10 February 2011 – Jewelry as Sign

February 10th, 2011 § 45 comments

10 February 2011 – Jewelry as Sign, originally uploaded by academichic.


  • Purple Cardigan – Gap Outlet
  • Black Wrap Dress – Banana Republic
  • Stripped Tank – J Crew
  • Black Tights – Target
  • Pattern Tights – gift from S.
  • Boots – Steve Madden Intyce
  • Bracelet – Hawaii
  • Pin – purchased from activist speaker
  • Earrings – wedding gift from A2


As S. and many readers mentioned, jewelery often functions as a sign — a sign of gender, ethnicity, class, but also sexuality, marital status, age, and many other things (clothing of course also often functions in this way, as we have many times discussed here). I thought about that as I put this outfit together for an awards ceremony at which I was presented with an honor for LGBT leadership and service.  I immediately thought of the casual outfit I wore on national coming out day and wanted to recreate it in a dressier and more winter-appropriate version.  The main elements remained the same – my purple cardigan, multi-colored bead bracelet (not exactly a rainbow), and my “queer kids rule” pin.

Pride Pin and Beads, originally uploaded by academichic.

Choosing these accessories was a no-brainier knowing that I would be surrounded by other queers and allys there to recognize me for my commitment to the LGBT community. It was meaningful and fun to show some overt queer pride through my jewelry (and color choice of “lavender”).  But it got me thinking about the other jewelry I was sporting – my small silver earnings (since I didn’t want too many statement pieces at once) and, even more so, my wedding ring.

When A2 and I got married last summer we exchanged very simple white-gold bands.  We talked a lot about how we wanted to handle the whole ring issue and both agreed we had no need for engagement rings since the decision to get married was one we made together over many years.  We choose to exchange wedding bands because we like the sentiment behind, we wanted a symbol of our commitment, and because we were looking to up-grade the cheap matching silver bands we had been wearing for years. But, something about it still made me a bit uncomfortable – its sign value.  I am not a married straight woman and in fact in most of the country, including the state in which I reside, I do not enjoy marital status.   I was uncomfortable wearing something that signaled otherwise.  I didn’t want to pass.  So, I wear my wedding band on my right hand instead of my left.  I don’t know what assumptions most people make based on this right-hand ring, but over the last 7 months a few people have asked me about it.  For the most part, these questions have led to some incredible conversations about marriage and about symbols.

So, today I suppose I am aware of the power of jewelry as sign but am celebrating the power of jewelry as conversation stater!  Has any of your jewelry ever led to a great discussion?  Do you consciously wear jewelry as sign?

Boots and layred tights, originally uploaded by academichic.
10 February 2011 - Jewelry as Sign
10 February 2011 – Jewelry as Sign, originally uploaded by academichic.

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§ 45 Responses to 10 February 2011 – Jewelry as Sign"

  1. Janna says:

    When the husband and I finally decided to get married, we purchased an engagement ring together for me to wear. I was uncomfortable with the idea, but I knew that it would be too complicated to explain to the students (I taught high school then) how I could be engaged without a symbol. While I love my ring, I love more that we exchanged claddaughs (both heavily of Irish origin) around our first dating anniversary. These mean more to me than the engagement ring.

    We have wedding bands that do not match and he wears his most of the time. I wear mine all of the time, but which finger changes on a daily basis. I have a harder time explaining to people that I am not Mrs. so and so. I did not lose my identity in his.

  2. m says:

    Though I don’t have any conversation-starting jewelry per se, I love the idea of jewelry as a conversation starter. This site so often discusses the idea that we are always communicating, but as is often noted, we cannot control how others interpret our communication, especially when it takes the form of a sartorial decision. But a conversation allows two people to communicate in ways that lead to greater understanding.

