A Brief History of Signet Rings
Signet, which means a small seal, has a rich history dating back to ancient times. It was worn by aristocratic men to denote power and wealth. In earlier times, they were used to seal legal documents. Every person had their separate individual engraved crests which were used as a signature. First, they were worn only by men, representing male dominance. Nowadays, it has transgressed both class and gender limitations as it is worn by both men and women. Signet rings are worn by many people today as it has become a fashion statement. Custom signet rings are made, but people still wear their family crests passed down over generations, which denotes the significant role signet rings have had in history.
Signet Rings date back to early Mesopotamia and early Egypt where the early Mesopotamians and Egyptians used to carve icons into limestone. They were then worn by Pharaohs to depict their status. Then later, they were crafted with a family crest, which was used to seal documents or be representative of an individual’s signature.
- Signet rings were used to create a mark on wax to seal documents. The stamp of a ring was more common than a signature.
- Each ring was custom made, designed specifically for separate individuals. The designs differed from family crest to icons, which were reverse-engineered to make sure the designs were marked properly when stamped on any document.
- Signet rings date back to as early as 3500 BC. Egyptians used to carve symbols into rings to denote the rank of the Pharaohs. Later, the Greeks adopted the same method for identification by carving the symbols into custom signet rings made out of ivory, marble or limestone.
- With the Bronze Age, metal rings became popular as the metal was introduced in society.
- In the middle Ages, any person who upheld a higher position wore a signet ring. As mostly noblemen wore it, they were usually destroyed after the person died for the design to not be copied. The design was intricately carved out for individuals. Even the King issued all the documents to be sealed or signed by using the King’s custom ring in the fourteenth century. Signet rings then became a representative of wealth and power for whoever wore them.
- The nineteenth-century incorporated gemstones in the signet rings, they were made of silver or gold. The rotating bezel allowed the ring to be worn faced inward or outward.
In the twentieth-first century, Signet Rings became a piece of fashion jewelry to be worn. Many organizations and institutions have their designs that denote their belongingness. A little different from the signet rings, they still served the same purpose; an individual’s identification. The signet also serves as a family heirloom, passed over generations. The ring is customized by a jeweler to etch a meaningful symbol or crest. Though people from all classes can wear the ring now, they are not frequently used to seal documents nowadays.
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