I'm on a ring streak, talking about ethical wedding bands a couple weeks ago and showing my favorite signet rings today. I love rings because they're really the only piece of jewelry that the wearer can enjoy all day since we usually see our hands the most. For me, picking out a ring is more meaningful than choosing my earrings or necklaces. My rings are like tiny pieces of art that I get to see all day and be reminded of what they mean to me.
I'm fascinated by signet rings because they have so much intriguing history behind them. They've been worn by pharaohs, religious leaders, nobles, masons and other wealthy people for more than 5,000 years. Before handwriting was a basic skill, signet rings acted as signatures on legal documents and letters by stamping them onto clay or wax to make a seal. Traditionally, the rings would either get passed down to the owner's heirs or be destroyed so that no one's identity would be stolen.
Now that most wealthy people can write and sign their names and people barely send mail anymore, signet rings aren't usually made for that purpose anymore. I do love the symbols and typography that were used in the old designs though and would love to give them more life. These are some of my favorite vintage and ethical options for signet rings right now:
This one was made in the early 1900s as a signet for a member of the masonic organization, Scottish Rite. The symbol of the double-headed eagle on the face has been used long before the Scottish Rite developed and the meaning has been debated. It's amazing, though! This ring is made out of 10k gold and white gold and the Eden Collective has lots of other really neat signets. $425
Here's another Scottish Rite signet that was made about 20 years later in the 1940s for a celebrated United States general. I love how the symbol has been elongated and looks a little more realistic. The scroll beneath the double-headed eagle reads "SPES MEA IN DEO EST," which means "My hope is in God." It's solid 14k gold and has been oxidized over time which makes the gold design pop. $1,199.99
This sterling silver signet also has a masonic symbol on it, called the "square and compass" which symbolizes morality and boundaries. The "G" in the middle stands for "geometry" or the "Great Architect" but it could also signify someone's initial for you. This ring was made in the 1940s and has developed a beautiful patina over time. $175
The thistle is Scotland's national flower, which signifies strength and perseverance to the country. This vintage Scottish ring with a thistle design has already sold, but I love the idea of finding a botanical signet ring. The cutouts in this one make it really unique. $66.25
There are also a lot of vintage initialed signet rings out there on Etsy and Ebay. You could wear your initial or someone else's to remind you of them. I love typographic designs so I could definitely see myself getting one like this! These are from the shop, Diament Designs, which has a variety of letters and metals to choose from. $36
Bloodstone is another popular material that was used for making signet rings. I like how it makes the design barely recognizable, but if you were to use it as a sealing stamp with wax, the letter or design would appear in the wax. This one was made out of bloodstone and 10k gold in the 1940s and has an Old English letter "I" engraved on it. $245
You can also find lots of vintage blank signet rings and get them engraved with your own unique designs. This 1940s one is particularly unique with it's diamond shape and rosy-colored 10k gold, but MS Jewelers also has a lot of blank signets in different shapes. $345
If you just want to buy new, Odette in New York makes a beautiful hexagon signet in recycled brass and recycled sterling silver. You could keep it blank or get it engraved as well.
Let me know which one is your fav!
Credits: All images belong to their respective companies | Gentleman's Gazette