What is a signet ring, exactly? Google it, and you'll find pages and pages of historical information, confusing terminology, and out-of-date traditions.
I get it; that stuff's important, but why isn't there anywhere on the internet where you can quickly learn the basics?
As a beginner, you just need to know what a signet ring is and whether you should wear one or not – it's that simple.
So I've gone ahead and created exactly that. In today's article, you'll discover my quick and easy guide to signet rings for men.
We'll be covering:
- What is a signet ring?
- The history of signet rings (in less than 300 words!)
- Who should wear a signet ring?
- How Do You Wear A Signet Ring?
#1. What Is A Signet Ring For Men?
A signet ring for men is a unique-looking ring that holds a special meaning to its wearer. Typically, these rings feature a gold or silver band topped by a symbol. In some cases, this symbol is engraved in the same material as the band, while other times, the ring is topped with a carved stone or resin.
For the modern man, a signet ring can signify many different things. Often, a man will wear a signet ring passed down through his family. Heirloom jewelry is a popular way for men to continue their legacy after death.
In other circumstances, a man might wear a signet ring to symbolize his membership in a club or group – the Free Masons, for example, have their own signet ring design. Membership signet rings usually feature the symbol of a group engraved into metal or precious gemstone.
In short, a signet ring is a symbol. ‘Signet' actually comes from the word ‘sign,' so you can think of this ring style as a ‘sign ring' that shows commitment to a cause, belief, or tradition.
#2. History Of Signet Rings (In Less Than 300 Words!)
For centuries, signet rings have played a significant role in professional men’s lives. A signet ring for men symbolized heritage and profession in times gone by.
To put it simply, a signet ring was a way to sign documents, as we do with our signature when signing contracts.
Signet rings date back thousands of years. During the Late Minoan Period (around 1000BC), the signet ring was commonly made of ivory and hard stone. Not quite what we would recognize as a style accessory by today’s standards, but during this period, the ring itself symbolized status, culture, and belonging rather than a good taste in clothing.
Fast forward to the middle ages, and most high-status men owned a signet ring. From kings to businessmen, many men leveraged signet rings to personalize the wax used to seal envelopes of high importance.
In the modern-day, men still wear signet rings. However, this is more for sentimental reasons – after all, we don’t seal envelopes with wax anymore! Men who are part of well-known groups (like the Freemasons) often wear a signet ring to symbolize their commitment to that particular group’s traditions.
Often, men receive signet rings from their fathers or grandfathers. It is a very common heirloom and usually contains the monogram of those who passed it down – a lasting symbol of heritage and remembrance.
#3. Who Should Wear A Signet Ring?
In short – anyone that wants to!
I know signet rings are steeped in symbolic history and heritage, but you can buy them at your local jewelry store if you simply like the look of them! It isn't always necessary to be part of some secret society to wear a signet ring.
Some men wear signet rings with their team's logo engraved on them. Others have their monogram engraved with the intent to pass it down to their children and subsequent grandchildren.
The choice is yours. I'm certainly not going to say that you need to hold a specific set of beliefs or be part of a particular group to wear a signet ring. It's all about personal preference and what makes you feel stylish and accomplished.
A word of warning: do not wear a signet ring carrying the symbol of a group or society you are not part of. Doing so could offend members of that group who might label you a fraud.
#4. How Do You Wear A Signet Ring?
Wearing a signet ring as a man is relatively simple because men typically don't wear a lot of jewelry. Unlike women, most of our fingers are free of rings. Some guys might have a wedding band that they need to keep on their left ring finger, but other than that, guys don't tend to wear too many different rings.
A good rule of thumb is to wear your signet ring (or any other non-wedding ring, for that matter) on your right hand. If you're a married man, this will stop you from overloading one hand with a bunch of rings. Even if you're not married, wearing a ring on your left hand usually suggests marriage, so tread carefully.
Signet rings tend to be slightly bulkier than other styles, so I prefer to wear them in isolation. Laying other rings on top of a signet, or wearing rings on adjacent fingers, could overload your hands and make you look a bit too ‘blingy.' In the case of men's jewelry, less is always more.
Signet rings are just the start. Click here to discover my guide to ring finger symbolism.