Ships feature on a high number of rings from the Late Middle Ages. The vessels may have referred to the personal emblem of the bearer of the ring or to a family name, or they may have held a professional link to a marine trade. Ship imagery in churches appears in the early middle ages and continues on long after the Reformation. A potent image, ships either symbolized the Christian church or were a direct reflection of the centrality of ships in maritime trading.
Signet rings occur in various ancient civilisations, as they were used to “sign” documents through the impression on hot wax of the symbol on the ring, which would indicate the owner. During the Medieval period, seal rings were widely used in trading to ensure the authenticity and security of a document or letter. The social status of the owner was reflected in the size and media of such seal rings, with the combination of motifs engraved on the bezel providing further insight into the owner’s identity, such as their place in a family.