The Meaning Behind Nose Rings: What to Know and How to Decide Whether to Wear One
Although nose rings may feel like a newer trend to some, they’re actually one of the world’s oldest approaches to jewelry. In fact, people have been rocking them for thousands of years, and they can be found across multiple cultures, religions, and social groups.
However, nose rings also have a reputation for mystery. Many people start thinking about adding one to their look when they want a way to look different that’s still elegant, pretty, and tasteful. And some consider them to be symbolic in nature, as well.
But how much truth is there to this belief, and what should someone know about a potential nose ring meaning before they start sporting one themselves? What does nose ring mean sexually, and who should or shouldn’t wear one, for sex-related reasons or otherwise? Here’s a detailed overview of everything you need to know.
What Is a Nose Ring?
Despite the wording of the term, a nose ring doesn’t necessarily have to be ring-shaped. Yes, some options are ring-shaped or hoop-shaped. However, nose rings can also be shaped like barbells, studs, horseshoes, and any number of other things.
Not every nose piercing is the same, either. Standard nostril piercings are still really the most common. But septum piercings have historically also been popular around the world and are particularly on-trend today.
When Did People Start Wearing Nose Rings?
As with most longstanding traditions, no one can say for sure exactly how long people have been wearing and loving nose rings. However, the earliest mentions of them date back many thousands of years.
- There are records of Aborigines and other tribal peoples wearing bone-based septum piercings as far back as 44,000 BC.
- Nostril piercings and nose rings are mentioned more than once in the Bible. For example, Rebekah received a beautiful nose ring from Isaac when they became engaged.
- Moghul emperors brought the tradition and beauty of the nose ring from the Middle East to India around the 1500s, and the rings remain an important part of Indian culture today.
Nose rings made their way into mainstream Western culture during the late 20th century via hippie culture, becoming particularly popular during the ‘60s and ‘70s. Many people traveled to the East during those decades (or otherwise began to explore Eastern spiritual traditions) as a way of becoming more enlightened.
Eventually, the rings made their way into other forms of counterculture, as well, including those associated with punk music and rock-and-roll. They remain a popular symbolic or stylistic choice for people who dare to be different and enjoy making a unique statement to the rest of the world.
Nose Ring Meaning: What Are Some of the Common Possibilities?
In Western society, the nose ring meaning behind a person’s choice to wear one is likely as simple as wanting to make a fashion statement. It’s a way to look cool and stand out while also remaining stylish. But nose rings can also have meanings beyond that, especially in certain cultures.
Marriage and commitment
In some cultures, a nose ring symbolizes many of the same concepts a promise ring, engagement ring, or wedding ring might in the West – lasting romantic commitment, up to and including marriage.
For example, it’s quite common for Hindu women to wear a nose ring as part of their bridal ensemble to symbolize marriage. In many countries, grooms may even gift their brides nose rings for similar reasons (as with the biblical story of Isaac and Rebekah).
Wealth and prosperity
In some world populations – including the North African Berber tribe – nose rings are all about prosperity, wealth, and success. To be more specific, the size of the ring directly aligns with how affluent and well-off the wearer happens to be.
Larger rings are reserved for the rich, while small rings denote a humbler status. It is also customary for Berber grooms to give nose rings to their brides as a symbol of prestige and status.
Children and fertility
Ayurveda is an approach to holistic medicine that suggests a person’s inner consciousness and emotional balance correlate to their health and body function. It is still widely practiced in many Eastern countries today, including India.
Ayurveda practitioners believe a woman’s left nostril has a powerful energy connection to her reproductive organs. For that reason, a nose ring worn through the left nostril is thought to help maximize female fertility, ensure healthy pregnancies, ease childbirth-related discomfort, and enhance the quality of the wearer’s sex life.
Many modern women – including those who aren’t interested in traditional female choices like marriage or children – choose to wear a nose ring more as a symbol of general female empowerment.
They see it as a way to demonstrate their belief in a woman’s unique brand of strength and personal power – proof positive that she’s amazing and worthwhile, whether single or married, with or without children.
The current relationship between nose rings and Western counterculture may be less than a century old. But it’s been going on long enough for it to mean something more to many people.
In the West, a nose ring meaning almost always relates to individualism and uniqueness in some way. For some people, it’s merely about being quirky or artistic. But for others, it’s a way to express rebellion, deep disagreement with current social norms, and defiance against the system.
What Does Nose Ring Mean Sexually?
Have you ever heard someone else say that the choice to wear a nose ring can have a sexual meaning? Although this is not a universal belief among nose ring enthusiasts, it’s important to understand that some people do interpret the rings that way (and have throughout history).
- Throughout the 1700s, European sailors came to see nose rings as a sign of sexual promiscuity. Naturally, this has to do with the way they often engaged in sexual relations with foreign women during their travels – women who often wore nose rings because of their cultural significance.
- When nose rings became more popular during the hippie counterculture movement in the ‘60s, they also were sometimes associated with other hippie values – like free love, sexual liberation, non-monogamy, etc.
