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How to Wear Rings: The Rules, Etiquette and Everything Else

How to wear rings? Rings have fascinated people for millennia.

Whether it’s a simple classic wedding ring or an ornate gem-encrusted heirloom piece passed down through generations, the designs are as varied as they are striking.

Despite their widespread popularity, many people don’t know the etiquette of how to wear rings. 

Rings are objects of cultural fascination, and wearing rings is one of the most personal ways we express ourselves.

woman with multiple rings
Image by Serg Zastavkin via Shutterstock

Let’s find out how to rock this small but significant jewelry piece like a pro.

History of Rings: From Sumerian Civilization to Modern Day

People have been using rings for jewelry or other purposes for a long time.

Archeologists have found the oldest rings in tombs in Ur (a Sumerian city), dating to 2500 BCE. 

The Egyptians knew how to wear rings but mainly used them as signets, carrying authenticating signs engraved in the bezel.

The famous scarab design comes from that era (Egyptians considered the dung beetle sacred). 

In Archaic Greek time, rings became more popular and were mostly made of silver and bronze.

They mainly used this jewelry piece for decoration, and updated the look by using cabochon stones in the bezel instead of signets. 

Inlaid Gold Ring from Archaic Period of Sumer 2900-2340 BC
Image by Gary Todd via Wikimedia Commons

Inlaid Gold Ring from Archaic Period of Sumer 2900-2340 BC

Rings were symbols of authority and social rank in Roman times.

Only people of high status were allowed to wear gold rings, whereas ordinary people used to wear iron rings. 

Gradually, the use of gold in rings became more common, and practically everyone, except for enslaved people, could wear one by the 3rd century AD. 

Romans were also the first to use this jewelry piece to signify engagement and marriage.

The Europeans followed that custom, and the wearing of rings became an integral part of engagement and wedding ceremonies during the High and Late Middle Ages. 

Ring signets also returned during this time, and people used them for legal, religious and commercial purposes.

Ancient Egyptian gold ring
Image via Metropolitan Museum of Art

Ancient Egyptian gold ring

The popularity of wearing this ornament exploded, and took various forms, such as memorial, poison, occult and keepsake rings.

The use of gemstones became abundant after 1150, and the popularity of rings has never slumped since then. 

Nowadays, rings are still symbols of status, but they can also be used as marks of engagement or wedding bands, or just a way to show off your style. 

How To Wear Rings: The Symbolic Functions of Rings 

While rings are worn for their beauty and aesthetic value, they can also carry symbolic meanings.

Here are a few symbolic functions of this beautiful jewelry piece:

a couple wearing wedding rings
Image by TranStudios via Pexels

1. Romantic and Relationship Status

Wearing rings to show romantic or marital status is a centuries-old custom.

People have been wearing wedding and engagement rings from the dawn of time. 

Rings indicate that two people have entered into a relationship and promise to be faithful for the rest of their lives. 

 In fact, engagement/wedding rings are such a big part of some cultures that people assume you to be single if you are not wearing one.

a couple's hands on top of a bouquet
Image by Serg Zastavkin via Shutterstock

2. High achievement

Rings have long been used to commemorate high achievements.

These could be a victory in a battle or an accomplishment in academics or sports. 

Some things that come to mind are Super Bowl rings and class rings from high school and college graduation ceremonies.

3. Promise

A ring can also symbolize a commitment or love between two people.

The gesture does not necessarily have to be romantic. The ring represents the vow or promises you have made to yourself and someone else.

4. Social status

Rings can represent social status—as a sign of wealth, nobility or religion.

Pope Benedict signet ring

Pope Benedict signet ring

The Pope has a famous ring called the Ring of the Fisherman, which signifies him as the successor of Saint Peter.  

Signet rings have been symbols of family, wealth and nobility for thousands of years in European culture.

Noblemen used them instead of a signature to sign legal documents or letters. 

