For many, wearing any ring often bears some symbolism with it. While some might wear a ring (or rings) just for looks, more often it’s because the ring and the way you wear it holds a special meaning. However, just what kind of meaning can vary wildly, depending on where you’re from, and the culture found there. Not only that, but how you were raised and your point of view and belief systems may affect how you decide to wear rings.
Buying a ring, especially personalised rings, is the most confusing piece of bling there is! The meaning behind why we wear what has become one of the most obvious fashion statements of all time. Understanding the symbolism of each finger and learning how to pick the right ring for each occasion.
Presents can be hard to buy at times. That’s why over the years men have learned that they can never go wrong with jewellery! Opening the perfectly wrapped box and seeing something sparkling back makes every girl smile. Jewellery has a way of saying everything you want to, without ever having to say a word. Buying a ring might seem daunting at first, especially when a guy is buying for his girl. But do not fear. Here’s everything you will need to know before buying a ring so you can understand what you are doing. Avoid the daunt, and have something that you can flaunt.
Left Hand vs Right Hand Ring Wearers
Not only does wearing rings often come attached with symbolism, but the hand you wear your rings on may also be symbolic. In some cultures, like the West, it is thought that the left hand is symbolic of character and beliefs. This is one of the main reasons wedding bands and engagement rings are usually worn on the left hand. Additionally, the right hand is more dominant for many, which means it makes sense to wear rings on the left hand because the right hand is used more frequently, upping the risks of damaging an expensive ring.
Of course, if you are left-handed, you might decide the opposite is better for you, and that’s perfectly fine. You might discover more people notice if you live in the West, simply because it is out of the norm, but that means you have more opportunities to show off a ring! While symbolism and traditions are nice and can give something a deeper meaning, ultimately, you have to wear your rings on the hand and the fingers that feel most comfortable for you.
The meaning of each finger
Each finger brings with it a different meaning. It is key to understand what each finger symbolises in order to understand where to wear each ring.
The ‘wedding’ finger
The most common known symbolism for fingers is the fourth finger on the left hand, which in many cultures is reserved for the engagement ring, and later the wedding ring. However, be warned: in some parts of the world this finger reserved for the engagement and wedding rings is the fourth finger on the right hand. I once made a mistake when speaking to a guy from Poland and presumed he was single until he told me that the wedding ring was worn on the right hand in their country! It is believed to be bad luck to wear rings on this finger in some traditions before you are engaged, tempting fate to slow down bringing you, true love.
The ‘pinky’ or ‘index’ finger
The little ‘pinky’ finger and the first ‘index’ finger have become fashion statements only in recent years. People choose to wear rings on these fingers to bring added attention to the hand. They can be quite daring as they do make a statement, but they can look amazing! It’s a way to say “I am a fashionista in my own right!”
The ‘middle’ finger
The middle finger is the most popular finger of all for rings. This was due to people not wanting confusion between which hand the wedding finger was on. This being the case, the middle finger was a safe default. Due to its location on the hand, rings on this finger show a sense of balance and responsibility. Rings on this finger add glamour and class to an outfit. It gives it an extra sense of style without being too forceful.
Wedding and engagement rings go on which hand?
The answer boils down to your culture and beliefs, and where you come from. In the West, the left hand is the standard choice for wedding rings and engagement rings to be worn on, whereas in the East, many cultures prefer wearing their engagement ring on the right hand, as well as their wedding ring on the right hand. Some countries that feel the ring should be worn on the right hand are Germany, Russia, Poland, India, Columbia, and Greece.
For some, which hand a wedding band or engagement ring is worn on comes down to their most practical lifestyle. In other words, the engagement ring finger or wedding ring finger that you would like to choose is up to you.
If you work in a job where you use your hands a lot, wearing a ring can be dangerous or uncomfortable. That’s why there are now so many options available designed for comfort and not just aesthetics.
It’s interesting to note that wedding bands weren’t all that common for men for a very long time. Since wearing rings often symbolised wealth and status, you didn’t wear any rings if you didn’t have any wealth and status. You couldn’t afford them. Men in history also didn’t see the point in wearing a wedding band, but eventually, in the West at least, all that changed with WWII and men wearing wedding rings became much more popular.
Nearly 5000 years ago, the ancient Egyptians wove papyrus, rushes and reeds into narrow bands to be worn around the finger to symbolise eternity. In ancient Egypt, however, the hole in the ring was also a symbol for the wearer of a gateway. A precursor to the modern wedding ring, ancient Egyptian men, gave a woman a ring to signal immortal love that would last for eternity – the afterlife being something the Egyptians were very invested in.
Roman rings – Annulus Pronubus
During Roman times, rings were created from more expensive materials which were much more durable, such as bone or leather. In later years, the material was most commonly iron. Roman men didn’t go in for as much romance as their Egyptian forebears, instead claiming their women with an iron circle known as an Annulus Pronubus.
As in Lord of the Rings, this circle of metal was a symbol of power and control over another person. The one true ring boasted the power to control more than just one man, but Tolkein may have taken inspiration from this ancient custom:
“One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness, bind them.”
The Romans were also the first culture to have their rings engraved, like the One Ring’s secret message.
The Claddagh ring
The Claddagh is well recognised as a traditional Irish ring, featuring two hands holding a crowned heart. Since the 17th century, it has been produced with its original design associated with Claddagh – an Irish fishing village.
