And which finger: on the ring finger or, perhaps, the little finger? Should the drawing face you or outward so that others can see it more easily? We’ll cover all of that for you here.
When you wear the signet ring, it mainly concerns the following questions:
Hand signet ring: Should I wear the signet ring on my left or right hand?
Signet ring: Should it be on my ring finger or my little finger?
Most often, we see that the signet ring is worn on the left hand. The reason is not entirely clear. There can be several causes, but the most plausible explanation is that the signet ring is worn on the non-preferred (or less dominant) hand. This is a practical consideration, as the signet ring is often worn continuously and is therefore less inconvenient. Because most people are right-handed, taking into account the above reasoning, the signet ring is worn on the left hand by most people.
Another explanation for wearing the signet ring on the left hand is that it is customary in some countries (such as the Netherlands) to wear the wedding signet ring on the right hand. To avoid wearing two rings on the same hand, the left hand is chosen for the signet ring. This explanation, however, is of limited scope, as wearing the wedding ring on the right hand mainly applies to Protestants, while Catholics (and followers of many other faiths) generally wear the wedding ring on the left. (Actually, a haphazard piece of signet ring history: Protestants did not wear a wedding ring at all for a long time, as they saw it as a form of vanity. It wasn’t until the 19th century that Protestants reintroduced the use of marriage.)
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If you have decided which hand to wear the signet ring on, the next question is: “Which finger?” Usually a signet ring is worn on the ring finger or pinky / pinky finger. In the Netherlands, most choose the ring finger, but there are also a lot of people who wear the signet ring on their little finger. In England, it is actually very common to wear the signet ring on the little finger.
As a practical consideration for the ring finger, it is commonly argued that the ring (and in particular the seal stone) is better protected against impact because it does not rest on the outside of the hand. The little finger is often chosen from a practical standpoint when other rings are worn on the ring fingers – or simply because it turns out prettier. And that goes for both fingers: we often examine whether there is a (family) tradition that could be followed.
In modern times, a signet ring is slowly losing its symbolism and exclusivity. This item is produced in series, with identical engravings or a blank surface. As a result, there are thousands of similar signet rings around the world today.
Instead of a coat of arms or monogram, many modern signet rings have designs such as imitations of the tribe tattoo, skull or 4 leaf clover. You can see them on both men and women as well.
Fortunately, there are still signet rings that are part of the family heritage, mainly among the royal family and members of the European nobility. Their owners often keep them in safes and jewelry boxes and only wear them in official situations.
From time to time, world leaders use signet rings with their signatures on crucial political documents. However, a few of them wear it every day, not just on particularly solemn occasions.
For centuries, owners have used their engraved signet rings to seal letters, packages and official documents. Most often, the engraving depicted the family coat of arms. Nowadays, many members of the nobility and world leaders wear the signet ring in official situations, but many men also use it as a fashion detail.
Read more: The Gentleman’s Guide to Signet Rings