Before purchasing your next piece of fine jewelry, whether in person or online, it’s best to be sure it will fit, instead of murmuring a quick prayer that you guessed correctly. This is especially true for rings. Luckily, there are a few reliable ways to measure ring size, most of which take only a few minutes. US ring sizes range from three to 14; typically, men’s ring sizes are larger than women’s, which usually range between sizes five and seven. This can vary based on height and weight. When measuring your ring finger, it’s important to take into consideration the activities you’ve been doing—exercise, for example, can cause fingers to swell—as well as the time of day. Our fingers shrink and swell over the course of an average day, so timing will affect the accuracy of your measurement.
Finding the perfect ring can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack, so don’t make the process harder than it needs to be. Here’s how to find the best fit with ease.
Get String (or Something Like It)
If you don’t have a skein of string in your junk drawer, or thread from a sewing kit, feel free to grab some dental floss or a narrow strip of paper. Whatever you’ve got handy, cut a lengthy piece of it and wrap it around the base of the finger you intended to buy a ring for. Find the spot where the string (or thread, or floss) meets itself and mark it with a pen. Then lay the string flat against a ruler or tape measure and round the length to the nearest millimeter. Use this number to while looking at a ring size chart to determine your size. Most sizing charts are in millimeters, so it’s best to stick with that unit, especially for international ring sizes.
Use a Tape Measure
Similar to the steps above, take a measuring tape to the base of your finger and wrap it around until it overlaps. Mark this overlapping point and find the measurement in millimeters, then compare your finger size to those on a size guide.
Get a Ring Sizer Tool
You may want to keep a ring sizer handy in your jewelry box, if you find yourself measuring your ring sizes often. These small tools are easily accessible to both print and purchase online. A ring sizer looks similar to a zip tie, with numbers labeled on it; you slip your finger into the loop and keep tightening until you feel like it’s snug to your finger. Don’t wrap too tight, however—make sure you can remove the sizer as easily as you would want to if it were the ring itself. Take note of the number indicated on the sizer, which will be your ring size. If you find yourself between two numbers, it’s best to size up (unless, of course, rings in half sizes are available.)
Use a Ring Size Chart
You can find printable ring size charts online. With these charts, you use an existing ring you love the fit of to determine your size, by placing it against the different ring sizes shown on the chart. Whichever size your ring matches closest to will be the ring size of your finger.
Head to Your Local Jeweler
If the ring you’re looking to purchase is a bit more special than an everyday accessory (we’re looking at you, engagement rings and wedding bands) and you’re feeling nervous about getting this ring size right, head to a local jewelry store for help finding your exact size. Jewelers should have that classic keyring carrying dozens of rings in a wide range of sizes. There, you can try its different sample rings to determine which provides the most comfortable fit.
In the Case of Resizing
Sometimes the ring you purchased just doesn’t feel right after a few wears. Maybe you need a larger size, or your ring is falling to your knuckle, and the band needs to be taken in. It happens. Head to a local jeweler for a precise measurement of ring and finger, in order to determine how much you need to adapt your ring for that perfect fit. (The same process applies to any beloved piece of jewelry you need adjusted to the correct size.) Ring resizing varies in cost, and it is usually less expensive to size down than up, with the average tally under $100.
Originally published in Vogue.com