I read with interest Fellowship of the ring (NCE 5 February) and as one who worked in Canada as a Registered Professional Engineer in the 1970s, I can tell you the magic of the ring in the Canadian society in those days - it had none.
Nobody outside the profession had any idea why some people always fiddled with the ugly looking ring on their little finger. It was quite amusing to see in meetings how some people would suddenly get the urge to scratch their face, making sure that others around saw what their real motive was: show off their ring.
Senior people in the profession did not give a damn; they had no need to indulge in such ostentations.
In my opinion wearing the Institution tie is more dignified and conveys to all who need to know the professional status of the wearer. But, sadly this tie donning has all but disappeared.
Tirath S Saggu (M), tirath. saggu@Austin.co.uk