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A Brief History of Signet Rings


Many love the look of Signet Rings but their importance goes way beyond style. Signet rings have been around for thousands of years, since Biblical times. They are mentioned in the Bible. They have been found in Egyptian tombs and Greco-Roman archaeological sites.

Traditionally, they are carved into the metal or gem with the wearer's family insignia. Kings and noblemen would have their own unique signet ring, which was often destroyed when they died. No document or letter was official without the stamped seal from the signet ring. Destroying the unique ring avoided forgeries. This is an example of a vintage Coat of Arms signet ring (modeled after older ones):

Vintage Heraldic Coat of Arms Signet Ring

Signet rings represent the wearer's status in society. Originally used as wax seals for documents and letters, they have developed into beautiful pieces of personal adornment. Signet rings were originally worn by men only, as they held the power and the influence. They represented the wearer's status and achievements as well as his influence in that society.  Nowadays, we all wear them as a means of self expression in personal adornment. They remain important but for different reasons.

Over the centuries, the designs expanded and today a signet ring is a ring set with a flat stone, maybe a cameo or intaglio, or simply a flat setting with no stone. In late Victorian times, the Signet Ring evolved to display the wearer's initials, a coded message, or simply a tiny gem. Some were even made for children and today we wear them as midi rings or charms on a chain or charm bracelet.

Art Nouveau gold signet ring, sides carved as a beautiful woman enjoying the scent of flowers.

Above is an antique Art Nouveau gold signet ring, sides carved as a beautiful woman enjoying the scent of flowers and face engraved with initials The ring below is Edwardian, large cameo is hand carved from Gem Citrine and set in 14k Green Gold with pierced setting.

Recess Carved Citrine Cameo ring set in 14k Green Gold.

Later in Art Deco times, signet style school rings became available for both men and women, a practice that continued until the 1960's.

Signet style Art Deco school ring dated 1932, two tone 10k Gold, Black Onyx and enamel.

 

 

They also include the Armed Forces, Fraternities, Masons and even Boy and Girl Scouts.

Vintage Boy Scouts Signet Ring

This Signet Ring is from the 1940's, WWII Era, made in Sterling Silver and fired enamel,  Armed Forces, Infantry. Beautiful carved sides as well with the Armed Forces shield and Eagle.

WWII Armed Forces Infantry Signet Ring in Sterling Silver and vitreous enamel.

Even tiny ones were made specifically as charms. These were popular in the 1970's and 1980's.

Tiny Signet Ring charm

Signet rings have such a classic appeal they are still made today. They are one of our all time favorite styles. Follow this link to see all Signet Rings available.