  3. Julia says:

    I don’t think I wear any jewelry besides my wedding jewelry that speaks as a sign, though I wouldn’t be surprised if an acquaintance corrected me on that– it’s amazing and sometimes disconcerting what we can say without realizing or intending it!
    I wore an engagement ring throughout our engagement but wear it fairly infrequently these days. (We’ve been married for about a year and a half.) I break it out for the sparkles on special occasions or when I’m just feeling fancy, but usually it sits on my jewelry dish next to the bed.
    I have some unease surrounding engagement rings, but didn’t feel like wading into the cultural muck of explaining this to all and sundry and deal with the worry that people would feel I was insulting their own sensibilities. I only have so much fight in me! I feel this was weakness on my part and still regret to a certain degree, but what’s done is done.
    I wear my wedding band daily and for me it’s a tremendous sign of my life. My husband also wears his daily. I know a lot of men who don’t wear bands either regularly or at all, but it was very important to me (to a degree that surprised me), that both he and I wear them all of the time. We also have matching bands, another attribute I valued.
    I think it’s the equality of the symbolism that speaks to me; we’re both acknowledging our marriage to the world at the same time and in the same way. It’s pretty much the reverse of the engagement ring that bothers me so.

    • JD says:

      “I think it’s the equality of the symbolism that speaks to me; we’re both acknowledging our marriage to the world at the same time and in the same way.”

      Well said.

      I do not think wedding rings are a must for any couple, but I like the daily reminder that at least one other person out there is on my side and facing the world with me. I wear a necklace my little sister bought me for the same reason.

    • admin says:

      Yes, what a great way of putting it…”the equality of the symbolism”! A.

  4. A lot of Eastern Europeans wear wedding rings on their right hands because that’s the hand it’s placed on during an Orthodox wedding. Although I grew up in Toronto, during my childhood most people had right hand wedding rings, so I’ve given up attempting to classify people’s marital status with jewellery. Since I live in Canada where any two consenting adults, regardless of gender, can marry a ring on the forth finger of either hand could indicate marriage or just that the ring fits on that finger and you like wearing it.

    • Max says:

      Hello Rev. Tony. I have given you an account on my photo cart wsteibe, plus emailed you log in information and the access code to the gallery. If you have any further questions, please email me

    • Ikuo says:

      I’m so sorry I missed your weddnig we’ll catch up after your honeymoon yeah? I’m so happy for you wishing you both a GREAT & GRAND life together! love weiyee & james

    • Elisabeth says:

      Andrea I just read your how it all began story and actually LOLed. I only knew the metieng on the escalator story, not that you are both liars! I can’t wait to see you guys on 2/11!!!!

    • Alicia says:

      thai it would be easy They just promised it would be worth it. when you want to come to have a rest in Padova, Venezia, Verona our home will be alwyas at your disposal! Congratulation Ronnie and Daniela!Big kiss with loveValentina

  5. Fer says:

    here in Brazil we don’t have “engagement rings”, like you have in the American culture. instead, we only wear matching bands, like yours. when two people get engaged, both wear their bands on the right hand, and then just “exchange” hands when they get married (so I don’t think anybody would ask about your band here because they’d assume you’re just engaged).

    to many people in Brazil, when they live together long enough, it is ok to wear matching bands in their left hands and just say they’re married (we have sort of an in-between marital status here called “união estável” – literally “stable relationship”; you can even get an official certificate for this, and the couple will have most of the benefits a married couple has, so society at large sees a couple in a stable relationship as “married”).

    well, in my case, the funny thing is: my husband and I are not actually married, we live in a “stable relationship” (we have the certificate and all). but I call him my husband, and he calls me his wife. everybody knows that, especially because we’ve been together for 11 years. but… we don’t wear matching bands. actually, we wear NO bands at all. so, the funny thing is, when people know me a little (and they know about my husband), it’s actually my LACK of hand jewelry that starts the conversation.

    the other day his mom was talking to us about our wedding (because we do intend to get married one day, we just keep putting it off), and she was saying “oh, I will buy you guys wonderful golden bands when you get maried!”, and I was like, “please don’t, because we don’t like to wear them”, and she gave me the weirdest look. if this is a strange thing to do right now (not wearing matching bands when we have lived together for a long time), imagine how many more questions I’ll get when I do get married and still not wear anything on my hands :)

  6. Victoria says:

    Congratulations on the award! I love your outfit. I’ve been lusting after those boots you and E have for ages now.

