Everything To Know About Powerful & Meaningful Signet Rings, The Missing Link In Your Jewelry Collection

Not to knock costume jewelry, but there's something so chic about a collection that's brimming with sentimental, meaningful pieces. And if you're looking for a decoration that's at once both deeply personal and historically significant, a signet ring might be just the thing your jewelry box needs.


Think of a signet ring as a centuries-old power accessory. Engraved with a monogram or family crest and made from precious metals, signet rings were historically worn by men on their pinky fingers and used to stamp or seal official documents. Today, of course, you don't need to be royal to adopt your own power symbol. You can find signet rings on the internet or in boutiques and antique shops, and you'll often be able to get them engraved or personalized. But that's just the beginning; if you're interested in these rings' history or how you can customize one, read on.

The history of signet rings

You can trace signet rings back to ancient times; they were especially popular in Ancient Greece. The British Museum has a gold signet ring with an engraving of the goddess Athena seated on an owl that dates back to 400 B.C.! Given the signet ring's long history, it's no wonder that its meaning varies across cultures, geographies, and time. As its name suggests, however, a signet ring is always a signifier — of wealth, religion, marital status, political allegiance, or something else.


Typically, signet rings are made from precious metals (most commonly gold) and feature a round, oval, or square bezel or face decorated with an engraving. As jewelry designer Sandy Ip told Brides, "During the Renaissance period, married couples wore signet rings with intertwining initials representing their union." She goes on to explain that, between the years 1300 and 1700, signet rings were also "used as seals for contracts, documents, private letters, and correspondences." The rings' engravings easily left impressions on soft wax, with the family crests functioning as signatures. Typically, men wore signet rings; women didn't typically use them until the early 20th century.

The signet ring today

The functional purpose of signet rings disappeared around the 19th century, but they  still serve as symbols of personal significance. Royals wear them often; Meghan Markle started rocking a delicate signet ring made by Missoma in 2018, while King Charles has sported a 175-year-old signet ring since the '70s. They're also used by athletes, celebrities, and basically anyone else who wants one. Zendaya wears one to honor her relationship with Tom Holland, for example. You might even have a signet ring in your jewelry box already — high school rings are one modern incarnation of this age-old tradition.


Signet rings are especially meaningful when worn by women. Part of the reason why they've historically been worn by men is that, for centuries, women were not allowed to sign contracts; signet rings really only became a female fashion piece after women won the right to vote. As a result, a signet ring can be a layered yet subtle feminist statement — just one of many ways pinky rings can actually be cool.

Incorporating a signet ring into your closet

There is no "right" or "wrong" way to wear a signet ring, and you can find them at practically every price point, making them great gifts in financially delicate situations. If you'd like to play up the ring's history, opt for a gold or gold-colored ring and wear it on the pinky or ring finger of your non-dominant hand. If you're a silver lover, though, rest assured that mixed metal jewelry is trending right now. The engraving itself should be a totally personal decision.


Blank signet rings are quite beautiful and understated, while combining them with gemstones — especially birthstones — adds elegant flashes of color. You can also decorate signet rings with monograms or initials. And while you may not have inherited a signet ring, it's never too late to design a family crest for yourself! Ultimately, the best way to uphold the history of the signet ring is to ensure it represents something meaningful. Wear one to honor a partner, best friend, family member, or a commitment that you've made to yourself.