The symbol of a ring as a representation of authority, social status, holder of a particular office, or token of love has endured through time. The social significance may certainly be greater than its intrinsic value, and men nowadays wear rings as much as a reflection of the owner’s character as well as a sense of fashion.
Traditionally, men wear two rings, both on their left hand. A wedding band is worn on the fourth finger of the left hand, and a signet ring is worn on the little finger of the left hand. However, many men choose to wear their rings in a different configuration, and it has become fashionable to wear more rings on both hands. Prince Charles stacks his wedding band underneath his signet ring on his left-hand little finger, while the Duke of Windsor opted for a Cartier trinity ring on the little finger of his left hand. The practice of men wearing wedding rings did not become popular until the 1940s and 1950s, although men have been wearing rings of all styles for centuries.
In Hans Holbein the Younger’s 1536-7 portrait of King Henry VIII, the King wears several gem-set rings: two stacked on each little finger, and more rings on his index fingers. Andrea Casali’s mid-eighteenth century painting of MP Charles Frederick depicts the sitter wearing a fine intaglio set ring: the portrait was painted on Frederick’s ‘grand tour’ of Europe, where rings set with Ancient Roman intaglios became favoured souvenirs.
Today, a great number of men choose to wear intaglio rings in lieu of, or in addition to signet rings. Gem-set rings for gentlemen have become popular to wear on the right hand, and Bentley & Skinner are happy to assist in the creation of a custom-made piece.
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