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Men deserve to have great jewelry. Vintage rings for men are an excellent choice because they are well-made, sturdy, and bold. Newer men's rings are often flimsy and unsubstantial.

A guide to vintage rings for men

A vintage ring is a ring that has been previously owned and is between 20 - 100 years old.

A vintage ring is an investment in something with historical significance. Vintage rings are classic and timeless, and make a wonderful addition to your wardrobe. In this guide you will learn everything you need to know to find the perfect vintage ring.

Why Do Men Wear Rings?

For men, rings send a message; they can signal status, wealth, commitment, or association. They initiate conversations; everyone notices the rings on your fingers, and people will often ask for a story behind the ring. 

There are a few reasons a man chooses to wear a ring; these can include:

  • Cultural or religious, this includes the wedding band.
  • Affiliation to a group, family, or association.
  • Signify family history. 
  • Fashion. 
  • Demonstrate wealth or status. 

Why Buy A Vintage Ring?

mens vintage rings

Vintage rings are one of a kind. No one else will have your ring. They symbolize timelessness and quality. They have a story to tell, the year they were made, the stones that they feature, all add to the history of the ring. 

  • Typically less costly than a new ring
  • Unique and unlike the rings everyone else has
  • They have a story behind them
  • Minor imperfections from years of wear add character to the ring
  • Often handmade by a skilled craftsman rather than cut by a machine
  • High level of quality
  • They are an eco-friendly choice
  • You are giving life to a ring that would otherwise just be sitting in a safety deposit box or showcase somewhere.

Types of Men's Rings

Wedding Rings

A band of marriage is the most common ring a man will wear. A men's wedding ring is commonly a plain band with little decoration, no emblems or crests.

Vintage rings make excellent wedding rings. You will find much more variety and unique designs with vintage jewelry and a vintage ring will often cost less than a new ring of the same quality. 

Affiliation Rings

These rings display a membership with a particular group. They are meant to be noticed and remarked upon. Affiliation rings are often decorative, with a central stone or crest. 

Buying a vintage affiliation ring will be more of a fashion statement, unless you actually belong to a club or organization for which your ring is affiliated. 

Family Rings

The purpose of a family ring is to remind the wearer of his family and its history. Buying a vintage ring to pass down through your family is a wonderful way to start a tradition. 

Fashion Rings

The least common type of ring seen on men, fashion statement rings take a bit of boldness from the wearer to pull off. An artsy ring can have any design you like; it offers much more freedom than any of the other types of rings.

Many vintage rings can be worn purely for fashion purposes. 

Signet Rings

A signet ring is a ring with a design or letters carved into it. The term signet means, “a small seal employed for formal or official purpose”. Signet rings were used in history to sign and seal important documents.

A vintage signet ring can be a unique and classy fashion statement. 

If you are just getting into wanting to wear a ring as an accessory, it is best to start with something relatively simple, such as a thick metal band with some decorative etching.

Men's Ring Placement

Pinky Finger

This placement is often the first choice for a man who wants to wear a statement ring. The advantages of wearing a ring on your pinky finger are that there is no cultural or religious associated and they don't interfere with your heavily used index finger.

A ring worn on your pinky finger is somewhat isolated from your body, making it more of an eye-popping statement, therefore the design can be more flashy.

Ring Finger

The ring or fourth finger is commonly associated with marriage in western culture, an engagement ring or wedding band is often worn here.

Most men choose a simple ring for this finger. A plain metal band or one with same-tone, minimal engravings is likely to be associated with marriage. A more flashy ring worn on this finger will probably be assumed not to be a wedding or engagement ring.

Middle Finger

The middle finger is usually your largest finger and is also your boldest finger. It is uncommon to wear a large ring on this finger because it gets in the way of using your index finger. A simple, small ring does best here.

Some men feel comfortable wearing a ring here. It feels like a strong position for a ring, central and sturdy. If you aren't comfortable with a pinky ring and don't want to be mistaken for being married, the middle finger is a good choice.

Index/Pointer Finger

Wearing a ring on the pointer/index finger does not interfere with tasks as much as wearing a ring on a finger next to it. The index finger is a good choice for class rings, fraternal rings, or family and membership crests.

Thumb

Thumb rings are quite common worldwide, but in North America, they feel a little "out-there." In many societies, a thumb ring signifies status or wealth. They are often broad or bulky.

A thumb ring makes it easy to wear multiple rings on one hand because the rings are spaced nicely apart. Think bold but simple for this placement.

How to Wear a Ring

Steps to Buying a Vintage Ring

Step 1: What Kind of Ring do you Want?

  • Think about what style you are looking for. Do you want something bold and chunky? Something small and minimal? What message are you looking to convey? Do you want your ring to be able to be worn with a variety of outfits? Do you want something more bold and flashy?
  • Small or slim hands look best with smaller rings, and large or thick hands look best with bigger rings.
  • Get to know vintage design periods to familiarize yourself with the styles of the past.
  • Start with one ring to fill a role you most want, and then add others in as time goes on.

Step 2: What is your Ring Size?

