Goldilocks searches for a wedding ring
October 17, 2012 6:10 AM   Subscribe

Wedding (and other) rings: is it better to go for the size that feels too tight, or the size that feels too loose?

(UK ring sizes explained/compared to other systems here.)

I wear two rings, one on the ring finger of each hand (family heirloom & engagement ring, call them A and B). I hardly ever take them off, and plan to do likewise with my wedding ring. Both rings are also old - c.1950 and c.1920 - respectively, but the wedding ring I'm buying new.

Ring A was resized for me when I got it, about 12 years ago. It's size K. It's always felt a little loose, especially since I lost some weight since getting it; the jeweller offered to shrink it down at the time if I wanted, but I wasn't used to wearing a ring and worried about it being too small if I did. Regretted that since, but it's never seemed in imminent danger of falling off, so I've never got around to resizing it. Ring B wasn't resized since its original owner had it, but the jeweller who looked at it for me measured it as a J or J-and-a-half. It's slightly less round than ring B, more like a squashed circle. It felt too small when I first tried to put it on (after climbing a mountain, with my fingers a bit swollen!) but it went on fine afterwards, to the point where I've now started worrying that it, too, is slightly too big.

Both rings are gold bands with settings in them, and both are loose enough that the setting often moves round when I'm wearing them (A more so than B). When it's hot outside or I've just been exercising, they feel pretty secure, but at other times they feel looser; I can slide them up and down my finger without really having to tug at all to get them over the knuckle, and (I discover to my horror) actually shake them off just by shaking my hand about vigorously enough.

My plan was to get a wedding ring that fit perfectly, and then get the other two resized to whatever size that was. We spoke to a few jewellers but ended up buying rings from an online service. Their trial sizes seemed to be on the snugger side, so I ordered my ring (plain gold band) in a J. It arrived yesterday - and it's small! I can get it on all right with a bit of force, and it does come off, but I have to really work at it to get it past the knuckle. I wouldn't have to worry about it falling off - but on the other hand, if my finger was even slightly swollen, I worry it wouldn't come off at all.

The wedding ring company will re-size it for the price of postage - but they won't resize by half-sizes, and a whole ring size up would make it a K, which is somewhere between my other two rings. On the other hand, even a half-size up would make it the same ring size as ring B, which feels too big. I know different jewellers have slightly different sizes, but surely not that different!

Is it worth taking all three rings to a jeweller that will resize in half-sizes, and seeing if there exists a ring size in between the wedding ring and the other two? And if that doesn't end up working out, which size do I go for? The wedding is in late November and we're going on honeymoon straight afterwards; I don't want any of the rings to cut off my circulation, but I'd really hate to lose one of them in the Australian desert, so my inclination is to go for the smaller size unless it's generally a bad idea to have a ring you can't easily take off.
posted by Catseye to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Larger ring, and ring guard, ring guard, ring guard. I had this done with my engagement ring and have not looked back. It costs under 20 bucks, is made of metal, completely invisible from the front, and means that if you do gain any weight, you can take the ring guard off. With the ring guard, you're fine.
posted by corb at 6:28 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

My wife's engagement ring was a quite a bit too small for her, but she wore it anyway and didn't have it resized until she went into the hospital for emergency surgery and they had to cut it off of her, which added an extra bit of drama and anguish to an already traumatic experience.

Later on, after she had lost significant weight the (now repaired and resized) ring was much too loose, but she was able to keep it on her finger with these little plastic ring sizers.

I might suggest going with a slightly larger ring and the wearing a sizer in any situation where you might be prone to losing it with no hope of recovery (like the Outback).
posted by Rock Steady at 6:29 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would recommend either biting the bullet and getting them resized or getting the larger size. You can always wear the larger ring with a guard; a ring that is too tight will have to be resized.

When I got married, my wedding ring was loose enough that it did occasionally slip off. After a short scare about having lost it, I got a thin, snug, band to wear in front of it. During pregnancy, my fingers started swelling up, and I just ended up slipping the guard band off. Since then, my fingers have never gone back to their pre-pregnancy size. (This is not meant at all to make any assumptions about whether you plan to have kids, it's just that pregnancy is what prompted my size change.)
posted by bardophile at 6:32 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

My plan was to get a wedding ring that fit perfectly, and then get the other two resized to whatever size that was.

But you wear them on different hands, no? The hands may not be the same size.
posted by Jahaza at 6:34 AM on October 17, 2012

On different hands, fingers are sometimes different sized. Also,will the wedding ring will be worn along with A or B? I discovered (and told by two different jewelers) that wearing the wedding ring with my engagement band created a thickness (width) that made me have a different size and I ended up sizing both to one size. But when I wear only one, it sorta slips.
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 6:49 AM on October 17, 2012

I recently worked at a jewelry store and we recommended sizing beads (which we called "Tiffany beads") for rings that were too large and top-heavy. They work like a ring guard, but they're permanent, and they help prevent the stones from rolling to the side of your finger. Might make sense to just resize them, though.

You should definitely get the small ring resized; if it's only a little small, the jeweler will only have to heat and stretch the ring, not add more gold. They should be able to do quarter sizes as well as half sizes. Definitely bring all your rings so that they can see which ones you'll be wearing together and on which fingers.

I would recommend finding a trustworthy, reliable local jeweler and developing a relationship with them. The rings may need to be resized again in the future, any stones/prongs should be checked every six months (and cleaned while you're at it), and if you go to the same person you're more likely to get special treatment when your jewelry needs maintenance.
posted by toastedcheese at 7:04 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would get them resized to fit exactly right. Like toastedcheese says, some jewelers will even do quarter sizes - my fiancee was in between 7 and 7.5 when she was fitted at our jeweler, so he just made the ring a 7.25.

(Size numbers for illustrative purposes only, might have been different numbers - neither of us remember. But she definitely got a x.25 or x.75)
posted by insectosaurus at 7:19 AM on October 17, 2012

If you wear them all the time, it is better if they are larger, not just due to circulation but because a snug ring which won't readily come off can, under some circumstances, lead to your finger being ripped off. I read somewhere that if you have an active life (say, you play basketball without removing your rings) you should additionally get them notched so that if push comes to shove, the ring has a built in weak point and will break rather than taking your finger with it if it is caught on something. (The article I read included details of a basketball player who lost their finger when their ring got caught on the hoop.)
posted by Michele in California at 9:11 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

FYI, I am a goldsmith. I guess a company could have a policy where they don't do half sizes for resizing, but that just seems foolish. Most policies state no resizing beyond 2 sizes, and some rings simply cannot be resized without damaging stone settings, engraving, etc. Any competent goldsmith or bench jeweler should be able to size a simple band ring up and down at least 2 sizes (possibly more) and anywhere in between, even quarter sizes. All you're doing is fitting the ring properly, and half and quarter sizes aren't difficult from a technical POV. It's just a mark on a graduated measuring stick. But it's critical to get the size correct.

As far as size: your ring should be JUST small enough so that if you shake your hand vigorously with your fingers extended, it won't come off. So, if a size 7 comes off your hand but a size 6.5 does not, you wear a 6.5 (a size 6 is too small, even if it feels "right"). You also want to get sized at least twice, on two different days at different times (more often if possible). Your finger will change size for various reasons throughout the day and may vary as much as a full size.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:35 AM on October 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

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