Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
Rings are a pretty classic jewelry piece that everyone knows about. However, not everyone knows the different types of rings and details about them. Not a big deal, though, right?
Well, it can be. You don't want to hand your new fiance a mother's ring instead of an engagement ring, right? Rings can have deeper meanings than something shiny on your finger.
Keep reading to learn more about different ring types, how to tell the difference, and what they mean.
- Anniversary Bands
- Birthstone Ring
- Bridal Set
- Claddagh Ring
- Cluster Ring
- Cocktail Ring
- Contemporary Ring
- Engagement Ring
- Estate Ring
- Eternity Band
- Wedding Band
- Flexible Ring
- Gimmel Ring
- Nugget Ring
- Mother's Ring
- Mood Ring
- Posy Ring
- Promise Ring
- Puzzle Ring
- Signet Ring
- Spinner Ring
- Stack Ring
- Vintage Ring
An anniversary band is a ring given from one spouse to another to celebrate a wedding anniversary. Traditionally diamonds are the preferred stone for an anniversary band. The stones are typically either channel set, meaning set between two vertical metal walls, or three stones set in prongs side by side to represent past, present, and future.
An antique ring is a ring that's at least 100 years old. Rings from the 1920s would just now be gaining the 'antique' title. Look for rings that come from the Georgian Era, Victorian Era, Edwardian Era, or the Art Deco Era to find something guaranteed to be truly antique.
A band ring is typically a plain metal ring with no extra adornments. However, bands with stones, engravings, and other additions are common. A band can be as simple or complex as you like.
Bands also have moved past metal for their base construction. You can purchase bands made of plastic resin for a more artistic look, or you can purchase silicone bands.
Birthstone rings are created from metal and hold a stone or stones to represent either the wearer's birth month or their family's birth months. These are used both for personalized jewelry and for a reminder of each person in the family. There are twelve stones that can be placed in birthstone rings, one for each month.
- January- Garnet
- February- Amethyst
- March- Aquamarine
- April- Diamond
- May- Emerald
- June- Pearl
- July- Ruby
- August- Peridot
- September- Sapphire
- October- Opal
- November- Citrine
- December- Blue Topaz
A bridal set is a set of rings worn by . . . you guessed it! A bride. The set typically includes her engagement ring and her wedding band. These sets can range from a simple solitaire engagement ring with a plain metal band to extravagant rings featuring many stones, diamonds and otherwise. The set of rings shows that the woman wearing them is married as it has both the engagement and wedding rings.
The Claddagh ring has a lot of history behind it. It comes from Ireland where it was used as an engagement or wedding ring during medieval times. The meaning of a Claddagh ring is love, loyalty, and friendship. The heart represents love, the crown loyalty, and the hands, friendship. These rings can be simple metal bands or they can have jewels to decorate the heart, crown, and band.
A cluster ring has a primary stone in the center, usually a diamond, that's then surrounded by a halo of smaller versions of the same stone. In times past the stones were brighter colors, such as an emerald or ruby, but diamonds have made a comeback and taken the center stage in these rings.
Cocktail rings got their name from being a symbol of wealth and power that women wore during the Prohibition Era of the 1920s. These rings are not intended to be worn as an everyday ring. They're more for special events where the dress is elaborate and excessive. Women most commonly wear these rings on the right hand.
A contemporary ring is one that features clean lines, sleek design, and graceful curves. Much like contemporary home design, a minimal approach is taken to the look of this jewelry. Designers prefer to let the more subtle aspects of the ring take center stage rather than making it overly complicated and extravagant.
These rings can feature stones, either one or many, or it can be a plain metal ring. You can find these rings that have arrows engraved on them, rings that wrap around but the two ends do not meet, rings that resemble dolphin tails, or just about anything else you can think of.
An engagement ring is a ring that indicates the wearer is engaged to be married. It represents the agreement between the couple. It's customarily worn on the left ring finger.
Engagement rings come in many different styles, and it can be hard to keep them all straight. Check out this list for different engagement ring designs.
A solitaire ring is a simple metal band with a single stone. The stone can be whatever you like, but traditionally it's a diamond. This style is the classic style of engagement ring that puts the stone on display.
A halo ring features one large stone in the center surrounded by a ring of smaller stones and is similar in style to cluster rings. The smaller stones can either follow the shape of the center stone or they can create a different shape around it. While diamonds are the favorite for engagement rings, you can always choose other stones if you prefer.
A side stone ring is similar to a solitaire in that it has one single stone set in a band, but side stone rings have smaller stones in the band whereas a solitaire is solid. This adds a bit of extra sparkle and glam to what would otherwise be a very simple ring. The stones in the band can either match the center stone for a cohesive look or they can be a different color to make it more playful and exciting.
The three-stone ring is an engagement ring that features three stones. Sounds pretty obvious, right? Much like the past-present-future anniversary bands, these engagement rings hold the promise of being together for a long time. Couples enjoy choosing this type of engagement ring for a little extra meaning beyond agreeing to get married.
