Knowing who wears a signet ring is not necessarily general knowledge. For that reason, we’re going to do a little lesson on it.
Let’s jump right in.
So, signet rings are an interesting piece of jewelry because they have existed for a long time. Like, a long time – millennia. In Ancient Egypt, Pharaohs and other authoritarian figures of the era wore signet rings. Not just to signify their own importance, but also to serve a practical function. Signet rings in their earliest form featured designs on their flat surface. These designs were made in the form of seals. Each wearer had an individual seal design on their signet ring, allowing them to seal documents with their unique symbol. When the pyramids and sarcophaguses were explored, these signet rings were unearthed and immediately adored.
It wasn’t just the Ancient Egyptians who wore signet rings, however, Ancient Roman and Greek cultures also featured signet rings. Military generals, Caesars, and other high-ranking officials wore signet rings for the same reasons as the Egyptians. Again, this was to ensure that their status and power were known to all, as well as allowing them an easy and practical way to sign and seal documents. Attaching a seal to a ring is a piece of genius really. It ensures that your unique signature is on your person at all times, so nobody can easily forge your signature and sign documents pretending to be you – fantastic.
So, who wears a signet ring today?
Although signet rings have been reserved for the rich and powerful throughout history, things have changed significantly in the last few centuries. Prince Charles might still be sporting a signet on his pink finger, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have your own.
Around the Victorian era, signet rings made a comeback and became a part of any refined gentlemen’s wardrobe. The somewhat bulky seals were rarely featured on these rings in the same way they had been a staple of Ancient signet rings. Instead, the Victorians were looking to imitate the wearers of the Renaissance period of continental Europe.
These signet rings sometimes featured gemstones – or perhaps sturdy stones like hardstone – but just as often they were plain gold. Rather than having a seal to press into hot wax, they usually featured an engraved family crest or the wearer’s initials. These weren’t emblazoned in reverse – as the ancient ones would have been in order to be the correct way around in the wax. Instead, they were simply symbols of power and status.
The practical use of signet rings having been dropped meant that signet rings were open to wider wear. Any man of means who could afford a signet ring could get it personalized in the Victorian era, and the patriarchs of some wealthy families passed their signet rings down from generation to generation. There are undoubtedly some people wearing signet rings today that are well over a hundred years old – at least!
Can I Wear a Signet Ring?
The good news is, you don’t have to be the heir to some vast estate to have an antique signet ring. You are well within your rights to buy your own, whether you buy a new one or an antique signet ring. Then you can begin your own tradition of passing your signet ring from person to person and capture that feeling of land-owning regal power!
If you’re a lady, don’t fret. The stiff, old rules about signet rings are a thing of the past, and today they are worn by anyone looking to be stylish as all hell. Women started wearing signet rings quite recently, actually. Although the rules about wearing signet rings are long since passed, most men still prefer to wear them on the little finger of their left hand. For women, however, there are really no established rules. Wear it on your little finger, wear it on the index finger to make a big statement, wear it on your thumb to add some bling – whatever you want!
This stunning vintage 1950’s dress ring is exceptional quality set with very high color graded old cut diamonds, the feature diamond displaying a fine white color and presence. The ring is an exceptional gauge of gold and is in excellent condition with French hallmarks to the outer surface of the shank.
Signet rings are a regal piece of jewelry, with a noble history stretching almost as far back as established humanity itself. Be a part of the tradition without having to get involved with the responsibility or stresses of the emperors and kings who started it. Try out a signet ring and see how powerful it makes you feel!