There are few styles more timeless than the signet ring. Dating to Ancient Egypt, signet rings have always been a key part of being powerful and important. Used as a wax seal for thousands of years, signet rings today are more inclusive, but still manage to evoke the same look of dignity and style that they always have.
You don’t need to be a Caesar or a military leader to wear a signet ring now, but there are still some generally understood rules for wearing signet rings in the 21st century. The first rule is that signet rings are worn on the little finger of the left hand. This rule generally applies to men. Signet rings were historically only worn by men, but in the last few decades, women have started to wear them as well. Since women wearing signet rings is relatively new, there are no set rules or traditions for women wearing signet rings.
Gentlemen wearing signet rings generally wear them on the little finger, preferably of the left hand, although many men prefer the right. Wedding bands come into it when men get married, and the ways of wearing wedding bands and signet rings together gets involved.
Once married, it is customary for men to wear their signet rings on the little finger of their left hands, atop their wedding bands. You can see a great example of this in Prince Charles, who has been photographed multiple times wearing his signet ring and his wedding band together, in much the same way that women wear their engagement rings with their wedding bands. While this trend is not entirely considered to be a ‘rule’ of wearing signet rings and wedding bands, it is a widely-done thing. Some people believe this is because the Prince of Wales is bound to have a large influence on the styles of the public.
It should be noted, however, that plenty of men wore their wedding bands and their signet rings stacked together. Former American President, Franklin D. Roosevelt has notably been pictured multiple times wearing his signet ring and his wedding ring together. In the Victorian era, in fact, it was commonplace for men to wear both their signet ring and their wedding band together on the little finger of their left hands.
As there are always breakers of every ‘rule’, a notable exception to the tradition of antique signet rings and wedding bands is Winston Churchill. Rather than pairing the two on the left hand, Churchill wore his signet ring on the ring finger of his right hand. Typically, someone wears their signet ring on their non-dominant hand – hence the tradition of wearing it on the left hand. Churchill falls in line with this tradition, as he was one of several famous men of import who was left-handed, joining the likes of Barack Obama and Leonardo da Vinci.
Legendary actor, Steve McQueen, nicknamed the ‘King of Cool’ was frequently pictured wearing a signet ring throughout his life. Resembling the archetype of vintage style and coolness, Steve McQueen was equally appreciated for his ability to pull of the classic ‘jeans and a t-shirt’ look as well as wearing a three-piece suit with elegance. McQueen wore his signet ring on the ring finger of his left hand, where people might typically wear their wedding bands.
All in all, it’s easy to see the appeal in wearing a signet ring just by checking out how stylish and effortless they look on any number of the gentlemen mentioned here. Wearing a signet ring with a wedding band can be a timeless look that harkens back to a different time. Equally, you can be a game-changer and wear it your own way as well. The level of personalisation goes much further than the design on your ring – so wear it your way!