    When my husband and I got engaged, we didn’t feel we had the money to get me an engagement ring and it wasn’t our top priority. We bought his wedding band and I wore it on a long chain while he was on deployment with the Navy. He’s an electrician, so a thick band of metal on his hand while he works isn’t the best idea. When they unexpectedly came back for a few weeks, we took the opportunity to find a (beautiful but inexpensive) ring for me and get married. He’s gone again and won’t be back until spring.

    From the beginning the rings haven’t been about telling others that we’re married, they’ve been about reminding us that we have someone who loves and cherishes us even though we’re far apart. I’ve been battling depression for years and it helps to have something physical, that’s not just in my head, that I can look and tell myself whenever I need it, “You are loved and supported. You are not alone.” I’ve been mocked for the price and style of the ring but I couldn’t care less. When it comes to wedding rings, it’s not about anyone else, it’s about me and my husband. I’m glad you and A2 have symbols that work for you. Best wishes!

  7. HokieKate says:

    My rings are white gold while my husband has a five-strand silver puzzle ring, so I’ve never really thought about matching rings.

    In high school and until my engagement I wore a religious ring on my right hand. I still have it, but I haven’t worn it in years. It reminds me of religious zealotry that no longer represents my relationship with my faith.

  8. Linda says:

    No one has mentioned yet that some people in the U.S. associate the wearing of a wedding band on the right hand as a sign that the wearer is a widow or widower.

    • meara says:

      Linda, I have a friend who got her grandmother’s engagement ring, and started wearing it on her right hand…and had a guy ask her solicitously about the death of her fiance, one night while out clubbing! Oops.

      That said, I know lots of us gays wear right hand wedding rings (interesting to read about other cultures/faiths where that’s a tradition). Not necessarily a telling signal, but if I’m looking at a cute girl in a bar and see a plain wedding-type ring on the right OR left hand, I’ll probably assume she’s married/partnered!

  9. Amanda says:

    I live in Maine, where gay marriage isn’t legal. When Erin and I decided we wanted to get married, we decided that the outward symbol of the wedding ring was important to us. Like Victoria, I like to have the visual and physical symbol with me at all times. I feel similarly to Julia, also: “We also have matching bands…. I think it’s the equality of the symbolism that speaks to me; we’re both acknowledging our marriage to the world at the same time and in the same way.”

    I have a very similar style to A, and when I meet people, they don’t assume I’m gay. In the past few months, I have struggled with calling Erin my wife instead of my partner because it’s too ambiguous (I blogged about it extensively, trying to process it). I wear this symbol of marriage, why can’t I appropriate the terms, as well? When I started my new job at a high school, I’m sure many people thought I had a husband. I’ve made it a point to talk about my wife in a normal sense, and that, combined with my wedding ring, gives me a great sense of pride.

    Additionally, I used to hate wearing gold and silver jewelry at the same time. A white gold ring has given me the chance to experiment more, and I’m finding fun combinations I never thought possible (sort of like having and being a wife)!

    • admin says:

      I’m working on using “wife” too. We use it all the time when talking to each other, but almost like it is our little secret. To be honest, I still have reservations about what those terms mean and so don’t always feel that they apply to our relationship.

      We too wanted rings that could be an outward symbol of our marriage, but it was important to me (someone assumed to be straight) that it not symbolize a straight marriage.


  10. Tina Z says:

    I didn’t think I wanted a diamond engagement ring (I’m a prof in international relations and development, the issues for me here were diamond monopolies and “conflict diamonds”) and even told my soon-to-be husband to forgo it, but then after vocalizing what I thought was what my wish, I started to feel differently. For me, my hidden desire to wear a traditional diamond engagement ring had more to do with my issues with stable relationships and men than anything else. My marriage is the most stable relationship, and arguably the only one, I have ever been in. Turned out wearing an engagement ring helped me face some serious demons about the way I changed my behavior in the past to be accepted by men, usually to my detriment with ugly consequences. Somehow the ring made me feel like I didn’t have to do that anymore and, ironically, it allowed me to finally embrace my true persona and live like I always wanted to. I’m not proud of the fact it took an engagement ring to feel that way, and it’s not like I yearned to self-identify as a married woman (quite the opposite, in fact), it just helped me get over the way my relationships with men dominated my life. Thank god I found/built a relationship that is the opposite of that. Another reason I celebrate wearing both my engagement ring and wedding band on a daily basis. What a great post, thanks!

