Signet Ring thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery

Signet Ring

early 16th century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Rings are the most commonly surviving medieval jewels. They were worn by both sexes, across all levels of society. Some portraits show wearers with multiple rings across all their fingers. Although rings were worn for decoration, they also had important practical functions. Signet rings such as this one were pressed into sealing wax to create a unique, legally recognised signature.

Signets could be engraved with a coat of arms for those entitled to bear them, with a personal device or simply with an initial letter. The bird with raised wings which is engraved on the bezel of this ring may be the personal device of the owner.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Engraved silver
Brief description
Silver signet ring with a circular bezel engraved with a bird, a sexfoil beneath its tail and the letter 'S', England, early 16th century
Physical description
Silver signet ring with a circular bezel engraved with a bird, a sexfoil beneath its tail and the letter 'S'
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.8cm
  • Width: 2.8cm
  • Depth: 1.3cm
Marks and inscriptions
engraved with a bird, a sexfoil beneath its tail and the letter 'S'
Credit line
Given by Dame Joan Evans
Subject depicted
Association
Summary
Rings are the most commonly surviving medieval jewels. They were worn by both sexes, across all levels of society. Some portraits show wearers with multiple rings across all their fingers. Although rings were worn for decoration, they also had important practical functions. Signet rings such as this one were pressed into sealing wax to create a unique, legally recognised signature.



Signets could be engraved with a coat of arms for those entitled to bear them, with a personal device or simply with an initial letter. The bird with raised wings which is engraved on the bezel of this ring may be the personal device of the owner.

Collection
Accession number
M.259-1962

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Record createdFebruary 13, 2006
Record URL
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