Fashion » Meanings of Rings on Fingers: The Hidden Symbolism of Rings to Know

Meanings of Rings on Fingers: The Hidden Symbolism of Rings to Know

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We have ten fingers to choose from when it comes to picking up a ring – or multiple rings, for a digit of our choice. We can wear them high or low, thin or thick, simple bands or intricate multi-finger designs. However, did you know that where one wears a ring gives off different impressions? And we’re not just talking about engagement and wedding rings here.

Meanings of Rings on Fingers: The Hidden Symbolism of Rings to Know
@aylin_koenig, @collagevintage

Different cultures have different traditions, and some have become a lot more mainstream these days. They are a lot more intriguing than just for beauty’s sake. Plus, with the latest trend of large and extravagant gemstone rings worn on the right hand, there is plenty of gossip to go around.

You may or may not believe in the supposed meanings of rings on fingers, but it’s certainly fun to learn about! Which of the hidden symbolism of rings were you aware of?

Meanings of Rings on Fingers: Contents

The Truth about Ring Symbolism

At the end of the day, ornamentation made out of metals is as ancient as it is beautiful. Rings, especially, have been a symbol of love and power from over five millennia ago. It is believed that Egyptians from around 3000 BC used woven reeds and leather to symbolize love.

Rings, over the millennia, have been used as personal talismans, symbols of status, in business transactions, and as a means of conveying heartfelt emotions in a pledge to love and protect so long as one draws breath.

Meanings of Rings on Different Fingers

Greece, Rome, and Egypt may have started the tradition of the wedding ring, for example, but it evolved and became quite the grand affair as the centuries rolled forward, and the world saw empires rise and fall. Renaissance rings are especially ornate and are a recommended viewing at the Met Museum.

The meaning of the ring as one wears it on each finger differs greatly, depending on who you ask. There are many facets to consider, including:

  • Culture
  • History
  • Religion
  • Gender
  • Relationship status
  • Personal preferences

The latter on this list is especially important because an individual might not be aware of the connotation of wearing a ring a certain way in a certain part of the world or may choose to ignore the norm. As such, it makes it hard to infer what the wearer is trying to convey with the way she wears her rings (or he, of course, and we’ll get into the gender differences, as well).

Furthermore, what the ring may mean on the right hand differs from that of the left. It is all quite interesting!

When it comes to the right-hand rings, there are no rules, for the most part, and women in the Western World are rather enjoying spending their cash on incredibly beautiful pieces they can truly enjoy. No matter which finger it’s worn on, the right-hand ring symbolizes a woman’s independence, dating to the 1920s and the women’s rights movements. As such, alongside the financial independence large rings on the right hand symbolize, it can be seen as one denoting a fun and flamboyant nature.

Meanings of Rings on Fingers: Little Pink Finger Ring Symbolism

Most opt to wear clunky rings on the dominant hand, especially when it comes to men and their show of power over others. The right hand is considered the “action” hand, while the left is the “thinking” hand. Low-profile metal bands often remain on the right hand, while complex pieces with jewels grace the left.

Meanings of Rings on the Pinky (Little) Finger

The little finger is one of the least ring-adorned you will find across the globe, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t see any ornamentation at all. It is the forgotten finger oftentimes, and it has a tendency not to disturb the wearing of a ring on the rest of the digits. However, here are a few points to consider for the left pinky:  

  • Regardless of the hand, wearing a ring on your pinky means you are the negotiator of the group, symbolizing intuition, communication, quick wit, and intelligence. It often also encompasses a good memory.
  • Wearing it on your pinky means you are a self-confident individual. If it is often your preference, many believe it might point toward you being an eloquent speaker, as well as a persuasive, resourceful individual.

Astrologically, the little finger is connected with the planet Mercury.

The pinky looks best when adorned in rings with moonstone, amber, or citrine.