  11. Miriam says:

    Here in the Netherlands, Protestants traditionally wear wedding rings on their right hand and Catholics on their left. I’m not really sure how this tradition is being affected by secularization… maybe most people of the younger generation wouldn’t know about it. In my part of the country, in any case, wearing the ring on the right hand is more common.

  12. Jeanni says:

    When Jon and I were dating about a month I gave him one of a pair of rings I’d bought for myself that fit together, because, as I told him, we fit together, and I wore it all the time, no matter who I was with, and I wore it on my thumb because that was where it fit, and I thought he wore it all the time, but then we went over to his house (we started dating in junior year of high school, but spent most of our time together either outside or in my apartment with my mom, who absolutely adores him) and he took it off and put it in his pocket before he went inside. I’d already known he took it off to protect it when he was in the machine shop, and that made sense to me, it could get caught and then either it would get destroyed, or worse, he could get seriously hurt if his finger was caught by his ring. But when he took it off just to go into his own house I didn’t understand, and it hurt that the symbol of our love was just hiding in his back pocket. He took it of because his parents didn’t like that he was dating someone, and they really didn’t (and don’t) like me.
    Then I lost that ring, I took it off in the bathroom at school and left it behind and when I went back it was gone. A few weeks later I got a new pair at an open market in union square and the same thing. I wore mine so much it got bent out of shape because I didn’t take it off during musical practice and at multiple times we would have to either drop or slam our hands down. He fixed it for me, and I kept wearing it all the time. And he kept taking his off around his parents. Then he lost that ring, and then found it a few weeks later under his bed.
    When he asked me to marry him he used the ring I already wore because we couldn’t really afford a new ring. A few months later I picked one out online and we ordered it and it was under $100. It’s small, but it’s real gold, real diamonds, and perfect for us. It’s also not a traditional engagement ring with a big diamond, it’s two intertwined hearts of gold with little diamonds in the middle and a couple of little ones in the band on the sides.
    A couple of months later there was a street fair by my apartment and I found the perfect ring for him to replace the one that I had given him that had been tarnishing like crazy, and I got it for him, and he still won’t wear it around his father. We haven’t announced the engagement, we’re waiting until later in college, so when I put my ring on my left ring finger I had a lot of questions and a lot of my friends were very disapproving of me wearing it. I also wear my claddagh on my left hand, heart pointing inward, which technically means married, not in a relationship, but it’s wear I like it best.

    I do check all my professors and the people I meet for obvious signs of being in a relationship or married or something. I also check people I meet out of school for high school rings, because I can’t imagine not wearing mine, which is also full of symbols, between the shamrock under the stone, the dreamcatcher on the side, even the way my name is spelled. I wear the milagros bracelet and a lot of people ask me about my nationality because of it, because it’s more common in hispanic cultures than in my own Italian one.

    Jewelry is definitely a symbol most people use to judge and understand other people.

  13. leigh ann says:

    Hi! I’m not sure if I’ve commented before or not, but I’ve been reading/lurking for about 3 months or so. I just now figured out what LGBT is! I’m 35 and didn’t know that (I’m an idiot!)! I love checking in and getting outfit ideas and have never really thought much about all the other messages our clothing, jewelry, etc, send. I have a traditional, 3 stone engagement ring, but after 11 years and 2 children, it fits too snugly and I just stick with a plain silver band from Kohl’s one size larger than my old size. Sometimes I don’t wear a band and feel a little self conscious when I’m running errands with our children without it on…silly huh? Thanks for all the inspiration.

