Know How

The Ring Size

How Do I Find the Right Size?

by Florian Horsthemke


or a ring to fit properly, it must be the right size. It is therefore almost always necessary to adjust the size of antique rings. Our goldsmiths will do this for you free of charge and in such a way that you will hardly notice the adjustment. The prerequisite is, of course, that you know the ring size you need.

What Does “Ring Size” Mean?

The size of a ring can be specified in two ways: Either by the diameter of the ring or by its inner circumference. Both measurement methods are equally common. However, as antique rings are often not completely circular and therefore have different diameters - depending on where you measure - we have decided to indicate the circumference inside the ring. This is more accurate, especially for antique pieces of jewelry, and also conveniently corresponds to the so called “Ringgrößen”, ring sizes, commonly used in Germany and Austria.

A ring in size 52, for example, has an inner circumference of 52.0 mm. This corresponds to an average diameter of 16.6 mm.

International Ring Sizes

Outside of Germany and Austria, there are other systems for designating ring sizes. In Italy, Switzerland and the USA, for example, the sizes are numbered in different ways, whereas in the UK they are designated by letters. All systems work equally well. The important thing is to know which system you are using.

You can find a handy table here that compares the different systems.

How Do I Find Out My Ring Size?

The easiest way to find out the ring size you need is to measure a ring that fits well. As the fingers of the right and left hand are of different sizes, the ring should fit exactly on the finger on which the new ring is to be worn.

In our experience, the “paper strip method” provides the most accurate results. To do this, place a rolled strip of paper inside the existing ring, unroll the paper so that it fits snugly against the inside of the ring and mark the point where the paper overlaps. When rolled out, the inner circumference of the ring and therefore the ring size can be read off, even if the ring is no longer completely round. You can find detailed instructions to print out in this PDF.

If you don't have a suitable ring, you can also measure your fingers with a ring size set. This is a kind of key ring with plastic rings in every size. Unlike paper ring templates or adjustable ring knives, they do not bend and provide the most accurate results. 

A ring size set also has the advantage that it automatically takes the finger joint into account. This is because the joint is often a little wider than the last phalanx. However, as the ring must also fit over the joint, it is not enough to measure only where the ring is to be worn, e.g. with a thread. Otherwise the ring may not slide far enough up the finger.

Please send us an e-mail if you need a ring size set. We will be happy to send you one!

How Can I Have My Ring Customized?

If you purchase a ring from us, our goldsmiths can adjust the size free of charge within a few days. Either directly after your purchase, before we send you your ring. Or you can have a look at the ring at home first and then send it to us again at a later date. Perhaps even after the ring has been given as a gift? We have no time limit here.

To customize a ring, our goldsmith will saw the ring open on the underside and then bend the ring in a controlled manner until it has reached the required size. A piece of gold (or platinum or silver) is then inserted into the ring, in the appropriate color and alloy, and the two cut edges are soldered together again. This does not make the ring thinner or unstable - in fact, in most cases the adjustment is not visible at all. 

Please note: Once we have customized a ring in size for you, we are unfortunately unable to take the piece back. Your right of return therefore expires at this point. We therefore recommend that our rings are only adjusted in a second step.

Are There Any Rings That Cannot Be Altered?

Most of our rings can be adjusted in size, regardless of whether they are antique rings or rings from our workshop

For some of our rings, we have indicated under “Size & Details” that we can only adjust the ring by a few sizes. This is usually due to the fact that the front is designed to be very solid and therefore cannot be bent. Our goldsmith can therefore only adjust the lower half of the ring and is thus unable to change it by more than a few sizes at most.

Three 18th century commemorative rings with enameled ring bars. Unfortunately, the size of these rings cannot be adjusted.

Rings whose ring band is decorated with enamel are also difficult to adjust. This is often the case with Georgian era memorial rings, for instance. The enamel would be damaged too quickly. 

Finally, most memory rings cannot be customized at all. As these are set with gemstones all around, our goldsmiths cannot change the diameter. Not only would all the gemstone settings bend: depending on the required size, there would also be gaps in which no gemstone would fit.

What if I Have Questions About the Ring Size?

The correct ring size is important so that the ring does not fit too tightly and yet does not get lost. However, there is still a certain tolerance. The diameter of most fingers changes by one or two ring sizes in the course of a single day, and over the course of the year between summer and winter anyway. In addition, narrow rings often feel wider than wide designs.

Our most important piece of advice is therefore: simply try out our rings and talk to us. We will be happy to help.

Florian Horsthemke

At Hofer Antikschmuck we combine art-historical knowledge, gemmological expertise and the love for beautiful things – and we want to share our enthusiasm for the beautiful witnesses of the past with you here in our magazine.

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