5. Purity or chastity

A purity ring symbolizes virginity and a vow to keep virginity in some religious cultures.

Usually, unmarried people who decide to remain abstinent from sexual activity until marriage or death wear these rings.

6. Membership in an organization 

You probably know all about this kind of ring if you’re part of an organization like a sorority, fraternity or secret society.

It’s usually given to members after completing some sort of initiation process (which can vary widely depending on the organization). 

hands with ring on each finger
Image by Maddi Bazzocco via Unsplash

How to Wear Rings” Factors to Consider 

To wear a ring well is to strike the perfect balance between art and function; it’s a dance between form and fashion.

It’s more than just picking out the right size and being careful not to drop it into a random crevice in your home.

It’s about finding the perfect balance between style and substance.

You can’t just put a ring on your finger and go about your day.

There are many more things to consider before you try to rock that sparkler.

rings too large for woman fingers
Image via Warehouse5F.Top

How To Wear Rings: Does The Ring fit?

This one seems obvious. Make sure your ring fits before keeping it on.

A too-tight ring will cause you pain, while a loose one will slide off the knuckle. 

Getting your finger measured is essential- you can do this by using a ring sizer.

You will find one in a jewelry store or a retail shop. When measuring at home, take several measurements at different times because our fingers change sizes subtly throughout the day.

Compare your measurement to a ring sizing chart to find the perfect fit. 

In all cases, the ring should fit comfortably on your finger—and if it doesn’t, consider having it resized.

No matter how much you’ve spent on the ring itself, it won’t be worth anything to you if you can’t wear it comfortably.

woman with matching ring and bracelet
Image by Alvaro O’Donnell via Unsplash

How To Wear Rings: Match with your accessories

The color and style of your ring should match your other personal accessories—like purses, bracelets and earrings.

If you’re wearing a lot of gold tones, then maybe don’t wear a silver ring. 

Also, pay attention to the size of your ring—is this an occasion where a small dainty ring would be better?

Or is it funkier and more hip, so a big statement ring would make sense?

Consider your personal style

Variety is the spice of life. If you’re like us, you want to look good at all times—and that means wearing accessories that match your style.

woman  wearing large  statement rings
Image by Camilla Carvalho via Unsplash

Do you want something fun and playful? Of course!

Choose a ring full of personality and maybe even a little color—a piece that will make people take notice.

You can even choose a mood ring as a display of your strongest emotions. 

Choose a single-band ring with inlaid stones for a more formal and practical look.

How to Wear Rings: Choose the right finger

You must choose the correct finger to wear the ring on. Rings on different fingers have different meanings in various cultures. 

So, before wearing a stack on your thumb or big solitaire on the middle finger, learn what each finger means when wearing a ring. 

Making Sense of Rings and Their Styles 

woman with statement ring holding glass of wine
Image by Cottonbro via Unsplash

1. Cocktail rings 

Cocktail rings are big, bold and made to call attention. They’re the best choice if you want to make a statement and aren’t afraid of being the center of attention.

They’re perfect for anniversaries, prom nights, extravagant parties and any other time you want to look like an absolute queen.

large cluster diamond ring
Image via Graff

2. Cluster rings 

Cluster rings feature multiple stones designed to look like one big stone.

They’re stunning and delicate, so they’re perfect if you want something that will stand out but isn’t too overwhelming.

They’re also great for any occasion you want to look absolutely divine.

3. How to Wear Rings: Halo rings 

These rings are the right choice when you want something a little understated and classy.

It’s hard not to feel like a million bucks when you wear one of these babies.

A ring with a halo setting has smaller stones surrounding a larger center stone—many of which use a diamond as their center stone. 

4. Simple band rings 

These rings are exactly what they sound like—rings made with just one band.

These bands can be plain or embellished, depending on your style and preference. 

A simple band ring works well as a statement piece and can be worn alone or stacked with other simple band rings.

5. Solitaire rings 

Traditional solitaire rings have a single stone (usually diamond) in a bezel setting.