  14. notacomputeruser says:

    My engagement ring is a vintage 1920s “dinner ring” with small diamonds in the shape of a flower. We found it at an auction. I have very small hands and a lot of traditional engagement rings look silly on me. Also my research is partly in the field of international business and I didn’t want the risk of a conflict diamond.
    I’ve been surprised by the response I get to it – all the way from people loving it because it’s different, assuming it’s a family ring because it’s different, to people hating it because it’s not a big solitary diamond, to the oddest response from my office-mate (a guy) asking me if Mike was “going to buy me a real ring when he gets tenure”.

  15. Trystan says:

    My husband & I both wanted engagement rings – we were both engaged, after all. It took a lot of hunting, but we found matching silver rings w/large cabochon amethysts, which we wear on our right hands. Our wedding bands don’t match those rings, but they coordinate, & are worn on our left hands. It does lead to conversations, neither of us mind after 10 years. It’s our own symbolism, & that’s what matters.

  16. Charlotte says:

    I wear my husband’s grandmother’s wedding ring, and engagement ring, which she wore for 60 years. I had worried about a conflict diamond, and there may have been conflict associated with this stone back in the 30s, but its symbol as acceptance into the circle of their family has transcended all that for me. Yes, I perpetuate the diamond=marriage look, but for anyone who talks to me about it I will take it off and show her maiden initials engraved next to my maiden initials on the inside of the shank.

    I know that I have personally influenced one other marriage to use a family ring as a result of this, perhaps I have encouraged others I don’t know about. As I explained to that bride – knowing that your future mother-in-law wants you to have this family ring, and be part of her family, is probably worth more personally than just about any political stance you might take!

  17. e says:

    When I get engaged, I want to wear a band on my right hand, then switch it over to my left when we are married. I’ve never been one for diamonds (I don’t find them aesthetically pleasing), and don’t wear much jewelry. Such a small band will show up simply because it’s one of the few items worn.

    For him, he can’t wear a band because of his work. Whether he gets a tattoo, or I wear his band around my neck (what a great idea! Thanks, Victoria!), remains to be seen.

  18. As my husband is Greek and I was baptized Greek Orthodox, we wear our wedding rings on our right hand (the common thing in Greece is for the couple [usually only the woman, my husband says...which is a whole other can of worms] to wear the wedding/engagement ring on the left hand and then switch over on the wedding, I’ve been told). When we first got married in the States, we wore our wedding rings on our left hands, but then, when we went to Greece for our religious wedding, we switched to the right hand and haven’t changed it since. I’ve had more than a few people assume I’m not married because of a lack of anything on my left hand.

  19. L says:

    What a great post! I love hearing all these stories in the comments, too. I know I like the idea of wedding rings and engagement rings, but then, I’m a believer in using jewelry as a mnemonic device and often bring jewelry back as a souvenir of a particularly wonderful trip. I have recently gotten engaged myself, and know it embarrasses and saddens me on those occasions I forget to wear my ring, as it is such a wonderful way to bring my fiance with me during the day.

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  20. T. says:

    I got engaged/married nearly 20 years ago, and at the time we thought about not going with a traditional diamond engagement ring, but I finally decided I would feel like I was trying to hide the fact that I was married if I opted out of the traditional style. We couldn’t afford the ring until just before the wedding, so I spent the majority of my engagement ringless anyway. I am careful with my ring. I don’t sleep with it on, or shower with it, or clean house with it, or garden with it. Mostly I just wear it when I am away from home. When I was pregnant it didn’t fit, and my mother would always ask me if I felt self-conscious in public being pregnant without a wedding ring. Um, no. Never crossed my mind at all!

  21. olivia says:

    I had always worn a silver ring on my right hand’s fourth finger. One day I decided to put it on my left hand, and I liked the way it felt there. I left it there. Here, that finger is almost exclusively reserved for those who are married/engaged. I am neither, but people noticed and asked if I had a relationship change. When I replied with “No, it’s my finger and I can wear a ring there if I want to”, I have to say that people were confused and unsettled. One day if I’m married I like the idea of wedding bands, and I do not wish to diminish what for many is an important and meaningful symbol. Until then, it’s also my finger.

