Rings have been around for centuries and have often carried meaning beyond adorning the wearer's hand. Men have for ages worn rings to signify things from wealth, their social standing, to marital status. Even though men seem to hold back when it comes to wearing a lot of jewelry, but wearing a ring will always stand the test of time.
History of Rings
In Ancient Rome, signet rings were used as a signature/ seal. The rings were made with an insignia to represent a person’s identity or office. This emblem was then transferred as an impression on a wax seal and used to seal letters or sign important documents.
In the Victorian Era, rings were outfitted with a small compartment to conceal things like poison or drugs. This poison ring could then be used to commit suicide when a painful death was unavoidable or r to slip poison into an enemy's food or drink.
In mythology, some rings were believed to be endowed with spiritual or supernatural significance. For example, Egyptian pharaohs were the first to use rings to represent eternity. That’s because a circle has no beginning and no end, and they also believed the open space in the middle of a ring represented a gateway to the unknown.
And now to the by far most famous ring—the wedding band. A man's wedding band rings represent the infinity of love and commitment to their partner. Worn on the left hand as it is closest to the heart. This idea started with the ancient Egyptians who believed the ‘Vena Amoris’ (vein of love) ran from the ring finger to the heart. This tradition of giving rings to lovers as a symbol of devotion was adopted by the Greeks when they conquered the Egyptians and later the Romans when they conquered the Greeks.
Types of Rings For Men
Until the past century, wedding rings were mainly worn by women, although the Christian church promoted exchanging wedding rings to keep men faithful. It wasn't until WWII when American and European soldiers started wearing wedding rings as a way to remember their wives and sweethearts back home. The tradition continued through the Korean War, and it’s only after this, did wedding rings for men become a norm among civilians as well.
This type of ring often has some form of emblem engraved on them. This could be a symbol, series of letters, or image on the top part of the ring. Such rings have been worn by men of influence on the index or pink fingers for centuries. Used as a seal, a gentleman would use his ring featuring his unique family crest, emblem or monogram to stamp important documents.
Rings have been used to denote membership in groups and families for thousands of years.
In the current times, the most common examples are fraternal rings, class rings, and the occasional family crest. Some veterans may also wear a ring denoting their branch of service or even a specific program within their branch. The purpose of these rings is to remind the wearer of the uniqueness of their group and also give them a sense of belonging.
These are usually eye-catching rings worn purely for decorative purposes. Designer rings, the ultimate luxury statement, fall into this category. They range in prices from a few bucks to thousands of dollars, which means there is something available for every gentleman’s budget. Decorative rings offer a great way to take your style credentials up another notch.
Which Finger Should Men Wear a Ring On?
While there are no hard rules on which finger to wear a ring, certain societal expectations and traditional norms exist that influence what finger most men wear their rings.
1. Thumb Rings
Thumb rings are slowly growing in popularity. If you’re already wearing multiple rings on one hand, your thumb can be a good place to wear one of them if you don’t want your fingers to feel overcrowded.
2. Index Finger
Historically, this finger was reserved for signet rings that were used to sign legal and official documents by pressing the ring face into hot wax to create a seal. However, this practice has all but died out with the advent of modern ways of signing documents. If you really want your ring to be noticed, wear it on your index finger and spend some time pointing at things. This makes this finger a great place to wear a bold “statement” ring.
3. Middle Finger
Wearing rings on the middle finger is uncommon. But if you are not big on the idea of a pinky ring, and you don’t want people confusing it for a wedding band, the middle finger’s a safe bet. Also, some men like wearing rings on their middle finger because it feels central, sturdy, and frankly, “manly.”
4. Ring Finger
The clue’s in the name. This is the finger on which men are expected to wear a ring. Specifically, a wedding ring is worn on the left hand. That being said, there are no regulations stating that you have to. You can wear a wedding ring on whichever finger you choose, but most people will assume that you’re married if you’re wearing a ring on this finger.
5. Pinky Finger
For the last century, most men have worn their class rings, fraternal rings, or family crest rings on the pinky finger. For one, a ring on the pinky finger won’t get in the way of actually doing things with your hands. The Godfather popularly associated pinky finger rings with criminals and thugs, but unless you happen to be one, this shouldn’t concern you.
How to Wear Rings Properly and Still Look Classy
- People may not say anything, but they notice rings immediately. Therefore have in mind what messages you are sending in certain situations (interviews, conservative business settings, trips abroad) where an observer may have their own interpretation of what your rings mean.
- Confidence is one of the most important traits of a modern gentleman, so wear your ring(s) confidently—even if it means putting it on for a test run in your home. This will give you time to get accustomed to the weight and feel of it.
- Your rings should complement your hands. This means if you have large hands wear broader rings and vice versa. Also, create symmetry when wearing multiple rings. For example, instead of wearing a second ring on your left hand where your wedding band is, instead wear it on your right hand.