Signet rings can bring to mind the Hooray Henrys you avoided at university, the ones who spoke far too loudly and far too confidently, perhaps in red trousers and a turned up collar. They do, of course, have a legitimately elite history, normally an heirloom brandished with a family crest that was originally used to sign documents and has since been passed down through the generations. And to this day, they remain a sign of wealth and privilege. Prince Charles can always be seen wearing his, as can Pippa Middleton.
Yet the symbol of elitism has taken a fashionable, and arguably democratic, turn. Last year, searches for signets were up 38% on Lyst, thanks, no doubt, to being spotted on the likes of Cara Delevingne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Kate Moss. Fashion super-influencer Lucy Williams of blog Fashion Me Now designed her own signet with the brand Missoma. Inspired by ancient Rome, the 18ct gold ring had the markings of a coin on its square face. Meghan Markle was also seen wearing an “open heart” Missoma signet ring in October 2018. Retailing for £85, it immediately sold out.
Thanks to fashion’s influence, signet rings don’t just have to be passed down through a family line but are being used as a mode of self-expression, customised with engraved initials or statements of meaning and identity. For some inspiration of your own, search through the 67,000 plus #signetring posts on Instagram. Far from stuffy and traditional, signet rings have become a firm favourite of the fashion set and have a chic modern edge to them.
And as they enjoy their stylish make-over, expect more than understated gold. Check out ornate brands, or bold and bright colourful ones as seen by Alison Lou. If you’ve got no family crest to speak of (don’t worry, me neither), consider LEGIER’s beautiful designs that instantly update the signet. Or head to Missoma for an affordable plain ring you can add your own stamp too.
Here are a selection on our wish-list...
Stripe signet gold ring, Jennifer Fisher, £175, net-a-porter.com
Rosa 9-Karat ring, Sarah & Sebastian, £455, net-a-porter.com
Armour 14-Karat gold and enamel ring, £800, net-a-porter.com
White Sapphire Biography Signet ring, Astley Clarke, £110, astleyclarke.com
Split silver signet ring, Maison Margiela, £350, harrods.com
Gold-tone signet pinky ring, LEGIER £435, harveynichols.com
Gold-tone signet ring, LEGIER, £325, harveynichols.com
Stripe 14-karat gold and enamel ring, Alison Lou, £800, net-a-porter.com
Evil Eye signet ring, Missoma, £85, missoma.com
Main image credit: Angela Weiss via Getty Images