Traditionally, a signet ring was a symbol of family heritage. Many of the first versions of this ring bore the family crest or coat of arms. The image was engraved into the ring in reverse so that it could be pressed into hot wax or soft clay and used to seal a document. The recipient of the document would know that it was authentic because of the symbol in the wax.
Signet rings go by many names, including “seal rings” because of their function to seal letters, as well as a “gentleman’s ring” because it was often worn by the male heirs in the family. In modern times, both men and women wear signet rings.
Modern Signet Rings
In the past, signet rings were only worn by those in the upper class, so they were often associated with elitism. Today, anyone can have a signet ring. Many people still decide to have their family crests engraved into the ring, but this isn’t the only option. It’s also possible to get your initials or any other picture you like included in the ring.
Currently, some rings are worn to symbolize membership in a club. The most common wearers of signet rings include Freemasons or military personnel, who wears rings that symbolize their rank or what branch of the military they are in. As these rings grow in popularity, people are wearing them every day with their outfits or using them as wedding rings.
How to Recognize a Signet Ring
Despite the fact that signet rings can come in many shapes and sizes and include a crest, initials or other photo, there are some common traits that set these apart from other rings. More often than not, they have a flat bezel and a design is engraved in intaglio, which means that it is raised and can leave an impression if pressed into wax or other soft materials.
While these two traits have to be present to make the ring a signet ring, determining the design, size and shape will be up to your personal preference and style. Some of the most common shapes include the following:
- Oxford Oval – the most traditional and popular shape for signet rings
- Round – a more contemporary and modern option
- Marquise – gives the ring a more sophisticated and elegant shape
- Cushion – this is a square-shaped ring that was popular during the Victorian era
How to Wear a Signet Ring
Traditionally, signet rings were worn on the pinkie finger of a person’s non-dominant hand. This would make it easier to use it for its intended purpose, which was sealing a document. Today, many people still abide by this rule, but not everyone does.
There are no longer any hard and fast rules when it comes to wearing a signet ring, so you are allowed to wear it on the finger that feels most comfortable. As mentioned, some people where them as wedding rings, so they will be found on the ring finger of their left hand. Others wear them on their middle or first finger.
Signet rings are often worn to make a bold statement or show off heritage. They add something unique and special to your style, whether you wear them for special occasions or every day.