TheCoolist is a mood board for your headspace.

    The Hidden Symbolism of Rings and Fingers
  1. TheCoolist
  2. Accessories

The Hidden Symbolism of Rings and Fingers

The meaning of wearing a ring can change depending on the finger the ring is worn on. The ring finger is the fourth digit from the thumb on the human hand and the most common finger for rings. Ring fingers are historically symbolic of marital or relationship status, but the chosen hand depends upon the culture or custom.

With the one exception of putting a wedding band on your left ring finger, most people don’t know or care about the meaning of where they don their rings. Modern pop culture calls for finding the biggest bling you can and slapping it onto whatever finger it fits best. While ring placement may appear random, you could accidentally be sending someone the wrong message, or miss important symbolism behind ring finger placement. By learning how rings can be used and what ring fingers mean, you can open up a world of information lurking right below the surface.

Ring finger meanings range from superstitions to societal customs and it can be difficult to determine what a ring’s placement means. To break this down, we’re going to go finger by finger and hit the most common mores of various large cultures. Keep reading to discover the hidden symbolism of ring fingers, what it means to wear a ring, and if there is a spiritual meaning of rings on fingers.

Wearing rings In general


Wearing rings symbolizes love, family tradition, wealth, and ornamentation. Though every finger tells a tale depending on where you are in the world wearing rings can be a subtle way to make a big statement. Although rings offer few practical uses, except as a bottle-opener or a makeshift set of brass knuckles, should you be doing a little street brawling, they remain a popular accessory. While rings offer little to no true practical use, the reason for wearing a ring can depend upon personal or cultural choices. For example, rings can be made with a family crest engraved on it and get passed down from each generation.

Wedding rings


Wedding rings are the one cultural use for rings that proliferates through almost every part of the world to show that you are wed to someone, or at the very least in a committed relationship. Each civilization has adopted the practice of exchanging wedding rings, with wide variation in how it is used. For example, wedding rings date back over 5,000 years to the ancient Egyptians who would exchange rings of woven grass and reeds with their intended partner. Additionally, areas of Asia are known for wearing puzzle rings that would fall apart if removed.

Initially, women only wore wedding rings to show they had a husband. However, in the west, men began wearing wedding rings during World War II as a sign of carrying their love with them. Even with the cultural shift following the World Wars, there are many areas where it’s rare for a man to wear a wedding ring. For example, Prince William chooses not to wear a wedding ring. Moreover, parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia are the most common places where men leave wearing wedding rings to their wives.

Wedding rings are almost always worn on the ring finger. In North America, it often goes on the left hand but the left and right are generally irrelevant since it changes from place to place. The rule of thumb is that if a person has a band on their ring finger, it’s best to guess they are married, and you should at least ask for confirmation before you flirt with them.

Left and right hand


The left and right hand have three distinct meanings. Firstly, both the left and right hand equally represent matrimony. Throughout the world, taking someone’s hand in marriage symbolizes the act of joining together. The choice of left or right hand depends on the region the engagement takes place in. Secondly, the left and right hands have spiritual meanings. The right hand represents good intent while the left represents evil intent. For example, the right hand path versus the left hand path. Thirdly, the right hand is the “action” hand while the left is the “thinking” hand. For example, there is an assumption that left handed people are more intelligent.



The pinky finger is the smallest digit of the hand and symbolizes status, dignity, trust, and intuition. Pinky fingers are associated with etiquette because sophisticated people ate without the use of their pinky or index fingers. Additionally, pinky fingers are used to symbolize trust through a pinky promise or swear. Moreover, pinky fingers represent intuition in palmistry and indicate a person’s ability to tap into their instincts. Pinky fingers symbolize the planet Mercury according to astrology and palmistry.

Ring finger


Ring fingers are next to the pinky finger and mean romance, sensuality, and exuberance. The main reason ring fingers are associated with romance and sensuality is because of marital traditions. In fact, the finger gets the nickname ring finger because of its association with wedding rings. Outside of marriage, ring fingers symbolize exuberance in palmistry. The sun rules the ring finger according to astrology and the base of the ring finger is called the mount of the Sun or Apollo.

