Although not fairly popular amongst Australia’s younger generation, Signet Rings were a symbol of a family’s identity for decades and were prevalent in the olden days. Commonly known as a “Gentleman’s ring”, they were a wearable ornament that designated a person’s family or individual identity. A gold or silver signet ring can be seen adorned by notable personalities across history, even in the times of the Bible that resembled the same significance as a person’s signature. Kings, merchants, traders and family alike wore these rings to signify authority, royalty or status and were specific to every individual and were used as approval stamps for documentation or verification. Being highly customised, signet rings were specific to a family or an institution which meant that no two individuals had the same signet ring unless they were part of the same family.
Like all fashion statements of the time, signet rings also varied in popularity throughout the centuries. However, recently with all the movies and fashionistas bringing back the iconic ornament from its dark ages, signet rings have grown in demand in the last few years.
History of Signet Rings
The only individuals who were allowed to wear these rings back in the day were either people of nobility or people of power. Even now, many important personalities like the Royal family of the UK have been seen adorning such rings during their public outings. The most notable historic use was seen with the Egyptians and their Pharaohs and can be attributed to the many holy textbooks too. By medieval times, notable persons of authority and royalty have been documented to wear such rings and later, the Roman legions incorporated them into their regime. Captains of the legion would give these rings during a promotion or a ceremony or for honorary service recognition.
By the early nineteenth century, precious metals were used to make a gold or silver signet ring exclusive to a single person. The ring was considered extremely important and was often melted down or destroyed in a ceremony after their death. Contrary to that tradition, families have bestowed such rings as heirlooms to their descendants and many can still be seen as part of a family’s heritage that existed for years. However, after decades of use, their significance dwindled as years went on.
Owing to more improvised and cost-effective jewellery and ornamentation practices that followed in the country, the popularity of these rings declined. The major reasons were due to its lack of nobility status as improved manufacturing processes made signet rings available everywhere at a more affordable cost. Another reason for its decline was that people would rather keep them in a container as a decoration or drape them around the neck with a chain rather than slide them on a finger.
Signet Rings And Their Significance Today
Not quite a fashion statement today as it was hundreds of years ago, signet rings still hold a degree of significance in the form of family heirlooms or crests that are passed down from generation to generation. Many notable clubs, institutions and wealthy organizations have been found to give away signet rings as part of the rewards packages to customers and even military personnel wear these rings to signify their rank or the branch they served under.
Many Australians are now opting for custom designs that signify their tastes, interests and preferences. They are even breaking the masculine stereotypes of these rings, with more women now adoring this timeless ornament. As the signet rings rise in demand, there can be no doubt that this timeless and classic piece of ornament is bound for a resurgence shortly.