    I work in customer service with my hands always visible and sense that since I made the switch, customers who are older than me occasionally take me more seriously and treat me with more respect. I have no idea why a perceived married/taken status would change how I’m treated by others. I don’t like it, but I then again I also kind of like the power I have simply by wearing a ring on my left hand.

    Love the outfit & jewelry in this post and many congrats on the award. You’re a star.

  22. Beth says:

    My husband and I both wear wedding bands, but neither of us liked the engagement ring tradition. He was resistant at first to wearing any jewelry or such a symbol, being of plain Quaker convictions, and so he took a long time to find one he liked and would wear regularly. Mine is actually my great-grandmother’s who lived to be 104 years of age and died when I was in my twenties. She did not have a wedding band until my great-grandfather gave her one on their 50th wedding anniversary. My grandfather, who died a month before my wedding, wanted me to have it. It is a wide heavy band, and I had it engraved with our wedding date and initials and my great-grandparent’s wedding date and initials. For years I thought it was my great-grandfather’s ring since it was so wide, and I was fascinated how it would move around on her finger as she would make biscuits or cook. I rarely take it off, and it is precious to me as a reminder of my husband and of my family. I am reluctant to even have it polished because I appreciate the reminder that what is beautiful and precious does not have to be perfect.

  23. the spanish lady says:

    I have a few pieces that have a lot of meaning for me; a flower (a brooch) and a little elephant a charm), both in silver, with many details and both from the 1940′s and were given to my grandmother when she was a child and I was incredibly happy when she gave them to me. Both of them are pretty good “conversation starters” as you say, but what I like the most is how I feel when I wear them. This is, for me, its most important feature. As someone said before, congratulations for this post. It is great to take a moment to think about matters that usually are not raised in a conversation.

  24. Christy says:

    My boyfriend and I have been together for about 12 years, and he always wears a plain silver band on his ring finger. To him, it represents his commitment to his work (he’s an artist) and over the years I’ve had a lot of people pull me aside to ask if we’re married and just not telling people. (And I do sometimes feel like ‘the other woman’ in the relationship sometimes.)

    We moved from California to Austria ten years ago, and people here wear their wedding rings (or engagement rings) on the other hand from what I’m used to. All of the comments about wearing rings on the right hand reminds me of that Raise Your Right Hand campaign by De Beers. I thought the campaign was interesting not for what it said about the right hand (the right hand is about “me”), but for what it said about wedding rings and engagement rings on the left hand (frankly all of their campaigns leave a bad taste in my mouth).

  25. Wiktoria says:

    Here in Sweden the traditions are somewhat the opposite when it comes to engagement rings and wedding rings. Here we exchange engagement rings. Most of the time they are just plain gold bands.
    Then at the wedding the bride is given a wedding ring which can be either a match to the engagement ring or something with a band of small diamonds or the like. You rarely see any solitary diamonds on engagement or wedding bands.

    Lately there has been a slight change in the traditions as more and more men are also getting a separare wedding ring and not only adding the wedding date to the inscription inside the engagement ring in the traditional way. They also want to show the difference between “just” being engaged and being married.

    We wear engagement rings and wedding rings on the left hand.

  26. J says:

    I live in Germany but I wear a traditional American wedding set (solitaire diamond and matching band) which was recreated from a ring my grandmother gave me. This has started several conversations, in a country that typically wears only a band with a possible small inset diamond. Also, we follow the US tradition of wearing our wedding rings on the left hand. In Germany, both parties typically wear a band (often silver) on the left ring finger to shouw they are in a committed reltionship. Upon marriage, this band is usually upgraded and placed on the right hand,m sometimes the same band just transfers. Most always the bands match. Our bands do not match. This left hand right hand as the wedding finger really interested me when I first moved here and a quick Google search taught me that each country is different and it’s really unpredictable, for instance, Germany and France, neighboring countries wear wedding rings on opposite hands.
    A, you and A2 would blend in here quite easily as same sex marriage is possible and everyone wears their ring on the right hand. Would you vary the hand if you lived in a state/country that acknowledges gay marriage?

