Signet ring meaning: What is a signet ring? How to choose, wear and style them?

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Men wearing jewelry is nothing new these days. If you want to choose one piece of jewelry that best reflects reflects your personality and lifestyle, the signet ring would be on the top of the list.

It is one of the oldest pieces of jewelry, a symbol of royalty, status and power, and now an essential piece of jewelry for gentlemen.

What is a signet ring?

A signet ring is simple in shape, usually round or oval, and is stamped with family crests, initials, floral motifs, beasts, crowns, crosses, or other designs.

It is a symbol of royalty, status and power and are often worn on the little finger of the left hand.

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Stamp rings originated in Europe during the Middle Ages, when nobles, merchants, and politicians would wear these rings in order to be able to handle their business at all times.

Back then, they would write a letter, seal it with hot wax, and then use the signet ring to stamp a signature on it to prove the authenticity of the letter.

A long history

This seemingly simple piece of jewelry actually has a very long history. Its appearance can be traced back as far as 3500 BC in Mesopotamian times.

During the ancient Egyptian period, the pharaohs made stamp seals smaller and began to wear them on their hands. This is considered by many scholars to be the earliest form of signet rings.

By the Middle Ages, the signet ring had become the equivalent of an official signature and was used by nobles and officials of high status to sign letters and legal documents.

In the 14th century, King Edward II of England issued a decree stating that all official documents must be “stamped” with the king’s signet ring.

Over time, the signet ring has become less functional and more of a symbol of family heritage and social status.

In the 2010 film “The King’s Speech,” Colin Firth’s George VI was wearing a signet ring, and the real George VI was wearing a signet ring throughout the years too.

George VI’s grandson, Prince Charles, has worn a signet ring, a symbol of status, since the 1970s, when he was officially crowned Prince of Wales by the Queen.

The three ostrich feather motifs on the ring are the very symbol of the Prince of Wales’ power.

From the 18th century onwards

From the 18th century onwards, the signet ring was no longer just a jewel reserved for the nobility.

Due to its special meaning, the signet ring became a “gentleman’s ring”. Nouveaux riches began to create their own signet rings as a symbol of status.

Al Pacino wearing a signet ring in The Godfather Part III.
Al Pacino wearing a signet ring in The Godfather Part III.

The Godfather, played by Al Pacino, often wore a signet ring to showcase the character as a powerful man of words.

Leonardo’s character in “The Great Gatsby”, a nouveau riche man bent on breaking into high society, also wore a signet ring, which is made of black onyx.

Nowadays, with the return of the retro trend, signet rings are no longer “old fashioned”, but a favorite of people with taste and personality.

Signet ring meaning: royalty, social status and power

What does a signet ring mean? Over time, the signet ring has become less functional and more of a symbol of family heritage and social status, i.e., a “gentleman’s ring“.

How to wear a signet ring?

1. Wearing it on your pinky finger

What finger does a woman wear a signet ring on? Wearing it on your pinky finger is the most traditional way, as the royalty and gentlemen mentioned above all wore it this way.

This is because the signet ring was first used for “stamping”, so it was easy to wear on the pinky finger without interfering with daily activities.

Although the signet ring no longer serves the purpose of a seal, it is still worn in this manner.

2. Wear it on the non-dominant hand.

Which hand for signet ring? It is often worn on the little finger of the left hand so that it does not interfer with daily activities.

However, if you are left handed, the ring would go on the little finger of your right hand.

3. It is usually worn toward you.

Which way should a signet ring face? It is usually worn toward you (viewed from the wearer with the engraving turned down), as this is how they used to seal a letter with the signet ring.

How to style your signet ring?

What is the best way to wear a signet ring? If you want to look classy and elegant, it is best not to mix and match, but to wear it on your pinky or ring finger alone.

This works especially well with formal wear and a watch. It instantly enhances the overall look and makes you look particularly elegant.

On the other hand, if you prefer a casual look, then you can mix and match signet rings, especially those with a unique style. They go well with street wear.

How to choose a signet ring?

Most of us don’t have our own family crest and totem like royalty, so how do we choose the pattern of a sigenet ring?

1. Custom signet rings with your initials, astrological sign or personalized patterns

Rihanna's initial signet ring made by Sophie Breitmeyer.
Rihanna’s initial signet ring made by Sophie Breitmeyer.

The most exemplary choice is, of course, to customize a pattern with a personal touch or use initials. Rihanna, for example, owns a signet ring engraved with “RRF”, representing her name Robyn Rihanna Fenty.

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2. Symbolic motifs such as portraits, shields, lions, feathers, and hearts

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In addition to customization, many jewelry brands are now offering ready-made signet rings, so you can choose the design you prefer. Symbolic motifs such as portraits, shields, lions, feathers, and hearts are very popular choices.

3. Signet rings with diamonds or gemstones

Signet ring meaning: What is a signet ring? How to choose, wear and style them?

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Modern signet rings don’t always have to be engraved with anything. Take a cue from the traditional design of the signet ring, decorate it with diamonds or gemstones and you will get a more distinctive look.

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For men’s signet rings, you can choose one with black onyx, as Ryan Gosling did in Crazy Stupid Love.

4. Plain signet rings

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Plain signet rings have also become popular in recent years. They look tougher than a regular plain ring. And due to their unique design, they don’t look as tacky as a plain gold ring.

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Many couples now choose to wear a plain signet ring instead of a traditional wedding ring for a more unique and stylish look.

5. Branded signet rings for a casual street look

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Lastly, if you prefer a casual look, signet rings are a great choice too. Many fashion brands are now offering unique signet rings inspired by their own brand logos.

You can mix and match them, especially those with a unique style, which go well with street wear.

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Where to buy a signet ring?

If you want to buy a signet ring ranging from $20-$200, you can check Etsy. You can buy a men’s signet ring, an engraved signet ring, a gold or silver signet ring that are affordable and of high quality and have them delivered to your house fast.

Alternatively, if you want to buy high end signet rings ranging from $100-$2000, you can check Farfetch

They have luxury brands like Gucci, Prada, Boucheron, Cartier, Chopard, David Morris, De Beers and designer brands that are unique and less well-known. You can also have all the products delivered to your home.

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