Last Updated on September 29, 2023 by Carla Jonas
Rings have adorned our fingers since the oldest times. They come with their own traditions spanning over thousands of years, they are surrounded by myths and legends, they are emblems of families and backgrounds and they carry personal meaning – all while looking lustrous, fashionable, chic or downright eye-catching. But more than all that, rings celebrate life’s major milestones. From promise rings to engagement rings, knot rings and eternity bands to affirmation rings and wedding bands, rings are far more than just a jewelry piece. And as one of the most popular heirloom pieces, as well as a highly versatile staple accessory, rings have a special place in any jewelry lover’s collection. Next, we’re looking at no less than 36 different types of rings: their design, fun facts from history, meaning and symbolism. Read on for the ultimate guide to ring designs!
Frequently Asked Questions
The most timelessly elegant ring is considered a solitaire ring with a slim band that features a round gemstone set in the center. That includes classic round-cut diamonds, as well as pearls and colored gemstones.
Fashion rings are pieces of jewelry that are worn for style purposes. Many types of rings have purposes that go beyond fashion, such as wedding rings, engagement rings, signet rings or promise rings. In contrast, fashion rings are worn solely with the purpose of expressing personal style, whether as part of formalwear, office outfits or casual ensembles.
The most popular gems for engagement rings include classic colorless Diamonds, colored Diamonds, Sapphires, Emeralds, Morganites, Aquamarine, Moissanites and Pearls. 85% of brides receive a Diamond engagement ring in their proposals.
Fashion rings in style for 2023 include statement rings with a sculptural or chunky design, colored gemstone rings (including birthstone rings) specifically in bezel settings, mermaid-inspired statement pearls (like baroque pearls or mother of pearl) and pinkie finger rings.
36 Different Types of Rings
Diamond rings are graded on 4 factors called the 4Cs: cut, color, clarity and carat weight. Carat weight refers to the size of the diamond, where 1 carat is the equivalent of 200 milligrams. Colors range from D to Z, where D means colorless (most valuable) and Z defines a brown-colored diamond. The cut of the diamond determines its brilliance, while the clarity ranges from flawless to included, depending on the number of imperfections. In the past years, lab grown diamonds have gained significant popularity due to their affordability and sustainability.
FACT: In 2020, global diamond production was estimated at 111.6 million carats. Russia, Botswana and Canada are the leading producers of diamonds worldwide.Click to tweet
One of the earliest recorded instances of pearl rings originates from ancient Egypt around 3000 BCE. They were worn in ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt as a sign of nobility, royalty and high status, evoking prestige and elegance. Throughout history, pearl rings have been reinvented many times and peaked in popularity during Renaissance, Art Nouveau and Art Deco eras. Genuine pearl rings feature cultured Freshwater, South Sea, Tahitian and Akoya pearls. These days, pearl rings come in a wide range of styles, from classic solitaire rings to engagement rings adorned with diamonds, dainty and minimalistic or featuring statement large baroque pearls.
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FACT: During the Art Nouveau era, many pearl rings incorporated organic, off-round shaped pearls in intricate nature-inspired settings. During the Art Deco period, pearl rings featured diamonds and other gems in geometric designs.Click to tweet
Adjustable rings are specifically designed to fit a wide variety of finger sizes. Typically, they present an open ended band or a mechanism that allows the wearer to resize the jewelry piece according to their size. Their main point of attraction is their versatility, since they can be worn on different fingers comfortably. Certain adjustable rings (especially the fine jewelry kind, set in precious settings) feature safety mechanisms, such as loops that can be moved along the band for size adjustments. The vast majority of adjustable rings are made of stainless steel, brass and silver, since these materials are durable and do not allow for ring integrity loss.
Solitaire rings define the ring styles that feature a single stone, usually larger in size, prominent and displayed in the center of the design. Diamond rings are the most popular types of solitaire rings. The most popular options for solitaire ring settings include prong setting, bezel and tension setting. All these make popular choices for engagement rings and have one thing in common – they do not feature additional gemstones, be it small or large, other than the main single gem.
