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Traditionally signet rings were one of the few pieces of jewellery worn exclusively by men; recent trends, however, have seen women opt for these simple rings also.
This surface is often ornamented with intaglio (a term encompassing incising or engraving), a family coat of arms, or a personal signature/ initials. Engraving is sometimes done directly onto the metal, or alternatively, onto a gemstone which will be set into the ring. Particular gemstones are preferable for this use, such as carnelian, sardonyx, and onyx. This is because signet rings often served a dual use as wax seals (the word ‘signet’ actually originates from the Latin "sigillum” or "seal”) and these gemstones are known for their anti-adhesive qualities.