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Modern signet rings are purely decorative, but in historical times, these rings played an important role. Today, people buy a signet ring because it’s a distinctive piece of jewelry that expresses them personally. They might not even realize that they’re carrying on a long tradition. The history of signet rings is lengthy and illustrious.

 

 

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How signet rings were used

 

In historical times, signet rings were often quite beautiful, but they were more than that - they had an important role in society. These rings were developed as an identification mark. Rather than signing their name on a document, people would use a signet ring to make their mark. The ring would be pressed into hot wax or soft clay, and would leave a distinctive impression that functioned as an official seal.

Used by rulers and religious leaders, a signet ring could be used to mark a document, a doorway, or even to seal a tomb. When someone saw the mark of the king, it proved authenticity. The seal could not be opened without damaging the identifying mark, making it difficult to tamper with. Because of how they were used, these rings are also known as seal rings.

 

Ring designs featured an identifiable mark of the person wearing it. Often this was a coat of arms or family crest. Because the ring was intended to leave an impression, the ring maker needed to create the design in mirror image on the ring. This way, the finished impression would come out correctly.

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Signet rings in ancient times

 

As far back as 3500 BC, people in Mesopotamia began using signet seals. These were usually cylindrical devices that would be rolled across wet clay, leaving a distinctive impression. They sealed jars and packages this way. In ancient Egypt, pharaohs and nobles used signet rings made of stone or a blue pottery called faience. These rings were flat on one side, with an ornately inscribed design with symbols and hieroglyphic writing.

 

The Bible also contains references to signet rings. The Old Testament tells the story of Daniel in the lion’s den. The king closed the mouth of the den, and then sealed it with his signet ring and those of his nobles, so that Daniel could not escape. (Daniel 6:17)

Signet rings in the middle Ages

 

In medieval times, important people used signet rings to sign and seal their letters. This proved that they were authentic, and prevented forgeries and tampering. Soon, all important legal documents had to be stamped with a signet ring. During the fourteenth century and the reign of England’s King Edward II, it was established that all official government documents had to bear the seal of the king’s signet ring.

Legitimate signet rings were very rare. A king wouldn’t copies of his ring in circulation, which could be used for fraudulent purposes. Also, rings were often destroyed when their wearer died.  Authentic antique signet rings are rare and valuable.

 

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Modern signet rings

 

Today, signet rings are used as personalized jewelry, rather than a means of identification.  Some people use a family crest, while others have their initials, or another personalized design.  Since these rings are not created to make impressions, the designs are no longer made as reverse images. Signet rings can be ordered as a blank ring, then you specify the design you want engraved. It’s a unique piece of jewelry that continues the grand tradition of signet rings.

Worn by both men and women, signet rings are seen today as statement accessories. Men wear them to showcase a distinct sense of fashion, but also poise and sophistication. Women's signet rings a lot different. They're not engraved but rather adorned with precious stones like diamonds and crystals.

The signet ring is in trend right now, with more and more people choosing it for their wedding. It's quite popular among celebrities as well as among royals like Kate Middleton and Prince William.  If you want to get inspired and impress your loved one with a signet ring on her/his birthday, such opulent and extravagant gift will certainly make an impression. Whatever you do just be original. Opt for a unique engraving or pick rare precious stones to really make your spouse or girlfriend feel special.

Author Bio: Jason Phillips has written this amazing post. He is passionate for collecting antiques and poses an ultimate collection of them. He also suggests http://www.myfamilysilver.com/ for finding and buying antique silver with your family crest.