Each piece of jewellery that we handcraft here at the Deakin & Francis factory in Birmingham contains a lifetime of history. Not just because the traditional techniques that we use to create each piece, or the cultural significance that each distinctive style holds, but because of the unique and personal reasons that each customer has for commissioning a piece.
Of all the different pieces that we create, rings hold significant cultural value, and there is one classic style in particular that we have seen experiencing a popular resurgence in recent years. Signet rings are currently being embraced by a modern, fashion-conscious audience, and customers are looking for rings that can serve as both an expression of their personal style while also honouring their family heritage.
What is the purpose of a Signet Ring?
Seen as a token of nobility and status, signet rings are marks of authenticity which were originally worn because of their many practical applications (wearers would traditionally use their signets rings to sign official documents), and while these reasons have since become obsolete, signet rings are today worn because of more personal reasons such as a symbols of family heritage and to express personal sentiments.
Handcrafting Signet Rings for generations
We have been making signet rings in our Birmingham warehouse using traditional manufacturing methods since 1786. Each ring that we create is hand-crafted with care and stamped by our expert jewellers to ensure that they are made to the highest possible standard. Nigel and Paul our craftsmen, recently sat down with us to discuss how they create our iconic signet rings, why you should invest in bespoke, and what makes a signet ring from Deakin & Francis so unique.
Signet rings from Deakin & Francis have been worn by Presidents and Princes alike, and have a reputation for being world-class in both craftsmanship, quality, and style. Both Paul and Nigel have been creating signet rings for Deakin & Francis for over 15 years, and prior to this had been working in the industry and learning the invaluable skills required for creating these pieces for a combined 50+ years!
Once you’ve held a Deakin & Francis signet ring in your hand and felt the weight of the item, you are instantly able to recognise the difference in quality between our bespoke pieces and those that are mass-produced for high-street stores.
Die stamping vs casting
All of our signet rings are die-stamped, which is a process that begins with a block of metal being placed inside a drop hammer which houses a specially shaped die. This die will strike the block of mental with intense pressure to create a flat signet ring blank.
Nigel explains this process by explaining that;
“We have different shaped dies for different styles of signet. And what happens is whatever the customer wants, we order a block of metal about 2” by ½” or ¼” thick, and that goes down into the dyes and drop-hammers.”
Once Nigel has created the ring blank, this goes to Paul who takes this and transforms it into the final product; “They come out stamped and I’ve got to soften them up with a flame, and then I cut each one to size. I knock them up, knock them around, and then fold them all up to get the shape. I then buff them all before they go off for finishing.”
By using this die-stamping process we are able to create incredibly strong signet rings which are built to last, and these personal items can then be passed down through future generations for years to come.
The other process that is often used to create signet rings is called casting, however, we have found that our way produces a cleaner, purer product;
“You get impurities in casting, whereas the way we do it you don’t get any impurities. Paul could go through the process of firing a casting up, only for it to go upstairs to be finally finished and a load of problems show up in the casting, and these problems won’t have shown up before this point. Whereas most of the time with us, when we use it from a solid block, that doesn’t happen.”
Paul added; “The casting is like, you know an Aero, its all bubbled up? That’s exactly what a casting is like, and if you hit a big bubble it’s game over! That’s why you shouldn’t buy castings.”
The way that we craft our signet rings has remained unchanged over the years. A majority of our rings are made either using 9K or 18K yellow, as this metal won’t tarnish with age and will remain strong throughout a lifetime of wear.
Bespoke Signet Rings
Whether you’re choosing to invest in a signet ring because you want to honour your family heritage or because you’re a part of a new wave of customers who are looking to invest in their first piece of bespoke jewellery, creating a bespoke signet ring with Deakin & Francis is an intensely personal experience.
By going bespoke, you have the freedom to create a ring that will perfectly align with your unique personality and style. Your piece will go through a more emotional journey from beginning to end, and will be met with a level of care and attention to detail that you wouldn’t receive by purchasing a mass-produced ring.
If you want to find out more about this process, or are looking to invest in your own unique piece, take a look at our available signet ring designs on our website. Alternatively, contact us to discuss your bespoke journey in more detail.