The Signet Ring Craze and Why We Love It
Written by Anna Currell
February 7, 2023
The signet ring is not only a classic piece of jewelry that belongs in every modern jewelry collection, but it also has a significant history that spans the globe. This very versatile piece of jewelry can be worn in so many ways and can also hold a lot of meaning. In this article, we’ll explore what a signet ring looks like, its cultural significance throughout history, and how to style your signet ring today.
What is a Signet Ring?
A signet ring is a ring that has a flat surface on the top, where a gem might otherwise be located. This flat surface is normally circular, oval, square, or rectangular in shape, and often holds an engraving or design. These engravings can be ornate crests, monograms, or even very simple shapes. Sometimes they are decorated with enamel or gemstones as well. You might have seen them on the fingers of royalty like Megan Markle or gracing the red carpet on celebrities like Cate Blanchett.
The History and Significance of Signet Rings
Signet rings have been around for centuries, dating back to ancient Mesopotamia. In ancient Egypt, Pharaohs wore signet rings with specific hieroglyphics to indicate the royalty’s identity and position of power. These special engraved rings were also worn by nobility in ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. Later, signet rings became more popular among many kinds of influential people throughout the Middle Ages.
Beyond being fashion statements, signet rings were also functional in their day. Politicians and royalty used their signet rings to seal envelopes with personalized stamps, and they signed important legal documents by leaving their signet mark in wax or clay. Each signet ring was engraved specifically for the wearer so that it could be used as a signature and would be difficult to replicate. To prevent any forgeries or fraud, surviving relatives would traditionally destroy a signet ring after its owner died.
In time, as they became less functional and more focused on ancestry, signet rings with family crests were passed down through the generations as heirlooms. They served as symbols of social status and wealth rather than as an official signature, and they were sometimes used as wedding rings in marriage ceremonies to signify the continuation and unification of family histories.
Signet rings have had a recent resurgence. They’re stylish for people of all genders and thanks to their timeless look, you can find them in all kinds of styles. They come in interesting shapes, bright enamel, or bedazzled with gemstones.
How to Style a Signet Ring
A signet ring is a great addition to your jewelry capsule collection; it can spruce up your jeans-and-sneakers streetwear look or accessorize an elegant evening gown ensemble. There are so many different kinds of signet rings to choose from, so you’re guaranteed to find one that matches your style: dainty, bold, modern, classic, sparkly, or vintage. Here are three ways to style your signet ring:
Stack your signet
Piling your rings on top of each other is a really fun trend; it lets you wear as many of your favorites as you want to at once. Because of the signet ring’s interesting shape, including one in a stack of rings can add some variety and spice to your look.
Put it on your pinky
Pinky rings are all at once delicate and bold, especially when they’re signets. The pinky ring look is spunky, especially when paired with other rings across your fingers. If you’ve been trying to find the right ring to wear on your pinky, we highly recommend a slender engraved signet.
Make it the centerpiece
When in doubt, make your signet ring the focal point of your look. Put it front and center on your ring or middle finger without any other rings for a dramatic effect. You’ll look — and feel — like royalty. (Just don’t stick it in any melted wax. That sounds messy.)
If you’re lucky enough to own a family signet ring, be sure to take good care of it so you can wear it for years to come. Especially if your ring has seen several generations of your family, it might need a good cleaning. Get it resized to fit your finger, restore the enamel, or get an appraisal to find out more about your signet ring and its history. We’re here to help!