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Why We Love a Signet Engagement Ring

Ring Advice

You might’ve noticed that the engagement ring game has changed drastically from its solitaire origins in recent years. Today, more and more people are beginning to think outside the box when it comes to engagement rings—and not just because marriage is no longer exclusive to heterosexual couples!

Last year, we launched our collection of gender-neutral engagement rings, which includes quite a few signet diamond ring styles. If you’re considering a signet diamond engagement ring but aren’t 100% sold on the idea, we’re here to tell you why a signet style might be perfect for you.

The Round Diamond Signet

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The History of Signet Rings

But first, a quick primer on the history of signet rings. The story of the signet actually starts all the way back around 3500 BC in Ancient Mesopotamia. In lieu of modern-day signatures, cylindrical seals were invented and used as marks of authenticity. The Egyptians updated this concept by putting seals on rings, and Pharaohs and other important people would wear them to signify their positions.

By the time the ring craze made its way to Rome, the Egyptians already considered rings’ circular shape to be a powerful symbol of eternal life and love. But it was in Rome that the signet inspired some of the earliest “betrothal rings.” (And if you didn’t know, betrothal is just another word that means “engagement”—more on this topic is available here.)

By the Middle Ages, anyone who was anyone had a signet—not just as a status symbol, but still for very practical reasons. In fact, King Edward II of England decreed that all official documents needed to be signed with the King’s ring. Owning a signet ring designated you as nobility or a member of the ruling class. And if you died, your ring would be destroyed (yes—DESTROYED) in order to prevent forgery.

Signet rings were originally adorned with a family crest which would leave a permanent outline in soft wax or clay. It was seen as more authentic than a John Hancock since there would always be a significant mark to personally identify the ring wearer.

As people became more literate during the 19th century, however, signets were no longer used for business. The rings became more ornate, were invariably made in silver and yellow gold, and would sometimes feature semi-precious gemstones. Some might even incorporate a rotating bezel, allowing the wearer to display the gem facing in or out (which was important during a time when many didn’t always want their wealth on display).

Holden Marquise Diamond Signet

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Until the 1920s and ‘30s, signets were mostly worn by men, typically on the right pinky finger. But as women won the right to vote, they too began wearing signets with white, green, and violet stones to celebrate their suffrage.

More recently, signet rings can signify anything from your membership in an organization to family legacy, to your rank in the military. Interestingly, a class ring is actually a modern-day variation on the signet! The Freemasons and even biker gangs are also known to wear identifying signets, and they’re in good company: Meghan Markle, Prince Charles, and the Middleton sisters have all been spotted wearing signets in recent years.

So now you’re probably thinking: Thanks for the history lesson, but what does it have to do with wearing a signet engagement ring? Not so fast! If you were paying attention, you may have picked up on a few of the reasons why we think signets are the perfect modern engagement ring choice for men, women, or anyone!

1. It’s the 21st century, so forget what you’ve heard about solitaires being the only choice

We don’t believe in rules at Holden. Go for the ring that makes YOUR heart sing!

2. Signets are the blueprint for engagement rings

Since the earliest “betrothal rings” in Ancient Rome were modeled after signets, it’s arguably the most classic choice.

Holden Oval Diamond Signet

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3. They also have a history of being one-of-a-kind, so a signet will always stand out from the crowd

And with a free engraving, your signet could be even more unique!

4. Signets are traditionally heirloom pieces, so what better way to start your found family?

Your tomorrows could begin with a modern piece you’ll want to pass down for generations. Our signets are crafted to order with lab-grown diamonds and recycled precious metals—18k or 14k yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, or platinum (you can find tips on how to choose a metal for your ring here!).

Holden Deco Signet

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5. Though they’re traditionally considered a more masculine design, a signet can be worn by anyone.

Our signets come in different shapes, sizes and finishes, so we make it a breeze to find one that suits your style.

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Questions? Give us a shout at help@hiholden.com or a ring (pun intended) at  646.722.6817.