The Significance in a Signet Ring

The Significance in a Signet Ring

The story behind the signet ring, one of the most important jewelry designs in history, is very fascinating. The signet ring is a design that houses a raised, flat face on a shank, or ring, and is typically engraved with an image or icon meant to signify something memorable- like someone’s initials, a family crest, coat of arms, or a meaningful symbol. But signet rings weren’t always as casual as they are by today’s standards.

Signet rings as we know them have been popular for centuries, and date back to as far as 3500 BC, when the people of Mesopotamia wore cylindrical seals around their neck to authorize documents with their seal, usually in clay or wax. Later with the Egyptians this concept transformed into a ring for added security, and it’s purpose was used in the same manor. By the early Minoan period, signet rings were often carved from softer stone or bone, but by the end of this period were made from harder stones like onyx. With the Bronze Age came great discoveries in metalsmithing and suddenly jewelry was made from metals that stood the test of time, like gold and silver.

During the Middle Ages and through the early 19th century, all jewelry, but especially signet rings, was often worn by royalty or influential members of society that held important roles in government. When the person died, the rings were often destroyed to prevent forgeries after death. Ornate designs, family crests, symbols, and initials were often carved into precious metals, and then set into the bezel were precious stones such as diamonds or rubies. The use of these materials signified status and the important roles these people played in society.

It was not until the Industrial Revolution in the later part of the 19th century when technology made jewelry production much easier and accessible, that the signet ring became popular among women. By this time signet rings didn’t hold as much legal status as they once did, but still were a sign of wealth and importance. Traditionally, a signet ring is worn on the small finger of the wearer’s non-dominant hand. Today signet rings are immensely popular and still hold special significance to the wearer.

Signet Ring Egypt BCE
Egyptian signet ring, circa 664- 404 BCE
Roman Signet ring 3rd and 13th century AD
Roman jasper signet dates to the 3rd century CE, then was later set into gold in the 13th century.
England Signet Ring 1600- 1650 ad
Signet ring found in England, circa 1600-1650 CE
MAn with signet ring
Painting of a man wearing a signet, circa 1552
lucrezia panciati signet ring
Painting of Lucrezia Panciatichi wearing her signet ring.
elizabeth bathory signet ring
The only known painting of Elizabeth Bathory, wearing her signet ring.
FDR Signet Ring
Portrait of a young FDR wearing his signet ring.
Princess Di Signet Ring
Princes Diana of Wales wearing her signet.
Pippa Middleton Signet ring
Pippa Middleton and her signet ring.
carrie hoffman signet ring
Carrie Hoffman's traditional signet is engravable with up to three letters.
carrie hoffman signet ring disc ring
Our latest Disc Ring is also available for engraving.
carrie hoffman getty ring signet ring
Our best- selling Getty ring can also be engraved with initials, numbers, or words!

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