What is a Signet Ring? Where Did it Originate From?

Posted by Rachel Karcich on

A signet ring has its own identity — it tells its own story. Our modern collection takes inspiration from this old-world heritage and infuses it with timeless elegance.
Here at RG, all of our 14k Gold Rings are handmade in Los Angeles using the finest materials. And while our pieces are contemporary works, our craft is deeply rooted in the storied tradition of jewelry making. The signet ring, a keystone of our permanent collection, is perhaps one of the best examples of our ability to create simple yet timeless heirlooms. Today, we want to introduce you to these unique pieces.

The History of the Signet Ring

With a history that stretches back to seemingly the beginning of time — think, 3500 B.C. — the signet ring is an important earmark in the evolution of metalwork and jewelry. Typically forged out of a thicker band and featuring a flat surface, the empty space on a signet ring is traditionally left blank so that the wearer can engrave their own personal mark.

Photo via MFA Boston

The people of Mesopotamia used signet rings, as did the Egyptians. Thousands of years later, in the middle ages, nobility and any person with money owned a signet ring as a status symbol. But, the real purpose of the signet throughout history has been its ability for someone to ‘make their mark’ — their ring featuring everything from their initials to meaningful symbols and a family crest. The wearer would often press their ring into wax, sealing documents with their official mark, a symbol of true authenticity. 

Today, signet rings are not commonly used to seal documents. However, they have come back into fashion because they are unique and customizable. Who wouldn’t want something no one else has? 

Precious, 14k Gold Signet Rings

Each signet ring we hand craft at the RG Los Angeles atelier is precious. Using the highest quality 14k gold or .925 sterling silver to forge your custom piece, we also allow you to take part in the storied tradition of the ring by choosing your very own, complimentary text or symbol to add to the piece.

To bring the signet ring into the 21st century, we have come up with a variety of contemporary, beautiful shapes to choose from. Of course, there are the traditional round and square signets, but the oval and thin signet rings are extraordinary examples of modern heirlooms that will surely stand the test of time. 

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We have also crafted the diamond, heart and geometric signets, which are much more playful while embracing the heritage of these rings. These shapes are also special because they can actually stand quite well on their own, without an engraving. This makes them great for adding to your own stacks, or to give as a gift to someone who may want to engrave it themselves.

Our Geometric Signet, engraved in Belfast

But, two of our clients favorite signets are the ID signet, reminiscent of a dog tag, and the slender yet chunky rectangle signet. Both of these bold shapes have ample space for initial and name engravings, which are really sought after today.

Finally, one of our personal favorites in the collection is this beautiful starburst signet ring featuring a shimmering .025 carat diamond. This ring is the epitome of the modern signet, featuring this unique yet celestial inset. Plus, the added sparkle of the diamond makes this piece extra special. 

Recently, we were really touched by a customer who also found this ring special. She told us a beautiful story about how she bought this signet ring in remembrance of her father, who is now her guiding star in the sky.

“My ring came right on time as promised and is just beautiful. It has special meaning to me, as my dad has passed, and this was bought in remembrance of him and he is now my guiding star in the sky. This ring is not dainty but not too large either. It is just right. Love, love, love it and anticipate wearing it everyday for all occasions. Thank you so much. You can't find stuff like this in the stores at the mall!  — Jacqueline Y.

Excited to add a signet ring to your collection? Or know someone who would adore this as a gift? Browse our  beautiful 14k gold and sterling silver signet collections today to find your perfect signet ring. And don’t forget to choose your very own, free engraving at checkout!

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