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Signet rings - someone enlighten me pls

(32 Posts)
lostinparis Fri 06-Aug-04 15:19:27

Over the last years I have noticed more and more people (both men and women) sprouting signet rings on their little fingers (I think with crests on them). Now some of them come from old families so I take it that they may have some reason (like Prince Charles) to wear a signet ring - although is it meant to be some sort of class signal? Some of them do not - are they just trying to look like they come from old families? + I used to think that signet rings were the domain of Ratners jewellery shops? Basically - can someone enlighten me about signet rings? + do they fool anyone?/are they for real or is it a bit like paying for a family coat of arms at the tube station?

spacemonkey Fri 06-Aug-04 15:26:21

I thought only naff people wore them!

oiseau Fri 06-Aug-04 15:31:51

Funny - my friend and I describe people as "signet ring" wearers. They are generally upper middle class wannabees who would like to think they are actually landed gentry, live in Fulham, play rugby, drive Golf GTIs and are surveyors called Jonathan.

LOL at paying for a coat of arms at the tube station

marialuisa Fri 06-Aug-04 15:37:30

Yep agree with you and Oiseau.

BTW it amuses me how men wearing wedding rings is the norm nowadays. My dad remembers getting surprised comments from various Rahs about his wedding ring, all ending with "but of course you're foreign..."

Bellie Fri 06-Aug-04 15:39:54

DH always used to say that there are only 2 rings a man should wear - this is according to James Bond apparently - a signet ring and a wedding ring. However agree with you about the signet ring - and no he has never had one!

Twiglett Fri 06-Aug-04 15:44:36

message withdrawn

marialuisa Fri 06-Aug-04 15:56:17

Think that's LostinParis' point Twiglett. Originally upper/upper-middle badges of belonging, now worn by dodgy "geezers"...

DH wears a watch and that's it. He's got pianist's fingers and would look silly with a ring on them.

Easy Fri 06-Aug-04 15:57:54

oh dear, I'm slightly offended by this. The comments you're all making I associate with those awful Soveriegn rings that "Wide Boys" wear, v. common (there, I've just offended someone else)

My mother had a signet ring when she was a teenager, engraved with her initials, she still has it. My sister and I both had them when we each reached our 16th Birthdays, again, engraved with our initials. I am still very proud of mine, altough I don't wear it all the time (did tho' until I got married, so my initials changed).

My father didn't have one, I believe my maternal grandfather did tho'.

I don't think dh would wear one, but I did give him gold cuff-links engraved with his initials when we got engaged, same sort of thing.

mit Fri 06-Aug-04 16:03:02

Spot on Oiseau!

I used to work at a jewellers on Bond Street so we had lots of work with signet rings....some of them were appropriate in my view. Lord ** would give one to his son or daughter on their 21st birthday....that seems to be OK to me. Or if the Duke of ** got married he might have one made for his wife with the family crest on it.

A lot of people would just buy a plain,unengraved ring and wear it on their pinky which I always found a little pretentious....once you got up close you could see it had no crest on it - so WHY were they wearing one?!

So basically, if you have a family crest, you are proud of your family (nowt wrong with that) and it's traditional for you to wear one then there is, in my mind, no harm. BTW, if they are also married it's the correct etiquette to wear their wedding ring on their pinky too, behind their signet ring.

mit Fri 06-Aug-04 16:05:32

Hi Easy - you're right, Soveriegn rings are a totally different thing and I agree with you....very 'wide boy'!!! IMO anyway...

goes and runs for cover....

tammybear Fri 06-Aug-04 16:07:44

um... well dunno bout that, but my mum brought me one for my eighteenth (but lost it so got another one for my nineteenth )

i agree with the other in regards to these type of rings but i think this type like i got are okay. was that what you were thinking?

this is what argos had

(hope the links worked properly!)

lostinparis Fri 06-Aug-04 16:15:53

Aha - so soveriegn rings and signet rings are different? Everyone who I know who has one of these signet/soveriegn rings on their little finger has one with a crest on it and they are all rah-rah (some genuinely from old families/some upper middle class/some new money) - now, the first group I understand however the other two groups.....have they dug up some made-to-measure family crest and got it engraved on a ring in an attempt to look like they are a member of the first group? + if so, does it fool the first group or do they look like wannabees who went wild in whatever the modern-day equivalent of Ratners is?

