Exploring the Styles of Signet Rings

Posted on 13th March 2024

Traditionally used for sealing wax impressions, signet rings have evolved into unique pieces reflecting both personal style and heritage. Here we talk about the diverse landscape of signet ring designs, exploring the choice of shapes and styles.

Shape: A Spectrum of Choices

The first aspect to consider is the form of the signet ring itself, the flat canvas which can be hand engraved.

The Classic Oval: Perhaps the most iconic, the oval offers a timeless elegance. Its balanced proportions suit various finger shapes and personal preferences. Compared to other shapes like the cushion or round, the oval tends to naturally complement a wide range of finger shapes and sizes. This ensures a comfortable fit and visually pleasing look.

Many family crests and monograms are designed with a vertical orientation meaning the oval signet rings elongated form aligns well with this natural flow, ensuring all elements are displayed clearly.

Popular for both men and women, they come in various sizes. Want to stand out? The large Oxford Bull is statement. Prefer a touch of class? The smaller classic Oxford or our Henley Regatta oval are perfect.

The centuries, the oval has been the preferred choice for signet rings. Its rich heritage adds to the ring’s symbolic value, making it a cherished heirloom that connects the wearer to their family’s history. Proven to withstand the test of time and making it the signet ring which never goes out of fashion. 

The Bold Cushion: Offering a robust presence, the cushion signet boasts a more squared form with softly rounded corners. This creates a visually substantial ring, ideal for those who prefer a bolder and more striking look. A distinctive alternative with ample space for hand engraving.

Similar to the oval, the cushion tends to be more elongated which also aligns well with many family crests, coats of arms and the bolder monograms. Gaining popularity in the Victorian era when wealthy individuals and professionals used them to showcase their initials, monograms and even intricate symbolic designs.

The cushion signet ring’s popularity continued throughout the 20th Century, particularly among men seeking a more masculine and statement-making piece of jewellery. Today, the cushion shape remains a popular choice for both men and women who appreciate its bold aesthetics and potential personalisation.

The Sophisticated Round: A contemporary twist on the traditional, the round signet ring provides a clean and modern aesthetic. Its symmetrical shape caters to those who favour a minimalist approach.

The round signet ring’s simple elegance can cater for all. A smaller size offers a delicate look, ideal for a ladies or slender gents pinky finger while a larger size can make a bold statement and a confident presence for men and women alike. 

Round signet rings are often used for the ‘class ring’. A widespread tradition in the United States, particularly in high schools and universities. The circular surface provides ample space for engraving the schools or universities crest, motto and year of graduation. Often gifted to students upon graduation and seen as a symbol of accomplishment and school pride, becoming a cherished keepsake throughout life.

While other shapes like the oval might be well-suited for specific family crests, the round signet ring remains a strong contender due to its timeless design and ability to accommodate for various hand engraved designs.

The Regal Marquise: Oozing opulence, the marquise shape resembles a boat hull, adding a touch of grandeur. This unconventional design is often paired with gemstones or elaborate engravings, reflecting a desire to stand out.

Legends suggest King Louis XV of France commissioned a diamond cut resembling the lips of his mistress, the Marquise de Pompadour. The unique shape known as the “navette” (little ship) in French evolved into the Marquise shape we know today.

While traditionally favoured by men, the marquise signet ring is experiencing a resurgence in popularity among women who appreciate its unique aesthetic.

The elongates shape can be adapted to different preferences. A smaller size translates into a delicate and feminine look, while a larger size appears bold and striking on the finger.

In essence, the marquise signet ring offers a blend of elegance and historical significance. It’s unique shape, paired with its ability to be personalised makes it a true conversation starter and a potential heirloom to be gifted down to be treasured for generations.

Stepping beyond the usual and exploring custom shaped signet ring

For those seeking a unique expression of personal style, the realm of custom shaped signet ring offers exciting possibilities. We are able to create new CAD models based on your ideas to create a truly unique and personal signet ring.

Geometric Shapes: Squares, rectangles, triangles, and even hexagons can be adapted to signet rings, creating a bold and contemporary aesthetic which can be custom engraved with your custom design. Square and rectangle signet rings, also known as initial rings, can be delicately engraved with a single initial representing your family name or a cherished loved. Combine multiple initials to represent your own initials or different individuals.

Organic Shapes: Nature enthusiasts might find inspiration in leaves, flowers, or shell shaped signet rings. 

Family Crests or Symbols: Incorporating a symbol from a family crest can add a layer of meaning and heritage. A great example would be a shield shaped signet ring. A perfect canvas to then engrave the key elements with you families crest or coat of arms.

Beyond the Basic Band:

The traditional rounded band of a signet ring can be customised for a more personal touch. Our Oxon and Era signet ring models are great examples of how a custom band can create a unique piece. 

Flat bands:  A sleek and modern option, offering a clean canvas for intricate engraving.

Comfort bands: Rounded inside to create a comfortable fit on the finger.

Engraved Bands: The outside of the band can be custom engraved with unique flourishing patters or textures flowing up the shoulders, all the way to the face while the inside can be engraved with a meaningful or personal inscription.

Choosing Your Signet: A Reflection of You

Selecting a signet ring is a deeply personal decision. Consider your lifestyle, taste, and the message you wish to convey.

  • Classic and Elegant: The oval or cushion shape embodies timeless sophistication.
  • Modern and Edgy: A round or marquise signet offers a contemporary aesthetic.
  • Bold and Statement-making: A larger signet with intricate engravings or a gemstone setting exudes a confident persona.

Signet rings, with their rich heritage and diverse shape and style options, cater to a wide range of personalities. Signet rings allow wearers to express their individuality and connect with tradition. Whether a cherished family heirloom or a personal statement piece, signet rings are more than just a fashion accessory. They become a treasured symbols of legacy and personal identity.

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