Ringing In The New Year In Signet-ure Style


For our first post of 2016, we turn to a topic destined to be more contentious than horsebits on loafers. Namely, rings on fingers.

Several months ago Bloomberg ran a story called “Everything You Need To Know About Wearing A Signet Ring.” The author, a woman, is Nic Screws, formerly with Esquire. There’s some fun history in there, so check it out.

Signet rings are certainly high on the list of acquired tastes, far above something we can all appreciate, like blue buttondowns. I’ve been wearing a silver monogrammed one for about a decade now. That’s the arriviste version, for guys like me and Fred Astaire. “The Official Preppy Handbook” says, “Gold signet ring only. Either family crest or school crest. Worn one at a time only, on the fourth finger of either hand.”

So what about you? Let’s take a survey (cast your vote below). But before we do, a few more images for those on the fence between “maybe” and “never.” — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD


rl signet


Now cast your vote:

[poll id=”3″]

Top image LIFE magazine.

33 Comments on "Ringing In The New Year In Signet-ure Style"

  1. Do you wear yours on your ring finger? Or on your pinky? Which hand? I wear a wedding band on my left ring finger. Would sporting a signet ring on my right hand be too much ring bling? Or would it look balanced?

  2. I’ll leave that one to the married men.

  3. No signet ring for me, no ring except wedding band. I digress, but for Christmas dinner, I wore a bow tie with the usual OCBD and blazer. I was the only one, (20+ people, extended family dinner) dressed in anything that could be called dressy. The hostess commented that I wore a bow tie well, and looked quite dapper.

    I guess getting old has its advantages. I’ll have to wear bows more often to see responses. When I was young, I would get strange looks wearing a bow. I guess old men look dapper, young men look like geeks.

  4. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | January 4, 2016 at 3:52 pm |

    Have been wearing my class ring every day for years now. Whenever I forget it (rarely), I feel naked without it, but always take it off before bed.

    I only ever notice people wearing my class ring, or people wearing others like the Bronze Rat, or the Aggie ring, or West Point.

    Right hand, fourth finger. I sometimes see people wear both wedding band + signet ring in opposing hands. It doesn’t look strange to me.

    Interesting (random) story: Many years ago, when I was in high school, I watched Paul Tudor Jones’ documentary (filmed in the 80s) and he wore a signet ring on his pinky finger. Always thought that was cool. A few years ago, when I met him in person, he still had the same ring on his finger.

    I bet if I ever stop wearing mine daily, I will then always wear it to (formal) social events.

  5. Wedding band on left hand, ring finger. Signet ring (family crest) on the right ring finger. (Never, never a signet ring on the pinky finger.) To respond to a prior post, I don’t happen to think it is too much ring bling. I’ve been wearing my signet ring for about 25 years and generally forget about it until someone asks: “Is that a school ring? A family ring?”

  6. A simple platinum band for me. That and an ’80s vintage Omega Seamaster on any number of striped or solid bands. If I had a signet ring, I would wear it in place of my wedding band on occasion. Always keep the “bling” to a minimum to be taken seriously.


  7. I just recently came into my family’s coat of arms ring, which fits well on the fourth finger of my right hand. I’m not married, but I don’t think I’d want to wear it on my left hand next to a wedding band. I think one ring on each hand (wedding on left, signet on right) could look alright, if neither is too attention grabbing.

  8. Aside from my wedding band and the occasional set of cuff links, I’m not a big jewelry guy. However, I would wear a signet “maybe” as I often find that things I say “never” to eventually become “maybes” and then “sometimes” and occasionally “absolutelys.” We’re all ever-evolving, so I wouldn’t want to rule out the possibility I might one days start wearing a monogrammed pimp ring.

  9. Years ago, long before I married I used to wear a gold signet ring engraved with a family crest (mother’s side that had one in lieu of father’s side that did not) on my right hand little finger. Eventually I gave it to a sister as I no longer felt comfortable wearing it most of the time — my life had evolved and it had come to seem slightly silly to me. Fast forward many years I have worn a plain gold wedding band on my left hand ring finger since I got married, and just last summer I bought a late 19th century gold signet ring engraved with someone else’s crest on it from an English dealer at the Nantucket Antiques Show. I bought it on a whim, thinking it quite handsome and with the intention of getting it sized to wear on my right hand little finger. Yes, it still seems slightly silly to me, but now I am old enough that I am no longer influenced by what others think of me (at least so I’d admit), and that’s what I wanted to do. But I haven’t had it sized yet, and I’ve been wearing it on my fourth finger of my right hand ever since, which it fits quite nicely, thank you.

