Months ago, I wrote an article arguing the utility of a man’s wristwatch, and why it’s the only jewellery, he’ll ever need. I stood by and maintained this opinion. Until stumbling across Rebus Signet Rings – a traditional bespoke ring production company that is a compelling response to my former argument.
A Heritage Of Heirlooms
For centuries, he who handles and has the ability to engrave, carve, and craft precious metals has been praised by his wider culture. To trust a man or woman with our most sacred materials is to trust him or her with our wealth, our story. Raymond Wilkins – an exceptionally skilled craftsman – understood the sacredness of his craft. He established R.H. Wilkins Engravers LTD. in 1971, based in London’s renowned jewellery district, Hatton Garden. To this day, the company specialises in the most expert of metal engraving. After a successful and lengthy career, Wilkins sold his company to a former and trusted apprentice, Emmett Smith. Emmett maintains Raymond Wilkins’ reputation of premium engraving, serving royalty, aristocracy, and the everyday man the world over.
In 2005 Emmett discovered a strong market demand for high quality, hand engraved signet rings – cherished rings that would truly resonate with its wearer. In 2019, Emmett and his team of dedicated craftsmen and women continue this tradition of crafting excellence.
“WITH A HAND ENGRAVED MESSAGE OR SYMBOL, AN OBJECT CAN BE TRANSFORMED FROM THE ORDINARY INTO THE EXTRAORDINARY, GIVING IT A LIFE AND MEANING OF ITS OWN. AND IN TIME, THE ITEM WILL ACQUIRE ITS OWN PERSONALITY. IT WILL BECOME A TALISMAN – UNIQUE AND TREASURED.”
– Emmet Smith, Director Of Rebus Signet Rings.
Steeped In Tradition, Thriving In Modernity
The most critical element of the production process that Rebus buyers must understand is this: each of the hand engravers, goldsmiths, and specialists that touch your rings are dedicated professionals, who have spent their lives perfecting their craft. Each engraver experiences a considerably lengthy five years of apprenticeship before becoming fully-fledged engravers. Each of these individual craftsmen and women slowly develops their specialist approach while intertwining their differences to create a unique ring every time.
Minutes turn to hours turn to days as every piece is painstakingly attended to, filling the object with sacred meaning. These objects become signet rings – thick, substantial, and heavily sentimental jewellery unlike the generic, factory-made hordes of meaningless rings you may find in a day-to-day retail outlet.
Forged In The Famed Hatton Garden
Based in central London, the Rebus workshop is buzzing with creativity and craftsmanship. Word has it that there exists an air of brilliance the moment you step into the shop. Ancient crafting objects adorn the walls – small picks, hammers, tools of all sorts. Watching the rings being forged and engraved is a live show, and Rebus welcomes onlookers to see them, perfecting the art in real-time.
In the digital age, one might expect to see laser machines and computers flanking the old workshop. However, Rebus holds a strong philosophy that human rings should be made by human hands and thus continue their longstanding tradition to this day. These men and women forge the rings in one of two ways:
Casting involves pouring the liquified precious metal into a pre-formed mould.
Die-stamping begins as a sheet of highly compressed precious metal that is fed through a hydraulic press and then forged into the ring of shape by one of Rebus’ skilled goldsmiths.
While either method ensures quality, it is the next step that turns a ring into a Rebus.
Customers have the options to engrave family crests, monograms, initials, talisman images, or a pre-agreed upon image of their choice. First, the ring is carefully placed in clamps, securing it in place for the initial drawing of the chosen pattern. Using a 4x magnifying glass, the image is traced, and the carving begins – slowly and surely. In staying with tradition, images are carved in reverse on the signet ring so that when or if a wax impression is required, it will be done so accurately. This is a further argument in favour of the craftsmen and women’s ingenuity and passion for their craft.
Rebus rings are forged to last, and their roots in tradition make them a perfect family heirloom. Each ring comes with an encapsulated wax impression of the chosen seal to ensure that, in the unfortunate case the piece is lost, the design can be emulated.
For options, inspiration, and more head to Rebus’ website.