History Of The Signet Ring
Tracing Back The Origins Of The Signet Ring
Signet rings have been worn by mankind for over 3500 years. They have been used for the purpose of identification, as a symbol of status, to seal documents, and of course, as decorative jewellery.
During the Bronze Age, the Minoan civilization used signet rings regularly and for numerous reasons. Seal iconography was carved onto the flat bezels of gold, silver, or bronze rings. The owner would then use the seal as a signature to secure and identify property, to designate ownership, and as a symbol of office or authority.
Due to their decorative nature, signet rings were also worn as jewellery.
Perhaps most interestingly, signet rings were used by the Minoans to depict religious practices. Minoan religion was considered shamanic in nature and highly ritualistic. Through dancing, chanting, and consuming psychoactive substances, practitioners were able to put themselves in ecstatic trance-states which allowed them to communicate with spirits, travel to other worlds, and even shapeshift into animals. These spectacular scenes of human and divine interaction, which scholars call “Epiphany Scenes”, were engraved onto metal signet rings.
During the Roman period signet rings were worn as a mark of your identity and status, as well as a seal, to sign documents with. The most common type of signet ring during this period had a motif engraved in intaglio onto a gemstone, or, for those of lower means, moulded in glass paste.
The visual attractiveness and complexity of Roman signet rings varied depending on the status of the wearer. Initially, gold was worn by senators and magistrate only. The privilege was later granted to all who were of equestrian status, then later again, to soldiers.
Those of lower status wore signet rings made of iron, which was later replaced by silver and bronze.
The Romans also believed that different varieties of gemstones possessed supernatural properties. For example, amethyst, which is the deep rich purple colour of wine, was thought to give the wearer the power to prevent drunkenness.
Over time, Roman signet rings became more varied and complex. They became chunkier and wider at the shoulders, displaying more shiny metal over the knuckles, and larger gemstones were used, sticking out ostentatiously above the bezel.
Today, signet rings are still worn as identification by certain groups, such as the Freemasons. In the United States, members of championship-winning major league baseball, basketball, and football teams are awarded championship signet rings. And in certain old, wealthy families, signet rings are passed down as family heirlooms. But mostly, signet rings, today, are worn sartorially.
At Harlin Jones we have created a line of Men’s Oxidized Sterling Silver Signet Rings true to the Harlin Jones signature style. Detailed with crossbones and arrows, our men’s signet ring collection is stamped with initials A-Z using an old English font.
By Heval Sayan
Verse And Prose