A signet - from the Latin "signum" translating to "sign" - is a style of ring with a long history. Dating back as far as Ancient Egypt, signet rings of yore featured a family crest or distinctive emblem that was used as a seal on important documents and correspondence. The tradition of these rings continued into the more modern day in Great Britain and were used for their intended purpose (as an authoritative signature) well into the 19th century. Even as the days of sealing wax were left behind, the signet ring continued to be worn as signifier of identity, and later as a prestige piece and and a gentleman's ring. This 1920s signet ring is modeled in 18k yellow gold with elaborately decorated floral shoulders striped with silver and rose cut diamond "x's". The initials "DG" are rendered in reverse so as to create a right way around impression when pressed into sealing wax (though at the time this ring was made wax seals were a thing of the past).
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.