The word ‘’pinkie’’ derives from the Dutch word ‘pink’ which means ‘little finger’.
Rings can be a source of fascination, glamor and sometimes mystery. They may carry great significance for the individual who wears it, depending on his or her background and social status.
All across history, and up until today, skilled jewelers have perfectioned the art of ring-crafting and catered from the simplest to the most elaborate and flamboyant designs of pinky rings to adorn the hands of men and women. To fully understand the meaning of this peculiar artifact we must dig deeper into its historical and cultural significance.
The Pinky Ring in History
In Ancient China, the pinky ring was made with jade, and was transmitted through the generations as a symbol of family heritage, unity and belonging, a tradition that is still alive today.
However, in ancient Rome, this ring had a different function: it served to signify belonging to a certain social class. In fact, this ring was worn only by the upper classes.
We can find medieval Kings, Bishops and Noblemen wearing this kind of ring to symbolize legitimacy to rule and authority.
Usually made by crafters in specific locations, the price of these rings was remarkable as well. It was hard to find both a trusted smith for the job as well as the precious metal and stones. Many rings were in fact commissioned and the waiting time for delivery may have also been quite long.
Pinky Ring as a Secret Sign
A Pinky Ring is also often associated with the participation of a certain professional group or congregation.It might be worn as a sign of belonging to a restricted circle of like-minded individuals, as well as a sign of honor.
Members of guilds, masons and other professional organizations were commonly identified by the kind of pinky ring they were wearing. The ring allows members of the same organization ,sometimes even criminal, to recognize each other without raising suspicions.
Thus pinky rings have been used to communicate status or belonging which has a rather different meaning than marriage and engagement rings for example.
The Pinky Ring Today
Long gone are the times of Roman Senators, Kings and Bishops, and nowadays pinky rings are accessible to a wider pool of potential clients. And still, it is fascinating to see how the sense of belonging which inspired pinky ring bearers of the past still inspires people today.
For example, in Canada, conferring of a pinky iron ring is still part of an initiation ritual for new Engineers, called “Calling of an Engineer”.
Similarly, in certain countries and communities pinky rings can be worn to represent one individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
However, many now wear a pinky ring for aesthetics. This thanks to their current affordable price and massive availability. Pinky rings are now used mainly for fashion and style. This causes its original meaning, alas, to be somewhat lost in the colorful consumer society of today.
Whether it’s for a profound meaning like strengthening our sense of belonging, or simply for aesthetic reasons, a pinky ring is certainly a valid choice for adorning our hand, as it has always been throughout history.