People have been adorning their fingers with all kinds of styles of rings for thousands of years.
In Ancient Egyptian times, people wore signet rings featuring hieroglyphic characters for authenticating documents with their personal seal. In Ancient Rome, high-ranking officials favored oversized rings with eye-catching details to indicate their social status. The Ancient Greeks, in contrast, tended to used rings solely for decoration.
These days, many people wear engagement rings and wedding bands to show their relationship status. Other ring style options can indicate affiliation to a club, your faith, or simply a personal style choice.
But how and when should you wear certain ring styles? Read on for the ultimate guide to wearing rings.
A Closer Look at Popular Ring Styles
As the name suggests, a solitaire ring lets a single, center stone do all the talking. Usually, prongs hold the jewel in place for a stunning look that contrasts a delicate band with a striking stone. This style of ring makes an excellent engagement ring as it combines well with a simple wedding band without overcrowding your ring finger.
Bezel Setting Ring
Rather than prongs, a bezel setting features a metal encasing that rises up from the band to encircle a single central stone. This style of ring feels modern thanks to its streamlined look and smooth appearance, and is often more secure than other settings. A bezel setting also makes smaller stones appear more substantial thanks to the way the stone is covered on all sides.
Three-stone rings feature a central stone framed by two smaller stones on either side, all hold in place by prongs. This kind of ring resembles a crown and, as a result, tends to be more prominent than a solitaire style of ring.
As you would imagine by the name, a halo ring features a central stone surrounding by a halo of smaller stones. This style of ring offers plenty of sparkle thanks to the way the design accentuates even small central stones.
All the stones can be the same color, as is often the case when the central stone is a white diamond. Although, halo rings with a colored central stone encircled with white diamonds are also very popular as dress rings and engagement rings.
This style of ring presents a cluster of small gemstones, often in a round or oval shape. The effect makes the ring and its jewels sparkle from every angle, which is ideal if you want a distinctive and eye-catching engagement ring without the price of a large stone.
You can also find modern-style cluster rings that feature asymmetrical stones clustered together, sometimes evoking natural themes such as flowers and stars.
Channel Setting Ring
A channel setting ring features a continuous line of stones along a central track or channel, flanked either side by two walls of metal. The stones nestle in place against one another and aren’t separated by bezels, beads, or prongs.
You’ll often see this kind of ring setting used for eternity rings, where a continuous band of jewels symbolizes the continuing and eternal bond between a couple. Or, a more elaborate engagement ring might feature a band with channel-set stones as well as a central diamond.
The word pavé means, “to pave” in French, referring to the way this style of ring is paved with small stones. Pavé set diamonds are as small as 0.01 to 0.02 carats, with diamonds any smaller than this considered micro-pavé. Prongs or metal beads hold these stones in place. But, as these are barely visible between the line of continuous jewels, this creates the appearance of an endless trail of glittering beauty.
As with channel set ring bands, you can have a stand-alone pavé ring or pavé jewels around a band holding a central stone. Pavé engagement ring bands bring a dose of extra sparkle, while also emphasizing the beauty of the central jewel.
Although cocktail rings feature large stones, these are often not precious stones such as diamonds and rubies. Instead, this kind of eye-catching, oversized ring is more likely to include large imitation gemstones.
As the name suggests, women often wore a large ring on their right hand at cocktail parties and other nighttime social events as a bold style statement. This distinguished this style of ring from the more discreet rings they wore on their left hand to signify an engagement or marriage. Earrings with matching colored stones would complete the look.
Simple Band Ring
While simple band rings can feature engraving, small stones, or other decorative features, many people choose plain bands as wedding rings for their versatility and simplicity. Often, couples select matching wedding bands to symbolize unity.
A sovereign ring usually features a gold sovereign or half sovereign coin as its primary decorative feature. Whether the coin is genuine or a replica, a sovereign ring offers a bold and unmistakable style statement. Although, some liken the look to that of The Godfather’s Don Corleone.
This style of ring resembles a smaller-scale sovereign ring, featuring a flat top surface with some form of marking, design, or personal crest. Signet rings are often used to symbolize membership to a class or school, and feature a crest or coat of arms to show this.
An interlocking ring style, such as a Russian wedding ring, gives you the look of wearing multiple rings in one. Russian wedding rings feature three thin, interlocking bands in rose gold, white gold, and yellow gold. These represent the past, present, and future of the couple, while also paying homage to the Holy Trinity.
