Sizing a ring


I hope that this isn’t a mundane ignorant question, but what is the
proper way to size a ring for a finger? I have seen people have to
twist and pull quite vigorisly to remove a ring from their finger
while others just seem to slide off without any effort at all. I
think people feel that a ring must be tight for fear of losing them
but are difficult to remove and a too lose fitting ring may have a
tendency to get lost. Have you ever seen anyone jam a ring on and
not be able to get it off? Push it on or slide it on?

Thank you in advance,

Gary D.

I have seen people have to twist and pull quite vigorisly to remove
a ring from their finger while others just seem to slide off
without any effort at all. 

The first person has usually gained weight, but is unwilling to
admit it and get their ring sized.


Gary- It should slide on and need to be wiggled just a little bit to
get off. If it slides on and off it’s too loose and will come off
when the hands get wet or cold. Just ask my genius wax carver friend
Julie. She’s found a brand new wedding band in the surf of Kauai
every time we’ve gone over there with her. If you have to jam the ring
on, it will need spit to get it off. I hate it when a customer
slobbers all over their hand to get a too tight ring off and then
hand it to me. Eeeeeewwwwww!!!

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer

Ring sizing is a personal thing. Best way is to use the ring guages
where the customer tries out various sizes and declares ‘this is
just right’. Now it’s up to you to determine if the ring is wider or
narrower than the guages (plus or minus one size between a 2mm guage
and a 10mm shank), whether the ring is perfectly round or not (can
be 1/2 to 1 size if the ring is not round), the inner contour of the
ring (about 1/4 size depending), the subtle difference of a wide
head and narrow band (about 1/4 size), and come up with the perfect

Note which finger and hand the customer is using! Sometimes the
customer decides to change fingers or hands without telling you. The
weather is a factor too, testing on a hot day will make your ring
too big on a cold day and visa versa.

Do find a way to get a perfect fit when the customer tries on the
new or re-sized ring, and be prepared to make it right if it ain’t
right. Customer must be delighted!


Hi Elaine,

Another reason is that the person wearing the ring has never taken
it off, and the skin has grown around it.

I had the unfortunate experience of having to have my wedding ring
cut off and re-sized, it now just slips over my knuckle.

If I take off my ring, I’m still wearing it, in a sense, guess I’m
married for life :wink:

Regards Charles A.

Speaking personally… my fingers change size depending on the
weather and … the time of the month! In hot weather, they swell, in
cold, they shrink. A ring that fits my engagement finger in winter
only just fits my pinky finger in summer. Sometimes a ring slides on,
sometimes it takes a good push J

In addition, over the years, my fingers have thickened quite a bit -
a good 1 - 1 1/2 sizes. Plus, many people’s knuckle joints become
more knobbly and pronounced as they grow older, so that a ring such
as an engagement ring which is worn all the time, fits quite loosely
until you try to take it off over the offending knuckle. I remember a
previous thread on this topic, and the delicate way in which at least
one male jeweller tackled the problem of asking about how much their
lady client’s fingers changed size over the course of a month!

Tight rings usually come off fairly easily with a bit of water and
soap to make the finger slippery…

Jane Walker

We have a delightful little tool for sawing rings off peoples
fingers. It’s scary, but much nicer than the type that hospitals use
if you have to remove your jewellery before an operation. We
regularly fix rings that have been removed this way, and we resize
intact rings every day.

I don’t think there is a “right” answer. My wedding ring needs a
twist to come off; I like it that way, but other people prefer it
looser, or even tighter. Men’s wedding rings are difficult, as it’s
often the first ring they’ve worn, and it takes a couple of months
to get used to. Some people never want to take a ring off, others
have rings only for special occasions.

Two definite things to be aware of: wider rings behave differently
to narrow rings, and D-section rings behave differently to
court-section rings, even if they measure the same on a ring stick.
The other thing is to be careful with mens wedding bands that they
are identical sizes on both sides - if there is a difference,
they’ll be able to pull the bigger side on, and the smaller side
will stop it coming off.

Because offer a very personal service at our place, we often get
customers up in the workshop to “fine-tune” the fit before
stone-setting, polishing…etc. This can save a lot of time - it’s
quite annoying to tweak a platinum or WG engagement ring down half a
size after you’ve done all the work on it (but we’re happy to do it
if we have to).


... what is the proper way to size a ring for a finger? 

The proper way is the way your customer wants.

In the climates with changes of seasons, a ring will be looser in
the winter and tighter in the summer. And ladies rings fit tighter
once a month between (roughly) the ages of 13 and 50. People with
“knucklitus” (osteoarthritis) need special attention.

Personally, I like my ring fairly loose. YMMV.