Charms have been used in jewelry since ancient civilizations. Usually worn as protective talismans, charms were often used to guard the wearer from evil spirits or bring good luck. Often times, in Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire, charms were worn as a symbol of one’s religious affiliations. While charms (both fixed and dangling) are not typically incorporated in ring designs, some rings on the market today feature pendants, similar to necklaces or charm bracelets. Motifs range from hearts to celestial bodies, sentimental attachments, letters and other talismans that express milestones or the wearer’s personal interests.
The first documented evidence of an engagement ring originates in the 15th century, when the Archduke Maximilian of Austria offered Mary of Burgundy a gold diamond ring to mark their commitment. Diamonds became even more popular as the top choice for engagement rings when in the 1940s, a highly popular marketing campaign by a mining company had the slogan ‘A diamond is forever’. The successful campaign cemented the association between endless love and diamonds. These days, there are many alternative engagement rings on the market, including gemstone rings, birthstone rings or pearl rings.
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ENGAGEMENT RING SPOTLIGHT
Looking for a truly unique engagement ring? One that conveys love, sincerity and evokes the timeless beauty of the oceans? Discover our selection of Pearl Engagement Rings, adorned with premium cultured pearls in glowing shades ranging from crisp white to gold and dark peacock. Have your pick from Akoya, Tahitian and South Sea pearls, adorned with radiant diamonds and set in lustrous gold settings.
FACT: In a 20202 study by The Knot, it was revealed that the average cost of an engagement ring in the United States was around $5,500.Click to tweet
Statement rings define all types of fashion rings that make a style statement. Meaning, any ring that is impactful, unique, generally large in size and eye-catching is a statement ring, be it sleek, adorned with gemstones, depicting a certain motif (such as celestial bodies, florals, hearts, geometric designs), intricate and ornate or architectural / sculptural. A statement ring has a certain quality that makes it unexpected and unpredictable. Cliché designs and overly-trendy styles don’t qualify as statement rings since the uniqueness factor is secondary.
The Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish token (often an heirloom) that symbolizes love, friendship and loyalty. Its name originates from the 17th century and comes from the village known as a fishing destination: Claddagh in Galway, Ireland. The legend talks about a man called Richard Joyce, who endured many years of trials and tribulations as a slave in Algeria. He mastered the art of goldsmithing and while in captivity, he created the first Claddagh ring, as an emblem of his love left behind. The classic ring design includes 3 elements: heart, crown and two hands, often adorned by Celtic motifs.
As the name suggests, armour (or armor) rings are types of rings inspired by warriors and knights. The design is usually hinged or flexible, allowing for the ring to be worn comfortably on the entire finger, moving in sync with the joints. Other designs cover multiple fingers at the same time, making them an impactful and bold statement piece. Armor rings are crafted from a variety of metals, including durable materials like brass, sterling silver and stainless steel.
Cocktail rings became widely popular during the roaring 1920s, when glamorous ladies incorporated these large, statement rings while attending events and parties. The origin of the name ‘cocktail rings’ is found in the Prohibition era (1920-1933). While the trade and sale of alcoholic beverages was forbidden, the empowered ‘New Women’ expressed their independence by sipping cocktails while exhibiting their statement rings. Cocktail rings were worn on the right hand instead of a wedding ring, another detail meant to suggest independence, power and poise. The trademark feature of the typical cocktail ring is a large, prominent gemstone, often set in intricate or gem-decked metallic finishes.
Interlocking rings are types of rings that feature multiple rings in an intertwined design. They cannot be separated easily without damaging the jewelry piece. The meaning behind these types of rings: unity, friendship, teamwork, love and marriage, as the rings evoke the concept of inseparability. Interlocking rings have different meanings around the world. In Chinese culture, the interlocking system represents the interconnectedness of all things and the wisdom of the Universe. In Celtic culture, interlocking rings were an emblem of eternity.
Dome rings present a convex, 3D construction with sloping sides. The construction of these fashion rings allows for unique light reflections that add to the appeal of the jewelry piece. Slightly futuristic in design, dome rings present height that can be either subtle or dramatic. Dome rings are generally ergonomic in design, allowing for comfortable wear, despite their often large proportions. These types of rings are crafted from a wide range of materials, including stainless steel, gold, silver, acrylic and even wood.
