Say signet rings, and one would naturally think of the jewellery worn by aristocrats hundreds of years ago, members of gentlemen’s clubs, and the flossy bling of Bruno Mars. In short, you can’t deny the baller associations that come with these rings which are traditionally engraved with a seal or monogram.
Of late, the style has been co-opted by many women’s labels. Brands such as Dior, Ileana Makri, Rasa x Anna Beck, and Wilhelmina Garcia have gained a cult following for their contemporary and fresh takes on this heritage design – often swapping the seal emblems with more fashionable designs like enamelled hearts or colourful semi-precious stones like lapis lazuli and malachite.
In an interview with men’s luxury e-tail site Mr Porter, Rachel Church, the curator in the Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics and Glass Department at the V&A explained how signet rings were originally wearable seals “on a wire that you then wear around your finger, making it portable. And if it’s on your finger, then you know where it is. Nobody else is misusing it.”
According to Afzal Imram, the co-founder of Singapore fine jewellery label State Property, that “sense of authority and individuality gives [signet rings] an edginess that is hard to replicate in other types of jewellery.” Indeed, the popularity of the style among its clientele has turned signet rings into a staple at the label, with designs bearing State Property’s signature architectural Art-Deco-inflicted aesthetic.
Afzal adds how the popularity of casual fashion today could also see the popularity of signet rings to rise further. “With our attires becoming increasingly casual and with the growing prominence of streetwear, people are looking for jewellery to be edgy and highly versatile. Signet rings fit both these criteria: they’re classic in silhouette, making them easy to wear and pair with various looks.”
Above, some designs that got our seal of approval.