How a ring fits is a personal thing. Some folks want their ring so
tight it won’t ever come off without some form of lubrication (the
finger in the mouth is my personal favorite, excuse me while I
swallow a quick gag reflex even thinking about it). Some get
claustrophobic if it drags even the slightest bit coming off. I like
to see it drag a bit coming off, but not needing to be unscrewed. It
is not at all unusual for men especially to have a ring size
perceived to be the “perfect” size, only to need it sized down two or
three weeks later as they get used to wearing a wedding band. (Jo’s
friend Julie knows exactly what I’m talking about, I’ll bet nine out
of ten of those rings found on the beaches at Kauai are brand new
men’s wedding bands). A finger that has never had a ring on it will
often seem to “shrink” as it gets used to a ring. The season has some
effect as well, hot summer days will make fingers swell a little,
cold winter days can make them contract. A meal of pizza or some
other salty food can have dramatic effects on ring sizing. I take all
of this into consideration whenever I size a customer for a ring.

The wider a ring, the more tightly a given size will fit. A “comfort
fit” style ring will have a tendency to fit a bit more loosely than
the same size ring that is flat inside. A ring with a hollowed out
portion will tend to fit more loosely than the same ring with a solid
structure inside. Rings that are top-heavy or have a very tall or
large top compared with the shank will seem to fit more loosely than
they might if more evenly weighted. Sometimes, a ring cannot be made
to fit properly with all of the above conditions, especially for
people getting along in years, arthritis can take a terrible toll. In
these cases, I go for the smallest size that will clear the knuckle
and install sizing beads at 4 and 8 o’clock inside the shank.

Sometimes even that won’t work and a hinged or adjustable shank is
in order. I hate those things, rings and moving parts don’t mix, and
it’s always the jeweler’s fault when it self-destructs. And boy, are
those little doodads expensive. There is also the horseshoe insert,
but those are a major pain too, the ring must be sized up to about
two sizes too large, the horseshoe made as hard, thin and springy as
possible and then installed without annealing the horseshoe or shank
(a laser is invaluable for this). Most times it still won’t fit
right, and the top of the ring is a couple of millimeters above the
top of the finger, making it look really kind of odd. The
huge-knuckle-skinny-finger problem is one of the hardest to solve
problems a benchie will ever face. There are no really good answers,
at least none that I have found. Only stop-gap measures at best.

When a ring gets hopelessly stuck, Windex is the best lubricant I
know of. It is super-slippery and won’t goop up the ring like hand
lotion or soap will. It also doesn’t induce a gag reflex, which many
of the other solutions to the problem often do (wouldn’t you say
Jo?). If Windex won’t get it off, I reach for the shank cutter. I
find spitting on it before use makes it work better, and repays the
finger-and-ring-in-the-mouth customer by giving them a little
hiccup-vurp of their very own. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Dave Phelps


I can’t give a ‘how to size’ lesson… I figure that some people like
tight while others like loose. But I will share that when I do shows,
I try to start ladies off with the larger rings and then work down to
their size, so we don’t have the ‘stuck ring’ scenario… but
invariably it happens. So I always keep a small bottle of Windex in
my booth. I’m not sure why (perhaps alcohol, perhaps cold, perhaps
wet… perhaps all the above), but a couple of spritzes of Windex on
the puffy finger and a tight ring slides right off. I’ve seen many a
woman with an initial look of panic when she slipped a ring on and
then found it too tight to get off.

Best - Lil

I hate it when a customer slobbers all over their hand to get a
too tight ring off and then hand it to me. 

This isn’t the glamarous job it was made out to be! Sometimes you
have to smile and nod, and smile some more, like when you evaluate a
ring, and find the backs of the setting blocked up with that
green-grey-brown stuff because they haven’t washed it for 10,000

Cold soapy water is a great method. Better than spit.


A trick I used when I was doing shows - just spray the customer’s
finger with windex, have the person relax her hand as much as
possible and it will usually slide right off. Another trick is to
immerse the hand in cold soapy water which will reduce the swelling
and make it slippery.


It also depends on “knuckle size vs rest-of-finger size”, as well as
how much the person’s fingers swell during the day.

I have larger knuckles… I can slide the ring on fairly easily in
the morning. But my fingers tend to swell up a bit during my brisk 40
minute walk to work. So after that I usually have to tug pretty hard
to get the ring off over my knuckles… it fits fine on the rest of
the finger, it’s just the knuckles that become a bit of a problem.

To avoid customers slobbering on their rings to remove them, keep a
spray bottle of Windex handy. Works great for ring removal and is
more pleasing than spit.


I have seen people have to twist and pull quite vigorisly to
remove a ring from their finger while others just seem to slide off
without any effort at all.

The first person has usually gained weight, but is unwilling to
admit it and get their ring sized. 

Not necessarily. Although weight gain can be the cause, it isn’t
unusual for the flesh of someone’s finger to expand and contract over
a short period of time (hours and/or minutes) depending on a number
of factors… temperature, physical activity, etc.

I’ve noticed my own fingers swell significantly when I’m out hiking,
but when swimming they shrink so much I have to remove rings or risk
loss. In between these extremes I’ve noticed that over the course of
a day the fit of a ring on my finger changes somewhat.

Mike DeBurgh, GJG
Alliance, OH

I always let the customer decide. When specifically requested the
closest I will get to telling them what size they need is to say “it
looks good from this side of the counter but ultimately its your