Are pinky rings right for me?

Are pinky rings right for me?

Q. Lois, can you explain to my wife that I should NOT wear a pinky ring? She has her father’s ring that he wore (and I will not mention what field he was in!) and has always suggested it would be a good look for me. I have fought her until now, but she just pulled out the recent attached “Gentleman’s Gazette” blog that supports her argument. (Do not respond if you agree with her.)

A. Good news — at least for you — I am 100% percent on your side. That blog suggests that men’s pinky rings are widely accepted in well-dressed circles. I guess, if those circles are made up of men of shady character, or maybe of song-and-dance show-biz types, then the blog is right. But, for a well-dressed business man or a traditional professional, I cannot think of poorer advice.  

Before you ask, “Says who?” I should point out that most of my answers in this column are not merely my opinion, but rather the most widely-accepted thinking on men’s dress by those who care about clothes and style.  

When it comes to jewelry, avoid most bracelets, chains, and pendants, particularly in any professional setting. (A man can wear that Puka shell necklace he bought on vacation until he gets on the plane returning home). The only pieces that are really considered appropriate for men are a watch, cuff links, a tie clasp, and a wedding or signet ring. And that wedding or signet ring is correctly worn on what is known as “the ring finger,” that is, the third finger, the one next to the pinky finger.

In the 20th century, criminal figures often wore pinky rings to flaunt their wealth and stature. As an example, James Caan wears one while portraying Sonny Corleone in “The Godfather.”  That’s the association nearly everyone has of that fashion choice. I doubt you’ll find a picture of any man we think of as an elegant dresser, such as Daniel Craig, wearing one, even in “show-biz.”

Pinky rings are not the only “no-no” for men’s rings. Another is any ring that includes large, clear, or glittery gems. Opaque stones, such as onyx, mother-of-pearl, and lapis lazuli are fine, but tradition is that diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, and rubies are not thought of as gentlemen’s wear.     

While I mentioned that a signet ring is generally acceptable, so, usually, are most school rings. But I would suggest that a school ring may actually be out-of-place at some firms. It could be thought of as showing off. Notice what the top executives at your firm wear, and be guided by their example.

There are exceptions. I was lecturing at a bankers’ conference in Palm Springs, and was seated at a dinner table with bankers and their spouses. One well-built man was wearing traditional bankers’ garb (navy suit, white shirt, and a smart tie), but something was totally incongruous . . . his mammoth diamond ring. Even more odd, as the evening progressed, men kept coming over to our table, asking for his autograph. I learned he was a famous football star, and the ring was his third Super Bowl ring. Quite appropriate in this setting, and not on his pinkie!                                                                         

In your case, here is my suggestion. If you like the ring enough and think you might enjoy wearing it (just not on your little/pinky finger), have a jeweler make it a bit larger so you can wear it on the ring finger of your right hand. I think your wife will be pleased. 

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