Men’s Signet Ring Primer – How to Find Rings For Men

Welcome back to the Gentleman’s Gazette! Have you ever wondered what those little rings
are that some men wear that have either symbols, initials, or a little crest on them? Those are signet rings and in today’s video,
we discuss them, talk about the history, where you can find them, the details, the dos, as
well as the don’ts. Once upon a time, a signet ring was the quintessential
gentleman’s ring and it had great importance in terms of society, culture, but even in
business and politics. Today, the signet ring has lost quite a bit
of its luster and sometimes it’s handed down as a family heirloom, however, a at the end
of the day, it’s a really interesting concept and it can be a stylish accessory. So first, let’s talk about the history of
signet rings. Traditionally, the ring was used as a seal
and it featured either a heraldic symbol, a family crest, or even a coat of arms. It was introduced around the world and it
became a symbol of authenticity and somewhat like a signature. In combination with wax, it also served as
a seal, for example, for letters or documents. A signet ring itself had specific markings
that identified it belonging to a specific person or to a family. Interestingly, signet rings can be traced
back as far as 3500 BC and specifically to Mesopotamia where they were used as a means
of authenticity. Signet rings were even mentioned in the Bible,
in the Old Testament, in Daniel’s in the Lions Den, “and a stone was brought and laid upon
the mouth of the den and a king sealed it with his own signet with a signal of his lords
that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel. At the medieval times, almost every person
of nobility had a signet ring. For many centuries, a signet ring was destroyed
when the owner died because it didn’t have much inherent value and it was just a tradition. If you look at the word signet, it means as
much as a small seal for formal or official purposes. A signet ring was definitely not something
every man wore, it was more reserved for the elite or people of a certain class and societal
status. While the first signet rings had a raised
pattern on the ring, subsequently, that changed into engraved Signet rings because they were
used in a wax seal. This tradition holds true today and even though
most people don’t use a signet ring today anymore, to use in a wax seal, you’ll find
crests that are reversed so they could actually be used with traditional wax. Interestingly, some men would not wear them
on their fingers but much rather add them as a fob to their watch chain. The most common style of Signet rings were
either initials or monograms and people with a family crest or a coat of arms would choose
that. While
initially most rings were made out of solid metal, later on, it changed and stones were
incorporated into Signet rings. So what about signet rings today? Are they a historic artifact or in fact something
you can wear today? In Europe, you can still find families that
passing their rings or have new ones created for their children upon graduation or other
important life events, though that is definitely the exception to the rule. Most families simply don’t have a crest or
coat of arms. You definitely find Signet rings in the military,
some men wear them showing their rank on the ring, you can also find them in fraternities,
or simply as a symbol as a belonging of a club. One of the more well-known organizations that
employs signet rings are the Freemasons. Today, I have yet to find someone who actually
uses their signet ring to make a seal with wax and they’re usually just meant to be a
mark of authenticity and tradition. That being said, it’s very easy to buy vintage
rings on eBay these days, there are even counterfeits out there of vintage rings, or you can also
have made your new ring. So if you like the design or the concept of
a signet ring but your family doesn’t have a coat of arms, should you get one? Legally, the answer is clear. Anyone can go out and create a ring with their
own coat of arms and some people who are traditionalists may argue that it is more the sign of an impostor
because you pretend to be part of the nobility or of a class of society that you are in fact
not. While it is that certain families have had
coat of arms and family crests for generations, they all started at one point in time and
just because your family didn’t have one, and you really want one for your family, I
think it’s legitimate to simply start a new tradition. Of course, the design is entirely up to you. Traditionally, heraldic symbols had a certain
system behind them so if you create a new symbol, maybe you just create your own, maybe
use animal symbols, or something that speaks to you and your family. If money is of no object to you, you can consult
with Goldsmiths specialized in signal rings that know a lot about the history and what
used to be done and also the skill to carve pretty much anything you want into your ring. Personally, my family never had a crest and
I never felt the need to create a signet ring with something that was so personalized and
old-fashioned. I really like to wear rings and I even have
a bunch of rings in my collection that are made to be Signet rings that could be engraved
but even a simple monogram is not something I felt that I need so I simply skip that and
wore the regular rings they look like a signet ring but in fact they lack the seal. At the end of the day, it’s entirely up to
