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Wearing Your Wedding Ring on Your Little Finger

Early last week Jonathan Yeo’s portrait of HM King Charles III was unveiled and social media exploded with mixed emotions and comments.

Some loved the symbolism embedded in the piece, whilst others couldn’t get past how red it is.

The portrait - above - has the majority of the King fade dramatically into the background of the image with only his head and hands clearly visible. Something the artist says allows the viewer to see the person rather than the uniform.

What is particularly interesting is the inclusion of the King’s rings that he wears on his left little finger.

One of those rings is the Prince of Wales signet ring that he’s worn since the 1970s. This ring was gifted to him by his uncle, Prince Edward, the Duke of Windsor and dates back over 175-years.

The other ring is the King’s wedding band.

As is traditional with the royal family, this ring is made from Welsh Clogau gold and was gifted to him by Camilla on their wedding day in 2005. What might be surprising to some is that the King wears his wedding ring stacked with his signet ring on his left pinky. Something his brother, Prince Edward, Earl of Sussex, also does. As did Prince Albert, Edward VII, and Franklin D Roosevelt.

But why?

Quite simply, this is the way a man traditionally wears his wedding ring. It fell out of favour when the wearing of signet rings became less fashionable and men only wore the one wedding band.

However, dating back to at least the Romans, it was thought a man had a direct connection from his left little finger to his heart. And therefore the ring he wore closest to the knuckle of that finger - closest to his heart - was the symbol of the person he held dearest.

By the time of the Victorians men had started stacking their signet rings with a wedding band.

These days most men wear their wedding rings on the ring finger and depending on which country you’re from that can be either the left or right hand. However, there is the beginnings of a revival of the pinky finger wedding band tradition.

However, in an age of increased equality many men are starting to look for an engagement ring to symbolise their commitment to their betrothed, and the signet ring worn on the left pinky has started to fill that void very well whilst also retaining an air of traditional masculinity. Then, once married, they stack their signet ring with a wedding band.

The style of the wedding band can either be the usual shape, as it is with the King, or it might be shaped to fit around the signet ring.

If opting for a traditional shape wedding band the ring usually sits slightly under the signet ring. But if the wedding band has been shaped to fit with the signet ring it sits alongside it.

The signet ring would traditionally be the wearer’s family crest; however, more recently it could bear they symbol of a prestigious school, fraternal organisation, or society the wearer is a member of.

Since we’re talking pinky rings: The wearing of a ring on the right little finger is generally a symbol of the wearer’s status or an accomplishment.

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