Middle finger


The middle finger is between the index and ring finger and symbolizes balance and wisdom. The middle finger evenly divides the hand to represent balance on either side. Moreover, the middle finger connects to the wisdom of Saturn in astrology and palmistry. Saturn represents the act of creating boundaries in astrology and the middle finger creates a boundary between the other four fingers.

Index finger


The index finger, or pointer finger, represents authority and assertiveness. Index fingers are used to command others and direct them as needed and as such hold a great deal of power. Additional index finger meanings come from palmistry. The index finger represents a person’s desire and can signify ambition. Jupiter is the ruling planet of the index finger according to palmistry and astrology.



Thumb rings are largely worn to make a statement and to accessorize in many places around the world. In recent years, thumb rings have replaced pinky rings as the place to put a personalized band with your own sense of glamour. Seen as friendly, playful, and unique, an understated thumb loop is the best place to start if you’re adding rings to your look since it has the least major meaning. In astrology, Mars is the ruling planet of the thumb and it symbolizes power.

Do rings on fingers have special meaning?

Yes, rings have special meanings depending on finger placement. Ring placement meaning can have a direct impact on how you present yourself to the public. Rings on fingers are used to convey status and relay messages about a person’s identity or interests. For example, people wear promise rings to tell other people they are in a relationship.

What is the meaning of a ring on the ring finger?

Wearing a ring on your ring finger symbolizes an attachment to another person, an act associated with romance throughout history. For women, rings placed on the ring finger are usually ostentatious with precious stones and diamonds. On men, plain metal bands are usually wedding rings, while anything larger or bearing adornments is a matter of personal taste. However, the meaning of wearing a ring on your finger can change depending on if it is worn on the right or left ring finger.

Right ring finger

Wearing a ring on the right ring finger represents marriage or engagement. Marriage customs hailing from India, Germany, Russia, and other Eastern countries call for engagement or wedding rings to be worn on the right hand.

Left ring finger

Wearing a ring on the left ring finger represents marriage or engagement in other parts of the world. Rings on the left ring finger have come to symbolize marriage throughout the Western world but are falling into favor with younger generations across the world.

What is the meaning of a middle finger ring?

The meaning of a middle finger ring depends on the person wearing the ring. There isn’t a general meaning for a middle finger ring. Middle ring rings are a rare sight due to the placement on the hand. Wearing a ring on the middle finger can impede movement and interfere with fine motor skills. If someone chooses to wear a middle finger ring, it’s likely a personal or aesthetic choice.

What does an index finger ring mean?

Wearing rings on an index finger symbolizes rank in society, wealth, or association with a school or club. Rings placed on the index finger generally have great significance as to status, with many cultures using signets, family crests, or status symbols on this part of their body. Historically, people below a certain aristocratic class weren’t allowed to wear rings on this finger because it was meant to show rank. Some cultures still have this in place, so noticeable rings on this finger often indicate a person who either has high status or wishes they did.

What does a pinky ring symbolize?

The pinky or little finger ring has four main meanings. First, wearing a ring on your pinky finger is a status symbol. For example, ancient Romans wore rings on their pinky fingers to modestly hint at their wealth. Secondly, wearing a pinky ring means you’re honoring tradition. Signet rings are worn on the little finger and include the family crest.

Thirdly, pinky rings serve as an indicator of a person’s sexuality. For example, Oscar Wilde is pictured wearing a pinky ring and was tried for his homosexuality in 1895. The act of wearing a pinky ring to signify sexual orientation remains in fashion. Fourthly, wearing a pinky ring means someone is affiliated with the Mob. Mafia members wore pinky rings in the past to act as payment for their funeral expenses in the event of their death, or as a way to show other Mob members that they were part of the club.

Is there a spiritual meaning of rings on fingers?

