A ring is a round band usually made of metal or some other materials. Rings are worn as decorative pieces or ornamental jewelry.
Throughout history, rings had different meaning and symbolism attributed to them.
Rings can be worn not only on fingers, but on the other parts of the body, such as ears, neck, arms, toes, in which case, they are called earrings, neck rings, toe rings and arm rings.
They are worn to fit the body part, especially if they are worn around the finger.
Rings can be made of different materials, such as wood, metal, glass, stone, gemstones, plastic, etc.
They can be a combination of materials, such as metal and gemstones. They can be made of precious metals and real gemstones, or from non-precious metals and imitation gemstones or glass.
Rings could be worn only for aesthetic reasons, or to display someone’s status and wealth, but they can have various symbolic meanings as well.
For example, rings have a great importance when it comes to romantic commitments and marriage vows, and they can be worn as engagement rings or as wedding rings.
These rings display the person’s devotion to their partner and spouse and the desire for their union to be a lasting one.
Some people wear rings to display their high status or authority. Rings can also be worn to display someone’s achievements, or their membership in some organization. They can also be a sport insignia.
Rings can also be seal or signet rings, where the ring is impressed in wax to display the image engraved on the seal. There are also rings with compartments where some tiny things can be concealed.
Rings have an important place in mythology and fiction because of the special powers and meanings that are often attributed to them.
The history of rings dates way back in time. Finger rings have been discovered in the Near East from the 2500 BC. The Hittites used different rings, among others signet rings
The ancient Egyptians also used rings since the early phases of their civilization and many of them are discovered by archeologists and are on display in museums all across the world.
The Egyptians used a combination of precious metals such as gold in combination with precious stones, such as lapis lazuli, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and similar stones to make their rings.
The ancient Egyptians often used the scarab beetle symbol for their jewelry, especially their rings. Rings were more common during the middle kingdom period. They also used faience as a material to make their rings.
The ancient Greeks made rings which were influenced by the Egyptian ring style. They often made their rings from silver and bronze because they didn’t have resources of local gold.
During time they shifted from bronze to mainly silver and gold as materials to produce their jewelry, especially rings. The ancient Romans began making more sophisticated rings in the third and fourth centuries AD.
In the middle ages in Europe, it was fashionable to wear multiple rings on both hands and wear them on each finger as well. During these times, rings were usually made of cooper based alloys, gold or silver.
The use of gems begun after 1150s when people started believing that some gems had certain protective and helpful powers for the wearer.
Also, engraved rings were produced and the engravings had different content.
Some of them had a romantic message and were given as a token of love to the significant one. During these times, and especially after the 13th century, signet rings were very much in use for signing contracts and other important documents.
Ring fingers need to fit perfectly on the finger, otherwise they cannot be worn. There are several ring size charts, used in different parts of the world. Also, a general ISO standard determines the size of the ring by measuring the inner circumference in millimeters.
Today, ring fingers and other kinds of rings are commonly accepted and worn by both men and women, as in ancient times. They can be a fashion statement or they can have a special symbolic or other meaning to the wearer.
Another thing important to mention about rings is the symbolism particular finger that the person chooses to wear their ring or rings.
Namely, every finger has a special meaning when a ring is worn on them.
These meanings stem from religious, cultural, and sometimes astrological influences. The symbolism can be quite amazing.
Different meaning and symbolism of rings worn on different fingers
Wearing a ring on the Index Finger
Wearing a ring on the index finger was considered a power symbol since ancient times. Kings and queens used to wear rings usually on their left index fingers.
That was a sign of leadership and authority. It also represented family.
This finger was a ring to wear signet rings. In the Jewish culture, the future bride can wear a ring on her right index finger, but after she marries, she should switch the ring on the left index finger.
Wearing a ring on the Middle Finger
Wearing a ring on the middle finger also has a special meaning. The middle finger is considered in palmistry as a finger which symbolizes life balance, responsibility, and beauty.
For the Chinese, this finger was considered a sign of autonomy of the person and freedom to make their decisions.
In some interpretations, it is accepted that men and women can attribute their own meaning and symbolism to the rings on the middle fingers on both hands.
