Ring Fit: Twelve Finger Tips from a Professional Jeweler

The Perfect Fit: A Myth

You can stop reading here if you are looking for a guarantee: When it comes to rings—and a lot of other things—there’s no such thing as a perfect fit.

Day-to-day, minute-to-minute changes can be caused by hormone fluctuations, a high-salt Mexican meal, a little Greek food, something from the Taco Treat, a late night, a few margaritas, or the high humidity of a summer night. "Uh oh—my ring won’t come off!"

For many women, a "good fit" means "comfortable most of the time." There are days when rings are too tight and days when they’re a little loose.

Typical Ring Sizer

Not the best sizers—see how they weigh down the finger? Better to use individual sizers. Also, read below for tips about the width of sizers.
Not the best sizers—see how they weigh down the finger? Better to use individual sizers. Also, read below for tips about the width of sizers.

Twelve Sizing Tips

How do you know you have a good fit? I was a professional jeweler for over two decades. Read on for my 12 tips.

1. Get a Professional Sizing

Get your finger professionally sized. That doesn’t mean running into a jewelry store with a plastic sizer and an untrained sales clerk. It means dealing with an experienced professional. Still, mistakes are made.

Sometimes people are difficult to size and we have to try again. Sometimes a person’s weight changes, or the season changes (a ring size in Montana in February isn’t exactly the same as it is in August). Sometimes a custom shank (the part of the ring that goes around your finger) fits differently.

Know what a good size looks and feels like: Rings should go on with relative ease and come off with a little difficulty.

Try on a few, and you'll get the idea. My studio was in Montana, and I told my clients, "You should be able to see a little bit of Montana between your finger and the ring when it's on your finger." Some jewelers say you should be able to fit a toothpick between the finger and the ring, but I think fit issues are too individual for that specific rule.

2. Do It Again—With Someone Else

If you are anticipating wearing a valuable ring for years to come, it’s worth getting sized more than once by several different jewelers.

3. Get Sized After Lunch, Before Dinner

The best time of day to be sized is from mid- to late-afternoon, when most people’s fingers tend to be at their largest stable size of the day.

4. Width Matters

Use the correct type and width of sizers. Metal sizers are more reliable than plastic. Sizers attached to a huge heavy metal circle with other sizers are less reliable than individual sizers. And if your size is between a 6 and 6 1/2, by all means ask for a 6 1/4.

Remember the axiom: The wider the ring, the tighter the fit.

If you are considering a wide ring, use a wide sizer or have your jewelry professional compensate for the tighter fit when the ring is ordered or made.

This gorgeous custom ring from Big Sky Gold was "extra wide."
This gorgeous custom ring from Big Sky Gold was "extra wide."

5. Is There a Mandrel Nearby?

A mandrel is the tool a goldsmith uses to create rings of a desired size. It's a tapered tube with marking showing where the width of the tube corresponds with specific ring sizes.

Have your jeweler cross reference the sizer that fits your finger with a nearby mandrel while you are there. I've seen some sizers that disagree with my mandrels. Ask your jeweler if he uses the same mandrel his goldsmith uses (or the same brand).

6. Thin Silver Rings Stretch

Silver is notorious for stretching. Buy a ring that fits, but, especially if the shank is narrow, understand that you might need to have the ring sized at a later date—and if there are special finishes, they can be very difficult to replicate.

7. The Tension Mounts

Rings that are truly tension set are not sizable, since the precious metal is "work hardened." If the ring needs to be sized, the heat that’s needed for the process will destroy the integrity of the tension setting.

If you must have a tension set ring, then do not ever gain or lose too much weight. Never jam a finger playing basketball—or accept the reality that your custom-made ring is not a "forever" purchase. At some point, you might want to re-set your center, add a support ring under the center stone, or convert the ring into a "channel setting" if possible.

These classic solitaires from Stephen Kretchmer Designs are tension set. Note the absence of a base under the gemstone.
These classic solitaires from Stephen Kretchmer Designs are tension set. Note the absence of a base under the gemstone.

8. Eternity Is Forever

Eternity rings should stay the same size for... an eternity.

What’s an eternity ring? It’s a ring with a design that’s endless—it goes all the way around the ring. These rings are very difficult to re-size. Beyond very narrow tolerances, they are often impossible to size without a loss in the aesthetic (a "line" that slices eternity).

See how tough it would be to size an eternity band?
See how tough it would be to size an eternity band?

9. Ask If a Ring Is Easily Sizeable Before You Buy

Some rings have design features that are not conducive to re-sizing. Two-tone rings and rings of non-traditional alloys (such as ceramic steel) are sold by size and are generally non-sizeable, and "invisible-set" rings can only be slightly adjusted by very skilled professionals if (and only if) they are very well made and the size change is very slight (usually one size).

Because of these potential issues down the road, be sure to ask if a ring is sizable before you buy. Then pretend you need the job done. Ask if they'll size it for you, and how much they'll charge. If the seller says the ring is sizeable, have them write it on the receipt so you have some ammo later if the jeweler fumbles and pales at the idea of sizing the ring.

10. Do You Have "Tipi Fingers" or Enlarged Knuckles?

Some fingers are a pain to size. Rings should barely fit over your knuckles so that they don't fall off, but if the base of your fingers are the same size as or much thinner than your knuckles, you run into problems.

If you have "tipi fingers" (with small or non-prominent knuckles), rings have to be quite snug.

If you have arthritic or enlarged knuckles, you'll find that rings that fit over your knuckles are too loose on the base of your finger. There are options for you, too. At Big Sky Gold, we offer a US-made double-snap shank for enlarged knuckles. It snaps open so you can bypass the knuckle altogether, then snap it securely closed around the base of your finger. Clients rave about it (sometimes after they breathe into a paper bag after hearing the price—it ain't cheap, but it's a great solution for a ring you love and want to wear for years).

11. A Little Slip or Sleight of Hand?

Don’t wear a ring that's too loose or too tight!

A poorly fit ring is more likely to fall off or to be removed and left behind. It's worth the time and trouble to have your ring professionally fitted and to check the ring and the fit at least once a year.

12. When All Else Fails

Over the past couple of decades I've had a client or two who just won't wear a ring. May I suggest the tattoo parlor a few blocks down the street?

No worries about fit there. Just hold still...

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Comments 2 comments

ha 3 months ago

the hand with the tattoo has a great pinky nail... i wonder why it's longer than the others?

Charlotte 6 weeks ago

i think you need to say something about h0w to make the ring smaller with you own hands

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