Let us give you the good word on everything to do with 'Signet Rings'. Designs, traditions, metals, what we offer at Crooked Howlet Designs and we'll probably pepper in some useless facts while we're at it.
First things first, what is a 'Signet Ring' and a brief history on its origins.
The term is generally used interchangeably to describe any ring outside of a plain band, however there are some specifics to define the 'signet ring'. The original purpose was used to stamp or sign a document, as the ring would be emblazoned with a family crest or personal symbol. The ring would leave a permeant mark in soft wax or clay - an 'insignia', holding the same authority as a signature used today.
Prior to the witch-craftery of today's fingerprint technology, it was very common for most influential people to have these rings to confirm the authenticity of a document. The crests or designs, were engraved in reverse to show the emblem or crest facing the correct way, once stamped into wax.
First usages of signet ring's date to as early as 3500BC or 5513BCH (Before Crooked Howlet).
Fulfilling a fundamental purpose of 'signature' in the early days, it wasn't until the Late Bronze Age (2300BC) that signet rings started to be worn for more aesthetic reasons. Then shortly after, the first 'can I get my ring re-sized' emails started coming in.
The timeline of fashion and elitism, wavers through the ages to the end of the 19th century where men of all classes adopted the wearing of Signet rings. One thing that has remained consistent is the heritage and legacy of passing the ring down as a family heirloom. Despite efforts of the pharmaceutical industry, the colostomy bag being passed down as a family heirloom, has yet too caught on.
What Shape Do I Choose?
You've probably started your hunt for a signet ring just shy of choosing the shape of the piece. So let's hit this initial hurdle with a breakdown of the designs.
It's important to recognise that the shape of the signet is often dictated by the engraving design. So it is worth first fleshing out what you are looking at having engraved - if anything, otherwise the below guide will help you choose the right style!
1. The Oval Signet.
Traditionally seen as the first port-of-call for a signet ring. The contours of the oval sits very well long-ways on a finger. The heritage of the Oval style being used in heirloom signets, is the greatest appeal for this choice. Along with the flat bezel face, the oval signet has nice tucked-in shoulders and sides, to really showcase the face.
2. The Round Signet.
With sides that showcase the flat bezel face, similar to the Oval Signet - this style accommodates a smaller desired look or when you only require a minimal space for the engraving - especially with initials.
The round signet's shape is setup to have a nice platform on the hand. It is generally a more subtle piece due to its size but still has the traditional appeal of a signet.
3. The Antique Cushion Signet.
This piece is a soft square shape, giving a larger surface area for engraving and the appeal of antique Victoria-style design. It is still a very classic shape and commands a bit more attention to the piece. Once again, the face is showcased very nicely by the tight curve on the sides.
4. The Rectangle Signet.
On of our preferred options, especially when it comes to wedding bands. Its straight lines gives it a clean modern touch. This style is best kept minimal with a small inner band engraving.
5. The Cushion Signet.
This our modern rendition on the traditional cushion signets, which are primarily curved-unpronounced edges. We've tightened & sharpened up the edges, giving the piece a nice touch of class over the traditional look. We'd also recommend this piece to be left minimal on the exterior.
6. The Curved Rectangle Signet.
We've drifted away from the so-called 'traditions' of signet rings, but lets create our own future legacy - this style being another one our favourites. A perfect little combination of a plain band and the Rectangle Signet. It gives a nice nod to the look of a signet ring, without being too bold, for those who want a more subtle approach. It will take a closer inspection to notice the difference, but when you do, you'll see the nicely curved signet face, with a slight roll-in to the sides.
7. Curved Cushion Signet.
This is another take we have on the Antique Cushion. Similar to the the Curved Rectangle, the face allows the piece to be less intrusive in your day to day way, as it sits flush to the hand, unlike a signet with a high, flat bezel face. The curved cushion, its very unique in design and shows a little more flare in your ring choice, especially as a wedding band. Best left plain on the face, with side or inner band engravings working well.
8. The Stone Signets.
This category generally covers all rings in which the majority of the top bezel is made up of a gemstone (as seen in our Chapter Collection). The Stone Signets are not only a classy, unique and attention drawing piece - they are a very traditional choice of signet, with routes back to the early days of signets, due specifically to the ability of stones such as Carnelian to not stick to the sealing wax when stamping a document. We have married up three classic stones with our Chapter Collection, that are synonymous with stone signet rings; Lapis Lazuli, Carnelian and Onyx. You'll choose the stone signet if you want your piece to have that touch of flare, yet with a good understanding of timeless legacy.
The Oval Signet w/ Rat Skull Engraving
Do I Choose A Stone?
and if so, which one...
Just when you thought you were home and hosed, someone suggests the addition of a stone... Before you get a nose bleed, don't stress. We'll line out your options in the most simplistic way.
Keeping things plain on your signet, is always a great option; especially when the shape or engravings does the heavy lifting, as far as aesthetics. However, if you'd like to juice it up with an added gem; here's what to consider.
1. Face set; as seen on the Cushion Signet or Rectangle Signet.
Where you have space for the placement, a face set stone can be a real nice eye catcher for an already bold design. Designs that accomodate this well are; The Cushion Signet, Antique Cushion Signet, Rectangle and Curved Rectangle. All of these designs have a face that can offset the stone so it doesn't overcrowd the top of the piece.
2. For the shoulder or side set; this subtler approach gives a nice hidden detail to your design. The stone could be something more personal that doesn't need to be showcased - such as a birthstone. Designs best for this would be; the Oval Signet, Round Signet, Curved Cushion and even the Antique Cushion as well.
3. The final option you've seen, is to be having the stone bezel set on the top as the entire face of the ring - as seen in our Chapter Collection pieces.
1. White Diamond - the king of the gems. Notable sparkle and prestige.
2. Black Diamond - a less obvious, but strong statement, just say it to yourself, "Black, Diamond".
3. Birthstone - see our Birthstone page for your birthstone and it may be a nice sentimental nod to have a small birthstone set into your piece.
4. Onyx - the safest and most honest choice, sits well with every metal and very timeless.
5. Lapis Lazuli - slightly more flare but holds a tradition and class.
6. Carnelian - an appreciate of art-deco or antique style, with great origins in jewellery.
Hopefully this guide gives you a good foundation to make the right choice when choosing your Signet!
Let us leave you with this final thought; just remember, we don't make heirloom rings, you do... by living with it. So get it on your hand, take it through the wringer, give it a flogging and sometime down the track, you'll be ready to hand over the lifetime of memories.
If you need to discuss customisation options and your concept for the design, just get in touch via email - firstname.lastname@example.org