Gemology 101: Okay, class, our topic for today is Pinky Rings, and not just any pinky ring, but specifically pinky rings for men! Does anybody know anything about that? (no hands go up). Oh, c’mon, somebody must know why men wear pinky rings! (still no response) You’re kidding! Okay, how ’bout this? – if you’re wearing a pinky ring, please raise your hand (one young woman raises her hand, flashes her pinky ring) Oh great, I mean men!
Well, if you’re intent on learning about pinky rings and why men wear them, that’s about the response you’ll get most of the time, at least if jewelers in the South Bay area of Los Angeles are any indication. At Riviera Jewelers in Redondo Beach, where Sam Hamouszian makes fine hand-made jewelry for his customers, the question doesn’t get answered. “I’ve made rings for men, may be a couple to fit the pinky,” says Hamouzian, but I never ask why the pinky, and I have no idea about that.” Hamouzian did recall a pinky ring he made a while back, “a flat-top with nine round diamonds set in 14 carat gold,” that sold for around $750. Although he doesn’t display rings for men, he did retrieve one from his work area that he said was considering downsizing to fit his own pinky. It was a Masonic Lodge signet ring, very handsome with its silver symbol of the compass and square set in blue enamel. “It’s an estate piece, valued at about $575,” he added.
At the larger Finley’s Jewelers in the Riviera Village part of town, there was just one men’s ring on display, albeit another handsome piece featuring a black onyx stone set in 10 carat gold, but not designed to be worn exclusively on the pinky. Resident gemologist David Hall’s only comment on pinky rings was that he associated them with “Chicago gangsters of the 30s.” This view of rings-on-the-little-finger as being merely a fashion accessory of a somewhat gaudy and antiquated nature, was shared by a salesperson at “23rd Street Jewelers” in Manhattan Beach, who remarked, “I see them as ‘old school,’ we don’t have any demand for them here.”
However, further investigation reveals that there are indeed opinions in this matter, and they are more diverse and far-ranging than one might reasonably expect, views that jewelers themselves may be out of touch with. One internet maven describes the meaning of wearing rings on each of the five fingers, and her description of what it means when the pinky is the preferred abode is quite interesting: “Relationships – rings on the little finger represent confidence in personal and business relationships. It’s a symbol of strength and bonding toward others, and also expresses the wearer’s attitude toward themselves and their own attractiveness.” Who knew? And by the way, this same ‘expert’ defines rings worn on the middle finger as being associated with “our purpose in life…as this finger is the longest and in the center of the hand, it represents personal identity and those things that are most important to us.” It happens that this reporter wears a ring on his middle finger of considerable symbolic importance to him and, yes, central to his purpose in life, so this finger-fashionista may indeed have a bead on which digit means what when it comes to wearing rings.
Another commentator on this esoteric subject opines that when a man wears a ring on his pinky it means that “he has lost his partner in life.” Yet another believes that a pinky ring is “dainty, and a sign of “gayness,”” an opinion which is not uncommon. But others note that a pinky ring can also have masculine associations such as the signet rings of fraternities and secret societies like the Skull and Bones of Yale University. Another exclusive pinky ring is the iron ring of the Professional Engineer, a dark gray band that signifies that the wearer is a certified professional engineer whose work is of the highest quality.
And despite the dearth of pinky rings at the aforementioned jewelers, a glance at dealers online shows that there is definitely a market for men’s pinky rings, usually of the gold with diamonds or cubic zirconias variety running from under $100 up to several thousand dollars. A “hip-hop” design features round 3.00 ct black diamonds in a prong 10k gold setting priced at $789.
So if we’ve learned anything meaningful about pinky rings for men, it’s that the man makes the ring, and not the other way around.
Written by Alan Ruskin
Alan Ruskin is a journalist and occasional filmmaker in Los Angeles. He is originally from New York City where he attended Columbia University, earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English and Film, respectively. His goal is to contribute artistically to a better world.