Disconnected / Open Rings
Disconnected or open rings can be traced back to ancient times, when Celtic knotwork designs incorporated open spaces mixed with intertwining patterns in their ring designs. Open rings are often called ‘bypass rings’ – however, the latter ring design features two sides that slightly wrap around the finger, while still not intersecting. Disconnected rings describes the ring styles that feature a larger opening, generally at the front. When the opening is present in the back of the right, the style is usually labeled ‘adjustable rings’.
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Mood rings are interactive types of rings that promise to change color depending on the wearer’s mood. They feature a thermochromic stone (usually liquid crystals) or a conductive material that changes color as a response to different temperature variations. The idea behind mood rings is that each color represents a certain emotional state, from positive to negative. Blue symbolizes calmness, green indicates a balanced emotional state, purple represents creativity, yellow stands for happiness and red for intensity or passion. Mood rings were invented in the 1970s by two New Yorkers who decided to study biofeedback (the process of gaining awareness of various physiological functions of one’s own body by using electronic instruments) in order to deal better with the stress of their jobs.
Birthstone rings are pieces of jewelry that incorporate the birthstone for each month. Each month of the year is associated with one, two or even three birthstones (for example, pearls, moonstone and alexandrite are the June birthstones). These rings incorporate the gemstone centrally in mostly sleek and streamlined metallic constructions. They are a popular personalized gift for a wide variety of occasions, from Valentine’s Day to birthdays, anniversaries and Mother’s Day.
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Bypass rings refer to the asymmetric designs where the band surrounds the finger once then slightly overlaps. These rings can be disconnected or connected, with the former classifying as adjustable rings as well. They often have a sleek band construction, but different elements from fauna or flora are also highly popular (such as rings under the shape of leaves or snakes). They are crafted from a wide range of metals, including silver, stainless steel, platinum and gold. Some include gemstones displayed either centrally or at one or both ends.
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Infinity rings are symbolic rings that represent unity, love and eternal bonds, including friendship and commitment. They feature the infinity sign (a horizontal 8), a continuous loop without a beginning and an end, conveying the endless nature of true bonds. They are a popular token as bridesmaid proposal jewelry, promise rings, platonic and romantic commitment, and often gifted for Mother’s Day, anniversaries or birthdays due to their symbolic nature.
Wedding rings are a symbol of eternal love and commitment between two people. The simple circular shape of the wedding band is a symbol of endless love – and has been seen as such since ancient Egypt. Wedding bands are typically worn on the ring finger (4th) of the left hand, a tradition that originates from the Roman belief that says that the vein of love (vena amoris) was located there. Mens wedding rings fun fact: grooms started wedding bands only during WWII, when soldiers wanted a token to remember their wives back home.
FACT: During Medieval times, people started incorporating precious gems in their wedding rings. Rubies were added to represent passion, sapphires symbolized afterlife and diamonds were sign of strength.Click to tweet
Filigree jewelry has a long history. Archeological finds show that filigree elements were incorporated in jewelry in Greece and Mesopotamia over 5000 years ago. Filigree refers to the technique of manipulating thin metal strips or wire to create ornamental, intricate fashion ring designs through twisting, swirling and creating various motifs and patterns. They are crafted exclusively from metals and take considerable time and skill to complete a piece. The name filigree originates in the Latin words “filum” (thread) and “granum” (grain) that refers to the thin metal strips used to create filigree.
Knot rings represents the unbreakable connection and eternal bond between two people. Knots and love have been associated since the oldest of times and the tradition remains today, together with the expression ‘tying the knot’ meaning getting married. Knots in jewelry were found in ancient Greek jewelry, Egyptian sculptures as well as Celtic adornments. These types of rings are a highly popular gift for the bridal party, used as promise rings or offered on anniversaries.