- The popularity of nose rings among independent, rebellious, or ultra-empowered social groups has further caused some to associate them with sex-positivity and modern sexual openness.
As with other types of jewelry, nose rings are really very personal, as are a person’s reasons for deciding to wear one. Someone may well decide to get one as part of an ongoing personal awakening that might include various forms of sexual empowerment.
That said, it makes perfect sense to want to try one on for size as a way to signal sexual openness or express a willingness to experiment in bed. What matters most is that it fits your evolving identity as a person.
Can a Nose Ring Signify Sexual Orientation?
Even though some subcultures and people do see nose rings as a potential sexual signal, that possibility has nothing to do with sexual orientation. A nose ring doesn’t mean someone’s gay, bisexual, or pansexual. It isn’t about the person’s gender or their lack of desire to conform to traditional gender norms, either.
Like other choices a person might make about body modification, the choice to get a nose piercing is ultimately about self-expression. That self-expression might be religious or cultural in nature, so assuming it’s somehow about sexual orientation may be perceived as socially tone-deaf.
Can Anyone Wear a Nose Ring?
Many of today’s hottest jewelry trends – like Hamsa hand jewelry, to name just one example – do come attached to a cultural significance. However, much of the symbology and meaning behind these options has been around for millennia and made its way into multiple countries, cultures, and belief systems.
When that’s the case, the pieces themselves can almost always be worn by anyone, and this is definitely the case with nose rings – especially in the Western world. Nose rings are worn by both men and women, especially those doing it for fashion reasons. And they’re appropriate for people of all ages and walks of life.
However, while much of the old stigma that might have been attached to nose rings in the past is gone these days, it’s still wise to consider whether it’s appropriate to wear one in certain settings.
For example, some very professional or corporate workplaces still frown upon accessories like nose rings and other types of facial jewelry. The same may be true for other very conservative organizations and social settings. So, when in doubt, double-check ahead of time for any rules or regulations that might make a nose ring a bad idea.
What to Know Before Getting a Nasal Piercing
Deciding you’re ready to update your look with a stylish nose ring complete with personal nose ring meaning is one thing. Dealing with the logistics of getting one is another, especially if you’re new to nasal piercings. Here are some things to consider before taking the plunge, the better to know what to expect.
Remember, nasal piercings come in multiple varieties. Not only can you get your nostril pierced, but you can also go for the septum or even the bridge of your nose. Consider using a faux nose ring to experiment with different looks before making your final decision to get a feel for what you like.
Nasal piercing pricing may vary from instance to instance, but most are pretty affordable, in general – usually between $25 and $30 per piercing. (Any actual jewelry you choose will, of course, cost separately.)
Naturally, everyone’s different when it comes to how well they tolerate the pain of body mods like tattoos or body piercings. However, most people who have nasal piercings agree that the associated pain level is pretty minor – about a 3 or 4 out of 10 when it comes to intensity.
As with any other type of piercing, it’s important to take meticulous care of your new nasal piercing to ensure proper healing and prevent infection. Regularly clean the area around your piercing with gentle soap and water or a diluted water-vinegar solution.
Treat swelling, pain, and inflammation with ice compresses and anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen.
How to Choose a Nose Ring
Choosing your new nose ring is definitely the fun part of the equation, but you’ve got lots of options at your disposal these days. Carefully consider all of them to ensure a choice you’ll be happy with for a long time to come.
Style and size
The right style and size for you is primarily about personal taste. Do you want something subtle and tasteful or eye-catching and unusual? Do you prefer the idea of a traditional ring-style option, or is a stud or barbell more your style?
Consider practical factors like your facial features and lifestyle, as well. Make sure your choice makes sense given where you work, what you like to do in your spare time, and what suits your looks best.
Like nose ring style, your choice of metals is mostly personal and depends on what you like best. But be sure to prioritize biocompatibility to avoid future irritation and discomfort. Good, solid choices include implant-grade titanium, 14K or 18K gold, surgical-grade stainless steel, platinum, and high-quality silver.
Nose rings come attached to several different post styles, including pin posts, L-posts, and U-posts (also called nose screws). Each has its pros and cons.
- L-posts are nice and secure, as well as easy to deal with, making them a popular option for those new to nose rings.
- U-posts are super-secure, so they’re terrific picks for people with active lifestyles or who are concerned about their rings falling out.
- Pin posts are comfortable and user-friendly. However, they’re more compatible with fully healed piercings, so be sure this is the case for you before going this route.
When in doubt, you can always ask your piercing expert or jeweler for personalized advice on which picks might be best for you.
Ultimately, it’s not hard to see why nose rings remain as popular as they are today. They’re unique, they’re beautiful, and they’re stylish. And you can assign a spiritual or personal nose ring meaning to yours, as well, if you wish. Just be sure to consider your choices carefully before selecting a particular piece or piercing type. You’ll be glad you did!