A princess-cut engagement ring features a stone that's cut into a square shape and has a pyramid profile. This type of cut creates a brilliant look as it has more facets to allow the stone to catch and reflect more light. This type of cut is very popular as a solitaire or in three-stone rings.
Cushion cut engagement rings feature a stone that's cut into either a square or rectangle with rounded corners that taper down to give the stone a puffy appearance. This type of ring is very popular right now, but it can be hard to find in jewelry stores. Vintage and antique rings can be a good place to look for a cushion-cut, but be mindful of who you are buying from and make sure the ring is worth what you're paying for it.
An estate ring is, in short, any ring that's been worn before. Even if the ring is only a few months old if it's been owned and worn by somebody previously it's classified as an estate. While an estate ring can also be vintage or antique, most jewelers will stop calling it an estate ring once it hits 30 years of age.
Estate rings can also be reproduction rings. Ask the jeweler you're buying from for details on the ring's history when you see it marked 'estate' so you know exactly what you're getting.
An eternity band is a ring that has diamonds set into the band that wrap all the way around to represent eternal love. They are similar to wedding bands, but in a wedding band, you only see the stones wrap halfway rather than all the way around. These most often feature round diamonds but can use other cuts and stones as well. These rings are most often gifted on special occasions such as when a couple has a child or for an anniversary.
The wedding band is a very simple ring. It was traditionally the man's companion to the woman's engagement ring. Simple, round, and solid metal was the only available look. Today women wear wedding bands, too, and designs have gotten more intricate and detailed. The rings with more to them are referred to as wedding rings while the simpler rings are still called bands.
Flexible rings aren't made from solid metal like most rings. Instead, they use flat, intertwined links that can move and flex as you move your finger to make the band of the ring. You can find these rings with either only the bottom half made flexible or the entire band. These rings are good for those that have medical conditions that cause pain and swelling in their fingers as they adjust easily to changes.
A gimmel ring has a band that is made up of 2-3 links that hook together to make a solid circle. These were really fashionable back in Elizabethian England and were known as joint rings during that time. They were used as betrothal rings then, and each person would wear one link until the wedding when they would join them together. For 3 link rings, a witness would hold the 3rd piece until the wedding.
While gimmel rings aren't readily available anymore, here's a print that shows one for you:
Nugget rings are traditionally considered men's jewelry and are made of a gold band with a rough, rocky texture on the top side. The texture is designed to look like gold nuggets and the metal commonly used is, of course, gold. Most of these rings are simple, but some do display gems like diamonds to add some sparkle. These are becoming a popular choice for a man's engagement ring.
The mother's ring is a variation of a birthstone ring that's worn by mothers and grandmothers. These rings represent living and deceased children and grandchildren through their birthstones. These stones can all be set in one band or in stackable bands and can feature just the birthstones or the stones with names engraved beside them.
Mood rings are nifty little things that can display your mood. No, really! These rings have a special type of liquid crystal in the ring that changes color based on the temperature of your finger. Okay, so more like a temperature ring, but still cool, right? These rings can be either a simple band or a band with a stone and can have engravings or designs to boost the look of it.
A posy ring is a simple gold finger ring with an inscription, usually on the inside of the band. These rings were traditionally exchanged between courting couples in 17th century England and France.
Promise rings are given to symbolize commitment in relationships. These rings can sometimes precede an engagement ring, but the 'promise' of a promise ring is not always engagement. It can simply mean the promise to remain faithful during the relationship.
If you want a brainteaser as well as a piece of jewelry, this one is for you. A puzzle ring is made up of interlocking bands that can be taken apart then reassembled if manipulated correctly. The rings can contain 2 or more bands, though commonly six is the most you'll find.
A semi-mount ring is a ring that has all the design and accent stones in place but without the feature stone. This allows you to choose a setting that you love and place a loose stone you already have in it or that you purchase separately.
Signet rings got their start back when most people were illiterate so that they could still sign important paperwork. They morphed into a status symbol of the wealthy and powerful, but today they're still popular for the sense of style they have. These rings are metal bands with the wearer's initials engraved into a flattened spot on the top portion of the ring.
Spinner rings are made of two bands. One is locked in place on your finger while another band layered on top of the first can spin around your finger. These rings are useful for managing anxiety symptoms as well as being fashionable.
A stacking ring is a fun trend right now and a great way to showcase a personal style. Stacking rings come in many designs, but all are thin rings to allow you to place many of them on one finger. You can mix stack rings with other rings such as statement rings for a bold look or just stick with your stack rings for a subtle design.
A vintage ring is similar to an antique ring in that it's older and likely used. However, rings are only considered vintage if they're between 30 and 100 years old. Vintage rings right now are rings that were popular after the 1920s such as:
- Hollywood inspired costume jewelry
- Jacqueline Kennedy inspired jewelry
- and dramatic, bold jewelry