We can help with this by looking in our library of Heraldic books. We use Fairbairn’s Book of Crests. There are many editions of this unique reference book which was first published in 1859. You can normally find a copy in your local library, should you wish to do your own research. Most family crests are detailed in this book and we would be more than happy to send the options to you by email.
Your family crest can be engraved on your signet ring either in reverse or for sight. The traditional way is in reverse so that it is the correct way when it is pressed into wax to make a seal. This is where the term seal engraving comes from.
• 18 carat gold contains twice as much fine gold by proportion (750ppt vs 375ppt)
• 18 carat gold is approximately 40% heavier.
• 18 carat gold contains over 2.6 times as much fine gold as a 9 carat product of the same size/volume. That is to say, don’t expect that if you have two identical items in 9 and 18 carat gold, the 18 carat one has twice as much gold, this is not the case.
• Tarnish resistance – 18 carat gold is more resistant to tarnishing and other chemical attack than 9 carat gold. This is because silver and copper, which constitute a larger proportion of 9 carat gold, oxidises more readily than gold.
• Hardness – An issue on which there is much discussion. It is often claimed that 9 carat gold is harder than 18 carat, but this does not mean it is more durable. Gold rings can give many years of wear – a ‘soft’ 22 carat ring can easily last for more than 50 years, and the wearer can appreciate the fine colour and lustre of almost fine gold for the whole of that time!
Most people wear their signet ring on their non-leading hand. In other words if you are right handed (which is the majority of the worlds population) you would most normally wear it on your left hand. Left handed people generally prefer to wear their signet ring on their right hand.
Traditionally people always wore their signet on their little “pinkie” finger. This is because you can then use it as a seal without actually taking off the ring. When creating a wax seal (to seal a letter, for example) it is best to slightly roll the ring to create a deep clear impression in the sealing wax. It is possibly more difficult to create a seal if you wear the ring on any other finger and that is why the tradition developed to wear your signet on the little finger.
If you wear a wedding ring this is normally worn on the non-leading hand. This means that a signet ring worn on the little finger then touches and rubs against the wedding ring. In this instance, if you find this annoying, you may prefer to wear the signet ring on your other hand – your leading hand.
Ultimately there are no strict ‘rules of etiquette’ regarding wearing of a signet ring. It is a very personal thing and in our opinion you should always wear your ring however you want!
More recently, (particularly in the United States of America) it is quite normal to wear a signet ring on another finger; possibly your ring finger or middle finger. Bear in mind that in this instance the ring needs to be larger to keep it in proportion to the size of the finger.
In aristocratic and upper middle class British circles it was uncustomary for men to wear a wedding ring but this tradition is slowly in decline. In these circles, quite typically we find that a signet ring is an accepted alternative to a wedding ring.
My personal feeling with this is that you should do whatever is most comfortable for you.
However the general consensus is that you should wear them on your non leading hand and with the bottom of the crest nearest the base knuckle or your wrist.
As far as I know the British Royal Family tend to wear them this way.
Traditionally one would create a seal by rolling your hand outward and impressing into the wax. Rather than making a fist and pressing down vertically from above. This way the crest will be the correct way up. There is more control in the former method and you can use your other hand to assist and gently apply pressure in the right areas to get a good seal.