Rings have been around since the dawn of civilization more than 9,000 years ago and arguably far earlier than that. The wearing of rings represents more than a decoration, it is symbolic of your status and personality which is recognized within your culture or perhaps across multiple cultures depending on the reason why you are wearing a ring.
There is little doubt that wealth and status have played a strong role in the development of the symbolism behind wearing rings. However, what does the symbolism mean and why do you wear certain rings on certain fingers?
Most people in Western cultures tend to wear one ring, which is usually an engagement or wedding ring. However, there are certain cultures, such as those in Eastern Europe and in Asia that often wear more than one ring. In fact, men and women with a ring on each finger can be found in these cultures and it is not considered all that unusual.
It is true that more people are wearing rings today compared to the turn of the 20th century. This is because most people were poor and could not afford to purchase rings. The rise of the middle class and advertising by jewelers helped spread the popularity of purchasing engagement and wedding rings.
Despite the long history of marriage, it was not until the 1950s era that most people wore men’s wedding rings. There are several reasons for this, but the most common one was that most people could not afford wedding rings, nor did they see their usefulness. However, even for those who wanted the rings, women for the most part wore wedding bands, but not the men.
The reasons why men did not participate in the wearing of wedding rings is both economical and practical. Before the rise of white-collar jobs in great numbers, most men worked jobs where they used their hands a great deal, such as in manufacturing. Rings presented a danger and still do in some situations, so not having a ring on the finger in the first place meant not forgetting to take it off and thus, put the ring finger at risk.
In the US, it took the rise of the middle class after World War II and the focus by jewelers of marketing their rings to this burgeoning class to help in getting more people to buy wedding bands. Now with more people wearing rings of all types, the next question is what does it mean in terms of the hands and fingers in which they are worn?
It may seem odd to some that the ring fingers on both hands are considered acceptable for the wearing of wedding bands, but it is true. While in most countries wedding bands and engagement rings are worn on the left hand, this is because most people are right-handed which means that they use their rights hands more actively and this leaves their left hand as the one sporting the ring.
In Western cultures, the left hand represents beliefs and character which is another reason why most people sport engagement and wedding rings on the left hand. However, it is not as visible as the right hand in terms of drawing attention. Plus, with so many people wearing rings on their left-hand ring finger, it can get overlooked fairly easily.
Obviously, some who wear wedding bands or engagement rings on the right hand do so because they are left-handed. However, there are other factors involved such as family traditions and the like. What can be said about sporting wedding bands or engagement rings on the right hand is that they are more likely to be noticed because to many it will be different and different gets you noticed.
In the final analysis, the choice of hand to wear your engagement, wedding, or any type of ring is up to you. For practical purposes, you will want to choose the less-active hand, so if you are right-handed, then the left hand will be more practical for obvious reasons. However, whichever hand you decide to wear your ring or rings will not be a wrong choice regardless of whether you are left-handed, right-handed, or ambidextrous.
What Finger to Wear Your Ring?
In addition to the hands having a symbolic meaning, so too does each finger of the hand, including the thumb, merit some symbolism. While engagement rings and wedding bands are most-often worn on the ring finger, other types of rings can be worn on the index, middle, pinky, or thumb and carry a different kind of meaning.
The symbolism derives in part from history and part from practicality, but in the end each finger does have its own symbolism that will at least inform you of what others might assume when you choose to wear a ring on a particular finger.
Ring: It’s generally best to start off with the finger that is named after the ring. In most cultures, the ring finger is associated with engagement or marriage. This means that this finger will sport rings that are made from precious metals, such as gold or platinum, or studier materials such as tungsten or cobalt. Many women will have diamonds or more complicated patterns on their wedding bands and engagement rings compared to men, who mostly have simpler, less detailed rings.
Another thing to note is that wearing a ring on the ring finger is always associated with engagement or marriage, so wearing a ring for another reason will have most people misconstruing the purpose of the ring itself.
Index: Sometimes called the “pointer” finger which provides some insight into why it’s a fairly popular finger to wear a ring. This is because the ring will be prominent and easily noticeable, which is why most rings that are worn on the index are class, membership, or class rings designed to be easily noticeable. It’s also supposed to be worn frequently and especially for special events where the ring is supposed to be noticed. A good example is wearing a class ring to a school reunion or perhaps wearing a membership ring to an event sponsored by the organization.
Rings on the index tend to be large, prominent, and sporting a crest or insignia that is designed to get attention.
Middle: You do not see many people sport rings on their middle fingers for a variety of reasons, unless they are wearing rings on most, if not all their other fingers. There is not specific reason why the middle finger is the least popular of all fingers to wear rings, apart from perhaps that it is the strongest finger which usually carries the most weight when lifting or carrying objects. Plus, being in the middle it may get overlooked more often.
Most people who do wear rings on their middle fingers are men what they wear tends to be rather simple and straightforward,
Pinky: The pinky is one of the most popular fingers to wear rings, apart from the ring finger itself. In the US, the pinky ring is often associated with powerful people, both in the legitimate world of business and the criminal version, at least in many TV shows and movies. It should be noted that those who wear pinky rings are not considered criminals, but rather it is the association with power that is one of the reasons.
Wearing a ring on your pinky highlights your character and makes a strong statement about your personality. Pinky rings can be thin or thick, wide or small, but they are often the flashiest of rings and their position on the end of the hand makes them easily seen. It should also be noted that apart from their association with power, there are really no other cultural or religiously significant symbolism associated with the pinky.
Thumb: Like the middle finger, the thumb is also an uncommon place to see a ring unless the person is wearing multiple rings. Because of the shape and use of the thumb, it may also be the worst finger for a ring as it may tend to fall off or worse, catch on something that pulls the thumb. For working on machines, this may be the last place you want to be wearing a ring.
However, there is some well-established symbolism when wearing a ring on the thumb. This is usually a sign of power, wealth, or status that is easily seen because of its location. In addition, many friendship rings are worn on the thumb as well. It is a sign of interaction and shows a non-romantic connection between two or more people.
The symbolism of each finger in terms of their cultural significance when wearing rings cannot be overlooked by those who are choosing rings to wear on either hand. For those who want to ensure that the message they are sending when wearing a ring is clear and seen by all, then it is imperative that you understand the cultural significance that is behind what finger the ring is being worn. If you’re considering to choose the right wedding ring you can consider the most popular material in the modern days, the Tungsten Carbide Rings.