Can rings be used as a monetary system? are there any flaws? I took inspiration from Celtic ring money, ring made from different metals- the value of a ring dependent on the material its made out of. eg, a copper ring would cost less than a silver ring, and that would cost less than a golden ring etc.

People would wear these on fingers. I think there might be problem with thievery etc. Any ideas to make it better or express any flaws?

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    Sonic the Hedgehog. Boom. – user45266 Oct 17 at 17:35
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    @user45266 The rings were just a means to an end. The real end was the Chaos emeralds. – a CVn Oct 17 at 17:44
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    @MichaelKjörling The emeralds are just a status symbol being purchased with the rings you worked for. – Frostfyre Oct 17 at 19:40
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    The norse would make chains out of precious metals, you could just hack/bend off a link of chain to pay for something. so that would be a series of interlocked rings, still valued by weight though. – John Oct 17 at 22:29
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    What about the Rai stones? 4 metre, 4 tonne rings might be a little cumbersome to wear, but maybe your people aren't human? – curiousdannii Oct 18 at 3:16
up vote 16 down vote accepted

Traditionally Japanese coins had holes through the middle and could be strung together for ease of transportation:

Japanese coins courtesy of Wikipedia

In the Dune series the Fremen would use rings as currency backed by water, these weren't worn on fingers but in their hair so another take on stringing them.

So it's not an uncommon idea, however it's probably not a good idea to wear them on fingers as people have different finger sizes so often the rings wouldn't fit and you have a maximum finger capacity for rings, it would also be difficult to hold things if your fingers are covered in rings. Imagine bandits attack you and your fingers are unable to bend due to being covered in rings so you can't grab your sword. I imagine in such a world people would end up stringing the rings together anyway.

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    hm... i didnt think about that... thanks for the insight! yeah now that i think about it... ill have to either work out a new monetary system or try to figure out an original idea to 'store' the rings. Thanks! – Uncertainty Oct 17 at 18:20
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    There was a pretty good book where in one area rings were given as status, the more valuable the ring the more they respected you. You would keep them in a bowl in the entryway so that people could examine them while they waited for you--hmm--Ahh I think it was from "The Kingkiller Chronicles". not the same but an interesting idea. – Bill K Oct 17 at 20:21
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    Another problem with rings is that they're hard to divide. With coins, people needing to make change sometimes actually physically cut them up. (A pirate's "pieces of eight" are Spanish reales cut into eight bits apiece.) Rings don't have that option, and tend to be large enough that they would represent a fair amount of wealth. – Cadence Oct 17 at 21:00
  • Denmark still has holes in their 1 Krone coins even today. – vsz Oct 18 at 4:11
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    @vsz - That's a relatively new design, though. Until 1989 (Queen Margarethe II), the 1 kr did not have a hole. – elemtilas Oct 18 at 6:54

Anything can be used as money, as long as the society using it agrees that it has value, or represents value, in a consistent manner. For some examples, see - specifically, the last section, with "Real World" examples.

Chinese coins at one time were square-pierced disks; this is the origin of the square-pierced tokens in modern mah-jongg sets, and also ultimately led to the symbols on the "dot" and "bamboo" suits in the game; the dot was originally a single coin, and the "bamboo" stick was actually a string of 100 coins.

Not an easy system.

Coins can be minted with basic technology. Rings can be easily made too, but putting any distinguishing marks on a ring is technologically more difficult (Signet rings). You can have plain rings, but then anyone can make rings, and they would no longer have a face value.

Engraving would work for high value rings, the ones that worth more than their weight in gold.

P.S. This answer assumes that the ring must be wearable and not just a "topological ring" like pierced coin.

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    But "face value" is a rather abstract concept, and really doesn't work if the populace is used to currency that's actual precious metals. They'll develop various ways of telling older, more pure coinage from the adulterated ones the new Emperor just introduced. – jamesqf Oct 17 at 18:21
  • yes, i meant it as a wearable ring... now that ive read some thoughts on it, i really need to think the whole monetary system through again... Thankyou for the answer! – Uncertainty Oct 17 at 18:22
  • @jamesqf having a limited set of instruments with face value is infinitely better than having no face value at all. Without face value, one would have to always use scales and have suspicion about composition of a ring. – Alexander Oct 17 at 18:33
  • @Alexander: Coins with intrinsic value did not have "face values" (that is, inscriptions saying so many units) until very very recently. Greek coins, Roman coins, medieval coins, Renaissance coins did not carry such inscriptions. Everybody was supposed to know the sizes, weights and engravings of coins in common circulation. – AlexP Oct 17 at 19:09
  • @AlexP so, the face value of old coins was "1". My point is that without a legible stamp, it is very difficult to determine intrinsic value of an object. – Alexander Oct 17 at 19:15

Besides real-life cultures, the videogame Tyranny uses rings as currency:

These rings aren't really coins, but more like loops of metal. They also aren't worn on fingers, but on strings, ropes, or leather cords tied around the waist or neck. In fact, as stated in the linked wiki article:

"As rings are used as currency, it is considered vulgar to wear rings as adornment or jewelry. Such decorations are seen as vulgar, and those who wear them are held in contempt."

Of course, you're free to invent whatever customs you like.

Threading rings with cords or tying them with ropes makes for easier transport (and would allow individuals to carry more than 18 rings (assuming 2 per finger and 1 per thumb) at a time.

If what you're looking for is more like coins with holes, you might still tie them together with cord or string, for ease of use. Specific stacks of rings might be a standard lump sum. For example, a string holding 10 copper rings might be the in-universe equivalent of a €5,- bill.

That might lead to slang terms for specific amounts of money. Think of people referring to 1 dollar as a 'buck' in reference to deers, which were hunted so much that a deer hide at one point only cost 1 dollar. Hence, a buck. Or I've heard people refer to 100 dollar bills as Franklins, in reference to the guy depicted on the bill.

Of course, you can always carry rings in a purse or bag instead. That might be less vulnerable to theft, depending on the construction of the bag and cords under consideration.

Not a new concept. Coins have been struck with holes in the middle to reduce their value
Wearing them as rings is a problem as it both limits mobility and the amount of money you can carry

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    @MichaelKjörling: Done – nzaman Oct 17 at 17:45
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