In addition to admiring your beautiful jewelry, people may look at how you wear your rings and make inferences about your personality, relationship status, and other factors. These assumptions are based on history, cultural beliefs, and the finger you choose for your ring. Before putting on your rings, it is helpful to understand what each finger says about you and your lifestyle.
Ring Meanings by Finger
From your marital status to your profession, your rings tell a lot about you. Some fingers have special meaning, while others don't mean anything at all. Keep these associations in mind as you decide where you'll wear your jewelry.
Left Pinky Finger
From signet rings to wedding bands, a ring on the left pinky finger can symbolize a number of different things.
- Marital status: Two rings on the left pinky finger once indicated that a man was married. The bottom ring was the wedding ring, followed by the signet ring on top. Popular during the 19th and early 20th centuries, this custom has since fallen out of favor. Some historians believe that American president Franklin D. Roosevelt wore a wedding ring and signet ring in this fashion.
- Pinky rings, on either hand, are sometimes associated with the culture of organized crime. Dramas like The Sopranos have further popularized this image.
Left Ring Finger
In many cultures, the left ring finger is reserved for wedding rings and engagement jewelry, although some people choose to wear a promise ring on this finger. A ring worn on the left ring finger can symbolize:
- Marital status - In most Western countries, a married person wears a wedding ring on the left ring finger. Many people think the origin of this custom stems from an ancient Roman belief that a vein travels directly from the left ring finger to the heart.
- Betrothal - Similarly, a ring worn on the left ring finger can indicate that the wearer is engaged to be married, a tradition believed to date back to the time of ancient Romans. At the time of the wedding, the bride may choose to continue wearing her engagement ring on the left ring finger with her wedding ring or switch it to another finger.
- Romantic promise - Some people choose to wear a promise ring on the left ring finger, although this is reserved for serious romantic promises.
- Chastity - Many young people also choose to wear a chastity ring, or purity ring, on the left ring finger. This is to signify an abstinence from intimate relations until marriage.
Left Middle Finger
A ring worn on the left middle finger doesn't necessarily stand for anything. However, since the middle finger is central to the hand and is the longest finger, a ring on this digit can symbolize power and responsibility, if you wish. This finger is also a good choice if you want to show off a ring without making a statement about your life.
Left Index Finger
The left index finger doesn't have any set symbolism either, although it's a good place for showing off an important ring. A ring on the index finger is sure to get noticed, so you may want to choose this finger for your class ring, a favorite cocktail ring, or another high-impact piece.
A thumb ring on the left hand doesn't make a statement about your relationship status, profession, or any other important part of your life. However, it is a great location for a fashion statement. Choose a chunky ring that doesn't impede your movement, and people viewing your jewelry will see you as fashionable and confident.
Similarly, a ring on the right thumb doesn't say anything specific about you. Show off a favorite statement ring here.
Right Index Finger
In some cultures, a ring on the right index finger symbolizes marriage. According to Chabad.org, the index finger is the proper place for the wedding ring in a traditional Jewish ceremony. Typically, a plain gold band goes on the index finger of the right hand. Some brides move the ring to the left ring finger after the ceremony, but some keep it in place on the index finger.
If you aren't wearing a plain gold band, you can get away with just about any ring on the right index finger.
Right Middle Finger
Just as the left middle finger doesn't have a set meaning, the right middle finger is open to interpretation when it comes to wearing a ring. You can choose your own symbolism for a ring on this prominent digit.
Right Ring Finger
Although many cultures reserve the left ring finger for wedding and engagement rings, there are also several countries that use the right ring finger for the same purpose. These include Germany, Russia, India, and many others.
Right Pinky Finger
In addition to some of the same meanings as a ring worn on the left pinky, a right pinky ring can also indicate professional status. In some professions, particularly engineering and ecology, a pinky ring is a symbol of graduating with a degree in that field. Graduates wear this ring on the dominant hand, which for about 90 percent of people, means the right pinky finger. Professional rings are typically simple bands made of iron, silver, stainless steel, or another metal.
Men-Only Finger Symbolism
Generally speaking, the ring meanings for men and women are almost identical. However, there are a few separate guidelines for men to follow, in addition to the above.
Left Hand Vs. Right Hand
Men can wear rings on either hand, however each hand has a different symbolic meaning. Culture and religion play a part; for example, in Western cultures, engagement and wedding rings are widely accepted on the left hand. The left hand is a major indicator for your character and your beliefs, whereas the right hand is seen as the more physical hand for men. It has greater visibility, therefore makes more of a fashion statement.
In Great Britain as well as other Western countries, men sometimes reserve the left pinky finger for a signet ring. This practice goes back hundreds of years, according to Lang Antiques, and the ring symbolizes family and status. A ring like this frequently features a coat of arms, and many families pass these rings down through the generations.
The left ring finger symbolizes engagement and marriage for men in Western cultures, and the right ring finger symbolizes the same for men in other countries, such as Germany, Russia and India. However, in much of North and South America, men generally use the right ring finger for engagement and the left ring finger for marriage.
It is rare to see men wearing a ring on the middle finger in most cultures, though it's become somewhat of a fashion statement in the Western world. Being in the center of the hand, middle finger rings symbolize balance and order. Also, as the middle finger is a man's largest and boldest finger, it can represent masculinity.
Hundreds of years ago, men would wear family crest or signet rings on one of their index fingers to symbolize wealth and their society ranking. People below a certain rank were once banned from wearing a ring on their index fingers in some European cities, as they were supposed to represent certain family status. Nowadays, in addition to wearing these types of rings on the pinky finger, men wear them on the index finger. They also tend to wear class rings and fraternal rings on either of their index fingers.
Men choosing to wear rings on the thumb symbolize one of two things in most societies. The first is power and influence, and rings reflect that by being broad or bulky. The second symbolization is interaction and friendship, as in "thumbs up." If a man is given a ring as a gift by a loved one, unless it's meant to represent engagement or marriage, they tend to wear it on either thumb.
Finger Meanings in Palmistry
Some people believe that finger choices for rings may also have mystical or magical connotations. Palmistry, the practice of reading the lines in a person's hands to determine character and fortune, associates the hands and fingers with attributes of the Greek gods. According to Guyot Brothers, fingers also have common metaphysical properties and complimentary gemstones. The combination of all this finger symbolism may influence how you wear your rings.
- The Thumb: The thumb represents self-assertion and willpower. It is the only finger not named after a Greek god. Choose thumb rings made with carnelian, garnet, or ruby gemstones.
- The Index Finger: This finger is named for Jupiter to symbolize self-confidence, leadership, ambition, and spirituality. Select a ring with lapis lazuli, amethyst, or blue topaz stones.
- The Middle Finger: The middle finger, Saturn, stands for balance, justice, the law, responsibility, and soul-searching. Soothing stones such as rose quartz, coral, and aquamarine are appropriate for rings.
- The Ring Finger: The ring finger represents Apollo and symbolizes relationships, creativity, and the love of beauty. Complimentary gemstones include moonstone, jade, amethyst, sapphire, and turquoise.
- The Pinky Finger: Mercury rules the little finger, which stands for intelligence, communication, persuasion, and intuition. Pick rings with stones such as moonstone, amber, or citrine.
The Choice Is Yours
These days, choosing a finger for your ring is mostly a matter of personal preference. However, it's important to understand what your ring placement says about you to other people. That way, you can make an informed choice about which finger you choose to display your ring.