you if you want your monogram or something else in there but at the end of the day, I
think it’s a cool piece, it’s a unique piece of jewelry and as a man, besides your wedding
band and maybe your collar pin or a tie pin or your cufflinks, there’s not a whole lot
of jewelry you can wear. That being said, if you’re interested in rings,
stay tuned for a guide on pinky rings which are of course worn on your little finger on
your pinky finger. So once you decided a signet ring is right
for you, what finger should you wear it on? In Germany, some people wear it on their ring
finger and I’ve also seen that in the US. In Britain, traditionally, the signet ring
is worn on the pinky finger of the left hand. Traditionally, during Victorian times, men
would wear their pinky ring and their wedding band stashed together on the left pinky finger. For example, here you can see Prince Leopold,
the son of Queen Victoria, in the 1870s wearing both rings in that fashion. Also in the US, the young FDR
wore exactly that same combination and he had inherited his signet ring from his father. Prince Charles, he’s wearing a gold heirloom
signet ring stashed together with his wedding band on the pinky finger of his left hand
or others like Winston Churchill wore their signet ring on the ring finger of the right
hand so as you can see, there is no clear rule, rhyme, or reason. In Britain, there’s a clear preference for
the pinky finger of the left hand but ultimately, it’s entirely up to you. For example, I wear my wedding band on the
left ring finger which is right next to a pinky finger. So having another signet ring next to it or
any other ring in my opinion just looks weird. Because of that, I wear my rings either the
ring finger or on the pinky finger of my right hand. Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong and
you just have to decide what works for you and what look you like. So obviously there are all kinds of gaudy
men’s rings out there but a signet ring is traditionally a little more limited and classic. So what are the options you have? Most rings come in 10 Karat, 14 karats, or
18 karat gold. Either a white gold or rose gold or yellow
gold. You can also go with sterling silver which
is a lot less expensive but also with things like palladium
which are more expensive. Most rings come with a flat stone on top that
is usually set and that can be engraved. If you don’t like the stone, you can also
go with simple metal that is just fine. The band’s are usually all solid and not
decorated but you can also find Signet rings with heavy decoration on them. Traditional shapes include round, oval, or
long oval, or rectangular, squares with rounded edges, or even like cut edges that gives you
an octagonal look, there really is no limit under the sun as long as the stone is flat
and not domed. In terms of color and stones, the most popular
are black onyx, blue lapis lazuli, a bloodstone, which is a dark green with red inclusions,
you can also find a carnelian which is dark red, and we use those stones also for our
cufflinks which you can find in our shop here which go quite well if you want to coordinate. In recent years, technological advancements
have allowed for laser-engraved signet rings. Sometimes also with enamel. Personally, I think it looks cheaper, it’s
less traditional, and if you opt for a signet ring, you obviously like the tradition and
the historic look. For the same reason, I’d stay clear of showy
diamonds because it’s just too loud and it’s not really part of the traditional signet
ring. For a crest, you should decide if you want
it raised or engraved. When it comes to engraving, there are different
options. You can either have it engraved at all the
same depth or the more three-dimensional engraving
which takes more time it looks much nicer but it’s also more expensive. Another great detail in rings is where the
bottom part of the stone is open or closed. By default, most rings are open so you can
see the stones from the bottom. The problem with that is that it just collects
dirt over time and it’s very difficult to clean so you have the option to close that
off with metal but since it uses more material, it’s also more expensive. If you enjoyed this video please subscribe
to our Channel, hit that little bell to make sure you’re always notified of new videos. Today’s outfit consists of a three-piece suit
in kind of a charcoal Brown with a fine red stripe and combining it with a Winchester
shirt with white collars and cuffs I’m wearing them with gold cufflinks from Fort Belvedere
which you can find in our shop here the shirt is a light green and I’m pairing it with a
dark green and off-white houndstooth pattern in a bourette silk which is a more textured
silk and it’s more interesting again you can find it in
our shop just like the white pocket square I’m wearing here it is a three-piece suit
with peak lapels and a one closing button as well as side vents I’m combining it with
a double-breasted vest and so I always wear the jacket open the pants have double inward
pleats and my shoes are brown and to tie it all together I’m wearing brown and green shadow
striped socks from Fort Belvedere which pick up the green tones and the top part of my
outfit and tie everything well together the ring I’m wearing is actually a pinky ring
on the right hand again not a signet ring wearer and this one is dome. I think it is a tourmaline stone it is yellow
gold and it has a very nice finish to the surface.

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