FUN FACT: The expression ‘tying the knot’ finds its origins in a Celtic tradition that involves a couple tied together with cords to represent the internal bonds they are forging through marriage.Click to tweet
The traditional puzzle ring is made of 2 – 12 interconnected bands. The meaning behind these types of rings is the bond between two people: even if the rings can be taken apart, they become one back again. They are often called ‘Turkish wedding ring’ or ‘harem ring’ and the legend says that the ring prevented married people from committing adultery, since once this wedding band is removed, it’s difficult to put back. In other parts of the world, like Sweden and Finland, these rings are worn by military veterans.
Signet rings come with a long and complex history. They date back from 3500 BCE and they are one of the oldest types of jewelry. These types of rings feature a flat surface that is either engraved or embossed, although plain signet-style rings are also widely available on the market. Their name originates from the Latin ‘signum’, which means ‘sign’. Pharaohs and religious leaders were the first wearers of signet rings, which were marked with various emblems and family crests. Moreover, these types of rings were used as personal seals when authenticating documents. A large number of royals still wear signet rings today – including Prince Charles. Signet rings are typically made entirely of gold and are often adorned with precious gemstones. These types of rings are among the most popular rings for men.
Cameo rings are types of jewelry that feature a 3D carving of a human silhouette (profile), animal, mythological creature or scene. Most cameo rings feature carvings crafted from agate, shell, glass or onyx. The most valuable cameo rings come from the Renaissance era due to their rarity. Both Queen Victoria and Emperor Napoleon Buonaparte were collectors of cameo jewelry pieces. Napoleon even started a school for young cameo carvers. The desire for wearable cameos peaked at the time of the popularization of costume jewelry during the 20th century.
Affirmation rings are pieces of jewelry that include motivational or inspiring words and phrases. Affirmations are aimed at promoting positive thinking and self-empowerment and worn as a reminder of one’s core values and beliefs. Various ring styles can be affirmation rings, but most affirmations are engraved on classic band rings. these types of rings are highly popular for celebrating special milestones and anniversaries, including graduations, Mother’s Day and birthdays.
FUN FACT: During the 18th century, men used to present a ‘posy’ ring, which was a classic gold band inscribed with a verse or phrase. These rings were a sign of friendship and loyalty, or often offered as a memorial ring.Click to tweet
Cluster rings are jewelry pieces that feature a group of corralled gemstones in the center. These gemstones can range from diamonds to pearls and other colored gems. The gems are displayed close together (like a cluster). Due to the high number of gemstones, these fashion rings are statement pieces as they provide a high amount of brilliance and they are often large in size. Some designs include more than one gemstone type, such as pairings like pearls and diamonds, displayed in cluster designs (including ones resembling flowers, stars or other motifs).
Promise rings, also known as commitment rings, are jewelry pieces that symbolize commitment between two people. These types of rings usually precede engagement rings. They are highly popular among younger people and not necessarily romantic, as they can often represent pledges or meaningful commitments of a platonic nature. They vary widely in design. While the romantic promise rings are similar in style to the more formal engagement rings, often featuring daintier gemstones, others feature engravings or meaningful gemstones. Promise rings are worn on the left hand’s ring finger when the person isn’t married or, if the wearer is married: or on the right hand’s ring finger.
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Spinner rings may seem like a modern fidgety type of jewelry, but they actually originate from ancient Tibet. At the time, these jewelry pieces were called ‘worry ring’ and used during meditation, due to their calming effect on the wearer’s mind and body. These types of rings feature a movable band that rotates around an inner band, while the outer bands remain stationary. These days, twirling is still considered a stress reliever and used in aiding anxiety. Spinner rings are crafted from a variety of metals, including sterling silver, stainless steel and tungsten.
Beaded rings are pieces of costume jewelry that feature weaving in bold colors and graphic patterns. The traditional beaded rings feature flat weave one bead netting (or peyote stitch) and seed beads (very tiny). Many designs include ethnic patterns, such as Aztec or floral motifs and bohemian elements. They are highly popular among the younger generation. Typically, the beads are made of plastic, acrylic or glass.
Wrap rings are jewelry pieces that go around the finger in a concentric design. They are generally made out of metals, but can also be made of wire and seed beads or other materials. The band is generally slim and flat, allowing for comfortable wear. They are open rings or disconnected rings, since the two ends do not connect. Some call these types of rings ‘bypass’, even though the bypass style describes rings that go around the finger once and only lap slightly.
