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

late 15th 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. Brass or bronze signet rings were a cheaper alternative to gold or silver.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Engraved brass, formerly gilt
Brief description
Brass signet ring, formerly gilt with an octagonal bezel inscribed N.S. over a tournament shield , Italy, late 15th century
Physical description
Brass signet ring, formerly gilt with an octagonal bezel inscribed N.S. over a tournament shield
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.5cm
  • Width: 2.6cm
  • Depth: 1cm
Marks and inscriptions
inscribed N.S. over a tournament shield (The arms appear to be those of the Counts Spreti, Italy and Bavaria)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Miss E. M. Begg
Subjects depicted
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. Brass or bronze signet rings were a cheaper alternative to gold or silver.

Collection
Accession number
M.341-1975

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Record createdFebruary 14, 2006
Record URL
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