Size definitely matters, particularly when it comes to the way a ring should fit your finger. Rings that do not fit properly are trouble waiting to happen, it’s that simple — and either way (too loose or too tight), it’s just a matter of time before disaster strikes.

When a ring is newly purchased (assuming that the ring does not happen to be your perfect finger size “right out of the box”), most people will have a jeweler size the ring to fit — but the trouble usually lies somewhere down the road. It’s rarer than hen’s teeth that people’s finger sizes remain the same over long periods of time; we lose or gain weight or our joints swell, and these changes often occur very gradually, so people become used to how their rings now fit, as opposed to how they used to fit.

Of course, rings that are too loose may be subject to accidental loss, and this will frequently happen during the winter months, when your hands naturally contract slightly because of the cold. You put gloves on, and take them off — but sometimes when gloves are removed, a loose ring will stay with the glove, or come off when you remove your coat.

Joe Brandt

This isn’t to say that cold weather can be the only cause of such a loss. Ever swim while wearing a ring? Unless you’re in a bathtub, chances are that the water may be somewhat colder than the air temperature — can you guess what your skin does in reaction? It doesn’t matter that the air temperature is hot, your skin will still contract, and if your ring is slightly loose to begin with, there’s a good chance that you and your ring will be parting company. A swimming pool would be bad enough, but if you happen to be in a lake or ocean, the odds of recovery are slim to none.

Of course, there are several stop-gap measures that will offer a temporary solution, such as a piece of tape around the base of the ring shank, or a “ring guard”, which is normally installed (at very low cost) by a jeweler. Tape is certain to become icky in short order, and is a dirt and bacteria magnet. Ring guards, by their very nature, will tend to flatten out in a fairly short span of time, and you’ll soon be back to square one, sometimes without even realizing this has happened. (Ring guards also tend to catch on things.)  

Rings that fit too tightly pose an entirely different sort of danger, and although the chances of anything happening as a result are relatively slim, it’s best to be sure rings always fit correctly, and can be removed with a minimum amount of effort — in a few seconds perhaps, not a one or two-minute struggle. (Rings definitely should never be allowed to get to the point where they cannot be removed, or removed only with soap or hand cream.)

If you ever manage to injure your hand or finger — especially a broken bone, or a crushing blow from a window or car door — your hand will begin to swell immediately, and if you do not have the capacity to remove the ring very quickly, circulation to that finger will be cut off, which can pose a real and present danger in short order. The ring will then have to be removed by cutting, and if you do not happen to be in a location where you can conveniently access either a jeweler (who happens to have the correct tool for the job) or a hospital (they all have ring-cutting devices) you may find yourself in serious trouble. (I once had to do an emergency ring removal with only the rudimentary tools at hand, and I can assure you, it was no fun at all.)  

If you’ve been putting off having a favorite ring resized, or if you’re fantasizing about losing weight so you can get a ring (that’s been on your hand non-stop for the past year or two) off, you may wish to consider getting professional assistance — but please bear in mind that (for the most part) in a case where a ring will now have to be cut off, or removed using one of several labor-intensive tricks of the trade, you will probably have to go ring-less for the next month or so, until your finger returns to normal, and your jeweler can measure your correct finger size prior to sizing the ring.

For some people, the effects of arthritis on their joints can be problematic, but in most cases, there are solutions to this as we l — but for any ill-fitting rings that have been languishing in a drawer waiting to be rescued, now may be a good time to visit your local jeweler.         

Joe Brandt is a local resident, and president of J.L. Brandt Company, offering diversified fine jewelry advisory services to the general public since 1928. Readers are invited to submit questions or comments to [email protected] Names or contact information will not be used for publication, and all inquiries will be answered promptly.