Left Pinky Finger

  • Marital Meaning: Of all the things a pinky ring could mean, marital status is not one that pops into mind. However, there was a time when a man would wear at least one if not two rings on his pinky to mark the end of his bachelorhood. One would be a signet ring. It seems to have been common practice in the 19th century but has since fallen into disuse and all but forgotten.
  • Criminal Meaning: Wearing a pinky ring on either hand often denotes you as a member of a mafia and organized crime. While it may not be common knowledge, shows like The Sopranos really drummed the information into our minds.

Outside of all this, many simply wear it as a pretty accessory. It is small and thin, and pretty bands truly bring out the finger’s tiny grace. Despite its size, it is a finger that can command attention when wearing the right clothing, and a lovely circlet around it would just do the trick.

Symbolism of Rings on Fingers

Right Pinky Finger

Now, with all this about the left, we’ve neglected to mention the right pinky. Here, a ring on a man, especially, symbolizes a professional status. Engineers, for example, have rings given upon graduation. Many esteemed disciplines offer this as a sign of professional prominence, and the jewelry is made of iron, stainless steel, or gold. Any metal can be used, really, but these are most common.

Pulling in from Chinese philosophy, we can say that those who wear their rings on their right pinky fingers are good at understanding others and accepting differing ideas.

Meanings of Rings on the Ring Finger

The name of the finger says it all. This was the one designated for rings from a long time ago and continues to be the finger that proves one’s worth, in a way.

In certain countries, a married man is considered successful and stable, with greater prospects than a bachelor, especially an older one. A married woman, however, can be considered more of a burden on the workplace, depending on which part of the world one lives in.

Astrologically, the ring finger is associated with the moon, beauty, and creativity, though it is also in connection with the god Apollo, as well. In Chinese philosophy, the left ring finger is the yin, the female, while the right is the yang, the male. The former can sometimes refer to widowhood, while the latter exults one as teacher and problem-solver.

The ring finger is best complemented with moonstones, jade, amethyst, sapphire, and turquoise stones.

Left Ring Finger

The meaning of a ring on the right hand vs. the left hand differs greatly. To the Western world, the left ring finger is where one can find out about another’s relationship status. If you are legally married, you would have a wedding band on the left ring finger. The reason for this?

Romans believed that your blood runs through the vein here, connecting it to the heart. Of course, that also plays into the notion of the heart being the seat of the love emotion, a heart that looks very different from its anatomical counterpart. Nevertheless, it is quite romantic.

Men often wear the wedding band here, but women will carry a promise or engagement ring as well, stacked with the wedding band closest to the heart.

Meanings of Rings on Fingers: Ring Finger Ring Symbolism

Funny enough, chastity rings symbolizing a person’s abstinence vow are also worn on this finger and can only be used by one who has never taken part in sexual activities. Some religious groups wear this ring to mean that they abstain not only from intercourse itself but from displays of affection and sometimes from even developing romantic emotions at all. It is a purity ring in this form and these days often has such words as “love waits” or “purity” engraved on the band.

Right Ring Finger

The right ring finger is not as well-loved as the left, but for many cultures, it still symbolizes a relationship. For many, a single band is used for both engagement and marriage. It normally will start off on the left but move to the right ring finger in countries such as Germany, Russia, and India.

Women in Brazil, Lebanon, and Syria do the opposite, moving from right to left. In China, the bride wears her wedding ring on her right hand, as referred to as the working hand, to signify she is now in charge of the household, while the groom wears it on his left. The meanings are much the same in the West for the right-hand rings as the left, just lesser used.

Eternity rings on the right ring finger are a common sight these days, often purchased for ten or fifteen-year anniversaries or when a child is born to the woman with the ring. While often having been worn in between the engagement and wedding rings, many opt to wear it on the right hand now instead. It is certainly more comfortable that way, and the look is much easier on the eyes.

Meanings of Rings on the Middle Finger

The middle finger is a sign of flipping one off in some countries, while it has absolutely no meaning other than to be a pretty ornamented digit in others. For those not in a relationship with anyone but themselves, a ring on the middle finger can be empowering while also staving off unwanted questions.

There are few explicit meanings attached to this finger, so you can simply enjoy and beautify. Left or right hand, male or female, makes little difference when it comes to this one.

