Like most men’s fashion accoutrements, the line that divides something fashionable from something over-the-top and douche-y is so thin, it’s almost invisible. The classic example is the fedora: Most guys who wear one do so thinking it’ll help them look like Indiana Jones. Instead, they more often come across like a middle-aged improv comedian (it doesn’t help that they’re not wearing fedoras anyway, most are actually mistakenly wearing a trilby).
The same calculus applies to men’s rings. If you’re here, reading this, let me assure you I’ve been where you are now: Ring-curious. I’d even posit that I know why you’re Googling men’s rings at 2 a.m.: My guess is that you saw a friend, stranger or a Pinterest page where a guy was wearing a ring or three or 10, and you thought to yourself, “…could I be that guy???”
The answer is, probably! In fact, per Real Men Real Style, the only thing standing in between you and the slightly more “Italian mobster” version of you, is a silly bit of aristocratic history and an old, class-based tradition that men of wealth, especially British and European aristocrats and royalty, “don’t wear decorative jewelry.” But the British and European aristocrats also were notoriously inbred, so take from that what you will.
Still, if you’re ring curious, it’s fairly important to understand that although the men’s ring oeuvre is made up of many different styles, there’s really just two major categories of men’s rings. The first is the standard wedding band style, sometimes but not always carved with designs. The second is the pinky ring style, also referred to as a signet ring, which as we’ve previously reported hails from Mesopotamia, and was typically designed as a family coat of arms. They don’t have to be worn on the pinky, either.
According to men’s fashion expert Rayne Parvis, when it comes to choosing the right ring for you, she always thinks about how it relates back to your personal style. “Are you more classic, creative, edgy or boho?” she asks. “If you’re classic, go for a simple silver or stainless steel ring with barely-there designs, like beveled edges, similar to a men’s wedding ring.” But, she says, if you’re feeling more adventurous, “Search for signet rings with different colored stones that will make more of a statement.”
These are the sort of rings that can often be found in antique shops, flea markets or vintage stores. Skull rings, she says, are fine too, but Parvis recommends “rings that have precious stones like turquoise in them.” “Whatever you do, don’t wear so many rings that they look like brass knuckles,” she warns.
But even then, a fleet of rings can work if you match them correctly. Especially, if like GQ special projects editor Mark Anthony Green, you accumulate your ring armada over time. “Kind of like tattoos, one lead to two,” he writes. “Two lead to four. And now I wear six to eight rings every day.”
Ultimately, choosing which type of ring and how many is a decision that doesn’t lend itself to any sort of one-size-fits-all calculation. In other words, don’t force it, but don’t be afraid to test different combinations. It may feel uncomfortable at first — such is the plight of a man trying out a new statement piece — but run with it. In time, you’ll find that the best rings have a funny way of finding you.