You won’t be able to keep your hands off these pieces.
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While some people bite their nails, I pick at them. It's a bad habit I developed years ago while stressing over college applications and the SATs. Getting regular gel manicures helped me shake it off over the years, but 2020 threw a new curve ball. The stress of the pandemic, no professional manicures, and no professional office setting to keep my habit in check? My nails haven't looked this bad in years. 

So when I stumbled upon fidget jewelry on Instagram, I stopped scrolling. A quick Google search revealed plenty of styles on Amazon and Etsy, as well as higher-end brands like J. Hannah and Marla Aaron creating fidget rings and pendants. Apparently, the stress of 2020 has caused designers to come up with creative solutions. But can fidget jewelry actually help?

It turns out that yes, fidget jewelry can keep your hands happy, as Katherine Isbister, PhD and professor of computational media at the University of California, Santa Cruz puts it. Spending years researching the effectiveness of fidgets, Isbister found that jewelry often came up as one of the responses when asking participants what they fidget with on their own.

"It's a very old practice if you think of mediation beads or rosary beads," says Isbister. "[Fidget jewelry] is just taking it a step further and being like, well, what repetitive, unconscious sort of play might that piece of jewelry afford? You might turn a ring around your finger already, but the spinning element adds to the interaction."

Isbister also discovered that people usually look for discreet fidgets, whether to avoid distracting others or breaking the social norm of staying still. A huge pro of fidget jewelry is that it easily masks its purpose. In fact, most pieces look like any other ring or necklace, with the exception that they have an intentional component you can spin, twirl, or move up and down. It's this repetitive, rhythmic interaction that Isbister says can be grounding and help you focus. 

To find the best fidget for you, she recommends first considering whether you want to be aroused or calmed, as different sensations offer different effects. It's also good to think about what you already fidget with naturally and if a certain piece of jewelry might feel similar. "If you are bored or tired, people will sometimes seek out something that is prickly or kind of clicky, like a pen that jolts you into a little more awareness," says Isbister. "If you are anxious or over-stimulated, you might want to feel a smooth and cool surface to calm down."

Before my conversation with Ibister, I impulsively purchased 12 spiky sensory rings from Amazon, though I might have been better off with something smoother. Still, rolling the ring up and down my finger created this soothing rhythm. There was also an awareness factor—each time I reach for the ring, I am aware I'm about to fidget, and I have found myself less and less inclined to start this habit in the first place.

This mindfulness may be one of the most important parts fidget jewelry can offer, especially as many of us continue to work from home without regular breaks or boundaries.

"It's probably inherently unnatural for us to sit all day long and expect ourselves to have undivided attention, so I think it's always important to take fidgeting as a sign that you might need a break," says Isbister.

Whether you want to kick a bad habit like me or pick up a new accessory with some soothing benefits, check out our favorite fidget pieces below.

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1 Spiky Sensory Rings

$6, amazon.com

With 12 rings, half coming in gold and the other in silver, this set is a steal. Will I actually wear them out of the house? No. But for working from home or relaxing after a long day back in the office, they are the perfect accessory to keep my hands busy and my mind at ease.

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2 J.Hannah Pivot Ring 

$395, jhannahjewelry.com

Recognizing the need for some real retail therapy, Los Angeles-based jewelry brand J.Hannah recently launched a Pivot Ring collection. Starting at $395, its three different designs are worthy splurges if you want something timeless and elegant for when the office actually reopens. Plus, 10 percent of the rings' proceeds are donated to the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.

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3 Captain Peter Jewelry 

$209, etsy.com

Fidget bracelets and earrings are harder to find, yet Captain Peter Jewelry has a variety of options on Etsy. Its minimalist metal pieces are so chic, you might forget the moving beads have another purpose. If you find a style you love, be sure to place your order, as they sell out fast.

Crafts By Anna Lee Rose Quartz Fidget Necklace

4 Crafts By Anna Lee Rose Quartz Fidget Necklace 

$15, etsy.com

If you enjoy holding a smooth stone in your hand while doing some deep thinking, you'll love the convenience of wearing this polished rose quartz. Dubbed the stone of self-love, the gemstone is known for its healing qualities and it takes center stage in this rotating piece.

ALEXTINA Women's Men's 6MM 8MM Fashion Stainless Steel Spinner Ring

5 ALEXTINA Women's Men's 6MM 8MM Fashion Stainless Steel Spinner Ring

$7, amazon.com

With no flashy jewels and available in 10 versatile shades, this stainless steel ring keeps it simple. The outer band has a sandpaper texture and can be spun manually, providing you with that sensory touch and rhythmic motion.

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6 Pamela Love Enamel Eye Ring

$180, pamelalove.com

Ward off negative energies and anxiety with this Evil Eye rotating ring. Fans of the symbol have been donning jewelry with eye-catching details in trust of the symbol's energetic power. Between the vibes and rotation, it will surely keep you in the zone.

Street Bauble Fidget Spinning Ring

7 Street Bauble Fidget Spinning Ring

$50, etsy.com

With a hammered finish, this sterling silver ring has a rustic touch that looks like you found it at an artisanal craft fair. The Etsy designer even gives you the option to request a custom combination of bands if you want a truly unique piece.

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8 PeNeede Well Crafted Gear Pendant with Chain

$15, amazon.com

Cute and cheeky, this necklace is a fun way to get your "gears going" if you've hit a mental roadblock after all those Zoom meetings. Reviewers like how the pendent is lightweight yet sturdy and good quality. 

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9 CDE Rotating Birthstone Rings

$20, amazon.com

This spinning ring gets more personal with the option to select your birthstone in either a rose gold or silver band. Sure, it's a bit over-the-top, but sometimes that's what your WFH routine needs.

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10 Marla Aaron Fiddling Series

From $2500, marlaaaron.com

From pulleys to locks, the Fiddling Series from Marla Aaron will really keep your hands busy. Crafted from gold and precious stones, these pieces are works of art that are just as fun to play with as to look at. You can add the charms to your own chains and bracelets for a custom look. The hefty price tags make them a worthy gift, whether for yourself or a loved one.