Astronomically, the middle finger is connected with the planet Saturn and represents balance in all things. Chinese philosophy states one with a ring on this finger is a good decision-maker of high class.

The middle finger looks best in rings with rose quartz, coral, or aquamarine.

Meanings of Rings on Fingers: Middle Finger Ring Symbolism

Meanings of Rings on the Index Finger

Rings on the index finger are a symbol of authority. It shows off one’s confidence while also pushing them forward as a candidate for leadership.

The left index finger holds a ring that queens once wore for their subjects to kiss.

Rings on the right index finger sometimes have the same meaning as one on the left ring finger. Jewish brides often wear their wedding bands here, a plain yellow gold piece given before the ceremony. She may or may not switch it over to her left ring finger afterward.

Often, rings on the index finger, be it left or right, on a male or female, symbolize familial love. Signets, crests, and family or clan ornamentation can often be worn here as a show of power as well as proof of belonging to certain people. Of course, this might be mistaken for a pompous attitude, as well, so beware of the consequences.

Astronomically, the index finger is associated with Jupiter and symbolizes certain peace and status. In Chinese philosophy, this finger signifies tenacity, which, incidentally, is a good thing for a leader to have. It also could mean obedience and humility, the latter of which would be much appreciated by many.

The best rings for the index finger have lapis lazuli, amethyst, or blue topaz stones.

Meanings of Rings on Fingers: Index Finger Ring Symbolism

Meanings of Rings on the Thumb

Assertive and bold people will add rings to their thumbs. It may be short and thick, but a band around this finger feels good, no matter who you may be. There are no relationship inferences here.

In Ancient Greece, men with rings on their left thumbs were often known as strong and dignified individuals. For women, it symbolized her tenacity and willpower, as well as self-assertion. Confidence, really, for both genders. These days, a woman with a ring on her thumb, in general, is often seen as more masculine in traits and associated with hot-tempered mule-headedness.

When it comes to Chinese philosophy, the left thumb is the yin, while the right is the yang, the former referring to an individual’s assertiveness and the latter to a flexible and adaptable nature. While the rest of the fingers are associated with Greek gods, the thumb is sorely left out.

Best rings for thumbs are made with carnelian, garnets, or ruby stones.

Meanings of Rings on Fingers: Thumb Ring Symbolism

Tips for Wearing Rings in General

Rings look good on your fingers. We know it as well as you. The reasons for wearing them may not match societal norms, but that makes the ornamentation no less divine when done right.

Whether you’re married or with a promise of marriage, enjoy a long-standing friendship or have quite a traceably old family to put on display, wearing rings only adds to your look. Most will wear it just because. We always recommend you do the same.

Tips for Wearing Rings in General

Here are some tips for wearing rings best:

  • Your fingers should be looking their best. This means a perfect manicure with your cuticles well cared for, and possibly a gel or SNS dip powder option instead of regular lacquer.
  • If you are short in stature, avoid chunky rings with oversized embellishments. It does little to complement your hands.
  • When in doubt, pick the oval-shaped designs. They complement all finger types and elongate the look of those digits, just as certain nail colors can make it seem like your nails are indeed longer.
  • Do not stack multiple rings on multiple fingers. You don’t need to have one on all ten. That is too much and likely to have you pegged as strange or demonic, even. Perhaps a vengeful angel ready to send your soul to Hell? Who knows? Ten rings on ten fingers is simply a fashion faux-pas. If you simply must stack rings on multiple fingers, do so with class, matching colors and designs. It is recommended to keep things matching with your earrings and necklace, as well, for added aesthetic continuity.
  • Chunky or big rings on the middle finger are prone to interfering with its functions and flexibility. Stick to smaller rings there.

At the end of the day, you will wear your rings to your own tastes, on whichever fingers you please. While many of these ring meanings are widely accepted, most countries have no strict rules concerning these, and you can freely enjoy any ring on any finger. You aren’t wearing the rings for everyone else, after all, or are you?

Photos via Instagram