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Costume Jewelry History
And Jewelry Marks

August 27, 2014

Buying Black Onyx...Some Advice

Black onyx signet rings have been favored by men for centuries. During ancient times a signet ring was often used as a visible sign of the wearer's social status, enabling others to identify him as an important member of a government, political faction, religious order or influential family or clan. The word "signet" is derived from the word "sign" and signet rings were often used to leave an imprint of a sign or symbol on letters, important documents and other correspondence. Usually, wax from a burning candle was allowed to drip onto the document and while it was still hot the signet ring was applied to it with pressure, leaving the symbol found on the ring clearly impressed on the wax. Kings, Queens and other royalty utilized this method of placing their official seal on documents.
Signet rings were usually made from silver or gold and eventually jewelers started blending precious metals and integrating gemstones into their ring designs. During the past century or so, black onyx has become a favorite of jewelers and there are countless military, religious, fraternal and organizationally related signet rings in existence and their popularity has only increased over the past decade or so.
Black onyx signet rings were typically worn on the wearer's pinky finger during past centuries, but over time they evolved into a larger style ring worn on the traditional ring finger. Men typically prefer larger, more massive rings, while women favor smaller, more elegant ones. Gold and silver signet rings are equally popular among men and women, though younger people often prefer a more plain style of ring, while older people tend to opt for more ornate designs that are often blended with intricate settings, diamonds and other gemstones. Jewelers have mastered the art of integrating onyx stones into their ring designs and there are literally thousands of styles and shapes to choose from.
Some points to consider when shopping for one of these rings include assessing which styles, shapes, etc., will best mesh with the wearer's current jewelry? The same goes for the wearer's clothing; some designs better compliment specific clothing styles and a smart shopper will pay attention to this issue and seek the advice of a competent jeweler. Another consideration is the environment the wearer lives in, works in, socializes in, etc. Some designs stand up to heavy use than others. Delicately made women's signet rings may not hold up under the repeated stress of housework, while some men's rings most likely would not fare well with a wearer who works as a stone mason or other occupation requiring extensive use of one's hands.
In recent years black onyx signet rings have become quite popular with younger men and women, many of whom opt for a family crest or coat of arms carved into the black onyx stone. Many dealers are offering these rings and though they are quite expensive, they remain highly sought after by many because of the status the rings convey to others. Black onyx is a perfect material for this purpose and is easily carved and shaped to create the desired image, symbol or design.
You can find black onyx signet rings at many local jewelers, but we feel that you'll find the widest selection and best prices buy researching and shopping online. The number of merchants found on the internet will enable you to review and choose from a selection of ring styles, shapes, etc., that practically no local jeweler could match with their in-store inventory. The good news is that because there are so many jewelers and dealers selling these rings, prices are always under pressure to remain as low as possible and this results in consumers having many options to find a great deal!
Majda Liban writes about various fashion and home related topics. See more of her work at and