Some jewelry trends enjoyed fleeting but intense moments of popularity in history. Everyone remembers the stomacher, right? Exactly. But it was considered the height of fashion in the 16th and 17th centuries. The stomacher was a triangular panel that sat anywhere from the neck to the waist, and was visible under a gown’s lacing. It was often decorated with gems and gold threads — occasionally entire gem swags would be attached. As that specific clothing style fell out of fashion, so did stomachers. Maybe we can repurpose the idea of the bejeweled stomacher for modern days… just imagine: a giant glittering brooch sitting front & center, distracting people from the fact that you haven’t taken a shower in a few days and yes, maybe these “work” pajamas have some cat hair on them.
But some lucky jewelry rises above the trend and becomes a style staple throughout the eras. Maybe you’re intuitive, or maybe you just saw the headline up there, but if you thought, “hey, they’re probably talking about pinky rings!” then you are absolutely correct.
There is a common misconception of the pinky ring being the domain of the masculine. After all, historically, royalty and noblemen wore signets, a type of ring with a design or name carved into the front to indicate their family association, on the pinky. It was a signifier of class and status. Sometimes it was the only jewelry they wore. (This is not to say the pinky ring hadn’t made an appearance before: the stylish denizens of Ancient Rome were said to have worn them too.)
Happily, portraits from centuries past also show men rocking little-finger adornments other than signets. This painting of 22-year-old Benedikt von Hertenstein, circa 1517, shows a dude who knew how to stack that pinky. Look at that je nais se quoi. He was clearly the Harry Styles of his day.
And women were killing the pinky ring game too! This 1570 portrait of Camilla Martelli by Alessandro Allori demonstrates the preferred jewelry style of the era.
By the time the 19th century rolled around, Victorian men and women were said to wear pinky rings to demonstrate their disinterest in marriage. And though signets remained an enduring element of nobility’s accessories throughout this time, as class structures began to significantly change, so too did the necessity for the signet. No longer required to be a quiet reminder of status, the pinky ring evolved to include unique styles and stones that could be worn by anyone. It enjoyed a resurgence in 20th century America, seen on the fingers of everyone from Joan Crawford to Elvis.
Joan Crawford rocking timeless jewelry in the 1932 film Rain; Elvis Presley, king of pouts & pinky rings
Which brings us to the 21st century, where the pinky ring has become a staple for any stylish person no matter what gender they identify as. Delicate, bold, new, old, gem-laden or plain, the pinky ring adds a special drama to the hand. Take inspiration from all the adorned who came before and put a ring on that pinky already!
Fun fact: Noor always admired pinky rings, but found her favorite style in the most unlikely of places: she fell in love with the delicate golden bands Kristen Wiig wore in the movie Bridesmaids (don’t judge!), made her own and now rarely leaves the house without them!