A brief history of signet rings

How did the modern day Signet Ring come into being… where did it all begin, and where did we get our inspiration from?

The Signet Ring has reemerged and become oh so on trend with more and more people choosing it as their new wardrobe staple. The Signet Rings is that piece from your beloved jewellery collection that can be worn all day, everyday and our Signet Ring collection is no exception. It is the perfect accessory for your everyday wardrobe, big enough to make a statement but practical for everyday way. Worn by both men and women, don’t be afraid to get involved and add a Signet to your hand candy.

So, we all know that the Signet Ring has been on the scene for many many years, but how did the modern day Signet Ring come into being… where did it all begin, and where did we get our inspiration from?

The word Signet itself is believed to have originated in Anglo-Norman and Middle French. The first type of Signet ring was most certainly made for practical purposes, with the first of its’ kind emerging from the ancient eras. Long before the art of writing, it was still necessary to mark royal proclamations and legal documents and this is where the Signet Ring was of great significance serving as seals.

Signet ring with coat of arms by Bianca Jones Jewellery

In ancient Egypt, the Pharaohs and nobles would wear rings made of stone or pottery called faience. These Signet rings were ornate with decorations and symbols that denoted power as well as the interests of the wearer such as art and history. Over time there was a great progression of the materials used to make Signet Rings, and by the Late Bronze age, the discovery of metal was utilised. The practice of carving the seal into gemstones brought colour to the Signet Ring with the most popular stones introduced into the elaborate designs including the ruby, amethyst and garnet.

Signet ring with coat of arms by Bianca Jones Jewellery

Originally the ornate design wielded great power and authority and as the emblem was indispensable to commerce they were made into Signet Rings so that the owner could keep his identifying symbol under his control on his very own finger. In some cases, the Signet Ring had to be destroyed after the death of its owner to ensure that the authority it represented was terminated. As the value of power that the Signet Ring carried during these times was so great, the authority it resembled was transferred to its owner’s designated heir as a symbol of rank, family heritage and social position. Since many years ago, this tradition has continued, with Signet Rings being passed down through the generations of families, connecting modern day generations to their family ancestry. During the war years there are also tales of when a gentleman has pledged his love to a young lady before leaving for war by giving her his Signet Ring, symbolic of the promise of his love.

 

As time has gone on, the Signet Ring has broken free from the assumed class and gender boundaries.

By the end of the nineteenth century, men of all classes had begun to wear signet rings. As the Signet Ring historically served an important purpose in male dominated domains, they were never worn by women so ornate designs of Signets were not commonplace. And so typically, Signet Rings were very heavy and masculine, made in a substantial and sturdy form to last through the wear and tear of being used regularly to seal documents as well as lasting through several generations in a family. Today, both men and women wear the modern Signet Ring. So if you’re worried about whether you can pull off the Signet Ring look… fear not.

While the style of the Signet Ring still remains a classic; durable, sturdy and very imposing, the strength of the design has definitely not diminished over time. Here at Bianca Jones Jewellery, we have taken inspiration from the Signet Rings of the Greeks and Romans and revamped and modernized the design. Away with uber- masculine overtones, we’ve taken it back to the basics, revealing the Signet Ring’s gorgeous curves and strong shape.

Signet ring with initial engraving by Bianca Jones Jewellery

Want to keep your Signet Ring looking traditional?

Well the Oval Signet Ring is the one for you. A sure classic, and a timeless addition to your jewellery collection. We’ve also added a whole lotta love with a glorious heart shaped Signet Ring, certainly making this design all about the ladies. The option to have a brilliant cut diamond embellished on the band certainly makes this ring uber feminine, as well as adding a sophisticated sparkle to your Signet Ring style. Adorn a precious gemstone special to the wearer, perhaps their birthstone? Or keep it simple by choosing a Diamond, a symbol of eternal love.

Our Signet Ring collection can also be personalised by you.

We can hand engrave beautifully scrolled initials onto your ring. Perhaps this could be the recipient of this gifts initials, make the Signet Ring all about them. Or make the Signet Ring a his and hers piece of jewellery, one for you and one for your love, just as in the war years when men gave their loved one their Signet Ring as a pledge for his love for her. Choose to wear each others initials on your finger so they are with you always, a cute sentiment for sure. More and more people are choosing the Signet Ring for their wedding rather than the traditional wedding band, another option worth considering.

The Signet Ring is a bold statement piece of jewellery, so it can look great on its own on your pinky while also keeping your look simple yet sophisticated. We are also loving layered jewellery at the moment, so why not be a little different and layer up your rings and couple the Signet Ring with other rings from your collection. We love the Heart Signet Ring with our Love Heart Ring, double up with the symbol of love.

While we are keen to revamp and keep the Signet Ring looking modern and on trend, we can’t forget that this is a truly a classic piece of jewellery. So sticking with traditions, consider having a crest or family emblem hand engraved on our Signet Ring. In an era where literacy was hardly universal, symbols in place of letters were engraved on Signets. Family crests, heraldic symbols and tartans of feudal lords were the monograms of the time.

Signet ring with initial engraving by Bianca Jones Jewellery

Reconnect with your family ancestry and choose to have your family crest hand engraved onto the Signet Ring

Introduce a bit of personal history into the personalisation of your Signet Ring. What a way to re introduce the tradition of passing down a piece of your family heritage from one generation to the next. And as the Signet Ring is durable and strong, it will withstand all the tests life throws at us.

If you don’t know of a family crest in your ancestry, then this is not to say that there can never be one!

Why not introduce one now? We are able to assist in the designing of your family crest to suit your taste and requirements. A truly special Signet Ring that we would love to be a part of creating a piece so symbolic to you and your family.

Please do email us at orders@biancajones.co.uk for any special requests, such as special hand engraving, family crests or embellishments.

Signet ring with initial engraving by Bianca Jones Jewellery


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