This ring is given as a symbol of love and friendship – but it is also commonly used as a wedding ring in Ireland. It may also be passed down from family member to family member through the generations. On the ring, the hands denote friendship, the heart symbolises love, while the crown is a sign of loyalty.
Like the One Ring in The Lord of the Rings, the Claddagh is part of a family of rings. The “fede” (meaning faith) family of rings date from Roman times and all feature the clasped hands symbolising friendship and perhaps a vow.
What is a promise ring?
If you ask yourself what a promise ring is, you must know that according to the ancient Egyptians, there is a vein from the ring finger of the left-hand reaches our heart. To that finger now as then we are used to linking our greatest promises.
We talk about a kind of promise that involves our feelings and our affections, those commitments that fill our spirit with love and urge us to have a deep desire to keep them for life. It can be a promise of brotherly love, of the couple, between parent and child or even a commitment that we want to keep with ourselves. But always, and in any case, the ring on our finger is a small and profound symbol of the great pledge we intend to put into what we hold dear. A promise ring is all this, and it is the little knot on our finger so as not to forget what is important to us.
What finger do you wear a promise ring on?
What finger do you wear a promise ring on? Certainly, the ring finger of the left hand is where the ring takes on its full meaning.
It is precisely from that finger which the ancient Egyptians thought that the artery that rises to the heart passed. Even if anatomy has denied this theory, we like to leave the old belief alive and entrust our dearest feelings to it. The tradition has been perpetuated through the ancient Romans, and it has reached the present day almost intact because, as the greatest romantics teach us, love is eternal.
Until 50 years ago there was a very intransigent society, and it was not acceptable for a promise ring to be worn on a finger that was not the ring finger of the left hand. Today etiquette has lost some of its appeals, and new generations love to feel free. For this, it can also happen to see the symbolic ring elegantly displayed on another finger.
What does it mean when your boyfriend gives you a promise ring?
The exciting and long-awaited day has arrived, and your boyfriend gives you a promise ring. What does it mean? How will your life change?
Diamond rings for women have an unmistakable meaning: they symbolise love, esteem and passion. When a man gives his woman a diamond ring, it means that he intends to engage with her. The jewel has an undoubted preciousness, but its absolute value lies in the feeling that accompanies it. Whether it is offered with poetry verses, a song or a hand in hand race, the promise ring means that you have started your journey towards a destiny together.
For etiquette, the promise ring is followed by the engagement ring, and after an exact year, the wedding should be celebrated. Today not everyone wants or can be so formal, and sometimes the promise ring also plays the role of engagement jewel.
The one cultural use for rings that proliferates through almost every part of the world is wearing a ring to show that you are wed to someone, or at the very least in a committed relationship. Neanderthals were the first to devise this tradition, as men would often weave small, wearable wreathes out of twigs or grasses to be worn among mates. Since then, each civilisation has adopted this practice, with wide variation in how it was used. In some Asian cultures, the ring was made of wood and would fall apart if removed, proving a partner’s infidelity.
Also universal is the misogyny that goes with rings, as almost everywhere rings were to be worn by women only, to show that they “belonged” to someone, as a warning to potential suitors that she was unavailable. In the west, men only began wearing wedding rings during World War II as a sign of carrying their love with them. In the less progressive parts of the world, wedding bands are still exclusively for women unless a man is specifically displaying wealth. Africa, the Middle East, and many parts of Asia – Russia and India – are the most common places where men will drip with jewellery, which has no binding significance.
Wedding rings are almost always worn on the ring finger. In North America, it often goes on the left hand but left, and right are generally irrelevant since it changes from place to place. The rule of thumb, or perhaps a ring, is that if a person has a band on their ring finger, it’s best to guess they are married, and you should at least ask for confirmation before you seduce them.
What’s the maximum number of rings a guy should wear?
It’ll depend on the rings. Generally, you won’t wear more than one on any given the finger, but then you’ll run into things like clusters of four or five wire-thin bands that are meant to be worn together.
But assuming only one ring per finger, two or three spread out across both hands is usually a safe max. Even that’s going to be very striking — go too much beyond that, and you’re just a caricature.
Oftentimes, you’re best off with a single bold “statement” ring on one hand and nothing else, or nothing more than a plain wedding/engagement band if it’s relevant.
Quality matters more than quantity, at the end of the day — no matter what finger you’re displaying your rings on.
Spicing up the world of rings
Framed Monogram RingIn the last few years we have seen the addition of midi rings to the world of fashion too. These have taken off at storm and look great when paired with another ring or two on the same hand. They are for girls who love to accessorise. They make their point of being on point in the world of fashion. I love to have a midi ring or two in my jewellery box ready to put on to spice up an outfit for a night out or when I have perfectly manicured nails, and they need to be shown off.
We have also seen the addition of the two-finger ring. These at first can feel different from wearing as the ring is spread across two fingers. But don’t let this put you off, they look amazing! If you choose to wear one of these, make a statement with it and make it personal. They are such a must-have for everyone who wants to keep the style fresh.
There’s no limit to what a ring can do for you. Be daring and stack a few rings up together with specialised stacking rings, or make a statement and have a personalised initial or monogram ring. You don’t even need to stop there: you can have any of our names ring personalised with any word you want. I have seen the most beautiful infinity ring saying ‘love’ that I truly fell in love with (so much so that I had one made for myself!) Wear your rings with pride because even when you are dressed head to toe in black, your hands will still shine.