good Luck!  

-  Knowledge_Seeker
Subject: Re: ring wearing customs
From: knowledge_seeker-ga on 13 May 2002 06:21 PDT

My apologies!

I just noticed as I posted that, that I was looking at David's comment
rather than your question, and addressed my response to him.

That was so NOT Emily Post!  :-)

Sorry 'bout that -- Knowledge_Seeker

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