Which is the most stylish ring finger for men? The wedding finger? Middle finger? Can you wear a ring on your pinky finger?
If you're reading this, you want answers. Well buddy, you're in luck. You're about to learn more in 5 minutes than 95% of the population knows about rings.
In this article, you'll find what rings mean on different fingers and which you should consider wearing.
Ring Finger Meaning: Is It OK For Men To Wear Rings?
Let's get straight to the point: YES, men can wear rings.
Men's rings can send the message you're not available (married), that you attend the Naval Academy (yes, I see your ring, Annapolis man). Or a message that you're from a culture not afraid to display wealth on the hands (think bling)
Wearing a signature ring is not a statement everyone will get and the ring finger meaning of certain pieces might be lost on the general public.
Like most fashion choices, they're for the people who notice. And being part of the elite club that “gets it” is part of the fun.
So if you're someone who's considering wearing a ring purely for the style of it (rather than just a wedding band), here are a few of the traditional associations for rings on fingers.
First – Right Hand vs. Left Hand
There aren't any steadfast rules about which hand you wear your ring(s) on for the most part. So what do rings on different fingers mean on men's right and left hands?
Engagement and wedding rings are one of the only ring styles that are cultural worn on a specific hand.
For example, most American men will wear their wedding band on their left ring finger. But a man married in an Eastern Orthodox church could end up using the right hand instead. I do this – watch my videos, and you'll see! And engagement rings are rare enough on men already that there is no set tradition.
Some schools or organizations may have rules about how to wear their rings (in which case they'll tell you). But most will leave it up to their members – after all, a lot of what makes a ring right for a certain hand comes down to personal preference.
So for pretty much any ring, don't worry about right-hand vs. left-hand rules. As far as symbolism goes, the right hand represents 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.
Those are based, unsurprisingly, on a right-hander's view of the world. A left-handed man might personally find it appropriate to reverse the whole thing. We're talking about some very general concepts here — don't be afraid to go your way with jewelry.
Finger #1 What Do Rings On Pinky Fingers Mean?
This finger is often the first choice for a man who wants to wear a “statement” ring.
Pinky rings have a couple of advantages. They don't have religious or cultural associations in most cultures (unlike the ring finger). And, like rings on the fourth finger, they don't touch or interfere with the index/pointer finger at all.
It also isolates the ring from your body, making it more of an eye-popping statement. As a result, pinky rings tend to be among the “busiest” or flashiest of designs. It's where you wear things when you want attention paid to them.
People who like astrological or palmistry-related symbolism will associate the little finger with intelligence and persuasion. It represents Mercury, which was (for obvious reasons) related to the element of mercury.
Finger #2 What Do Rings On Ring Fingers Mean?
In the US and much of North & South America, the ring finger is most commonly associated with wedding symbolism. For some men, a band on the right fourth finger indicates engagement, while a band on the left fourth finger indicates marriage.
That said, nearly all men opt for a simple gold or silver band for their wedding/engagement rings. A large ring with a jewel or a three-dimensional design on it is less likely to represent your marital status.
That's not to say that people don't wear some bizarre and artistic things as wedding bands. However, traditionally, a plain metal band or one with minor, same-tone etchings or designs is more common for marital jewelry.
Symbolically, the ring finger is associated with Earth's moon, creativity, and beauty. As well as its apparent associations with romantic relationships. The moon's metal is silver, making silver rings a natural choice for non-wedding-related rings worn on the fourth finger.
Finger #3 What Do Rings On Middle Fingers Mean?
Apart from the obvious hand gesture, the middle finger is your largest, boldest finger.
Rings worn on the middle finger are surprisingly uncommon. This is because it's adjacent to the index finger, and anything bulky can be a hindrance to delicate manual tasks.
In short, it's best to keep things small and simple if you're wearing them on your middle finger.
That said, a lot of first-time ring-wearers might feel more comfortable with the middle finger. Purely because it feels so central, sturdy, and frankly, “manly.”
Because of its central location, the middle finger symbolizes balance and responsibility and is associated with Saturn. Since Saturn's metal is lead, simple gray metals like steel are typical to middle finger choices.
Finger #4 What Do Rings On Index Fingers Mean?
Many men feel uncomfortable wearing an index finger ring. After all, the index finger is probably the most used finger (not counting the thumb) and jewelry can often weigh it down and feel strange.
But here's the thing. A ring worn on the index finger doesn't interfere with movement and dexterity as much as one on the finger next to it would.
Hundreds of years ago, the index finger was the most common location for a man's ring. Generally speaking, a signet or a crest is worn on this finger and, historically, in some parts of Europe, people below a certain rank were forbidden from wearing rings here.
That makes the index finger a good place for things like class rings, fraternal rings, or family and membership crests. Although many men (especially younger, unmarried men) opt for the ring finger out of habit instead.
The astrological association for the pointer finger is Jupiter, which symbolizes power, leadership, and authority. The metal association is tin, a metal that isn't often used in jewelry making. Instead, bright silver tones are standard for the index finger.
Finger #5 What Do Rings On Thumbs Mean?
Thumb rings have a slightly outlandish feel to people from traditional North American culture, but they're reasonably common worldwide.
In most societies, a thumb ring on a man is a sign of wealth or influence, and they tend to be broad or bulky to reflect that (also to fit comfortably on the thumb, of course).
A thumb ring is also often the natural choice for men who want to wear multiple rings on the same hand since it creates distance from the others. A wedding band plus a pinky or middle finger ring can get quite crowded, both visually and physically, whereas a thumb ring gives everything some space.
Thumb gestures are associated with interaction and friendship (think “thumbs up”).
Wear a ring that you want people to like — big and chunky is fine, but nothing incredibly gaudy or expensive-looking.
It's already going to be bigger than most rings, so if the design is extravagant as well, it just becomes this massive anchor dragging your hand down. Keep it bold but simple.
Ring Finger Meaning Q2: How Many Rings Can a Man Wear On His Hand?
What's the maximum number of rings a guy should wear?
It'll depend on the rings. Generally, you won't wear more than one on any given finger, but then you'll run into things like clusters of four or five wire-thin bands that are worn together by design.
But assuming only one ring per finger: two or three spread out across both hands is usually a safe max. Even that's going to be very striking — go too much beyond that, and you risk looking foolish (unless your name's Mr T. of course!)
Often, you're best off with a single bold “statement” ring on one hand and nothing else, or nothing more than a plain wedding/engagement band if it's relevant.
For a handy summary (pun intended!), check out this infographic:
Ring Finger Meaning Q3: Men's Ring Formality
When wearing a suit, it’s important to be mindful of the formality of your rings.
After all, there’s a big difference between the subtle sophistication of a gold wedding band and the rock & roll aesthetic of a diamond-studded skull thumb ring!
When it comes to wearing a ring to the office or a business function, it’s best to stick with classic, simple designs. Plain gold or silver bands are usually the safest option. Rings that feature precious stones should be kept small and tasteful.
Attending a black tie event? Then the only ring you should wear is a wedding band. The only exception here is when the black tie event relates to a specific group, fraternity, or school. When attending a black tie dinner as a Free Mason, then your Masonic pinky ring is a must. Likewise, wearing a school ring is appropriate when attending an alumni event.
Otherwise, it’s best to stick with just one ring for formal occasions – your wedding band.
In more casual settings like parties and barbecues, you’re free to play around with your rings and make bolder statements. Rings featuring intricate designs, statement stones, and interesting shapes are all good options.
Want to learn more about rings and their meanings? Click here to discover the secret world of signet rings.