Unlike earrings, bracelets, or necklaces, a ring – particularly one given as a romantic symbol – is designed to stay in place. While some wearers may remove rings to shower or cook, or during other activities that may dirty any stone settings, most simply keep their ring on their finger from day to day. This is particularly true of wedding and engagement rings, which is why getting the initial sizing of the band right is so important.
Fittings for clothing and shoes are typically accomplished with special sizing devices or dressmakers’ tapes, which are flexible ribbons with inch measurements printed on them. However, these standard methods are not functional for measuring the size of the base of your finger. If you’re not sure how to find the ring size for an engagement ring or other band, this helpful ring sizing guide will provide a wealth of useful information. Whatever type of special ring accessory you’re shopping for – from those featuring simulated lab created diamonds to simple metal bands – read on for tips on ring sizing.
Common Methods for Ring Sizing
There are various methods that can be used to measure the size of your finger in order to determine ring sizes for women. Some of the most common methods include:
- The mandrel method: A mandrel is a handheld conical wand used by jewelers to size existing rings. This sizing technique is far more accurate than the string method, but still needs to take band wear, overall band shape, and other factors into account. For this method, the ring is slid over the top of the mandrel, where it falls until the conical base stops it. Measurements are marked at regular intervals on the side, but may offer an “in between” result for half-sizes that are difficult to read.
- The gauge method: Looking similar to a ring of keys, ring gauges are a set of “dummy” rings, typically made of plastic or metal in graduating sizes. Unlike other measuring methods, ring gauges allow the wearer to feel what a new ring in the target size would feel like on the hand. Gauges typically incorporate half-sizes as well as full sizes, and some more comprehensive sets may even offer quarter sizes for better accuracy.
- The string/ribbon method: Simple but often inaccurate, this method involves wrapping a string or ribbon around the finger. Once the proper fit has been achieved with the string, it is removed and laid flat to measure the correct ring size. This method is generally not recommended to size for fine jewelry, as it’s easy to pull the string more snugly than a solid ring band would fit. It’s also easy to lose your place when unwinding the string, which can skew the measurements. If this ring fitting method is the only one available, be sure to perform it several times to determine the average.
The methods outlined above all assume that the individual wearing the ring is either yourself or a loved one that is aware you’re shopping for a ring. However, if you need to be a little more clandestine in your ring-sizing, you have a few options for obtaining the information you need:
- Sizing an existing ring: If you’re able to obtain a ring that you know fits your intended recipient comfortably, you can enlist the help of a local jeweler or use the three previously-discussed sizing methods to determine the correct fit of that ring. A ring mandrel is the best option for this tactic, as other methods require visual “guessing” that can lead to a potentially poor fit.
- Enlisting the help of a friend: While recipients may be suspicious a beautiful gift is forthcoming when their significant other asks about ring size, they may be less guarded about friends or family members asking. If pursuing this route, be sure to emphasize a casual approach to the question. For example, your helper may want to complain about their own ring being too tight or loose, and off-handedly ask the intended recipient what their ring size is to compare.
- Use a “stand-in” ring: While a bit more obvious than other methods, giving a gift or novelty ring before presenting a beautiful piece of fine jewelry like an engagement ring can help at least narrow down the size. Measure the size of the stand-in ring before presenting it and judge your recipient’s reaction to the fit. If they can’t slip it on at all, go up two sizes. If they can slide it on but struggle to slide it off, go up one size. If they immediately express a concern they’ll lose it through gesturing with their hands, go down one size.
Sizing Beyond The Band
Band size is important in finding the perfect ring, of course, but it’s only one of the many dimensions to consider in a potential wedding or engagement ring. In addition to ensuring a comfortable fit around the finger as a whole, here are some other measurements to keep in mind:
- Band Width: Range of motion and flexibility in the hand are important for jobs and everyday tasks. If a ring is too wide, it can impair the ability to comfortably close the fingers into the palm and make wearing it a hassle. Additionally, if a wearer’s fingers are large or tend to swell from medications, exertion, medical conditions, and so on, a band that is too slender can impair circulation. Take cues from the types of rings your recipient currently wears – if they favor a certain style, it indicates it’s comfortable enough for everyday wear.
- Ring Height: Even if the band fit and width are perfect, if the stone in the ring is too high or the setting isn’t smooth, the ring height can still cause issues. Individuals have different needs from their rings – for example, if a woman has long hair, a flush-top stone/setting design may help prevent strands of hair from snagging in the setting edges. Although large stones and over-the-top settings are fun to show off in the short term, remember that your recipient will be living with the ring design every day.
- Ring Material: While not a “fit” in the physical sense, the type of metal used in a ring’s design should also be a good fit for the recipient’s preferences and personal aesthetic. A bright yellow gold band, for example, might not appeal to someone that prefers to wear cooler colors of clothing. It’s important to take note on the recipient’s style and jewelry choices, with a particular emphasis on whether they favor gold, white gold, silver, etc. – or in some cases, if they enjoy “mixing” metals (i.e. sporting both gold and silver tones simultaneously). Additionally, metal sensitivities, though usually not a concern with precious metals, should also be taken into account while shopping for wedding jewelry.
Ring Security: Don’t Lose It!
