“A Seal” is wax impressed with a design and attached to a document as evidence of authenticity. “Seal engraving” is the cutting of the design into the ring, desk stamp etc., which is used to achieve the wax impression. Consequently the design has to be cut into the ring in reverse to create a wax impression which is recognisable. Every design must be unique to its owner like a signature.
When a signet ring is being prepared for seal engraving the surface of the ring is dusted with a fine layer of powder. Then, using a feather, the design is drawn in reverse by hand, onto the head of the ring. When the design is to liking of the seal engraver, a more permanent design is drawn onto the ring using a scribe.
The next stage is to cut, by hand, into the signet ring using the various wooden-handled tools which the seal engraver will have made themselves over the years. The steel blade of each tool has been hand crafted to fit a specific job. Eventually, after many hours work, the completed ring is pressed into soft modelling clay to show an impression of the finished article.
The signet ring is brushed, cleaned and a final wax impression is taken. The head of the ring is then lapped to give a mirror clean finish.