Yes, there is a spiritual meaning to rings on fingers. Wearing rings on fingers symbolizes unbreakable unity and infinite love. Rings form a neverending circle and many cultures use rings on fingers to represent the partnership. Additionally, rings on fingers may feature talismans and represent a person’s spiritual beliefs.

How to know which finger to wear a ring on?

There are four ways to know which finger you should wear a ring on.

  • Ring size: The size of a ring can determine which finger you should wear a ring on. If it’s a ring you don’t want to be resized, you can switch fingers until it fits.
  • Culture: The finger you wear a ring on can depend on cultural traditions. For example, adorning either the right or left ring finger with a ring represents love.
  • Superstitions: Some superstitions state that wearing a wedding ring on your ring finger before you’re engaged or married could result in bad luck.
  • Style of ring: Some rings feature design elements that require them to be worn on certain fingers. You will know which finger to wear a ring on by the way the ring is shaped.

What is the significance of 3 rings?

There are three significant meanings of 3 rings. Firstly, 3 rings are often sold in a set. A 3 ring set includes an engagement ring, wedding ring, and wedding band. Secondly, 3 rings are significant in Celtic culture. The three-ring knot represents the earth, ocean, and sky. Thirdly, the 3 rings represent fidelity, love, and friendship. Cartier designed a ring that consisted of three rings woven together that represent the foundations of a successful marriage.

Can you wear 2 rings on one finger?

Yes, you can wear 2 rings on one finger. Many cultures wear the engagement and wedding ring on the same finger. Moreover, many rings are designed to be worn alongside a second or third ring in a set.

What does a black ring on the middle finger mean?

A black ring on the middle finger symbolizes asexuality. Asexuality is a sexual orientation defined by a lack of sexual attraction to others. Wearing a black ring on the middle finger is a way for asexual people to tell others that they aren’t looking for a sexual relationship. However, before assuming a person’s ring placement meaning, you can politely ask if the black ring on their middle finger has a special meaning.

How many rings should a woman wear?

A woman should wear as many rings as she is comfortable wearing. The amount of rings a woman wears depends on her relationship status, occupation, or fashion preferences. For example, a married woman may wear her engagement ring, wedding ring, and other rings to offset the two on her ring finger. Additionally, some women may wear a multitude of rings to events, or the ring design could include a double or two-finger ring. In contrast, some women abstain from wearing too many rings because of physically demanding or dangerous jobs, such as surgeons or electricians.

Can you wear a ring without being married?

Yes, you can wear a ring without being married. There is no rule that bars a person from wearing rings however they want. While certain fingers and hands hold specific meanings depending on the culture or tradition, accessorizing with rings is a personal choice. However, if you choose to wear a ring on your left-hand ring finger, you may be mistaken for married.

Where do widows wear their wedding rings?

Widows wear their wedding rings on the finger or hand they feel most comfortable with. The choice to continue wearing a wedding ring after the loss of a husband is personal and can hold significant meaning to the wearer. If a widow marries again, she may choose to wear her old ring on another finger or hand and wear the new ring on her wedding ring finger. Some widows remove their rings altogether to have as a keepsake or combine their rings with necklaces or other jewelry pieces.

What is the Japanese ring finger?

The Japanese ring finger is the third finger from the thumb on the left hand. In Japan, the ring finger is called the medicine finger. The ring finger is rarely used independently and is seen as the cleanest finger on a hand. Traditional Japanese medicine practices used the ring finger to stir powder medicine because of the belief it was clean.

  1. When I was in college I took a psychology course (I don’t remember which one) and the instructor did that people that wear a ring on every finger was a sign of sexual abuse. I have since tried to look up some information regarding this but have never found any. I still look at everyone’s hands.

  2. Thanks for the information. Answered a couple of nagging questions I had.
    But please do a word search for “rightm” and change it to “right,”

  3. You’ve left out the importance of a black ring on the right hand middle finger, despite using an image of one to illustrate your article. A black ring on that particular finger indicates that the wearer is asexual, or has no attraction to anyone. Also, in some regions, if a woman wears a thumb ring, she may be presumed lesbian or bisexual.