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Once upon a time, a signet ring was the quintessential gentleman’s ring and it had great importance in terms of society, culture, but even in business and politics. Today, the signet ring has lost quite a bit of its luster and sometimes, it’s handed down as a family heirloom, however, at the end of the day, it’s a really interesting concept and it can be a stylish accessory.
00:46 The History of Signet Rings
Traditionally, the ring was used as a seal and it featured either a heraldic symbol, a family crest, or even a coat of arms. It was introduced around the world and it became a symbol of authenticity and somewhat like a signature. In combination with wax, it also served as a seal, for example, for letters or documents. A signet ring itself had specific markings that identified it belonging to a specific person or to a family. Interestingly, signet rings can be traced back as far as 3500 BC and specifically to Mesopotamia where they were used as a means of authenticity.
If you look at the word signet, it means as much as a small seal for formal or official purposes. A signet ring was definitely not something every man wore, it was more reserved for the elite or people of a certain class and societal status. While the first signet rings had a raised pattern on the ring, subsequently, that changed into engraved Signet rings because they were used in a wax seal. This tradition holds true today and even though most people don’t use a signet ring today anymore, to use in a wax seal, you’ll find crests that are reversed so they could actually be used with traditional wax.
03:03 The Signet Ring Today
In Europe, you can still find families that passing their rings or have new ones created for their children upon graduation or other important life events, though that is definitely the exception to the rule. Most families simply don’t have a crest or coat of arms. You definitely find Signet rings in the military, some men wear them showing their rank on the ring, you can also find them in fraternities, or simply as a symbol as a belonging of a club. One of the more well-known organizations that employ signet rings are the Freemasons. Today, I have yet to find someone who actually uses their signet ring to make a seal with wax and they’re usually just meant to be a mark of authenticity and tradition. That being said, it’s very easy to buy vintage rings on eBay these days, there are even counterfeits out there of vintage rings, or you can also have made your new ring.
07:38 Signet Ring Metal & Style Options
Most rings come in 10 Karat, 14 karat, or 18 karat gold. Either a white gold or rose gold or yellow gold. You can also go with sterling silver which is a lot less expensive but also with rings like palladium which are more expensive. Most rings come with a flat stone on top that is usually set and that can be engraved. If you don’t like the stone, you can also go with simple metal that is just fine. The bands are usually all solid and not decorated but you can also find Signet rings with heavy decoration on them. Traditional shapes include round, oval, or long oval, or rectangular, squares with rounded edges, or even like cut edges that gives you an octagonal look, there really is no limit under the sun as long as the stone is flat and not domed.
In terms of color and stones, the most popular are black onyx, blue lapis lazuli, a bloodstone, which is a dark green with red inclusions, you can also find a carnelian which is dark red, and we use those stones also for our cufflinks which you can find in our shop here which go quite well if you want to coordinate.
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