Signet rings have been around ever since people have worn jewelry. Often called “a gentleman’s ring,” the signet ring was first used in ancient times as a personal signature (stamped in sealing wax) or a symbol of family lineage.
These days, according to National Jeweler magazine, signet rings are trending; they’re “having a moment” of renewed popularity. We think it’s because younger customers, including Millennial men and women, are craving heritage, authenticity, nostalgia and “roots.”
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Over the centuries, the signet ring typically bore a family crest or a particular symbol representing an individual—the wearer’s stamp. Designs were usually engraved, often in reverse, either directly into the ring’s metal or an inset gemstone, called an intaglio, and then pressed into wax or clay to create the personal seal.
With the rise of the middle class, in the 19th century, the use of signet rings as document seals declined; the rings became status symbols rather than legal marks.
By the late 19th century the signet ring had become a statement of personal style.
You may not have inherited an ancient coat of arms, or a family crest, but you can still personalize a signet ring with your monogram or the initials of a loved one. Schools, organizations and clubs also create signet rings for their alumni and group members.
Designer Ariel Gordon has grown her fine jewelry business on the nostalgic appeal of customized jewelry, including engraved signet rings. She recently told National Jeweler that “personalization lends an importance to jewelry” that takes it beyond mere accessory status.
“Most of the jewels in my personal uniform are custom engraved or set with birthstones for my loved ones,” said Gordon. “It feels more deliberate this way and less like I’m just piling things on for no reason. A signet ring is the pinnacle of personalized jewelry.”