Signet Ring Meaning: 7 Reasons for a Signet Ring


In our practice as a heraldic jeweller, we get to hear diverse motives for making a signet ring. Most motivations are reducible to these seven categories.
by Guido van der Eerden

The purchase of a signet ring is always a conscious choice. A signet ring is rarely purchased on a whim or just because it is thought to be nice. Often a ring is made on the occasion of a specific event. A signet ring is, therefore, already a valuable item - even when the future wearer is still in the process of choosing one.

If we summarize all the reasons we’ve heard why people love to have a signet ring created and wear a signet ring, we arrive at roughly seven motivations. A signet stands for:

  1. A naturally unique and personal adornment
  2. Tradition and kinship
  3. Major milestone or event (turning 18 or 21 years, anniversary, birth, marriage, death)
  4. Beautiful heirloom: small, valuable and personal
  5. Symbolic tribute to ancestors
  6. Historical signature
  7. Crowning a genealogical research

What is the meaning of a signet ring? Why do people love to wear one?

1. A personal and unique adornment

A signet ring is always unique and special because of the gemstone with personal carving (family coat of arms, monogram or own design). It tells something about the wearer of the ring. This is why the jewel is eminently personal for the wearer, but also for the one that gives the ring as a gift.. You only receive a signet ring once in your life, and always from someone dear to you. This makes the signet ring, and the giving of the ring, special for the recipient and the gift-giver.

2. Family and tradition

In many families giving a signet ring has been part of a tradition for generations. In other families, this tradition has just recently been put in motion. The ring is usually given to son or daughter when he or she turns 18 or 21 (family’s choice). Of course, this marks a milestone for adulthood but, just as importantly, it confirms (again) that he or she belongs to the family and is part of a larger whole. Moreover, it recalls the family values and other traditions that are carried and passed on from one generation to the next.

3. Major milestone or event

Typically, a signet ring is purchased or received at a special event- someone reaches a particular age; there is an anniversary, or a birth or marriage. The signet ring, thereby, recalls a milestone and a special event. Not only given for positive occasions- a death can be a reason to give a signet ring to someone; the signet ring is then deemed to commemorate a special person in the wearer’s life.

A signet ring often is a gift for a special reason or event

4. Inheritance and practical heirloom

A signet ring is a nice heirloom for many people because of the high emotional value it has. It is like no other personal heirloom and, in the case of a ring with family crest, is naturally part of the family. In practical terms, a large, “inconvenient” heirloom might often be lost because the next generation has no significant attachment to it, it doesn’t fit with their furniture or no value is seen in it. A signet ring is small, valuable and personal. Also, when an heir itself will not wear the ring, he or she can easily secure and store the ring to pass to the next generation.

5. Tribute to ancestors

For many people we speak to, parents play a role in the choice of a signet ring. For them, the signet ring is a symbolic tribute to the ancestors. Many comment something to the effect of: "There is a reason why I can be here and now, with my freedoms, achievements and potential. I may thank my ancestors for this. Without them, I would not have been here. The signet ring reminds me of them.” The signet ring symbolizes a connection to previous generations for these people.

6. Personal historical and authentic signature

Nowadays, there are digital and electronic signatures, by which information can be checked for authenticity (is the signer who he or she claims to be?), integrity (has the content remained the same?) and indisputability (could the signer possibly deny that the information is provided by him or her?). These new signatures serve exactly the same function the signet ring used to have, when it was used for sealing letters with a personal stamp. A signet ring can still be used for the sealing of paper documents. It has an authentic and original touch that continues to appeal to many people.

Signet ring with wax seal as personal signature

7. Crowning of genealogical research

Family or ancestor research proves to be addictive. Once you are engaged in research into the family, every bit of information is a piece of the puzzle, and the puzzle is never actually finished because you can always go farther back or sift through more branches of the family tree. When someone has researched a big part of his or ancestors and knows a lot more about his or her “roots,” this can give rise to the desire for a signet ring. During the research, he or she may have encountered a family crest that has fallen into oblivion or decided to develop a new family crest. This then finds a crowning in a beautiful new signet ring.

What is your motivation to wear a signet ring?

Ever wanted to know someone's reasons for wearing a signet ring? The reasons presented above are some possible explanations but why not just ask the wearer? We love to know why people choose to get a signet ring made- what is your main reason for choosing a signet ring? Do you recognize any of the described motivations for yourself? Or do you have additions? Let us know!

Article by Guido van der Eerden
is heraldic jeweler and partner at Signet Ring BV (Zegelring BV). Together with his colleagues, Guido helps customers with perfectly handmade custom signet rings. Carefully selecting the most beautiful signet rings and the best heraldic craftsmen from around Europe - and delivering signet rings worldwide, Marlies guarantees high-quality signet rings that you will treasure forever. Every signet ring is created by a partnership between heraldic jeweler, goldsmith, engraver and heraldic experts. "A signet ring really is a personal piece of art - handmade to the millimeter."


About us

Signet Ring (Zegelring BV) is an exclusive heraldic jeweler. Our specialized knowledge of signet rings, family crests and traditions guarantee a personal piece of jewelry that you wear endlessly. All our rings are handmade in Europe and shipped world wide.

Any questions? Just contact us