Signet & Glyptic Rings

Signet rings have been rings used to seal business and legal documents and to symbolise ownership for millennia, while today we display our family loyalty by wearing a traditional seal or signet ring engraved with the family crest. Records show that the Mesopotamian people used cylindrical seals as marks of authenticity. During the ancient Egyptian and Roman periods, it was vital  for influential figures to have personal signets to validate documents, as literacy and signatures were not widespread. By the Middle Ages, all members of Europe’s nobility had signet rings that were used to sign and seal official documents. Some of the most important documents in history are marked with signet rings: King John used his signet ring to sign the Magna Carta in 1215, and the Acts of Union between England and Scotland in 1706 feature many seals stamped with signet rings next to their wearer’s signature.

Throughout the 15th and 16th centuries, signet rings can be seen on many portraits of important historical figures, at the time typically worn on the index finger of the left hand, as in Hans Holbein the Younger’s portrait of Sir Thomas Moore. They fell out of favour in the 17th century but became popular again in the 18th century. By the 19th century, they were worn by men of many social classes and became a staple of men’s jewellery.

The characterful pinkie ring has been worn by both men and women for centuries. One has to simply walk through the National Gallery to see hundreds of years of small, glinting rings adorning the smallest finger on the left hand of numerous aristocratic ladies and gentlemen.

Most Bentley & Skinner gold signet rings are custom created for each client and are die-stamped and hand forged. The die-stamped ring is visually superior and more durable than a cast ring, and if engraved, the dense, compressed precious metal lends itself to a more precise cut, giving the signet ring a sharper, defined carving. Each of our rings is hand engraved with the design of your choice: many opt for the traditional family crest, while some choose to have initials or other images carved onto their ring.

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