I’ve long held a divisive opinion of men’s jewelry. Through various points in my life, I’ve embraced bracelets and necklaces, of precious metals, beads, shells, and leather. I recall even a thumb ring making a brief appearance. However, most of the time, more modern sensibilities won the day and a simple, yet elegant wristwatch was the only piece of jewelry I adorned, if you even consider a watch a piece of jewelry.
But alas, the call of the “man ring” can only go unanswered for so long.
There is certainly no shortage of options when it comes to men’s rings. Though, just like my tattoo policy, my ring(s) must possess a sincere meaning. To signify something more than, “hey, look at my fingers” and “I like shiny things”. No skull rings or tribal tattoos here friend.
Having long had a penchant for heraldry, a signet ring was the obvious choice
A signet ring, colloquially known as the “gentlemen’s ring”, is a ring commonly worn on the pinky finger (at least for Englishmen) that bears the wearer’s coat of arms. Make no mistake, this is a statement piece of jewelry and that statement is
A coat of arms for most of us is all but obsolete. A vestigial reminder of a bygone era of lords and ladies but one that can connect some of us with our past, for better or for worse. So the first thing I had to do was use a family crest finder. Fun fact, well not really fun, just a fact – a family crest and coat of arms are often used interchangeably when in fact
a “family” crest is a portion of a coat of arms
House of Names.com seems to be the go-to place for a reliable coat of arms. I searched my surname in their database and voila. There it was with a big, fat watermark across it. I did cross reference with other sources and indeed, it was my family’s coat of arms. So a few minutes and seven dollars later, I had my high-resolution ‘family crest’.
It was interesting to discover what the symbols on my coat of arms meant. I discovered this website that thankfully had survived Y2K. This is the digital equivalent of going back to the library archives but don’t mistake my jests for complaints – I’m quite grateful for their information – what cross referencing I was able to do, checked out.
Now I know that our “heated” family gatherings are something of a tradition. The mountain lion that is our family crest signifying ferocity and the three ravens emblazoned on our shield representing “the bringer of death”.
It’s no wonder that grandfather stabbed cousin Jimmy with a fork over the last piece of dark meat one Thanksgiving
I had my patronymic coat of arms but I also wanted to pay homage to my mother’s side of the family. Traditionally coat of arms are issued only to one person and although that person’s sons and daughters can bear the coat of arms of their father and forefathers, it is usually changed a bit as it passes down the line.
So I used a coat of arms creator to add elements from my mother’s coat of arms to my father’s. That coat of arms creator was Photoshop 😀 but others do exist online. Now I had a relatively crude rendering of my custom coat of arms; I just needed to find someone to create my signet ring
Which would inevitably lead me to the home of all things bespoke - Etsy
While there is certainly no shortage of listings when it comes to custom heraldic <insert whatever item>. One shop, in particular, seemed to dominate the signet rings category.
With over 18,000 individual sales and an aggregate rating of 4.5 stars, the decision to use Minimalist Designs was an easy one. Minimalist Designs is based in Istanbul, (not Constantinople) Turkey
Warning: You Can't Un-hear that song
but was founded in 2012 in Miami, Florida by the mononym, Melissa. Her duck face avatar aside, was lovely to deal with, responsive and reassuring, as was her team. Minimalist Designs is certainly one of the more professional operations I’ve dealt with, not just on Etsy, but of any company that produces one-off goods.
As you can see they don’t just produce templated signet rings but a myriad of other custom jewelry.
The only limit is your imagination and budget
Purchasing was a pretty straight forward affair. No prerequisite contact was necessary. Select the size of the face, the size of the ring and the type of metal. I strongly recommend that you use the proper tools to find what size suits you best. For me, that was a plastic ring sizer and a micrometer set to millimeters. You can request a free ring sizer from many places online.
As with most things, the devil is in the details and I just assumed the large face would suit my pinky finger best. Fortunately, I approximated the length and width before ordering with the micrometer, it would have dwarfed my finger! I went down a size, saved some money and more importantly, got the look I wanted.
I sent a message after purchase (as instructed) through Etsy with my coat of arms image.
I was expecting some obstacle due to the admittedly rudimentary composite of my custom coat of arms
but no! Melissa messaged me the following day thanking me for my purchase and letting me know the design team would be in touch shortly. A day later a member of the design team messaged me with two variations of my ring, one embossed and one engraved. I requested a modification of the design and one day later my approved design was being made just three days after I placed my order!
About a week later I received a notification saying my order had shipped
My joy and excitement at how quickly my order had been fulfilled was quickly replaced by the reality of international shipping and US customs. If prior experience was any indicator, it would be 10-14 days before I received my parcel. As it turns out “past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results”, at least in this regard.
I’m fairly certain DHL has teleportation technology
Three days later I had my parcel in hand! I felt like a kid on Christmas morning and I obliterated the outer packaging before I remembered to take a photo of it. C’est la vie.
If you are giving this as a gift, I would definitely opt for a proper presentation box. I’ll admit a sense of dread as I felt the wispy cardboard container with its crude Jacquard felt print on the lid. That nervousness dissolved abruptly as I opened the container to reveal a
stunning silver ring shimmering mightily in the fluorescent light
It’s hard for me to be objective here as this is something so personal. To me, it is perfect despite the lack of detail in the griffin head or the obvious impact mark that runs vertically across the raised edge of the face.
I did not use a touchstone to verify the metal type or quality. The inside of the band is stamped with a ‘MD 925‘.
I wear it proudly and if I could be happier with my experience with Minimalist Designs, I don’t know it. I wouldn’t hesitate in the slightest to give them repeat business.
A three-piece suit, complementary color pocket square, a taper fade with a hard part, a signet ring worn on the non-dominant hand and a proper watch. This is the timeless, yet modern look of a proper gentleman.