Once you’ve presented your partner with the ring of her dreams, a few smart steps will ensure that it will always stay where it belongs: on her finger! Here are a few simple tricks to prevent ring discomfort or ring loss:
- Find a Go-To Storage Option. Rings will need to be removed from time to time for a variety of reasons – hygiene upkeep, polishing the ring itself, medical tests, work, and so on. A unique idea to help prevent loss is to give your recipient a matching pendant on a chain to pair with the ring. Whenever she has to remove the ring, she can simply unclasp the necklace and thread it through the ring before clasping it again. This way, her ring will remain safe, while her hands can be free without worry! Alternately, if you and your partner live an active lifestyle and worry about loss in the water or woods, a storage spot can prevent the issue. Give her a beautiful jewelry box or safe and encourage her to leave her precious jewelry at home when traveling in nature or abroad.
- Use Ring Trays. It’s a bit of a cliché, but jewelry lovers can (and do) lose their beloved rings down sink drains. If you don’t opt to go the necklace-pairing route with your gift of a ring, a few well-placed ring trays can also help. One by the kitchen sink, one by the bathroom sink, and one on a bedside table will ensure the ring in question doesn’t end up anywhere odd or hard to remember.
- Size Up If Too Snug. If her ring doesn’t fit as well as it once did, she may be tempted to leave it off to avoid the feeling of pinching or binding. In order to continue wearing your beautiful jewelry, there’s an easy solution! A jeweler can expand the ring with heat and other special processes, enabling resizing for a more comfortable fit.
- Size Down If Too Big. While it’s easier to expand a ring size rather than shrink it, in certain cases jewelers or metalsmiths can snip a portion of the band and re-join it into a smaller size. For a less drastic alteration, small “ring snuggler” attachments can be used. Resembling small tubing with a slit for sliding over the band, these comfortable attachments reduce the free space inside a band for a better fit.
- Guard Against Loss & Theft. No matter how much care is taken to prevent loss, accidents can and do happen. A commonly-voiced regret in losses and burglaries is lack of documentation – without descriptions and images, it can be difficult to track down property.
Take close-up, clear images of your ring from all angles, both on and off your hand. Additionally, remember that personalized inscriptions are one of the best ways to track down a missing ring. Even if it’s simply your initials, customize your wedding or engagement ring for a design that’s both romantic and smart.
My Ring Is Stuck: What Do I Do?
Fingers can swell for many different reasons, from changes in weather to changes in your body based on what you’ve eaten. When a ring becomes uncomfortable due to swelling, the natural inclination is to pull hard until it comes off; however, this isn’t always the best way to remove it (nor the safest). If you find your ring simply won’t budge, don’t panic! Follow these simple steps to remove it quickly and easily.
- Don’t Pull: While it might seem like a burst of force will separate that stubborn ring from your finger, this could make the situation worse by impacting compression. Instead, put your ring-wearing hand above your head. This will prevent more blood from flowing into the constricted area and making the ring even harder to remove.
- Apply Cold: Hold a bag of ice or apply a cold compress to the finger to bring the swelling down further, as the hand is elevated. Alternatively, if no ice is available, you can also run cold water over your hand for a minute before elevating it.
- Get String: Ahead of the ring, wrap your finger with string like a mummy, but not tight enough to cause discomfort or hurt circulation. This will constrict the swelling just before the ring and helps it slide off – once the ring passes over the first loop of string, the string can be unraveled in its wake. Some people who have used this technique swear by dental floss for the trick, while others say that slender ribbons work better. Use whatever you have on hand – no pun intended – to try it out.
- Make Things Slippery: Any skin-safe oil that resists absorption will help loosen a stuck-in-place ring. Use it sparingly, applying with a cotton swab or similar tool just at the edge of the ring juncture. You can always add more if need be, but if too much is added, it becomes difficult to grip the ring or finger.
- Get Help if Necessary: If the ring-wearing finger is becoming discolored, blue, purple, or numb, seek medical help immediately. If the ring needs to be cut off to restore circulation, a jeweler will be able to fix it and add enough size to prevent the issue from happening again. This is thankfully a very rare occurrence, and the vast majority of “stuck” rings can be removed with less drastic methods.
Research Ring Sizing to Create the Perfect Fit
Embarking on the journey of purchasing a piece of fine jewelry such as an engagement ring or wedding band is one full of anticipation and excitement. One of the easiest keys to ensure that the excitement continues for the recipient of the ring as well is to make sure it fits properly. Follow the simple tips and tricks outlined in this guide so that when you slide the ring on her finger, it fits in a way that feels like forever.
*Diamond Nexus strives to provide valuable information, while being clear and honest about our products. The Nexus Diamond™ alternative is a patented lab grown stone that, among all simulants, most closely imitates the look, weight and wear of a mined diamond, with two exceptions – it is absolutely perfect in every way, and it costs significantly less. Price points and environmental facts expressed in this blog were taken from popular online retailers and may vary. Learn more about the environmental impact of mining by visiting out blog: blog.
1 Watkinson, Katie James. “Diamond Ring Shopping 101: How and Where to Buy Engagement Rings.”Brides.com, May 28, 2019, https://www.brides.com/story/engagement-ring-shopping-advice. Accessed July 12, 2019.
2 Ring Size Chart.” BlingJewelry.com, (no publish date), https://www.blingjewelry.com/ring-size-charts-i-5.html. Accessed July 12, 2019.
3 “How To Remove A Stuck Ring Safely.” ASSH.org, (American Society for Surgery of the Hand), (no publish date), https://www.assh.org/handcare/Conditions-and-Injuries/Hand-Safety/Removing-a-Ring. Accessed July 12, 2019.
4 “8 Tips for Engagement Ring Care.” Vogue.com, June 13, 2018, https://www.vogue.com/article/engagement-ring-rules-care-how-to. Accessed July 12, 2019.