Part 2 Jewelry Tips: Best Rings for Petites

Mid-Sized rings, a flattering size for small hands

Chances are if you are reading this, you are also short. I’ll focus on tips that are especially relevant to you. You likely have small hands. Maybe you have thicker short fingers, maybe you have dainty slender digits. Either way, the focus is for petites.

Keep in mind that these are guidelines. Go ahead and break the rules when you want to. However, knowing what is safe is a good place to start. Secondly, knowing that you are veering off from ideal helps you know that you may need to balance that somehow to pull it off. But lastly, don’t be afraid of supposedly getting it wrong—please yourself first and foremost. Ultimately, what you wear with confidence will look the best.

Size and Shape

I have said this many times for petites, but it is so relevant: it is all about proportion. If you have delicate fingers, then small dainty rings will look great on you. Some of us are of a stockier build and tiny dainty rings might look incongruous. But this is typically where advice on rings for petites ends. So, let’s go deeper.

Diagram of Best RIng Shapes for Petites

If your hands are small or short-fingered but not delicate and slender, go a bit bigger. Also, as we age, we can go for bolder, bigger styles that won’t get lost in the texture of our skin. But not too big.

My rule of thumb is that the head or crown of the ring is no wider than my finger and no longer than one phalanx, or space between knuckles. That’s my max. (For me, that’s 18mm by 30mm.) A very flattering size is for the head to be slightly smaller than the full width of the finger and the length no taller than about halfway to the next knuckle. (10-15 mm in both directions) It’s an easy mid-size that just seems to always work. (Image at top shows mid-sized rings)

Max size ring for my hands Above: My maximum size ring is shown here

Long rings on your pointer finger can be quite flattering. Just be careful that it isn’t too big for you. Some of these are designed for taller people and might not look right if it extends beyond each knuckle. Light and airy styles work for anyone. More robust fingers can handle heavier or more solid forms.

Other great shapes for small fingers are small round, small square or angular shapes, marquise, or pear. I like tall rectangles, but careful with the proportions. This shape can look more overwhelming than the same size long oval, so I wouldn’t go quite as big. While long and narrow is nice on small hands, if the shape is too narrow, whether rectangular or oval, it can make the finger look wider. Less flattering are wide rectangles and ovals, or large circles and squares that are wider than your finger.

Larimar rings and bracelet, all nicely proportioned for small, stout hands Above: Larimar rings and bracelet, all nicely proportioned for small, stout hands

My favorite bands for petites are ones that are visually more broken up, as opposed to a solid horizontal line on the hand. Swirls, pattern, color, and texture can help keep the eye moving in all directions. For thin bands, 3 mm or smaller, don’t worry about this.

Keep in mind that wide bands will feel tighter. You will need to go up a half to a whole size larger. If you have sweaty hands or puff up easily when warm, choose a more open work style, otherwise this style can be uncomfortable.

Wide band on one hand, stacking rings on the other Above: Wide band ring on one hand. A collection of stacking bands makes a nice match.

Stacking rings

If you like the look of a wider band, but find them uncomfortable, then try stacking rings. The wiggle room allows your finger to breathe. Beside that it is so fun to create your own mix and match look.

You can wear the stacking rings alone, too, which gives you that dainty option.

Stacking rings Above: Stacking rings can be worn separately for a dainty style or stacked to your liking.

When choosing stacking rings with a gemstone, look at it in profile to see if it really is stackable. The stone should sit on top of the shank, not in line with it, so the next ring can sit under the stone.

Go up a half size if you plan to stack. For a tall stack, you can go up a whole size.

Number and balance

You can play around with how many rings you like to wear at once. This will be part of your personal style. I am finding that my preference is to have two fingers occupied per hand. I also like one ring per hand for bolder or larger styles. But do try to keep the number of rings balanced out on both hands. You can also create balance with one large ring on one hand and two smaller rings on the other.

Pay attention to your wrists, also for balance. If you wear a watch or bracelet on only one side, wear more or heavy rings on the opposite side. Or no ring at all on the bracelet side.

Play around with ring placement also.

Diagram of multiple ring placement on the hand


Now this is where you really get to have fun. Start with a ring that you really like. It could be a ring in a photo. Evaluate why you like it. Next develop a theme. I found that I like Art Nouveau. I try to combine rings with this style. Staying with one style is even more important than the color or stone to make it look cohesive. Even so, I usually try to stick with only one or two types of stones at a time and stay with one metal. Even so, stacks or mixed metal rings are a great way to utilize a combination of metals without looking busy.

An Art Nouveau collection of ringsAbove: An art nouveau collection. of rings. Notice the swirl motifs and the asymmetry.

When combining rings, I follow a few basic rules borrowed from visual arts.

  • Create a focal point. One ring can take center stage, usually something large and bold, and the rest of the rings are supporting cast.
  • This can go beyond sticking to a style but can also be a repeating element, like swirls and dots.
  • Large and small. Circle and squares. This gives visual interest.
  • And yet, stick to a style, theme, stone, or metal. Vary only one or two elements: maybe stick to all square and modern but mix stones and sizes. Or try all skinny simple bands, but different metals and finishes.

Overall, as petites, we want to keep it simpler than our taller friends. For example, if you go with more rings per hand, keep them small. Large and bold for us might be mid-sized for someone bigger. Be selective. If you are loving up multiple rings, skip the bracelets. Limit layering. If you opt for more jewelry, wear solid color clothing. Simply put, we have less real estate to work with.

Go ahead now and create a style all your own!