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Ring fingers and their meanings

4th August 2015
BlogEducationWedding

When people think about ring fingers, they tend to believe that just one carries any meaning. After all, the one in question is usually referred to as the “ring finger”.

But did you know that every finger on your hand carries it’s own meaning? You use them every day for numerous tasks, but it’s highly unlikely that you ever give the finger meanings a second’s thought. Why would you? They’re tools that are designed to help us through life, give us access to things that make us happy and ensure we receive a pay check at the end of the month.

To most adults, the ring finger is the one on which you place the most important piece of jewellery. It’s a symbol of ever-lasting love and full commitment to another person. As finger meanings go, it’s the ultimate.

Or is it? In today’s post, we’re going to explore each finger’s meaning, and consider the type of ring you should wear on them. We’ll even uncover some truths about rings that might just surprise you, including why the wedding ring finger in the UK isn’t necessarily the final word in ring placement or finger meanings.

Rings aren’t for everyone, but you may just stumble across something special below which will tempt you to designate at least one ring finger.

Little Finger

little-finger-ring-size

The first, and perhaps most culturally significant meaning attached to the little finger is its ties to organised crime. In many mafia movies – and TV shows like the Sopranos – the ring signifying ties to the mythical mobster ‘family’ was worn on the little finger of the left hand. But, thankfully, its meaning extends far beyond that these days!

The little finger is one of the ring fingers that is great for accessorising. Very few fingers demand attention – regardless of any rings placed upon them – than the little finger. That means the ring itself needn’t be big, as it will draw the eye just by having a presence on the finger. This makes it ideal for simple, subtle rings.

Ring Finger

ring-finger

As this finger has the most clearly-defined meaning attached to it, we’ll instead look at two frequently asked questions. The first regards the engagement ring. From proposal to wedding day, it sits on the ring finger on the left hand, but obviously it has to be moved somewhere when you are accepting your wedding ring at the ceremony. At that point, it can either be removed, or relocated to the ring finger on the right hand. After the wedding, you can either leave it on the right hand, or move it back to the left (just make sure the wedding band goes on first, as it has to be kept closest to the heart).

The wedding ring finger in the UK has always been dealt with in this way, but another question you may have is “why do some people wear their wedding ring on the right hand?”.

This is largely a cultural matter. In the UK, USA and most of the wedding ring-wearing world (Jewish and Muslim cultures don’t mandate a ring), the ring does indeed go on the left hand. But in a good portion of European countries, including Denmark, Germany, Poland, Russia and Spain, the ring is worn on the right hand. It all depends on national and religious traditions, but the designated wedding ring finger in the UK certainly isn’t the last word in ring placement.

Middle Finger

middle-finger

The middle finger is usually used to balance out the hand. After all, a hand with rings on all the other fingers except for the middle finger would look odd, wouldn’t it? As it sits in the middle, it is also a good finger on which to place a non-symbolic ring (finger meanings don’t always have to be explicit, after all!).

But in this instance, we’ll use the middle finger to segue neatly into the astronomical meanings tied to each finger. All four fingers on the hand (sorry, thumb – you’re not part of this!) are linked to a ‘ruling’ or ‘guiding’ planet. The index is linked to Jupiter, symbolising power. The ring finger is linked to the sun, and obviously has ties to relationships. The little finger has ties to mercury, relating it to intelligence. And the middle finger is aligned with Saturn, which represents balance, justice and responsibility.

This link calls for “soothing” stones to be used on the rings themselves, such as aquamarine, coral or rose quartz. As Saturn has ties to strong metals, it’s also one of the ring fingers that is suitable for plain steel rings. Though, if you ask us, surely Saturn should be linked to the ring finger? Alas, we didn’t make the rules!

Index Finger

index-finger

To return to the astrological meanings for a moment, the index finger is linked to the power of Jupiter. It is perhaps fitting, then, that this part of the hand has often been the resting place for finger meanings denoting status.

Typically, the index finger is where you will find family crests and signet rings. Anyone familiar with the media’s portrayal of Kings and Queens will remember that the ring extended for ‘kissing’ often resides on the index finger. While we don’t recommend doing this in the 21st century, the index finger is still an ideal place for a family-centric ring.

Thumb

thumb

Ah, the poor old thumb. Of all the fingers (not that it can technically be referred to as that, but we feel a bit sorry for it in this context), there isn’t really any cultural significant that can be placed on the thumb when it comes to the business of rings and their meanings. This is likely due to its ‘odd one out’ nature, both in terms of shape and the position it occupies on the hand.

There were originally some ties to wealth for those that chose to place a ring on their thumb. The reason? Anyone who could afford to wear such a ring on such an unusual part of the hand was traditionally quite well-off. Quite why is anyone’s guess, although it would be fair to assume that it had something to do with the amount of metal required to comfortably surround what is traditionally a rather chunky part of the hand (relatively speaking).

In modern society, the thumb plays a similar role to that of the little finger when it comes to rings. So unlikely is the sight of a ring on such a part of the hand, that it demands attention. Think about it – when was the last time you saw a ring on someone’s thumb?

So, if the meaning you want to apply to your thumb is eye-catching razzmatazz, and the ability to create a talking point when you first meet people, you can do a lot worse than add a quirky thumb ring to it.

GIA International Gemoological Institute HRD Antwerp National Association of Jewellers