To get the maximum pleasure out of wearing your favourite ring, it is important that it fits you correctly.
This may seem like stating the obvious, but we are continually astounded by two facts.
First, the average Briton wears their rings about two sizes too large, our theory for this is that it's easier for shops to send customers out with their ring slightly too large than it is to try to pinpoint the size and risk having to resize it up. For obvious reasons, customers are happier with a ring which is a size or two too large than one which is even a half size too small.
It follows from the above that most people who think they know their finger size, don't.
Many people seem to worry that having a ring size adjusted is going to be a major life threatening event. Either they are going to "lose some gold" by having it sized down, or the shank will become thinner if they have it sized up.
Having a ring adjusted to your correct finger size need not be a traumatic event.
Adding Gold or Stretching?
Another question we are frequently asked is about whether it is better to add gold to a ring or to stretch it.
Each case can be different. For a new wedding ring, it is usually better to "tap" or stretch it up, whether it is being increased only fractionally or a considerable number of sizes. This applies especially if the ring has been "engineered" from a blank, rather than cast.
For a gem ring, it is usually better to add an extra piece of gold, unless the size is being adjusted upward only slightly. In fact the correct way to carry out a sizing is to add or remove gold to make a finger size fractionally too small, and then make the final adjustment by "tapping" up to the correct fit. The "tapping" is done by hammering.
Won't This Leave A Join?
But not many people realise that most mass produced rings are made to a standard finger size, and then cut and soldered to a variety of sizes. Even some custom made rings are often made to a "stock" size, and then adjusted later.
How Do I Get My Correct Size?
Most jewellers use a set of plain metal finger size rings. This is the best way to measure your finger size. Cardboard or plastic devices are not sufficiently accurate.
We believe that the best way to find your correct size is to start with a size that slides easily onto the finger. Then progressively try smaller sizes until you find one which will not go on. Your correct size will be about half to one full size larger.
This assumes that the ring you wish to wear is about the same width as the sizing ring, and also depends whether it is a plain solid hoop. If it has a hollow head, you may find that you can wear a smaller size. In general a wider ring may need to be slightly larger, and a narrow ring may need to be slightly smaller. It also depends on your basic finger shape.
The Three Basic Finger Shapes
At Chard, we have formed a theory that there are three basic finger shapes.
Expressed rather indelicately, these could be called fat, medium, and thin, perhaps we should call them well-built, typical, and slim.
A typical or medium finger shape is one where the knuckle joint is slightly larger than the fleshy part above it where the ring is worn. In this case, the ring should be a close fit over the knuckle, but feel comfortable to wear once it is in place. With a little luck, the ring will not tend to slip around the finger, even in the case of large or heavy rings. Owners of medium finger shapes are fortunate!
The owners of well-built fingers will find that the fleshy part of their finger is larger than the knuckle joint. Perhaps we should call these people "small-boned". In this case, obviously the ring will slide over the knuckle easily, but there is a slight danger that the ring could slip off. To avoid this, it is better if the ring fits slightly more tightly on the flesh than for people with "medium" fingers. It may be worth a short period of slight discomfort with a new ring to ensure a snug fit ever after, as the flesh under the ring will usually adjust slightly to the ring.
The people who often have the greatest problem with getting a perfect ring fit, are those with slim fingers, where once the ring is squeezed over the knuckle, it is too slack on the finger, and spins round. For this problem, we have developed a "trick" which a number of other jewellers also use. We adjust the finger size so that it is a few sizes too large, we then add two "bars" across the inside back of the shank. If the top of the ring is considered as 12 o'clock, then the bars are added at about 4 and 8 o'clock. This hardly ever fails to work, although it has to be done by trial and error, as there is no simple scientific way to gauge the "correct" finger size. On average, we expect to take two attempts to get this right.
I Want To Buy A Surprise Gift - What About Guessing The Size?
This is an extremely common question.
Our usual advice is to take the ring in its existing size, present it, and then take or bring the lucky owner into a jeweller's to have their finger measured properly, and the ring adjusted accurately. We advise this for two reasons. In the knowledge that most guesses are wrong, and also that, although adjusting the finger size does not normally harm the ring, there is no point sizing it twice rather than once.
Leading Edge or Centre
Some jeweller's believe in measuring standard width rings by the "leading edge", but broader rings by the measurement at the centre. We believe this is inconsistent and illogical. We always specify our finger sizes by "leading edge" rather than "middle". It is often necessary to specify broad rings in a slightly larger finger size than for thinner rings.
Can the Gold be Added Back?
If a ring is going down in size, occasionally people ask can the gold that is removed be "added back". Without melting it down and remaking the ring, this is not possible. The amount of gold "lost" is usually very small, and in any case it is in the form of swarf, filings and dust which may be contaminated by metal from other jobs, broken saw blades etc. Re-using any form of scrap gold without refining is usually inviting quality control problems.
What About Ordering a Ring By Mail Order?
What is the best policy about getting the correct finger size when ordering by mail or over the internet?
We believe it is worthwhile to visit a good local jeweller, and offer to pay to have your finger size measured. If it costs a few pounds or dollars, it can be worthwhile. You should now be in a position to order the correct size by mail.
Alternatively, if the ring is made in a stock size (we aim to make our stock rings two to three sizes bigger than average), order the ring in the stock size, and have it sized locally. This should not cost an arm and a leg, and will often be better than trying to guess the size remotely, and sending the ring to and fro in the post.
Obviously, if the stock size happens to be a perfect fit, that would be ideal, but following on from what we say above, if the ring is just slightly tight, it should be possible to "tap" it up fractionally.
International Size Scales
We get asked about finger size conversions quite frequently, and we have never seen a chart which lists British, European, Japanese, and American systems side by side, so we created our own!
Unfortunately, the International Ring Sizes page of our website will not format correctly as an eBay Guide, as we cannot use HTML tags to format it neatly into a table. If we manage to find a work-around for this problem, we will add a separate guide.
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This guide has been contributed by Lawrence Chard of Chard Coins. Any opinions are our own. Please contact us if you notice any errors or omissions on this page.
We hope you find this guide interesting and informative.