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 jasper signet ring engraved with a grillo, circa 1st to 2nd century AD.
Ancient Roman jasper signet ring engraved with a grillo. Set centrally with one oval jasper intaglio in a closed back Roman set setting, featuring a 'grillo' or grasshopper motif, a decorative border and closed backholing, leading to a broad shoulders and flowing through to a solid flat ribbed shank. Tested yellow gold, circa 1st to 2nd century AD.
In Ancient Greece and Rome, the god Apollo was sometimes called “grasshopper” due to his role as the defender against plagues.