Ring cutters are tools which can be used to cut rings. These tools are kept by many jewelers, as they often have cause to cut through rings when they are making size adjustments or performing other tasks. They are also commonly stocked in emergency response kits, ambulances, and emergency rooms so that rings can quickly and safely be removed from the fingers of patients during medical emergencies. Funeral homes and autopsy facilities also commonly maintain a set of ring cutters so that rings can be removed from the dead if necessary.
Some ring cutters are designed specifically to be used on rings alone. They may include a small jeweler's saw to cut quickly through the metal, or other types of blades. These devices are not safe to use on a ring which is stuck on someone's finger. Ring cutters designed for this purpose have a blade guard which can be slipped between the ring cutter and the finger, ensuring that the finger is not damaged when the ring is cut through so that it can be removed.
There are a number of reasons for rings to become stuck on fingers. One of the most common is weight gain, with wedding rings in particular being prone to becoming stuck because people rarely remove them. Another is illness or disease which causes swelling or clubbing in the fingers. For example, people with congestive heart disease often have swollen fingers, as do pregnant women, and individuals with arthritis may develop such severe swelling and twisting in their fingers that it is not possible to slip rings off.
It may also be necessary to cut a ring off because a ring has become trapped in something, causing a safety issue. For example, first responders at the scene of an accident may see that a ring needs to be cut away to free someone without injuring that person's finger. Rings can become snagged in metal parts of a car during a car accident, metal machinery in a factory, or even things like chainlink fencing. In these cases, it may not be possible to extricate the finger without cutting the ring away.
High quality ring cutters can handle a wide assortment of metal alloys and can cut very quickly. Others may be designed for specific families of alloys, such as golds. It's important to use the appropriate tool for the job to avoid causing damage. Ring cutters designed for gold, for example, are not suitable for harder metals like platinum.