Many brothers are curious, especially when new, what kind of ring they should get, how fancy it should be, how much to spend, and more. First, I understand that many new brothers are full of fervency and zeal when it comes to being part of the fraternity and outwardly showing membership. However, before rushing off and buying a ring, think about the style you might like to have and whether you really want one at all. Some professions lend themselves to not wearing something like this. Mechanics, for example, could be at a disadvantage if they wear rings at work, and some lines of work prohibit the wearing of jewelry other than a wedding ring or simple necklace.
Your line of work may require a formal type dress, which may prohibit wearing a Masonic ring. I work in the website content field. It is like the wild west. As long as I show up to work with pants and a shirt, my employer does not care what I wear. I can wear a Masonic ring every day if I want to, and until I injured my ring finger recently, I have. I even wore it at my job interview – something I normally would not have done. But it worked out somehow.
Plain or sparse
I know a few brothers who wear Masonic rings that are huge and almost unwieldy. They look like something Don King might wear. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is a matter of preference. I like something a little less showy. The ring I wear is one given to me by my brother (above), who was present at my Master Mason degree and gave it to me later that evening. Thank goodness he has similar taste as I do in this sort of thing. I would have proudly worn it anyway, but the fact that it is a bit subdued makes it better, at least for me.
How Much to Spend
I have seen lots of nice rings in the $50-100 range. They are mainly stainless steel. These rings are durable and sure to last. The downside is that they cannot be resized. Gold rings are classic and have a classic look but they will cost you a good amount of money. Gold is also resizable, which is nice. Silver rings are somewhere in between, usually in the $200-300 range, and are attractive as well. In short, you do not need to spend a lot of money to get a nice ring. The best bet would be to go to a store that specializes in Masonic rings, if you happen to live near one. Or go to your annual grand lodge meeting. My grand lodge meeting in Richmond, VA features a good number of vendors who sell everything under the sun emblazoned with a square and compasses.
How to Wear Your Ring
This is an issue of constant debate in the Masonic community. Some say there is a right and wrong way to wear your ring but I doubt it is codified in any grand lodge laws. No doubt someone will correct me on that if I am wrong. I wear mine with the compass points toward me to remind me of my obligations. Others wear their Masonic rings with the points extending outward, as if to show off the symbol, such as it appears on your lodge building. Others wear it with points in until they are past masters, at which point it is points out.
It is your ring. Wear it how you want, but give some thought to this. It is an outward symbol of affiliation as well as a reminder to yourself of your obligations. How will you get the most meaning from it?
Owning and Wearing Multiple Rings
When you become a past master, you can wear a past master ring. I even know one PM who was so excited that he started wearing his PM ring while he was still master. Technically that is not right, but it was also a reflection of his excitement, I suppose. Plus, he was master of the lodge. What are you going to do?
I know a brother who wears a regular Masonic ring and a Scottish Rite 14th degree ring. Nothing wrong with that. The 14th degree ring is meaningful for those who have taken that degree. It is not an outward sign of affiliation but more a reminder of one’s own obligations. If you ever kneel at the altar for that degree you will understand. It is something you will likely remember for the rest of your life.
Other rings I have seen include Knights Templar, York Rite College, Scottish Rite with the double-headed eagle, KYCH, 33rd degree, and more. In short, if you belong to some body or distinguished order, likely someone out there has a ring for you to buy.
Me, I think I will stick with the ring my brother gave me. My 14th degree ring sits in an old jewelry box that once belonged to my grandmother. Perhaps someday I will buy a PM ring, but I am in no hurry.