Signet derives from the Latin word "signum" translating to "sign" (as in signature). The oldest signet rings were carved with a distinctive emblem that was used as a signature on documents and letters. Until the invention of the mail system and the stamp, signet rings were still used to form wax seals on correspondence. This Edwardian 18k gold signet with a shield-shaped slab of carnelian is more typical of the kind of signet rings worn in the present day, meaning it is unadorned and meant to be worn as a fashion statement or signifier of status. British hallmarks.
EDWARDIAN (1900 - 1910)
The Edwardian era gets its name from King Edward VII’s brief reign at the beginning of the 20th century. His Danish bride Alexandra was young, lovely, and fashionable; with a taste for trendy pieces rendered in diamonds and pearls. The jewelry tended toward airy lightness, often in the form of lacy filigree. The world was changing rapidly, but lots of the jewelry still reflected the Victorian ideals of decorum and femininity. Ancient Roman and Greek influences remained popular.
“White” jewelry became popular as plentiful deposits of platinum were discovered in Russia and improved smelting technology made it possible for jewelers to work in the noble metal. Platinum was seldom used by jewelers in earlier years owing both to its scarcity and high melting point. The jewelry trade took advantage of its rigid strength to create opulent openwork settings for increasingly brilliant diamonds. The old European cut was perfected, rounder and squatter than old mine. This took stone-cutting one step closer to the mathematically perfect round brilliant cut, which is the most popular diamond cut today. The now-iconic square Asscher cut was patented in 1902.
Hot on the heels of platinum, the alloy mixture that produces white gold was formulated and patented in 1915 in New York City. With Europe in the grip of WW1, the American jewelry industry was poised to become a world leader and innovator.