WHAT IS A SIGNET RING?
Historically worn by politicians and royalty alike, signet rings were once seen as the ‘gentleman’s ring’. But these classic pieces are making a resurgence with the likes of Cara Delevingne, Rosie Huntingdon Whiteley and Henry Cavill wearing them.
But what is a signet ring and how did they become a staple of jewellery trends? In our guide, we explore how these rings evolved from symbols of status and power to beautiful, meaningful additions to your jewellery collection.
Definition: a signet ring is a traditionally oval-shaped flat ring with an engraved or raised design. Originating from the Latin word ‘signum’ meaning ‘sign’, these rings were used to seal documents by pressing the engraving into hot wax.
THE HISTORY OF SIGNET RINGS
Signet rings have around since the dawn of ancient civilisations. Pharaohs from Ancient Egypt wore cylindrical, gold versions of the ring with hieroglyphics engraved on them to assert their status. In the bronze age, craftsmen and goldsmiths became more skilled with the intricate designs they could engrave into signet rings. They also started to craft them out of various types of metal.
Signet rings were used to authenticate documents. Nobility and royals would have their coat of arms, family crest or other designs that were unique to them engraved into the ring to act as a ‘signature’ on important documents. Melted wax would be poured onto the document and then the wearer would press the ring into the wax until it hardened, leaving an impression.
These pieces were so unique that when its rightful owner died, the signet ring would be destroyed, ensuring no one could replicate their seal.
Throughout history, the meaning of a signet ring has been associated with wealth and class, however in the modern day, they have become timeless fashion statements. They’ve evolved from a traditionally male jewellery item to a piece worn by all genders. Signet rings have become symbols of an individual’s life, in particular the transition from childhood to adulthood. Much like promise rings, signet rings are a very sentimental piece for most wearers.
Many families pass signet rings down the generations as heirlooms, whilst others choose to celebrate a loved one’s birthday or special occasion by personalising these pieces. Despite their popularity, they cannot be used to legally sign documents anymore (we’re as upset as you are!).
WHAT FINGER DOES A SIGNET RING GO ON?
The signet ring is traditionally worn on the pinkie finger on the non-dominant hand, adding to the air of sophistication when it’s elevated holding a whisky glass. But we’re not a Bond villain living in the 1920s.
Unlike engagement, wedding or eternity rings, signet rings can be placed on any finger you prefer. Need some celebrity inspiration? Bruno Mars wears his on his index finger. Following tradition, Chris Pine wears his on his pinkie finger. And Meghan Markle elegantly styles hers on her ring finger.
Whether you wear it on your little finger or thumb, you’re sure to make a statement.
WHAT TO ENGRAVE ON A SIGNET RING?
If you’re looking for the perfect signet ring to treat a loved one, then why not make it even more special by adding an engraving?
It isn’t easy to condense all your love into such a tiny space, but whatever you decide, it will be a gift they’ll treasure forever. Below are some ideas of what you could engrave into a signet ring.
Name. Whatever name you choose to have engraved, they’ll be able to carry a piece of their loved ones around with them, wherever they go.
Date. This could be an anniversary, wedding or graduation date. So, whenever they look at their ring, they can remember those special moments.
Handwritten text or drawing. There’s nothing more beautiful than a message written by a loved one in their own handwriting. Why not engrave it into a signet ring and etch your love into history?
Have we mentioned at Primrose Hill, we offer a free engraving service? We can engrave anything from text or a symbol, to handwritten words or drawings.
HOW TO STYLE A SIGNET RING
Styling a signet ring can be easy. They’re trendy, yet timeless, adding a touch of sophistication to any outfit. Whether you’re looking to style it with a causal or formal outfit, signet rings will effortlessly match your outfit. These classic pieces will reflect your refined sense of style and showcase everything that makes you special.
Below are some styles that we recommend for both men and women.
MEN'S SIGNET RINGS
Men’s jewellery should elevate format suits and add a stylish twist to a more laid-back causal outfit. A gold signet ring is classic, but silver adds a refined finish to any style.
The size of the signet ring should be carefully considered. If your loved one prefers a simple, yet distinguished style, then a smaller band with clean lines would sit elegantly on their finger. If your special man prefers chunkier jewellery, then signet rings that mix metals or contain gemstones will give the wearer a certain an authoritarian, yet rebellious look.
Our favourite men’s signet rings:
WOMEN'S SIGNET RINGS
Signets rings are a recent addition to women’s jewellery trends, but they’re here to stay. Whether worn alone or stacked with other rings, signet rings for women add a luxurious touch to any outfit.
Classic shapes like the oval offer just the right amount of glam to a causal style. Prefer something more enchanting? Then why not try a signet ring with diamonds that will catch everyone’s eye?
Our favourite women’s signet rings:
Looking for more heartfelt gifts to spoil those in your life? Then why not browse our collection of beautiful, personal jewellery online at Primrose Hill.