Signet rings - history and how to wear them.

Signet ring history

Signet ring history stretches way back in time - millennia even. Mesopotamians were wearing them as far back as 3500 BCE. 

Normally worn by men, they were used as a signature, as most men were illiterate at the time. The ring bore an embossed design that was used on molten wax to seal important documents.

So typically they would be worn by people of significance: Queens, kings, pharaohs, noblemen - in fact anyone who needed to ‘sign’ something. Signet rings were a mark of nobility, status

Golden ring, with cartouche and hieroglyphic name of Tutankhamun: 'Perfect God, Lord of the Two Lands' ('Ntr-Nfr, Neb-taui'; right to left columns)—Musée du Louvre.

Signet ring meaning

Signet ring meaning was everything. So wearing a signet ring as a sign you were an important person and very much a status symbol. The more expensive and elaborate the design, materials and craftsmanship, the more important you were supposed to be.

Many signet rings were made entirely of gold, and often featured gem stones.

The top of the ring would be embossed or engraved with the ‘signature’. This would typically be a coat of arms, or initials.

The design would be in reverse, so that when the ring was used to impress molten wax, the signature would come out the right way around.


Armigerous signet ring bearing the arms of the Baronnet family; goldsmith: Jean-Pierre Gautheron, Paris. By Marc Baronnet - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

They are generally kept under lock and key they were so valuable.

As time went on designs became eccentric and often buried with the owner.

Only from 1800 on were they passed on from generation to generation.

Nowadays signet rings are often given as birthday gifts or as signs of association membership.

They continue to be a very popular ring style 

Signet ring - which finger?

Which finger should a signet ring be worn on? There’s a lot of choice!

Middle eastern people might wear ornate signet rings on their thumbs or middle finger.

In the west, it is common to wear in on your little finger, or the pinkie finger as the call it in the US.

Signet ring - which way up?

If you look at the ring on your finger - is the engraving the right way up? Is it a reminder to you of your duties and a reminder in times of trial or tribulation?

Or does it look the right way up to people looking at it? A symbol to the outside world about what you stand for?

Women and signet rings

Signet rings for women are a post millennial phenomenon.

Signet rings silver mens

Signet rings silver - women