Wearing a ring on the Fourth or so-called Ring finger
During time, the fourth finger became the custom place to wear the wedding ring. That custom was established during World War II as a norm.
Depending on the country the ring could be worn on the left or the right hand.
The origin of this custom is possibly related to an old belief that the ring finger on the left hand is connected to the heart by a vein which runs straight to the heart. It was referred to as the vein of love.
The idea gain its roots in the 16th and 17th century in England, but it can be tied back to the ancient Romans and Egyptians who believed that a nerve was linking that finger to the person’s heart.
The ring finger is related to relationships in many cultures, especially on the left hand because it is connected to the heart.
The Western cultures usually wear their ring fingers on their left hands, but in some other cultures, like Russia, India, Germany, etc. these rings are worn on the right hand.
Wearing a ring on the Little (or the Pinky) finger
To wear a ring on the smallest finger has different meanings in different cultures. Pinky rings were worn as a sign of someone’s education and profession.
During the Victorian era in England, single men and women who were uninterested in pursuing marriage wore rings on their little fingers of the left hand.
In US pinky rings were associated with criminals. Family signet rings are often worn on the pinky finger.
Wearing a ring on the Thumb finger meaning and symbolism
Thumb rings were a piece of equipment used in archery since ancient times. They were used as a protection for the thumb during archery.
These rings were usually made of leather or wood, but they are also made of bone, ivory, metal, plastic, glass, or ceramics.
The ring fits the end of the thumb resting at the outer edge of the outer joint. The rings were used to protect the thumb from injuries caused by drawing the string to release the arrow.
Today these thumb rings are used by archers in Asia and some parts of Africa. These rings have been used in Asia since Neolithic times.
The first ones were made of leather, but the ones found were made of stone, horn, or bone. Many of the found rings are made of gemstones such as jade.
The use of rings for the thumb finger as jewelry and as a personal statement dates way back in time.
In ancient Greece and other ancient societies, wearing thumb rings was reserved for the most powerful individuals in the society, both men and women, who used it to show their dignity and strength.
The thumb ring signified the person’s status and rank in society, especially for men. The most powerful men wore the heaviest and most ornate rings.
These days, thumb rings are related to masculine energy and willpower, and wearing a ring on this finger, describes the person as assertive and bold. This is a sign of confidence and is often a fashion statement.
The thumb ring also indicates the independence and individuality of the person wearing it.
The size of the ring can describe the amount of freedom and independence that person desires to express.
The hand where this ring is worn is also important and has its own symbolism. When the thumb ring is worn on the left hand that fact describes the person as more emotional, prone to retrieving to their inner world, and closed off.
Wearing the thumb ring on the right hand describes the person as very self-conscious and logical. This person usually has an open and easy going personality.
The thumb ring also symbolizes courage and faith, and the person wearing it should be considered brave and confident about their abilities. This person is usually perceived as creative as well.
The thumb ring can also be a sign of someone’s sexual orientation. People who have a homosexual orientation tend to wear thumb rings to declare themselves as such, as well as to reveal their current relationship status.
If they wear the ring on their left thumb that reveals that they are in a relationship, and if they wear it on their right thumb that declares them as currently single.
Sometimes wearing a ring on the thumb finger can reveal that the person doesn’t pay attention to social norms. That can describe the person’s confidence and individuality and sometimes it could be a sign of their complete ignorance.
In some cases, people just enjoy wearing more than one ring, and the thumb ring is especially convenient because it prevents the rings to tear against one another, when worn side by side.
In some cases, people wear more than one ring, as well a ring on their thumb fingers to express their wealth. Sometimes they wear them for fashion reasons.
As with other rings, thumb rings should be properly fitted for the person’s hand, otherwise it would not be possible to wear them.
Because it is not a common thing to wear a thumb ring these days, wearing it in most occasions would be considered strange and uncommon.
It could possibly have a negative effect on how the person is being perceived by others.
It is especially unwise to wear a thumb ring on important meetings or job interviews because it might take the attention off the person’s true qualities and cause a negative image about the person in people who tend to have prejudices about such things.