It’s the perfect ring for a formal occasion like a wedding or gala—or whenever you want to catch someone’s eye with a bit of bling.

You can also wear a solitaire ring as an engagement ring since it’s elegant without being too over-the-top.

6. How To Wear Rings: Stacked rings

Stacked rings can mean stacking multiple similarly styled rings like skinny or full-width bands together on one finger.

Or, you can wear multiple rings of different styles on the same hand.

They are perfect for anyone who wants to express their unique style and show off their personality.

woman's hand with joint chain rings
Image by HandmadeSoulmates via Etsy

7. Joint chain rings

Also known as knuckle or linked rings, this type refers to multiple rings for different fingers connected through a chain.

The rings are fun and playful, so we recommend wearing them when you want to be more casual—and if you’re going to a concert or festival. 

woman wearing matching ring with other jewelry pieces
Image by Kristina Polianskaia via Pexels

How To Wear Rings Etiquette: How to Pair Rings with Other Jewelry

When you’re trying to decide how to pair your jaw-dropping bling with other accessories, here are a few tips to help you out:

Silver rings: They are versatile and look best when paired with titanium or stainless steel jewelry (like an anklet or bracelet). These materials have a similar shine, making them complement one another perfectly.

Brass or copper rings: Make sure you pick up the casual vibe with some rose gold or yellow gold jewelry. The warmth of the metals is perfect for spring and summer, and we love how they complement each other. These tones will make your whole look appear relaxed and approachable.

How to wear Gemstone rings: A gemstone ring offers you endless possibilities. These rings can be worn in any context, whether with other stone-adorned pieces or with metal jewelry.

Gold or gold-plated rings: They look best with warm tones, like browns, oranges and yellows. These colors pair nicely with the golden glow.

Platinum rings: These rings are exquisite on their own and can easily take center stage as a statement piece. They have a long lifespan and it’s possible to resize them as you want. 

woman wearing many rings
Image by Tânia Mousinho via Unsplash

What Does Each Finger Mean When It Comes to Wearing Rings? 

Rings can be a way of expressing yourself subtly. They can show your affiliation with a particular group, lineage or place.

They can also be used to convey an allegiance to an idea or philosophy.

Like the rest of your body, each one of your fingers is connected to an emotional, physical or spiritual part of you—and you can exhibit that side of your personality by wearing your ring on the relevant finger. 

1. How To Wear Rings: The Thumb

The thumb is associated with the Roman god Neptune and represents creativity, imagination and ingenuity in all forms.

A ring on this finger displays your artistic expression and intellectual genius.

2. The Index Finger

Because of its association with Jupiter, the king of gods, a ring on this finger makes a statement about how you like to take charge.

This finger symbolizes willpower, leadership skills and authority, which means a ring on this finger emits confidence and self-worth.

It’s your way of telling others that you are a leader in control of your destiny.

black female model wearing silver rings
Image by Bansah Photography via Unsplash

3. The Middle Finger

This finger’s association with the Roman god Saturn makes it a strong symbol of balance in life, responsibilities and self-identity. 

Wearing a ring on this finger implies that you have a sense of responsibility and you honor the values you hold.

4. How To Wear Rings: The Ring Finger

This finger represents the god Apollo, the patronizer of romance and creativity.

Wearing a ring on this finger indicates a romantic relationship and makes you a person who is fun-loving and looking for new experiences. 

This finger is exclusively reserved in Western culture for putting the wedding or engagement ring on.

According to a traditional belief, a vein runs from the left hand’s ring finger to the heart.

So, a ring on the ring finger is used to express the matter of the heart.

5. The Pinky

In astrology, this finger is associated with Mercury.

People wearing a ring on this finger are deemed to be intelligent and thoughtful. 

Wearing it on the preferred hand indicates that you are a good negotiator and articulator of words.

