Wednesday, March 29, 2023
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REBUS creates handcrafted signet rings and shares why these rings are so private

It’s true; we love symbolism and personalizing our jewellery. There are various methods to take action, and signet rings have all the time performed their half. The world has a newfound love for them as traits develop and our fondness for devoted or personalised jewellery grows. Rebus is an organization specializing in signet rings and cufflinks. I sat down with Emmet Smith speaking about his beautiful firm.

I’ve been working within the jewellery commerce since 1986. My first foray into the commerce was on the Sir John Cass Faculty of Artwork in Whitechapel, the place I spent a yr finding out jewellery design and making, stone setting, silversmithing, and hand engraving.

Rebus Emmet

Emmeth Smith, REBUS

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I instantly fell in love with hand engraving; I’d utterly lose myself in a miniature world I may create. I then began a 5-year apprenticeship with an organization in Hatton Backyard known as R.H. Wilkins. Little did I do know then I’d go on to purchase that firm twelve years later.

”I began Rebus in 2005, primarily because of the frustration of being despatched poor-quality signet rings to work on”

Additionally, RH Wilkins was a B2B enterprise. Having a workshop of extraordinarily gifted engravers, I needed to advertise the artwork of hand engraving on to the client who wears our jewellery. 

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Rebus, a B2C jewellery model, allowed me to do exactly that. All my staff loves working carefully with our clients to create actually imaginative artworks that we then seal and engrave into the piece of Rebus jewellery we’ve created for them. Every buyer within the retailer is invited to our workshop, the place they meet the craftspeople making their jewellery. They’re all the time very within the engraving course of and are amazed on the element that may be achieved with simply small handheld chisels (gravers).

This direct contact with the client offers me (particularly as I spent twenty years in an out-of-sight workshop) and my staff lots of pleasure. 

We have now fairly a big staff for an impartial jewellery firm. The workshop is beneath the shop. Right here we make and seal engrave the signet rings and different jewellery items. We have now eight engravers, considered one of which continues to be serving her apprenticeship. The apprenticeship lasts 4-5 years, relying on age and former expertise. Our livery firm, The Goldsmiths Corridor, indentures our apprentices and offers them and us a number of help. The jewellery commerce is a small, splendidly supportive business stuffed with expert craftsmen and artists.

We even have an in-house manufacturing division and a gross sales and design staff that works with our clients to flush out their concepts and supply sketches.


Rachel, one of many gross sales staff, and one of many engravers take what we do on the street to the US, the place we arrange trunk exhibits in motels. They had been off to LA and West Hollywood in June and took appointments at The London Resort.   

I presently spend lots of time residing in Crete and have acquired two canine, a border collie (Kenny) and a mixed-breed shepherd canine (Dolly). Each canine had been deserted; Dolly will need to have been 2-3 months previous when I discovered her in an olive grove. Kenny was roughly a yr previous when I discovered him working round a mountain street. I believe he escaped from his earlier proprietor. Sadly, in rural areas, the canine are left tied up in olive groves or fields; undesirable puppies are sometimes discarded. 

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This story is from Matthew Hart, considered one of our grasp engravers who’s accompanying Rachel on the US trunk present, who had his canine engraved on his personal signet ring:

My mom had a fox terrier as a baby and all the time needed one other. So at some point, we discovered some fox terrier puppies on the market. Right away, we noticed Ted and needed to have him. We named him ‘Ted’ as a result of (apart from trying like a teddy bear), I used to be watching a number of Father Ted on the time, and it was between Ted or Doogle. Ted is now 6.

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Signet Rings are very private; I made a signet ring in reminiscence of my father. 

That is my private model of a mourning ring within the spirit of Momento Mori (I have already got one other signet ring that has the motto Momento Vivere ‘bear in mind to stay’ engraved into it). My father, Philip Smith (aka Dickie, Detsy, the Captain), died in 2019, and I made a decision to design a signet ring in his reminiscence that I may put on each day and bear in mind him.

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The form is a bigger model of the Rebus Marquise, it’s constructed from 18K yellow gold, and I’ve used vitreous white and inexperienced/gray enamel.

On one shoulder, I carved an ear. I took this concept after visiting a museum in Berlin, the place there’s a everlasting historical Egyptian exhibition. I discovered the Egyptians’ use of the ear as an icon was widespread of their artwork, wall carvings, and worn as amulets. These listening to or ‘Sacred Ears’ had been carved into partitions of temples so that individuals would have the ear of their deity, to share a message with the gods and goddess.

Rebus Ring Father Son

The symbolism of ear amulets is just not all the time effectively understood, however I just like the model that it represents an individual and is thus linked to that particular person. I sometimes hum a tune or say a number of phrases into ‘his ear’; it’s a consolation for me. To not point out it might enchantment to my Dad’s humorousness and makes me chuckle typically.

I selected white enamel on the highest floor, as utilized in conventional Victorian memento mori jewellery. Inside the white enamel are raised gold letters that say ‘Not by Phrases.’ I used to be a little bit of a tearaway, however he would all the time give me a hug in instances of bother. He didn’t must say a phrase; they had been pointless. The part is also a part of the Latin motto the place I took the identify Rebus from ‘Non verbis, sed Rebus,’ not by phrases however by concepts or pictures.

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Within the heart of the ring is a darkish inexperienced coloured enamel, which references Eire; Dad was a really proud Irishman. The usage of white enamel round inexperienced offers the signet ring an look of a watch, a top quality that was not deliberate, however I’ve all the time cherished stunning errors.

Beneath the inexperienced enamel is an engraved picture of a door. After Dad died, I found considered one of his notebooks. His first and solely entry was a sonnet he copied, which he could have learn from considered one of his books. On the finish of the sonnet, he wrote it was one of the stunning poems he had learn. It’s known as:

When I’m lifeless and laid finally to relaxation by Gamel Woolsey

There’s a line: ‘As air that quickens on the opened door,’ which struck a chord with me, and naturally, the picture of a door is a strong image and metaphor.

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Our two hearts engraved into the door want no rationalization.

I put on this ring each day. I’m not completed but. I’ve one other shoulder I may carve at some point, and I plan to place a message contained in the shank. He cherished Neil Younger, so perhaps a line from considered one of his favourite songs.

This signet ring is a reminder, a communication, and a tribute to our love. Father and son.

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Gail and Sophie gifted one another a hoop with their canine on it. Designed and made by Rebus


Completely sure, our stone setter fosters rescue canine and commonly brings them in. Additionally, Kate from the gross sales staff sometimes walks her canine to work. So, we’ve two upstairs once in a while and one downstairs. The Rebus retailer is situated on a market street (Leather-based Lane, in central London) that’s well-known for its beautiful meals stalls. I wager the canine love coming to work!


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