The origins of the pinky ring date can be traced back to 3,500 BC in Mesopotamia (now Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey and Syria), where illiterate businessmen wore a personalised seal around their necks to help them authorise and approve important documents. Eventually, the Ancient Egyptians adopted this signature system, improving on it by turning the pendants into rings for easy access. More practical than fashionable, these small 'signet rings' became integral parts of the day-to-day ongoings in society. Fast forward to the Middle Ages, with silversmithing and stone carving advancements, signet rings became a symbol of wealth among the more affluent members of society. They would have their rings set with precious gemstones to further demonstrate their wealth and social status.
Historically, signet rings were the most prominently worn piece of jewellery amongst men. Queen Victoria's sons were responsible for making them popular amongst the British nobility in the 19th century. After seeing the German trend of stacking wedding bands and signet rings on the left pinky finger, all four of the Monarchs' sons brought this tradition to London, where the trend rippled across the upper classes and British aristocracy. They remain a favoured piece in the United Kingdom today. Many young men are seen sporting a 14 or 18k gold ring engraved with their family crest on their left pinky finger.
Today, with the easing of social constructs and formalities becoming more relaxed, the fashion of wearing a ring on one's little finger is no longer limited to demonstrating social class or heritage. Instead, wearing a ring on your little finger, or the colloquially termed 'pinky ring', has become a way to express personal style, character and mood. Men and women from all walks of life can be seen sporting them. However, the trend has become particularly popular amongst male artists. From Academy Award-winning actors such as Chris Pine to musicians Harry Styles, Nick Jonas and Bruno Mars, pinky rings can be seen in their daily outfits all over social media platforms.
To keep up with the demand for this must-have accessory, designers worldwide are getting creative. Household name brands such as Tiffany & Co. have released 18k gold signet ring collections, while independent jewellers such as Glenn Spiro, Carbon & Hyde and Roxanne First are amping up their edge with custom pieces decorated with gemstones and textured metals.
Some of our favourites? Foundrae’s yellow gold and ruby Forever and Always a Pair pinky ring is the perfect warm colour pop for everyday wear. For an edgy reinterpretation of the classic men’s signet ring, try Theo Fennell’s oval carnelian signet ring. However, for a real Couture look, we recommend choosing a ring that is gemstone centric. Nour by Jahan’s pink ruby, diamond and titanium pinky ring is the perfect piece of high jewellery, as is Carbon & Hyde’s white gold Bling pinky ring.
Contemporary jewellery designer Ashley Zhang has been making pinky rings for her clients for years. Based in the heart of New York City, the California native moved to the Big Apple to study fashion design at Parsons, developing a passion for fine jewellery towards the end of her degree. In her own words: "I think pinky rings are a fun style and slight nod to menswear and unisex style that we are seeing in fashion right now. These rings are often either a signet or a chunkier style ring."