Although wearing rings on the pinky finger does not signify anything about its wearer, history and tradition have established the placement of certain rings on the smallest digit. However, these rings serve primarily as a gender-neutral fashion statement.
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Universities across Canada present the Iron Ring to graduating engineers through a tradition called the "Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer," though professionals and engineers in training who have received degrees from other countries may also participate and receive the ring. The ring, though historically made from iron, can also be constructed using stainless steel.
The ritual, conceived by Rudyard Kipling as requested by Professor Herbert Haultain at the University of Toronto, was first held on May 1, 1925. The ritual reminds a newly graduated engineer of the intention with which she enters the professional world as reflected by the ring's placement on the pinky finger of the dominant hand: When an engineer designs, the Iron Ring constantly drags against the paper.
The Engineer's Ring in the United States can be seen as analogous to the Iron Ring in Canada. Members of the Order of the Engineer receive the stainless steel ring in a ceremony after taking an oath known as the Obligation of the Engineer.
As in its Canadian counterpart, the Engineer's Ring is worn on the pinky of the dominant hand to signify pride in the engineering profession, and to serve as a reminder of the responsibilities of the engineer as stated in the Obligation of the Engineer.
Signet rings, which originated in ancient Egypt to represent an individual's signature of authority, are commonly worn on the pinky finger of either hand, but typically on the dominant hand. Worn primarily by Europeans of aristocratic lineage, the signet ring might have imprinted on it the family's coat of arms or a person's initials.
Wearing a decorative ring on the pinky finger does not suggest anything about its wearer in 2010, but in the 1960s and 1970s it suggested homosexuality.
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