A Guide to Bespoke Signet Rings

Do you like the idea of having your own bespoke signet ring? Or perhaps you’re thinking about buying or commissioning a unique signet ring as a gift. I made my first signet ring over twenty years ago and have gone on to create many special and unique signet rings including the Snake Signet rings worn by the house of Slytherin in the Harry Potter films. In this blog I’ve put together a guide with all you need to know to choose or commission a unique signet ring.

Signet Rings, A Brief History

Long before electronic verification and hand-written signatures, signet rings were used to stamp, or sign a document. The unique face of the signet ring would be pressed into soft wax or clay to mark and authenticate legal documents. Some of the most important documents in history have been marked by a Signet ring. This wonderful example of a historic signet ring comes from the Victoria and Albert Museum collection - find out more here.

signet ring V&A museum collection

Records show that as long ago as 3500 BC people in Mesopotamia used individual cylindrical seals as a mark of authenticity but it was the ancient Egyptians that are thought to have created the first signet rings by attaching their personalised mark to a ring. Pharaohs and other important people would wear signet rings to demonstrate their role.

In the Middle Ages, all the nobility and people of influence wore a signet ring and they were used to sign letters and legal documents. In the fourteenth century King Edward II decreed that all official documents must be authenticated by the stamp of his signet ring. It was customary during this time for a signet ring to be destroyed when its owner died to help prevent fraud.

Catherine Hills Jewellery bespoke family signet ring

Signet rings have stood the test of time and are now often passed down from generation to generation in a family. It is now unusual to have a completely personal and unique signet ring that’s been hand-made to order but I’ve recently seen that bespoke signet rings are increasing in popularity and wanted to share some examples of modern, personalised signet rings with you.

Hand-Engraved Bespoke Initial Signet Ring

Catherine Hills Jewellery Hand engraved bespoke signet ring

I work with one of the last remaining hand-engravers to create personalised initial signet rings. He is extremely talented and I think there is something so special about hand-lettering. It really adds to the craftmanship and individuality of a bespoke signet ring. I made this Hand-Engraved Bespoke Signet ring with three initials to mark my son’s 16th birthday. He was thrilled with the ring and loves to wear it.

Personalised Symbol Signet Ring

Catherine Hills Jewellery bespoke hand engrave signet ring

Hand-engraving a signet ring with personalised symbols is another way to create a design that is truly bespoke and individual. This 9ct Gold engraved arrow signet was for a 16 year olds birthday present. It is a copy of his grandfather's signet ring, who is sadly no longer with us. When his grandad set up his company of three directors many years ago their first clients were Japanese. The significance of the arrows is from a lovely Japanese proverb about the power of three, three being stronger together. It holds many memories and importance to the family. His father has the same symbol on cufflinks and his mother a ring.

I can work with you to create a unique symbol or family crest that can be hand-engraved onto a signet ring to make it truly bespoke and individual. If you have an existing original drawing, family crest or design then this can also be translated onto a personalised signet ring.

Seal Signet Rings

Catherine Hills Jewellery bespoke hand-engraved seal signet ring

In our times, a Seal Signet Ring is a version of signet ring that is designed so that it can be used to impress a design onto a soft substance such as wax. The design symbol on a Seal Signet Ring is incised more deeply into the face of the signet ring so that can creates a clear impression in the sealing wax.

Catherine Hills Jewellery bespoke hand-engraved seal signet ring

This 18ct gold Seal Signet ring was hand engraved with a family crest for a young man's 21st birthday. The engraving is out of this world and was done by eye - my engraver is totally amazing!

Textured Signet Ring

Catherine Hills Jewellery Sharkskin signet ring

I love experimenting with texture and the way it creates intrigue, contrasts and plays with the light. My Shark Skin Signet Ring has an animal texture which has been hand engraved to create this dotted representation of shark skin.

Minimal and Modern Signet Rings

Catherine Hills Jewellery Pebble signet ring

Signet rings can also be understated and modern. My Pebble Signet Ring can be personalised with hand-engraving but it can also be worn as it is, with it’s incredibly smooth, tactile mirror finish.

Signet Rings with Precious Stones

Catherine Hills Jewellery Serpent eye signet ring

Another way to create a signet ring that is truly special and unique is by adding gemstones or birthstones. For my Serpent Eye Signet rings I’ve added striking faceted and smooth peridots. These mesmerising and inviting stones are reminiscent of a snake’s eye. Peridots are believed to have protective powers and snakes have a long history of representing eternal love.

Birthstone Signet Ring

I love creating birthstone jewellery as it’s a great way to add meaning and personalisation. You can discover my range of birthstone jewellery here. With birthstones it can be fun to experiment with colour - with everything from watery Aquamarine to deep red Garnet and even vibrant yellow Topaz or pink Tourmaline. If you want the ring to be an heirloom it is best to choose either diamonds or sapphires as other gemstones can be vulnerable to everyday wear.

Adding a birthstone or birthstones to a Signet ring is a special way to personalise a design.

Serpent Signet Ring

Catherine Hills Jewellery Serpent signet ring

I often find that when I first release a new design it can be a slow burn before it takes off whereas my Serpent Signet rings created a buzz from the moment they launched. People often discover my work when they research who made the jewellery and especially the Slytherin jewellery for the Harry Potter films, via Instagram or by Google but what I’ve found really interesting is that I’ve seen a real increase in younger men looking for a special signet ring, like my Serpent Signet ring, that will create a statement and stand the test of time.

How to Choose a Unique Signet Ring

Catherine Hills Jewellery Plain serpent ring

When choosing a signet ring I think the best place to start is to look through images and see what catches your eye. I’ve put together this Pinterest board of my signet rings for inspiration - please feel free to save these images to your own Pinterest account. I think it can also be useful to think about words to describe your style or what type of style you want to convey - eg modern, heritage, elegant, edgy. Lastly, a great way to decide is to try on some styles. My Tunbridge Wells jewellery shop and atelier is open from Thursday to Saturday each week, or on other days by appointment - you can find opening hours and directions here. Please feel free to stop by, or make an appointment to see my work first hand or to discuss a commission.

How to Commission a Bespoke Signet Ring

You can discover my range of Signet rings here. If you like to discuss a bespoke hand-engraved signet ring or other signet ring commission you can email me here. You can find out more about commissioning a unique piece of handmade jewellery from me here.