The History Of The Signet Ring

In its most simple definition, the signet ring’s name originates from the Latin word signum, meaning sign. From as far back as 3500 BC religious leaders and pharaohs would use them to mark on sale documents by pressing the faces, which were historically marked with a unique family crest carved in reverse into hot wax, signifying the authenticity of the document without concern for forgery or tampering. But beyond its primitive use, the signet ring came to embody something metaphorical.

A Roman hardstone intaglio ring, the cornelian intaglio finely carved with a winged figure of cupid holding a beribboned staff, riding a mythical creature, with the head of a lion and the body of a goat, rub-over set within a yellow gold elliptical tapering shank,1st-2nd century AD

The individual personal design of a signet ring wielded power and authority; because emblems were indispensable, the owner could keep his symbol under control on his own finger and even transfer the supremacy through to its owner’s designated heir, thus connecting the next generation to their family ancestry.

Although handwritten signatures took precedence over wax seals during the 19th and 20th centuries, the popularity of signet rings endured: but with a change in function to that of fashion.

Precious and semi-precious stones such as sapphire and bloodstone were used to fill the face of the ring on which crests taken from the family coat of arms would be engraved. Traditionally worn only by men, and usually on the little finger, the signet ring has evolved and withstood the test of time. Nowadays, these fascinating rings are worn by both men and women as witnessed by the popularity of the classic Bentley & Skinner signet ring.

The Bentley & Skinner Signet Ring