  10. I believe the “correct” way is to wear the Signet ring on fourth finger of the left hand – if married then some men may choose to wear a Cartier Trinity or somesuch representation of marital status, underneath / below the signet ring on the same “pinky” finger. The Signet ring was used for the practical purpose of adding ones signature when sealing items, hence traditionally wearing it on the left hand. You will see this is exactly what Prince Charles does, and one doesn’t get much more correct than that dapper chap.

  11. Nice to hear from you, Reggie! It’s always amusing the little rules we make up for ourselves. Boyer and I had a recent laugh about how I said a watch chain worn in the lapel is too affected, but I’ve returned to wearing one with a vest. So it comes down to what is an acceptable affectation, “because in the end it’s all affectation,” we chimed in together.

    So the fact that you would consider signet rings a tad silly is quite silly when you consider you have a collection of Belgian Shoes!!!!

  12. ps Prince Michael of Kent wears a signet ring alongside a wedding band, both on his left hand although he is considered somewhat of a renegade, albeit a rakish one at that

  13. Bags' Groove | January 4, 2016 at 5:35 pm |

    Ever the class signifier in Old Albion. I don’t qualify. Not that I’ve ever had the least desire to wear one. Thin band is my style. Less is more.

  14. I went to a school with an obscenely large class ring which I wear on my left third finger along with my wedding band. I have worn a signet ring with Virginius standing over Tyranny on my right fourth finger since I served in Iraq.

  15. Robert is spot on and mine was a gift from my parents.

  16. Roger C. Russell II | January 4, 2016 at 9:09 pm |

    Thank the Lord I am no longer married. I did not like my wife and I did not like wearing a wedding band. However,I have always thought a signet pinky ring was very cool. Humphrey Bogart wore his well.

  17. While on the topic, one must ask, do you wear your signet ring with your initials or crest facing you or away from you? This is a layup….

  18. “Thank the Lord I am no longer married. I did not like my wife.” Quote of the day.

    BTW, isn’t Charles looking sharp with that patterned pocket square with black tie? And what an elegant fold.

    Pinky seems to work for the man who would be king.

  19. With only rare exception, in the workaday world of corporate business, a pinkie ring is squarely in the category of things that instantly vaporize all credibility. In a word: don’t. You can’t swing it unless you are your own brand (Sinatra, Martin or Lewis, Onassis, Coward, etc.). The only latitude allowed men, for all practical purposes, are plain wedding bands and top-tier timepieces…and both of these are very optional, especially the timepiece. I don’t think I could interview a pinkie ring wearer without snickering at some point. Honestly, stick to this — http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-dress-the-part-on-wall-street-2013-8 — unless you just hate yourself or are trying to get back at someone. Pinkie rings go well with silver-topped walking sticks when in the museum, though, as a display, that is.

  20. Further reflections on the signet ring — My family crest ring is worn on the ring finger of my right hand with the crest facing away from me. I would never wear a signet ring “stacked” with my wedding band. Two rings on one finger is not my style. (As the signet pinky ring is not as you see from my first post.) I’m not trying to model my clothing or jewelry choices based on Prince Charles. He’s a bit effete for my Yankee taste.

  21. What’s you guys’ take on rhinestone studded gold plated brass knuckles, right or left hand? I prefer left hand so I don’t scratch the paint on my Mark IV.

    Also, is it bad form to mix rhinestones with my diamond studded gold caps?

  22. @George: I’m curious. If you were interviewing a brilliant candidate that would be a boon to your company, but he was wearing a signet on his pinky, would you disqualify him based on that? Though I don’t doubt we all make judgements based on what someone is wearing (I’m certainly guilty of it), shouldn’t we also look deeper than that? I know a few journalists whose dress could charitably called slovenly, but who are groundbreaking in their work, for example. Maybe it’s different in the corporate business world.