Nugget rings are types of rings made entirely out of gold (typically yellow) that feature gold nuggets instead of diamonds or other gemstones. They originate from 1849 (California Gold Rush), when miners began looking for nuggets of gold instead of flakes since those were more valuable. In Alaska, where the old mining industry is significant, couples often opt for nugget designs as their wedding bands and engagement rings. Nugget rings are often associated with wealth, fortune and power, which is why many celebrities and athletes are often sported wearing this specific ring style. These types of fashion rings are some of the more popular rings for men.
FUN FACT: The largest gold nugget ever found in Alaska weighs 20.16 pounds. Its name is the Alaska Centennial Nugget and it was discovered by a gold miner in 1998.Click to tweet
Band rings are types of rings that feature a simple, sleek and minimalistic design without additions and irregularities. The most common use for band rings: wedding rings. Band rings come in various finishes, including classic (high luster), hammered, brushed, inlay or matte. Regarding their construction, bands can be flat, convex or concave. Bands that are fully or partially decked with diamonds yet maintain their symmetrical silhouette are called ‘eternity bands’ – a common wedding band style for women.
Eternity rings or eternity bands are slim rings that are adorned with diamonds or other twinkling gemstones. The gems are displayed symmetrically and they are identical in size. Their name signifies the circle of life and offered as a gift, they evoke commitment and everlasting love. There are different types of eternity bands on the market, including partially and fully paved and channel eternity rings (where the metal setting is more prominently displayed).
Chain rings are, as the name suggests, jewelry pieces that include chain design elements. Contrary to the regular chain found in pendants and bracelets, the chain element in rings is, more often than not, fixed, sturdy and non-flexible. Meaning, the chain is a design choice rather than an element that allows for dangle. However, ring designs that include flexible, malleable chains do exist on the market, although uncommon. Many popular designs emulate the look of Cuban, figaro, cable, snake and curb chain styles.
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Toe rings are pieces of jewelry worn on the toes and similar in design with adjustable or open / disconnected finger rings. Due to the fact that toes are larger at the top and thin out towards the base of the foot, these rings are almost always open and C-shaped to allow for a perfect fit. This means they are adjustable and flexible, which adds to their comfort and versatility. Designs vary from bohemian style pieces to intricate filigree and sleeker styles adorned with gemstones.
Fingernail rings are a rather recent creation. They are worn, as the name suggests, around the fingernail rather than lower on the finger. Their mechanism is usually a wrap ring that goes around the tip of the finger several times, then contours or fully covers the fingernail. Styles are crafted from metals and often adorned with twinkling gemstones. Certain statement pieces feature ultra-long ‘nails’ in their design for an added element of glamour and extra impact.
As their self-explanatory name suggests, multi-layer rings are pieces of jewelry that feature more than one band. These rings are connected, either by metallic fusion or by connective rings. Other styles include the interlocking ring variety, as well as wrap rings. They are larger in size and therefore considered statement rings, often decked with diamonds and other gemstones or in lustrous settings such as gold, platinum or sterling silver.
FACT: The United States is by far the largest consumer of diamond jewelry in the world. The US accounts for approximately 50% of the market share.Click to tweet
The perfect companion for a statement ring? A timeless Pearl Bracelet in tempting shades! From peach and rosy pink to classic whites and iridescent blacks and from silver to golden, our selection of cultured pearl bracelets carries the perfect piece for any jewelry collection, occasion and special milestone. For a complete look, check out our collections of Pearl Earrings and Pearl Necklaces!
Symbols of authority and status. Tokens of religious practices and traditions. Emblems of commitment and love bonds, friendship and communities. Or simple means to express personality in a fashionable, individual way. Rings have been all that throughout history and more.
From statement, if not downright opulent cocktail rings to discreet icons of everlasting bonds and from fidget-like rings (think puzzle and spinner) to affirmation rings, there is a plethora of types of rings on the market today. What is your personal favorite? Let us know in the comment section below!
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