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What does wearing a signet ring mean? (their purpose, who can wear them, and why)

What does wearing a signet ring mean? (their purpose, who can wear them, and why)

Signet rings have been around for centuries, and they have a long and rich history.

At Benjamin Black, we hand craft hundreds of custom made signet rings every year. People often ask us what signet rings mean - what is their purpose, who can wear them, and why?

To understand their meaning, it's helpful to look at how signet rings were originally worn.

What was the original purpose of a signet ring? 

Signet rings were originally used as a symbol of authority and power. The engraving on the top of the ring was unique to the man who wore it, and it was used to dip into wax, ink or clay, for signing documents and letters.

In the same way we use our signature today, signet rings were worn on the pinky finger and used primarily for the purpose of sealing important documents with a unique mark. 

Wax Seal Signet Ring by Benjamin Black

Signet rings were (and still are) different from other types of rings due to their flat top, with an engraved or raised symbol. This top insignia would represent its wearer in some way - their initials, name, job, organisation, coat of arms or family crest.

Has the purpose of a signet ring changed?

Well, yes -  and no. Of course, signet rings are no longer needed to verify documents. But signet rings have remained an important and meaningful accessory, that represents the personal story of its wearer - not only to be worn by men, but by anyone who so chooses.

Monogram Signet Ring by Benjamin Black

Modern day signet rings can be made in any metal, shape or size, and engraved with any design. Traditional engravings - family crests, coats of arms, and initials or monograms - are still popular choices. However, people also like to come up with their own engraving ideas. 

For example, married couples can have their family coat of arms merged into one crest. Or, people can create custom crests, where designers create a unique insignia, that is specific and special to them. This might combine elements that represent the person or family, such as holiday destinations, birth stones, a quote or text, or a special date.

Custom Crest Signet Ring by Benjamin Black

Whatever people decide for their custom signet ring, we think it should be made to the highest quality, so that it can be worn throughout the wearer's life, and ideally passed on as a family heirloom.

If you're looking at having a custom signet ring made for you, your family or your organisation, and have questions about choosing the perfect design for you, get in touch with our design team, email or give us a call on +64 3 546 9137.


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