    • admin says:

      That’s a good question. I don’t see myself switching my ring to the left hand, but I don’t know if I would have made a different decision if were living in Massachusetts or if we had federal marriage rights. Much of this decision for me has to do with passing. I am very confident in my outward appearance but I would never want that to be a crutch for me in a homophobic society, when so many of my queer friends are treated with hostility based on appearance. A.

  27. [...] really enjoyed reading all of the comments on S.’s post on gender and jewelry and A.’s post on jewelry as sign. It’s so interesting to read about all the different cultural traditions, connotations, and [...]

  28. stephani says:

    The general discussion seems to have veered into the signals of engagement and wedding jewelry, but there are many more ways jewelry can signify. Ever since college, I’ve frequently worn an item of jewelry that, at least to me, signals both my spiritual path and my appreciation for the mystery of nature and the universe. Various silver necklaces symbolizing the moon, either a crescent charm or a tri-phase moon with a moonstone in the center, or my current favorite, a hammered disk with a crescent of crystals. No one observing this jewelry may think anything of it, aside from the fact that I like the Moon. But to me, it means much more.

  29. Liz says:

    Really interesting post and discussion!
    My most obvious “jewelery as a sign” is my iron ring. This is given to all Canadian engineers and suppose to be worn on the pinky finger of the working hand. I have to admit, I love it because it sort of makes me feel like I am part of a secret society, albeit one that must easily number into the tens of thousands. As a young female engineer, I do feel that it helps me get taken more seriously in some professonal settings.

    I wonder if there are other professional designations out there that can be identified by a piece of jewelery?

  30. Nadine says:

    On my ‘wedding’ finger (left hand) I wear two silver rings. The ‘engagement’ equivalent is a pearl ring made for me by my sister-in-law as a Xmas present when I first became a mother. The ‘wedding’ equivalent is a band I bought myself from a craft stall in my Uni days which I wore day and night for years (on my middle finger) before my marriage. My sister-in-law re-sized it and inserted a tiny gold strip to symbolise my husband when we finally got married. It was a Registry Office elopement, so I didn’t have any questions or expectations from any ‘interested parties’ about my rings (or about anything else either – it was WONDERFUL).

    My point being, that I wear two rings which to me symbolise motherhood and the years I have spent with my man (15 years before marriage), instead of ‘engagement’ and ‘wedding’, neither of them bought for me by my husband! ;)

  31. admin says:

    Thank you to all of you for sharing your stories! It has been so great to read about all the different cultural, religious, political, and individual views about both personal and outward symbolism. I’ve responded to a few specific posts above – thanks for a great “conversation”!


  32. Hannie says:

    I wear a silver band, that my girlfriend gave me after we dated 100 days. I remember that the department secretary asked me if I had a boyfriend when I started wearing it. And I just didn’t know what to say at that time. The ring did the talking for me and not to long after I started wearing it my girlfriend and I received a shared invitation to a department party. Now we registered partners and have a son. We might marry someday (it is legal over here). But since the benefits of being married are not that different from being registered partner it is not a major thing.

  33. Amy says:

    When I lived in Egypt, a roommate had a pair of cheap fake “wedding” rings that lived on the counter of our kitchen. They were mostly for her and her boyfriend to wear when they wanted to travel together without getting trouble. That got me thinking about the possibility of projecting a falsity by something so small as a ring. A couple years later my mother bought me a little gold ring at a yard sale. It had been owned by a woman from her town who didn’t marry until late in her life and spent her youth traveling South America with her friends, and it’s a signet ring with her initials. I liked her story and the connection to my family that it represented, but it only fit on my left hand ring finger, so I wore it anyway. Then I found that it deflected a lot of unwanted attention, so I kept wearing it as a kind of protective charm, somewhere between a fake wedding ring and a secret discrepancy between what I was projecting to the world and what I knew to be true about myself. Then one day I explained all those reasons to someone, and I haven’t worn it since, but I’m sure I will again.

  34. [...] black outfit I wore to receive an award for my service and leadership in the LGBT community.  In this post I also wrote about issues of passing and the symbolism of my wedding band.  The posts in which I [...]

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