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Are you aware of the symbolism of your rings? Your rings can reveal many personal details about you. Are you aware of the ring wearing etiquette, the symbolism associated with rings, and the social statement you can make without saying a word?

Types of Symbolism of Rings

The most symbolic of rings today is the engagement and wedding ring as a symbol of love, but some other ring wearing customs will only be noticed by people belonging to the same “elite clubs."

History of Ring Symbolism

Rings date back from ancient history. Throughout history, rings have been used to symbolize devotion, fidelity, commitment, eternity, power and control, deity. The hole in ancient Egyptian rings represented a gateway to an afterlife and immortal love.

Roman men offered their women a simple iron circle called Annulus Pronubus and were the first to have their rings engraved. The Claddagh ring, traditional Irish ring featuring two hands holding a crowned heart, as a symbol of friendship, love, and loyalty, is passed down from family member to family member. But rings also have a practical use, like in Chinese, Manchus, Turks, and Persians cultures where archers' thumb rings protected it from injury by the bowstring.

 Which Finger You Adorn with Rings Is Symbolic

  • A ring on the Thumb also called the willpower finger, emphasizes independence and freedom for persons who do not like to be influenced.
  • A ring on the Index emphasizes your authority, leadership qualities, and ambition. At one point in Europe, only Kings and higher class people could wear a ring on this finger.
  • A ring on the Middle finger, the stronger and balanced finger, will enhance your willpower and ego.
  • A ring on the Ring finger (annular) is associated with affections, creativity, and beauty. It is the custom place for engagement and wedding rings.
  • A ring on the Little finger is associated with intellect, along with an excellent ability to express yourself. It has also long been the custom finger for signet rings.

Left or Right Hand?

Romans believed that the ring finger on the left hand was the only one with a direct vein connected to the heart (“vena amoris”), which is why it has become the traditional finger for wedding rings in many cultures. Even though science proved them wrong later, it remains a very romantic notion.

However, in medieval times, many cultures throughout the world showed aversion for left-handed people (some were even tortured for that!). So how a “cursed” hand could then symbolize lasting love?

In India where the left hand is considered both unclean and lucky, wedding rings are worn on the right. And some northern European countries (Norway, Austria, Denmark, Poland, Germany, Russia, Latvia, Bulgaria, Ukraine), Orthodox Christians and Greeks too customarily wore bands on the right. Nowadays, same-sex couples also often choose to wear their engagement and wedding bands on the right-hand ring finger to differentiate from heterosexual practice. 

In our modern times, the right hand is generally seen as the “physical” hand — the active, dominant one that makes most of your gestures. The left is thought of as the “mental” hand, representing your character and beliefs (and reverse for left-handed people).

 Different Rings for Different Occasions

  • Rings associated with love, from promise ring (for commitment between two people), engagement ring (with diamonds and precious stones), wedding bands, wedding anniversary rings, motherhood rings to eternity ring (to symbolize never-ending love).
  • Birthstone rings, associated with the specific month of a person’s birth.
  • Signet rings or “Gentlemen’s ring” with the family crest, were originally worn as a wax-seal for the purpose of identification and authentication. Nowadays they are passed from one generation to another and are commonly a sign that you belong to a “royal” or aristocratic family.
  • Class rings from graduation or military institutions such as Naval or Marine Academy.
  • Fraternal rings (Freemasons for example)
  • “Cocktail rings”, also known as fashion, cluster, or dinner rings, originated in the 1930s and are usually set with many large, colored imitation gems and smaller faux diamonds, matching your outfits or evening dress.
  • And more unusual rings such as Divorce rings (to help to heal), single rings (worn on the right hand to state “happy single but looking”), the Ah Ring (which stands for “available and happy), or “fake engagement rings” to thwart the advances of pushy guys.

The Unintended Symbolism of Rings

The rings you wear send a signal. When celebrities stop wearing rings on their left hand, it immediately breaks the news in all tabloids! People always notice rings but they may have their own interpretation of what it means (relationship status, sexual preferences, social position…), so be careful about what messages you are sending and make sure your hands aren’t the only focal point! Also, know the story behind your ring if there is one.

No matter the story, your ring has the potential to be a great conversation starter. 

You can check a few rings here: https://belledesoiree.com/collections/rings

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