The History of the Signet Ring
When exploring what a signet ring is, we must delve into its
historic past. Originally used as a 'seal,' signet rings played a
very important role in business and politics within early
civilisations. During the 10th century, these
types of rings were often used to authenticate documents.
Royals and nobility would have their family crest, coat of arms, or
other design, solely unique to them, engraved on their rings to act as a
'signature' on important documents. They did this by pressing the
engraved side of the band into melted wax. Due to these royal
beginnings, signet rings were seen as a mark of wealth and
By the 13th century, these personalised
rings had made their way down to the freemen of society
- these were the people who enjoyed civil liberty. What a signet
ring was didn't change much. As they used them in much the same
way, as a way to sign official papers. As this gold
jewellery being seen as a mark of authentication, signet rings
were often destroyed when their owner passed away.
Since the middle ages a signet ring's definition has evolved.
From taking centre as an aesthetic piece to show class and
nobility. To the modern day, where they can be worn as a fashion
statement. This jewellery has evolved from a traditionally male
jewellery item, to both men's and women's signet
rings being popular in today's age. The use of a signet ring
has changed much since its beginnings. Many families choose to pass
these jewellery pieces down the generations as an heirloom. Whilst
many people receive their very own personalised gift in the form of
a signet ring on their 21st birthdays. But despite their current
popularity, they cannot be used to legally sign documents in
Historic & Modern Meaning of Signet Rings
The historical meaning of 'signet' is that of 'a small seal.'
jewellery was generally used for sealing papers, letters, and
important documents by the upper echelons of society. On account of
this, signet rings were often referred to as 'gentlemen's rings.'
Since their start, they have grown in popularity in women also.
In modern times, what a signet ring is has changed. Often given
as a coming of age gift, at either 18 or 21, they symbolise a
moment in an individual's life. In particular, the cross from
childhood to adulthood. Much like
the meaning of eternity rings, and
the meaning of promise rings, this makes signet rings a very
sentimental piece for a vast number of wearers.