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 intaglio ring, circa 1st-3rd century AD.
Ancient Roman intaglio ring. Set with an oval black glass intaglio engraved with a profile of a bust in a closed back Roman set setting, framed by a row of intricate semi-circular engravings and set on a twisted gold wirework shank with central flat band, approximately 3.87g in weight. Tested yellow gold, circa 1st–3rd century AD.
This is a museum quality ring, and a very skilful example of Ancient Roman craftsmanship and is in fine condition, commensurate with its age.