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Signet Rings

Heraldic engravers of signet rings.

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Signet rings are generally made nowadays of solid gold, with a wider flat area called the ‘table’ to carry the engraving usually within an oval shape. The harder 9 or 18 carat alloys wear better than the purer 22 or 24 carat alloys which are much softer. The Crest, or Crest and Motto, or the Shield of the Arms can be engraved on the table in reverse, to produce an impression on sealing wax the right way round. It is perfectly correct to show either Crest or Shield, as the armiger prefers.

Such rings can be passed on to the original armiger’s successive heirs in the Arms for many generations. The date stamp in the assayer’s hallmark on the ring will identify which of the successive holders was the original owner. Signet rings are often given by armigers to their eldest sons on the latter’s coming of age. These should bear the armiger’s Arms with the addition of a ‘label of three points’ which is the mark of the heft to the Arms. When, upon the original armiger’s death, the heft inherits the Arms he can pass on this ring with the heft’s mark to his son in turn.

Wives of armigers may similarly wear theft husband’s Arms or Crest on a ring or brooch, but if the husband’s Arms are shown they should appear on a diamond or ‘lozenge’ shape (a rhombus) or on an oval shape instead of a Shield.

Mottoes can be included on rings showing the armigers’ Crests, but their very small size will often render the lettering unintelligible.

The Wreath which appears beneath the Crest should always be included, to demonstrate that the device above it is a heraldic Crest.

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