Signet Rings: Now & Then

Updated: Jul 19

Rings, rings, and more rings. Today let's talk about signet rings, because I have been seeing them everywhere. And I think it’s because it fits into the larger jewelry trend of personalization. Everyone seems to want something unique, and a cool signet ring with your initial is a great way to do that.

Nowadays, men and women can and do wear signet rings, but of course, it wasn’t always that way.

Let’s first ask, what's a signet ring anyway?

Since ancient times

Like earrings, signet rings also go back to ancient times. Way, way back. Back before the Bible, back before writing as we currently know it. All the way back to ancient Egypt, with hieroglyphics and clay tablets. For those of you doing the math, that’s more than 3,000 years before Jesus was born. That’s how old signets are.

Signet rings from ancient Egypt
An assortment of signet rings from ancient Egypt

The name signet comes from the Latin signum which means “sign.” From what I was able to research, Egyptian pharaohs were the first to use signet rings to put their seal on official communication. Essentially, it allowed you to “sign” a document by leaving an impression in wax or clay. The ring had a design that was unique to you, and typically was either destroyed or buried with you upon your death.

Seal created with a signet ring
An example of the seal created with a signet ring

In the Bible

The Good Book also mention signets. In the Book of Esther, for example, they talk about Persian King Ahasuerus’s signet ring. And when telling the story of Daniel and the lions’ den, there’s this:

“A stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.” – Daniel 6:17.