By Llyn Strelau
Finger rings have been a symbol of commitment and status for hundreds of years. The ancient Egyptians exchanged betrothal rings made from twisted reeds or leather. Gemstone and diamond-set rings are relatively recent, but plain bands of gold, silver, bronze, and iron have a long history. Choosing to exchange rings as a promise of fidelity or to seal a marriage remains an important part of most Western cultures.
While these rings of commitment are now most often worn on the fourth (ring) finger, over history they have been worn on other fingers, including the thumb. In much of Europe, the band remains on the right ring finger. North Americans more often wear the ring on the left hand. This tradition perhaps goes back as far as the ancient Egyptians or early Romans, who believed a vein in this fourth finger was directly connected to the heart—the vena amoris in Latin.