Rings have been traced back to the Ancient Sumerian civilization of the 3rd millennium B.C. and have been continuously worn throughout history by all civilizations. In Ancient and Biblical times, rings symbolised a transfer of power. Signet rings were used to authenticate documents in a time when literacy was low. The first known types of wedding rings were fede rings, or rings depicting two clasped hands. Rings became an ancient part of marriage in the Medieval period for both Christian and Jewish communities. The fourth finger of the hand was chosen to be the ideal spot for the wedding ring because of the vein in that finger that flows directly to the heart. Posey rings were another type of wedding ring, usually in the form of a simple gold band with a romantic message inscribed inside the band. Memento Mori (reminder of death) rings became popular in the 15th century. Throughout history, rings have had both a functional and sentimental purpose. There is no other type of jewellery that is quite as romantic or long lasting as the ring: as other forms of jewellery such as necklaces, earrings, and bracelets fell in and out of fashion throughout the ages, rings were consistently worn by both men and women. A trip to the National Gallery will reveal that rings and rings alone are the only kind of jewellery seen in most every portrait from every time period.
Bentley & Skinner are pleased to stock a variety of superb rings. In addition to our collection of rings for wear on special occasions, we have an exceptional collection of antique wedding and engagement rings, particularly from the Victorian era and Edwardian era.
Signet rings are a type of functional ring that have been used since ancient times to authenticate a document. They were originally used to stamp wax seals on important paperwork. Often worn on the pinkie finger, modern signet rings often have family heraldic crests engraved on the ring face. Although they are rarely used today for wax seals, the family crest ring has become a symbol of ancestral pride. Signet rings have traditionally been worn by men, but in recent decades, their popularity has expanded to women’s fingers as well. Bentley & Skinner offer a collection of gold signet rings and we are happy to assist you in either researching your own family crest or commissioning an original from the College of Arms.