Easy Fri 06-Aug-04 16:23:43


I presume people do actually BUY this stuff?

It's funny, but it wouldn't occur to me to buy jewellery from Argos.

lostinparis Fri 06-Aug-04 16:27:09

I love the examples tammybear - I was definately talking about the type second example.

tammybear Fri 06-Aug-04 16:31:28

lol, first place i thought of easy. i prefer h.samuel and ernest jones myself

Crystaltips Fri 06-Aug-04 17:09:58

Right - here goes - I think I've got this right .... and I really don't mean to offend !

If you have to buy a "signet" ring from argos - then you should not be wearing one - ie you don't have the family crest!

Historically they were used ( in the olden days ) when letters had to be sealed with wax for the privacy. The ring was pressed in the hox wax - and the impression of the crest remained. The crest was from the sender and therefore the recipient of the letter would know who had sent the letter before it was opened.

And I think enough has been said about sovereign rings !

Crystaltips Fri 06-Aug-04 17:10:52

hox wax ??? mmmm perhaps HOT wax would read better!

princesspeahead Fri 06-Aug-04 17:37:02

signet rings - to be worn by adult males only, and only if they are engraved properly with their own family crest.
Wedding ring - considered in upperclass circles to be rather "continental" and slightly not on, but if you are eccentric enough to wear one you should NOT wear a signet ring as ring is QUITE enough for any gentleman!

Classic quote from someone I know - "I never met anyone English who wore a wedding ring until I went to university" - for which read "started meeting the hoi polloi" !!!

think you should wear what you like, when you like meself, but there you go.

prufrock Tue 10-Aug-04 11:52:27

Totally agree pph, dh wore signet ring when we met - his grandfathers with crest on it, then when we married he decided to wear a wedding ring, so took off signet ring and it is being saved for when ds turns 18. Nothing to do with class- it's a family heirloom, why should only girls get picees of jewellrey passed down?

iota Tue 10-Aug-04 12:04:06

agree with pph's final comment - wear what you like when you like.

traditions are there to be modified - am looking forward to the advent of 'the family heirloom' belly-button ring to be passed on from mother to daughter (family crest optional)

CountessDracula Tue 10-Aug-04 12:04:57

omg look at those Argos rings. I think it should be a criminal offence to wear any of them.

marialuisa Tue 10-Aug-04 12:08:06

PPH-see the comments made to my father...Dad is always very glad he's foreign, le's hm get away with much louder clothes

CountessDracula Tue 10-Aug-04 12:11:27

Like most things, signet rings are a social minefield....unless you don't give a toss!

Dh wanted a wedding ring so he got one. I suspect he thought it would make him more popular with the laydeeeezzzzz

JanZ Tue 10-Aug-04 12:22:34

I have a signet ring which was given to me for my 21st. It's a crest from my mother's side of the family, which supposedly goes back to (wrong side of balnket) Henry VIII - but there's certainly no-one "upper class" in her recent family now.

I wore it on the little finger of my left hand until I got engated and then put it on right hand, as I wanted my engagement ring to have "solo" glory. I've never moved it back after I got married - but my Mum wears hers on her left hand, alongside her wedding ring (and egnagement ring and eternity ring).

I believe because the stag's head is on a tray, and the tray = a crown, that that is part of the "proof" of the royal lineage - but who cares. It looks pretty. It is part of who I am and I am proud of it. I don't fully undertstand its provenance - but that doesn't make it any less special to me.

Interestingly, my brother, who was given on on HIS 21st, doesn't wear it, although he does now wear a wedding ring.

My dad wears a wedding ring, but also has a plain silver signert ring in a modern (Danish) style on his right hand. But that might be a trendy throwback to the 60s!

honeybunny Tue 10-Aug-04 19:50:22

I was given a signet ring engraved with our family crest when I was 18. Don't see why it should be the male side of the family only, besides my db refused to wear one, so felt I was representing the family. Continued wearing it until someone said it detracted from my engagement ring, so swapped to the other hand, but it wouldnt stay on and somehow got in the way when I was treating patients (I'm a physio) so stopped wearing it. I've still got it in a jewellery box somewhere. dh being a SA and having a v common name hasnt got anything like it and I like the idea of having an old traditional english background.

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