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Custom signet rings have seen a global revival in the past few years becoming an on-trend item of jewellery that anyone can enjoy wearing.
Some of the world’s most fashionable VIPs and A-list celebrities have been spotted wearing signet rings, including Cara Delevingne, Kristen Stewart, Bella Hadid and Meghan Markle, to name just a few.
A signet ring is a legacy item of jewellery that can be treasured, enjoyed, and passed down to future generations. Their appeal comes from the desire to own personal items of jewellery that are unique to the wearer, while their long and illustrious history only adds to their allure.
Over the years, signet rings have played a significant role in history. While today’s signet rings make an elegant fashion statement, their original purpose was far more practical.
The rings traditionally featured a reverse engraving of the family crest and a mark that personally identified the ring holder. The engraved part of the ring would be dipped into hot wax and then be used to ‘sign’ official documents, much like a wax seal. As every engraving was unique, the signet ring was thus a way in which people could authenticate important documents. Indeed, the stamp of a signet ring was deemed to be more authentic than a signature
Signet rings are believed to date back to 3,500BC, with records showing that the people of Mesopotamia used cylindrical seals as authenticity marks. The ancient Egyptians re-purposed the cylindrical seal, turning it into a practical and convenient ring.
Historically, these elegant rings have been passed down through the generations, typically from father to son, with each heir adding their own distinct element.
While the signet ring’s original purpose of legally authenticating documents is no longer in use, the signet ring is still treasured as a legacy piece of jewellery, one that is completely unique.
Signet rings are now considered a fashionable piece of jewellery. Traditionally they were worn by men, often on the pinky finger, but today they are worn by both men and women on a finger of their choosing.
Designs are limited only by the wearer’s imagination. Signet rings are often made from precious metals, including white gold, yellow gold, rose gold and sterling silver and can be adorned with precious gemstones, including diamonds, emeralds, and sapphires.
While the family crest remains a popular classic signet engraving option, they can include your initial or that of a loved one, your fingerprint, or the fingerprint of someone special, your star sign, constellation, or any other meaningful custom engraving. Alternatively, a signet ring can simply be adorned with precious jewels, symbols, or artwork of your choosing.
A family crest or coat of arms remains one of the most popular signet ring engravings. Coat of arms date back to the 1100s and were typically passed from heir to heir down the family bloodline.
Most people don’t have a family crest, although it is likely that many people will have a connection to a coat of arms. If you don’t have a coat of arms or family crest or are unsure if you have a connection to one, you can choose to have a family crest or coat of arms designed.
Those wishing to make their family crest official can apply for a grant of arms by submitting a petition to the Earl Marshal. However, this can be an expensive and lengthy process and isn’t necessary unless you want to have your coat of arms legally recognised.
Philippa Herbert offers a collection of bespoke signet rings in 9-carat and 18-carat solid gold or silver that are entirely customisable. Browse our unique signet rings or contact us for a custom signet ring commission.