Signet rings were first used as early as ancient times, but became especially popular in Medieval Europe, where they typically bore a family crest or coat of arms, and were used to stamp or ‘sign’ a document. The engraved portion of the ring would be pressed into soft wax or clay, leaving an impression that would identify the owner. The wax or clay seal would then be attached to a document to confirm its authenticity. 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. The engraved imagery was not always a crest, but often a single image that personally identified the owner. The dragon was a symbol of courage in medieval heraldry.
Medieval Bronze Ring with Dragon
This striking medieval bronze signet ring features an oval bezel with a stylised dragon engraving at its centre. The winged dragon, rendered in strong, short lines, is shown in profile, standing upright and breathing a flame from its mouth. The bezel is surrounded by an incised oval. The bezel and band each bear one small chip to the side. UK ring size: P.
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of a gentleman from Essex, UK.
Condition: Fine; one small chip to side of bezel and band; suitable for modern wear with care.