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How to measure your ring size with and without tools

Figure out your ring size at home with these handy tips.

A gold ring with a pink tape measure looping through it Credit: Reviewed/Getty

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Like searching for a stellar swimsuit or the perfect pair of jeans, shopping for a ring comes with its own guessing game of sizing. But perhaps even more so than apparel, as you may not know your ring size off hand—no pun intended. After all, unless you’re anticipating a proposal, how often does ring size really come up?

Luckily, there are ways to figure out your ring size at home with little more effort than lifting a finger. Follow these simple tips and tricks to find your fit before you buy that bling or pick an engagement ring for your special someone.

How to measure ring size with string

A split of a hand, ruler and scissors and a photo of a hand with a thin strap of paper wrapped around the ring finger
Credit: Reviewed/Hannah Southwick

You can use a string or a thin strip of paper to determine your ring size at home.

While most jewelers can size you for a ring, it’s also easy to figure out at home using just a 6-inch piece of string (or ribbon, paper, etc.), a ruler, and a pen. First, wrap the string around your finger snuggly and mark where the ends meet, says Catherine Horrilleno, the customer experience manager at Quick Jewelry Repairs. Then, measure the difference between the mark and the end of the string in millimeters using your ruler. From there, consult a ring size chart to see what size your measurements match up with. Even if you’re planning to wear rings above your knuckle, the process is the same; simply measure the part of your finger you’re planning to place the ring on.

Sizes are standard, meaning this ring sizing advice should—ahem—ring true for everyone. Both men’s and women’s ring sizing is based on the same millimeter measurements, says Kathryn Money, the SVP of merchandising and retail at jewelry brand Brilliant Earth. The average woman's ring finger size is a 6, while the average for men is between an 8 and a 10.

Other things to keep in mind when taking ring sizing into your own hands? As you might have noticed while struggling to slide on a ring post-shower, temperature can impact finger size. “Most people find they have puffier fingers in the morning, but that their fingers shrink to their normal size during the day,” Money explained. “We recommend sizing yourself in the afternoon or evening, and not soon after doing anything that could cause swelling, like exercising, experiencing temperature changes, or eating salty foods.” Additionally, it’s best to measure the ring finger of the correct hand, as the fingers of your dominant hand might be slightly bigger.

How to measure your ring size using a ring you already have

If you already have a ring that fits properly but can’t remember its size, print out a ring sizing chart—making sure it’s at 100% page scale—and place your ring over the different outlines to see which it matches best. If you choose this method, match the inside edge of the ring to the circle on the page, recommends Brooklyn-based jewelry brand Catbird’s sizing guide.

How to measure your ring size using a ring sizer

While ring sizers follow the same principle as the string method, they eliminate the need to mark and measure. Wrap the ring sizer around your finger and check which number lines up with the slit in the sizer. “Using an actual sizing tool will be one of the most accurate methods for determining ring size at home,” says Money.

Many jewelry brands have the option to request or print a ring sizer before buying. You can also purchase a general ring sizer online, including this one on Amazon for $3.99, which has over 9,000 reviews.

Does the type of ring impact what size you take?

A green ruler propped up next to a stack of gold rings
Credit: Reviewed/Hannah Southwick

Certain rings have special sizing considerations.

In addition to the size of your finger, it’s also important to consider the size and shape of the ring you’re planning to purchase. Wider, thicker bands will create more “resistance” when sliding your ring on and off, says Money. “This means that you will typically need to choose a slightly larger ring size for chunky, substantial bands than […] for thinner bands,” she explained, noting that men's rings tend to be wider. You might also consider sizing up if you’re planning on stacking several smaller rings at once, which would increase “the total surface area of metal encircling your finger.” To avoid the rings getting too tight, Money recommends selecting a half size up when stacking three rings or more.

Rings featuring large, heavy stones also warrant special consideration. Horrilleno recommends selecting a size that’s “a bit tighter” than usual, as they have “a tendency to swing on the finger.”

How to secretly measure ring size

Before popping the question—and a ring on their finger—you’ll need to know your special someone’s ring size. But if you’re buying a ring for a surprise proposal, using a ring sizer or the string method might be out of the question. Try asking people close to the ring recipient if they know their size, or, as Money recommends, take them ring shopping “for fun” so they can get professionally sized.

If you’d rather not risk ruining the surprise, you could try borrowing one of the rings they wear often and trace the inner and outer edges—all without leaving a figurative trace. Money suggests tracing several times so that the image looks “consistent,” allowing a jeweler to “figure out the inner diameter from your sketch.” Just make sure you pick a ring to measure that’s “about the same width” as the one you’re buying.

However, if you don’t succeed in secretly figuring out a specific size, Horrilleno says your best bet is to opt for a larger size “that way they can wear the ring once you’ve popped the question."

How do you know if a ring fits properly?

Once you’re able to try your ring on, Horrilleno recommends shaking your hand to see if the one you picked “has a lot of movement or wobbles on your finger”—telltale signs it’s too loose. On the other hand, Money says you should be able to “comfortably rotate your ring clockwise and counterclockwise” on your finger, or else it may be too tight. “Rings that fit the best should be snug but should also be easy to wiggle on and off—including over your knuckles,” she advised.

What to do if you get your ring size wrong

Whether purchasing a ring for yourself or someone else, no need to despair if you don’t get it right the first time around. Resizing is an option, although Horrilleno cautioned that she typically doesn’t suggest changing a ring more than four sizes, as extensive adjustments can ruin the integrity of the piece. She also noted that, while traditional wedding bands are some of the “easiest” style rings to resize, it’s the base metal, style, and design of a ring that determine if—and how much—you can resize a certain ring. “Rings made of copper, titanium, tungsten, aluminum, and ceramic cannot be sized traditionally,” Horrilleno says. “Sizing requires soldering and these materials burn under heat.” In addition to ring resizing, Money says you can also tighten a ring using metal sizing beads or ring inserts.

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