Men’s Rings – A Brief History
For thousands of years, men have worn rings to signify wealth and status. They are also worn as an outward symbol of who you are – a commitment to an undertaking or as an allegiance to, or being part of, a particular person, family, religion, group or club.
As humans we like to ‘belong’ and we feel proud to belong to a particular group we have an affinity with, are part of or believe in. Designs on jewellery, and in particular men’s rings, were a good way to show outwardly who we are.
Originating in heraldry, this included wearing a family crest or emblem, a symbol of a particular side in an army, a religious group (like the Masonic design).
This continues, even today, with mens rings signifying a particular college, club or society that someone belongs to. Often symbols were placed on Signet rings.
But, over the years, rings became less about symbolism and more about fashion. Most men, these days, wear a ring because it looks good and feels good to wear it. Just like the clothes you wear, the jewellery you wear, including a ring, is a statement about yourself to the world.
So what type of rings are available for men today?
That’s something we get asked all the time, and the answer has to depend on the type of man and the occasion, but there are ring’s available for all men.
A lot of men, having not worn a ring before, simply don’t know where to start when they look for a ring.
There is actually a huge range of rings available for men and it’s a growing trend, at least with our customers.
Hopefully, this blog will answer some of the questions you may have had about men’s rings and how and which finger to wear them.
What's the Occassion?
The obvious question to ask is, is the ring going to signify a wedding? In which case, your ring will probably be a band of some sort.
You don’t need to have a special occasion to wear a ring, of course but a wedding band symbolises marriage and is an outward display that you are in a deeply committed relationship.
You may be signifying a club you belong to? In which case, a signet ring may be more the style. College rings were just that – a signet ring with the college arms or markings on the head of the ring.
Do you want your initials or monogram on a ring? Again a signet ring is perfect for this – indeed this is the reason signet rings were invented, as a personal seal.
Some veterans wear a ring to symbolise what service or branch they served in.
A special birthday for a son could be marked with a sovereign or half-sovereign ring, using the coin released on the specific year of birth.
Some family rings which have been inherited carry huge meaning and symbolism and, understandably, there can be a great deal of sentiment attached to such rings.
The style of a man’s ring can often be found by looking at the occasion. But it also depends on your own personal style.
A celtic band and a ring with a skull and crossbones are likely to be worn by different people.
Start looking at some designs to see what you get drawn to. Do you like stones? Or do you prefer a more minimalist look?
Different Metals in Men's Rings
The Materials Used
Do you prefer yellow gold or a white metal? Or even something coloured or with weight like tungsten?
Does it need to be hard and scratch-resistant? Platinum, palladium, steel, silver and tungsten will be better than gold for this.
Platinum is a beautiful metal. Platinum rings look good and are heavy and hard-wearing. It is an expensive metal compared to silver or steel but will last a lifetime.
A white metal much like platinum, it is harder-wearing than white gold and doesn’t need to be rhodium-plated. It was always more cost-effection than white gold and platinum but, partly due to the demand outstripping supply, the price has shot up in recent times and it is on a par with platinum.
Much more cost-effective than gold, sterling silver rings are available in a huge range of styles, there is generally something for everyone.
Argentium Silver, a relatively new discovery, is known as a purer silver than Sterling Silver which everyone knows and loves and is available in may men’s bands and signet rings.
Traditionally men’s rings were mainly made in gold. From bands to signet rings gold looks good, lasts well and can be worn every day with little upkeep. The gold chosen can be yellow, white or rose gold.
White gold looks good but will need to be re-rhodium plated over time which some men can find annoying to do.
Very hard-wearing, stainless steel is a stain-resistant alloy of steel and chromium with little to no upkeep. Steel is normally for the more fashion conscious man and available, again, in a huge selection of styles.
Stainless Steel is relatively inert and so good for those who find they may have allergies to other metals and need a hypoallergenic metal.
A fairly new addition to being used in jewellery this metal is incredibly strong but also very lightweight. With a colour like silver or steel, it can also be coloured. A titanium ring will suit the more fashion-conscious man.
A titanium ring for a man is a great choice for someone who already has a titanium watch (also chosen for the lightness, strength and good looks).
A relatively new kid to the block, men’s tungsten carbide rings are just beautiful. They are often referred to as just tungsten. The look and feel of a tungsten ring can bowl a man over – they are weighty and smooth and very tactile.
Tungsten is incredibly hard – it is the hardest material used to create jewellery – so hard in fact that you can’t engrave or resize tungsten rings, so do remove your tungsten ring if you feel you are putting on weight and it is getting a little tight.
Tungsten rings won’t mark or dent but tungsten can be brittle so you wouldn’t want to knock it hard.
Tungsten has a slightly dark grey look but they can and are often coloured, giving a huge range of styles and colours to choose from.
They are also incredibly tactile pieces and very weighty. Once you feel a tungsten ring you will find it is such a satisfying thing to hold. Again and again, we find men fall in love with tungsten rings and are quite surprised when we place one in their hand to feel the weight of it, particularly in comparison to a men’s titanium ring.