  • The band size is important in getting your ring to fit properly. The cross-sectional width of the ring will affect how “chunky” it looks on your finger.
  • If you are shopping online, make sure to measure your finger accurately, even get a friend to measure your finger as well, to get the most accurate number. [Learn how to measure your ring size at home].
  • The thickness of your ring will be based on personal choice. Thicker rings are seen as more "manly," but too thick just looks like you are showing off. A good rule is to have at least a millimeter or two between the top edge of the ring and the knuckle above it.
  • Many sellers of vintage rings offer resizing, so there is no reason to veto a ring that is the wrong size, simply ask if it can be sized to fit. 

Step 3: Picking Your Metal

  • Gold, silver, and platinum are typical metals used to make vintage rings. Platinum is a bit more prone to scratching than gold, but it is less prone to bending and holds its shape better with age. Platinum produces a patina over time that is highly desirable.
  • Be wary of white gold bands, as white gold from the past is made of an alloy of gold, silver, and nickel. Nickel can cause skin irritation in some people.
  • If you want a gold ring, look for 18 karat gold. It will stand up to everyday wear better than the lower karats.
  • Silver is an affordable metal, but tarnishes with time. 

Step 4: Settle on a Price

  • The price of a ring is not as important as feeling confident and comfortable in your ring. But it is important to set a budget. 
  • If it is only a matter of a few hundred dollars between your first and second choice, opt to spend more money on your first. The ring you purchase should be one you absolutely love. If you find the perfect ring, buy it, even if it is a bit above your budget (but obviously don't go way over budget).
  • If a ring is nice but not quite the quality you want, the style you want, or the price is too high - walk away. There will be other options.
buying vintage rings for men

How to Buy a Vintage Men's Ring Online

    I prefer shopping online for vintage rings, the selection is vast and the prices are great. The two most important things to consider when shopping online for a vintage ring are:

    • making sure you have measured your ring size properly
    • finding a reputable dealer

I like to shop for vintage jewelry on Esty. There is a large community of vintage sellers on Etsy, composed of a variety of amazing shops that specialize in selling vintage and antique jewelry. There are so many handsome rings to shop.

TIPS FOR SHOPPING on ESTY for vintage rings

  • Find a dedicated seller of vintage or antique rings, instead of buying from an individual selling one ring.
  • Look for a seller with lots of positive feedback and customer satisfaction.
  • Make sure to thoroughly read the description, look to see if the seller states the age, condition, and whether there is certification.
  • Be sure you understand the sellers return policy and if they offer resizing.
  • Make sure you get any papers or certifications sent to you with the ring. You will need these for appraisals and insurance purposes.
  • Message the seller and ask them any questions you may have. Get a feeling for how helpful they are.
  • Look for photos that depict both sides as well as close-up details. You want to make sure the ring is in good condition.
  • Use a credit card to purchase your ring. The buying protection your credit card offers you will give you peace of mind and will come in handy should you run into any problems.

Where to Buy Vintage Men's Rings

The Best Etsy Stores for Vintage Men's Rings

Conclusion

I hope that this buying guide helps you in your search for a ring that you can cherish for years to come. Wear your new ring with confidence and feel happy that you are wearing history on your finger.

When you are armed with the right knowledge, buying a vintage  ring can be a pleasurable experience. Now go buy your new ring!

Happy Shopping,
Andrea

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About the Author

Andrea

I am here to help you find the best vintage jewelry!

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  1. This has been a great site. Thanks for the educational information. Things about rings I never knew.
    I am in the process of looking for an Irish cross ring. I always thought that I would get it the size to wear on my pinky. Do you agree? What finger do you recommend?Do you sell these rings?

    1. Hi Bobby, I do not sell rings, I just talk about them 🙂 An Irish cross ring would look great on your pinky! There are some really nice vintage Irish cross rings on Etsy.

  2. You are a wizard on this. I’m a big fan of jewelry on men as it is very sentimental. My grandpa used to buy and sell antiques and jewelry for a living so it is a heavy part of our family tradition. He had a knack for spotting valuable stones that most people would overlook.

  3. Vintage rings are pretty cool. They are cheaper than new rings, and they are more environmentally friendly. The slight wear and tear shows how much history and memories that are stored inside.

    Currently, I got too fat to wear my wedding ring on my finger, so I hang it around my neck instead. I promised my wife to buy a different ring for her and myself in the future. A vintage ring sounds nice, and romantic.

  4. Your article inspire me to consider getting another ring to wear on my ring hand, apart from the marriage ring on my left hand. I have a vintage ring given by my mum, when she still around.
    With the ring on my hand, it remind me how loving my mum love to me, and I remember dearly what she has done for me during her live.
    I find Etsy Store has better presentation of their products and the pictures look for appealing, brighter color and description much clearer to comprehend than Ebay Store.
    Surprising some of the rings can cost CA443.08 (Victorian 10K Rose Antique Pyrite Ring). Online business is really booming throughout the world.

  5. I found this information interesting, vintage rings for men. I’ve never thought much about men’s rings, except for the wedding ring or class ring. To learn there’s a large market and many types was very interesting. I liked the family ring though, a nice way to pass the family history on. The signet ring caught my attention since I know the history on those, that is to sign and seal important documents. Nice information here. Thanks

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