  23. @George: Credibility matters in corporate jobs and on wall street? What amazing news!!! Perhaps we’re not as damned as we all ought to believe we are. I can rest easy now knowing that the criterion for hiring middle-level managers and hedge fund strategists is actually integrity, and not the ability to make as much money as possible. All these recent years I was silly enough to think that it was all about f@#king people over and taking as much as possible for oneself.

  24. I may be a different case but I have a simpler silver signet ring from my fraternity from college that I wear on my fourth finger of my right hand. I feel it doesn’t ever call attention to itself and no one really notices or cares about it unless they recognize the symbol. Having a fraternity ring may seem juvenile to some yet it was an important organization that I was a part of and still am involved in so I feel it is justified for myself.

  25. University Stripe | January 5, 2016 at 11:46 am |

    What about university signet rings? I received a gold signet ring with my university crest for graduation.

    I know class rings are generally frowned upon, but it seems to me to be much like using your own initials. It’s a crest you have earned the right to wear, after all.

  26. V.A.H. Moran | January 5, 2016 at 1:34 pm |


    Re: “something we can all appreciate, like blue buttondowns.

    After seeing how classy William Ivey Long looked in white shirts, I’m tempted to disencumber myself of my blue ones.

  27. I’m actually more partial to white myself, but with certain tweedy outfits blue is a much better choice.

  28. I inherited my Grandfathers ring (Family Crest) that was engraved by Cartier in the 1950’s. It only fits on my pinky, I couldn’t dare try to enlarge it in fear of damaging it. I only wear it when I wear black-tie. I wear it on my left hand.

    Outside of that, a plain thin platinum band for daily use.

  29. Mac McConnell:

    Brass knuckles should be worn on your strongest hand for maximum functional effect when needed. Rhinestones to complement your dental work are always appropriate, but a more creative approach would be to consider a look that would accent your Mark IV: Rubies if it is a Pucci designer edition, or star sapphires if yours happens to be a Givenchy or Bill Blass.

  30. I dropped a pewter hip flask off to be engraved today and what did I see for sale, silver signet rings. I tried one on and found it to be pretty jaunty. Much to consider.

    On a completely unrelated subject, could somebody please tell me what Muffy did to be included in the 2015 ivy rundown of events? I had visited her site a few times and enjoyed some of her posts but always thought she would be insufferable in person. Usually, when you have to tell people whom you are, (gracious, authentic) you ain’t. Is it insufferable to use whom and ain’t in the same sentence?


  31. I know who is correct. ;0P

  32. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | January 7, 2016 at 9:58 am |


    I’ve heard this quote before:
    “In New York, don’t trust a banker with a pocket square. In London, it’s a pinky ring. And in Asia, don’t f–king trust anyone!”

    So true! Haha!

    However, I have to respectfully disagree with you on the point of a pinky ring being a contraindicator of credibility. Anecdotal as it may be, one of the most brilliant junior quants I’ve ever met (of Indian decent) wore multiple rings on both hands (as a cultural thing).

    Management clearly didn’t discredit him due to ring-count.

  33. Our favorite and respected local jeweler suggested that unless a man has justifiable entitlement to use a family crest he simply should not use one. I’m sure, for example, no issue with Prince Charles. Likewise, the Roosevelt Family has a legitimate crest http://www.americanheraldry.org/pages/index.php?n=President.Roosevelt . In any event, pretty safe to say that most of us here in the United States of America aren’t direct descendants of families with a crest registered with The Heraldry Society. Therefore, the use of a family crest on a signet ring, if not “authentic” (i.e. Muffy would approve), should be avoided and initials used instead.

    As far as the correct finger to wear it on, he had an insightful answer for that as well and suggested that the reason that some men (Prince Charles and FDR by way of example) probably wear their signet ring on the pinky is that it was very likely handed down and only fit the smaller finger. Otherwise, he suggested that the traditional ring finger is typically the proper digit to wear it. He also mentioned that from a practical standpoint, wearing a gold ring on an outside finger would subject it to unnecessary wear and tear.

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