Another incredible bonus of tungsten is the price – priced at around £30 – £45 per ring they are fantastic value. They also come in a huge range of styles.
If you decide to have stones in your ring the choice of gemstones are numerous – from diamond to a birthstone or just choose a stone with a colour you love.
You can go for one central stone or a band set with one or more stones – again think about your lifestyle and whether it is really ‘you’.
The choice is yours – go with what you really love as you will look at it every day you wear it.
To a large extent, you must think about your lifestyle. We wouldn’t advise a builder to go for a stone set signet ring on his pinky finger, for instance.
Think about the material – will a heavier ring annoy you, will you feel it in your work where it may get in the way?
If you are not used to wearing a ring, it will feel a little strange to begin with, but you will soon get used to it.
As already mentioned men’s bands are popular not just for wedding rings. There are many variations on a band – court shape, flat, bevelled edges, two colours, brushed, polished, set with stones and so on.
Signet rings have a long history and have remained popular. A Signet ring was one of the first rings ever created and was initially used as ‘seals’ and stamps of proof of ownership.
Originating from the Latin “Signum” meaning ‘sign’, a signet ring was used to press the face or ‘head’ of the ring into a hot wax seal. The head of the ring had been engraved with the family crest.
As mentioned in The Gentlemans Gazette blog, a signet ring was even mentioned in The Old Testament of The Bible “…and the king sealed it with his own signet”. Later they were used to press into the wax sealed on documents and envelopes.
Often they would have the family crest, coat of arms or monogram as a sign of their ownership and was a surefire way of guaranteeing against forgery, particularly as most couldn’t write in medieval times.
A monogram is a symbol made by overlapping two or more initials or marks. They are often used by combining someone’s initials or a company’s logo. They are perfect on signet rings
This tradition continues and initials are still often engraved on signet rings. Other signet rings are engraved with varying patterns. They are also available with a selection of gemstones set into the head of the ring.
Engraving can wear over time, particularly if you inherit a ring, but this can be re-engraved.
Signet rings come in a number of different shaped heads including oval, cushion (square) and round.
Whether you have Celtic roots or not, in our experience, men seem to love the Celtic style of ring.
Maybe it boils down to the design -they are a little bit more interesting than a plain band with plenty of heritage and meaning behind them.
Men seem to like these Spinning rings, although the fashion for them has died down a little bit.
They are great for those who like to fiddle or play with their ring and can be great stress busters.
On Which Finger Should You Wear A Ring?
There are no ‘rules’ about what finger to wear a ring on, although there are norms that have existed for hundreds of years.
The most notable being the ‘ring’ finger (the fourth finger of the left hand) which was believed to have a vein that led straight to the heart, hence used as the finger on which to place a wedding ring.
In most cultures, this finger was often reserved for a wedding ring (some wear it on the right hand). Bishops were noted as far back as 600 AD to wear a Bishops Ring on the ring finger of their right hand, signifying their marriage to the church.
Women tend to wear thumb rings more than men but that could be because you need quite a big size to get the ring over the knuckle of the thumb.
It was common in the Middle Ages for a man to wear a ring on the index finger – often indicating his status and wealth. Many old portraits show a signet ring being worn on this finger.
The small (pinky) finger was also a favoured place to wear a ring in years gone by. Signet rings are still regularly worn on this finger – Prince Charles famously wears a signet ring on his small finger.
We are finding that men nowadays are also using the index finger and pinky finger to wear a ring. They look good and don’t get in the way.
You need to ensure that wearing a ring, particularly a larger, heavier ring, on a middle finger will not impact too much on your index or ring fingers when you grip things.
You also need to consider your finger size. If you have very large fingers, you may find it difficult to find a ring to fit. We have rings in stock going up to size Z+ 3 and gold, silver, platinum and palladium rings can always be resized to be made bigger.
Getting the Size Ring
The very best way to find out what size ring you are is to go into a jewellers and try some on.
Failing that, try a ring sizing tool like these – little plastic “belts’ which indicate which size you are. We sell them, which are refundable against a future ring order. Always try the ring sizer on at different times of day, as your fingers do vary in size a little bit, particularly if you’re cold or hot.
Also consider the width of the ring, a wider band will mean you may need to go up half or even a full size, compared to a narrower ring which will sit in the smaller part of your finger.
Consider Your Other Jewellery
You may want to think about the other jewellery you wear when you choose your ring – a watch or a necklace chain, for instance.
If you wear a watch, what colour is it? A gold coloured watch may suit a ring with gold in it. Or a contrast may look good so try a two-tone option.
Consider the Size of Your Hands.
You may also want to think about the size of your hands – big chunky rings may suit larger hands but will look out of place on smaller hands. It’s easy to attracted to a ring which looks great on someone else, but a different style may suit you.
To Sum Up
There probably hasn’t been a better time for any man to wear a ring – the choice available is huge, with a wide range of materials and styles, to suit all budgets.
We’d encourage you to go into a jewellers and try a few rings on, it is surprising how different the same ring will look on different hands. You will often fall in love with a ring you would have passed by previously.