The history of signet or seal rings is lengthy and illustrious, dating back to 1400 BC when they were first worn by the Mesopotamian and ancient Egyptian civilisations. Throughout history, signet rings were often decorative and beautiful, however they were also highly functional items which played an important administrative role within society. By pressing the signet ring into hot wax or soft clay, a distinctive impression would be left that then functioned as an official seal or ‘signature’.
In ancient Egypt, pharaohs and nobles used distinctive signet rings made of hardstone or a blue pottery called faience. Such rings were flat on one side, with an ornately inscribed design incorporating symbols and hieroglyphic text.
In the Middle Ages, signet rings were used by wealthy, powerful individuals to sign and seal their letters, proving that they were indeed authentic documents whilst preventing forgeries and tampering.
Thanks to a growing merchant class, signet rings became a form of branding during the Renaissance. As European merchants took to the Silk Road and began transporting goods overseas, they used signet rings to stamp seals on their shipments, making it easier to identify goods on arrival.
By the Victorian era and continuing through to today, signet rings have become a staple of the well-dressed gentlemen.
We are privileged to be able to offer an outstanding collection of these very special and rare rings which can be prized, appreciated and worn today.
Ancient Roman cornelian signet ring with engraving of Mars, circa 2nd-3rd century AD.
Ancient Roman cornelian signet ring with engraving of Mars. Set with one central oval cornelian intaglio in a closed back rubover setting featuring an engraved full length profile of the ancient Roman god Mars, with polished borders and closed backholing, leading to solid shoulders and flowing through to a tapering solid court shape shank. Tested yellow gold, circa 2nd-3rd century AD.
In Roman mythology Mars was the god of war, with the Greek equivalent called Ares.
The intaglio set in this ring is carved with minute precision, each line building up the image which is crisply executed and is in excellent condition.