Elizabethan betrothal signet ring. A heavy and solid signet ring, the central oval plaque engraved with the letters 'T E' with entwined lover's knot and five petalled flowers, bordered by an inner dotted border and outer pelletted border, the underside inscribed with the Christogram 'I H S', flanked by broad, integrated, smoothly conforming shoulders with leaves engraved and leading through to a tapering D-shapeshank. Tested yellow gold, approximately 24g in weight, English, circa 17th century, accompanied by an Oxford Labs X-ray fluorescence report stating the composition of the metal.
This ring is thought to have been commissioned for Thomas Eyre (1549-1625), Mayor of Salisbury 1586-7 and later Member of Parliament 1597. Thomas Eyre was also the church warden at St. Thomas's Church where memorials to him and his wealthy family are still found.
See Victoria & Albert Museum reference number 841-1871 for a betrothal ring of similar style.
The majority of items can be re-sized free of charge.
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.