Men have been wearing signet rings on their pinky fingers since ancient times, but Australian jewellery designer Alix Yang has reimagined the millennia-old adornment for modern lifestyles – and modern women.
Signet rings are generally small and heavy with a flat bezel (the wider, thicker part of the ring) and an engraved design, such as a personal seal or family crest, which wearers traditionally used to make their mark in a hot wax seal.
Priced between $89 and $105, Yang’s 2019 version probably won’t be sealing many letters, but her statement pieces have been among her most popular designs since she launched her business nearly two years ago.
Where their ancient predecessors may have signaled status, Yang’s rings are designed to be worn every day and encapsulate their wearers’ style.
“I think jewellery is something very personal,” she says. “I want the girls who choose my jewellery to feel like it’s something made for them and to feel confident and comfortable in themselves when wearing [it].”
The best-selling Margot style is marked with an eight-point star and comes in gold (made with 18-carat gold-plated brass), silver (rhodium-plated brass) or gold with a red garnet at the centre – the latter combination, says Yang, creating “a perfect duo” with vintage character.
The rings and their matching necklaces premiered in 2018 and were Yang’s first pieces to incorporate gemstones. They quickly surpassed her earlier, simpler unmarked “A Signet” pinky rings in the popularity stakes.
Pops of red are a common motif in Yang’s new spring-summer 2019 collection, which is on sale now.
Inspired in part by a trip to Bali earlier this year, the collection uses recycled materials and features asymmetric and irregular pearls, carnelians (brownish-red gemstones), red corals and crystals to give it an organic, colourful feel.
Some of the collection is made overseas and some is made in Melbourne; many of the custom finer pieces are handmade by Yang.
“I want this collection to be more environmentally friendly,” she says. “The design is still simple and can be your everyday statement piece.”