Russian wedding rings don’t feature any stones on the bands but modern interlocking rings can come in all different combinations of metals and may include stones and other decorative features.
Stacking rings to be thinner than regular bands to ensure that it’s more comfortable to stack multiple rings on one finger. Stacking rings can be plain or decorated, but they normally feature smooth sides to allow for easier stacking.
While most rings should sit on the base of your finger, midi rings are for wearing on the middle of your finger, between the two joints. Also called memory rings or tea rings, this style of ring offers more ways to adorn your fingers if you want to wear multiple rings at once.
Choosing Which Finger When Wearing Rings
When buying a new ring, you can choose the size to fit whichever finger you want to wear it on. Often, this means you won’t be able to wear it on a different finger so it’s important to decide where you want to wear it before you make the purchase.
While your personal preference matters most, you also need to factor in how rings on certain fingers come with their own significance and meaning:
Wearing rings on your thumb isn’t very typical, although it can make quite a style statement for this reason. Thumb rings tend to indicate an alternative way of thinking or living, making them an appealing fashion choice for musicians, artists, and other free-thinkers.
In the past, archers wore thumb rings to improve their grip and protect their thumb against injury. Since archery was such a noble sporting pursuit in those days, thumb rings gained popularity among men as a way to signify an elevated social status. So, although Meghan Markle’s thumb ring might be no more than a style statement, it might also signify her fighting spirit and feminist values.
As for how to wear thumb rings, since your thumb doesn’t lay flat in the same way as your other fingers, a continuous band often looks better than a ring with a central stone.
In traditional Jewish wedding ceremonies, the groom places the wedding band on the index finger of his wife’s right hand. Although, other cultures view the index finger as a symbol of leadership and direction rather than anything romantic or associated with love and relationships.
Placing a ring on the index finger of either hand is still unusual enough to make a modern and unexpected statement. And, since your index finger sits on top of your other fingers when your hand is closed, a ring on this finger will often attract more attention. Choosing a bold, sculptural ring can highlight this, while also balancing out the asymmetrical effect that a ring placed here could have.
As your middle finger sits in the center of your hand, rings worn here show balance and strength, and can also be symbols of safety, love, and affection from a friend or family member such as a parent or sibling. Some cultures view wearing rings on either of your middle fingers as signs of trust and power, indicating a strong leader and the ability to rise to a challenge.
The central positioning of this finger means that it can handle any style or size of ring you choose. While a bold cocktail ring would appear more balanced and symmetrical on your middle finger, a delicate band or simple solitaire would also look stunning for a subtle style statement.
The fact that we refer to the fourth finger on each hand as our “ring finger” shows how significant it is to wear a ring here.
The practice of wearing a finger on your left ring finger to indicate marriage or commitment originated in Ancient Rome. They believed this finger carried a vein that went straight to your heart, making this finger the preferred place for a symbol of love.
For this reason, it’s uncommon to see single people in certain countries, such as the US, wearing a ring on this finger as it leads to false assumptions about your relationship status. With this in mind, if you have a ring that only fits your ring finger, wear it on your right hand. Unless, of course, you want people to think you’re in a relationship to avoid unwanted attention from men.
In contrast, many other cultures favor the right ring finger for their tokens of love. For example, in India, Germany, and Russia, a ring on your right ring finger means you’re engaged.
Rings with a central stone or collection of stones make the most popular engagement rings for wearing on this finger. You can then add a plain band when you get married and an eternity ring later down the line. Or, if you don’t have enough space on your left ring finger for a comfortable fit, an eternity ring worn on your right ring finger allows for a balanced look.
Members of certain professions, such as engineering and ecology wear a signet-style class ring on their right pinky finger to refer to their graduating degree field or professional status. A finger on your left pinky finger, in contrast, can signify a mafia connection. Although, the correct place for wearing a signet ring is the little finger of the left hand, so many people refer to this style of ring as a pinky ring.
Your Guide to Wearing Each Ring Style
As this guide shows, there’s are a lot of different factors to consider when deciding on a ring style and how to wear it.
While certain rings are more for decorative purposes, other rings carry a lot of meaning and significance, especially if you wear them on certain fingers.
But, with these tips to help you, it’ll be a lot easier to choose the right style of ring to suit your tastes as well as the occasion.
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