On the contrary, a pinky ring on the passive hand implies that you are an intuitive person with good listening skills.

rings on necklace
Image by Atul Vinayak via Unsplash

Why Might Some People Wear a Ring on a Necklace?

When people wear a ring on a necklace, they’re usually not just trying to be fashionable.

There could be many reasons, including:

  • Consider the obvious: maybe the person doesn’t want to risk losing the ring. A ring worn on a necklace is less likely to fall off than one worn on the finger.
  • Due to weight changes, the ring could be too large or small for the individual’s hand. Or, maybe the said person got into an accident and has swollen fingers, so now their wedding ring won’t fit.
  • Some people wear a ring on a necklace because they have a memory of a loved one, like a spouse or sibling, that they don’t want to let go of.
  • Maybe they have an allergy to metal or other materials found in jewelry, so wearing a ring around their neck is a good alternative. 
  • Others may be concerned with their work environment, like the auto industry, machine work, and don’t want the ring to get caught on anything and subsequently injure themselves. A nurse or doctor may choose to wear their wedding band around their neck so that it does not pose any danger to themselves or others while they are performing delicate operations.
hands with many rings

How Many Rings Are the Limit?

What are the rules when it comes to the number of rings?

The answer: there are no rules. You do you.

You choose how much bling you want to rock.  

But sometimes less is more.

And if you want to keep your style on point, going with two or three rings on each hand is a safe choice. 

However, any number is cool if you can carry that look.

Five rings per hand might suit you, or maybe two per hand feels like too much for your personality and lifestyle.

There’s nothing wrong if you prefer just one on each hand (or even just one overall). 

 Oura smart ring
Image via Oura

Wait…what about smart rings?

Smart rings are kind of like a smartwatch—just on your finger. They connect to your phone and can help you become a better you.

They can help you manage your fitness, stay connected to your social life and keep up with texts and emails. Some smart rings even let you unlock your door and pay for things just by tapping.

With the right design and functionality, smart rings can be both a functional gadget and a fashion statement.

There are plenty of sleek and stylish options that look good with formal and casual outfits. 

Final Tips on How to Wear Rings

  1. Make the ring a symbol of your identity. You may belong to a particular profession or hold a social status; your ring could well express who you are.
  2. Choosing the right size for your ring is essential. If your hands are on the smaller side, you might consider skipping the giant cocktail ring and going for the stackable midi instead.
  3. When it comes to wearing a ring, the most important thing is to wear it with confidence. Wear it at home first to get the feel of it before going out in public.
  4. Whether it’s a casual or formal occasion, a ring should go well with your outfit. It should match well with other accessories as well. 
  5. Match the ring’s metal to your skin tone for a more balanced and stylish look. Gold is perfect for warm skin tones, while silver compliments cool tones.
woman wearing connected chain ring and holding a black hand bag
Image by AnAngelsHug

FAQs about How to Wear Rings 

Q. What finger should I wear a ring on when I’m not married?

A. You can wear the ring on any finger, except for the ring finger (the fourth finger on the hand) on the left hand if engagement/wedding rings are an important part of your culture 

Q. Can I wear a ring on my middle finger?

A. Of course you can. The middle finger is arguably the most noticeable of all fingers, so a ring on it will catch everyone’s attention. Also, a ring on this finger expresses stability and power. 

Q. What’s a divorce ring?

A. Some people like to discard their engagement ring when the marriage is over and wear a new ring of their choice. It symbolizes the beginning of a new life. You can wear it on the right hand’s ring finger, but there is no hard-and-fast rule. 

Q. Is it weird to wear a ring on the ring finger without being married?

A. It’s not. But in some cultures, especially in the western countries, people will assume you are married or engaged. 

Q. Why should we not wear rings on our thumbs?

A. There is no restriction on wearing a ring on the thumb, but you should not do it if you are a follower of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. According to him, wearing metal thumb rings opens the doorway for occult forms.

Tags: how to wear rings how many what fingers, left ring finger, pinky finger, wear wedding bands, wedding ring finger