Seal & Scribe: Antique Treasures Turned Into Modern Meaningful Jewels


Shari Cohen, Designer of Seal & Scribe

In conversation with designer Shari Cohen, owner and designer of Seal & Scribe, who is the original designer behind modernizing antique glass intaglios from the 18th and 19th century—historical and sentimental treasures into contemporary meaningful jewelry. She hunts down and  finds the most charming, sentimental, and symbolic mottos, sayings and rebus intaglios and then creates contemporary ring and pendant settings around each of them. When she adds gemstones, it further captures the feeling or significance of the piece so that each part of her designs tell more of a tale that resonates with both antique collectors and modern jewelry aficionados.


Seals Before The Are Set

Seals before they are set



What is it you love about being a jewelry designer?

“I get such a thrill when I can create a ‘love match’ between a seal and a client. I know when it is right, when my client starts opening up and starts telling me the story of why that particular seal resonates with them. Creating a piece of fine jewelry that embodies a piece of someone’s  story, brings something special to their daily life and that my pieces are worn as personal talisman daily  is a very special privilege and an  intimate experience to have with ones clients.”

I Never Back Down Seal Ring Set In 18K Gold

I Never Back Down Seal Ring Set In 18K Gold



Did you start out in jewelry and, if not, what was your first career and why did you change?

I have a BFA and an MFA in fine art photography with a minor in film and video art. I first worked for a famous LA artist and realized quickly that it wasn’t the life for me, so I applied to the Peace Corps, was accepted, and taught Art in Botswana for two and a half years. During that time I realized that I wanted to be of service with my working life, and after I returned from Botswana I began a 37 year career as an international development consultant. My main area of focus was development for country teams around public health. I began collecting the glass intaglio seals on the side and creating one- of- a-kind pieces around them which were selling as quickly as I designed them. A combination of Covid, a changing consultancy landscape, and an uptick in Seal & Scribe’s business turned into a natural shift towards creating jewelry full time.”



What is your process?

“I begin with figuring out the story that I think the seal was originally meant to tell, then there is the story I ascribe to it, and of course then the story my client sees within it, so it’s like deciphering a multi layered tale. Once there is clarity on a seal’s future, the design begins with sketching out a rough idea of what I am envisioning. I’ll often sketch out a few options and then place the seal onto the sketches to see if any of them make that seal shine more than the other ideas do. The next step is a sit down with my jeweler. Often CAD works best for my pieces because the seals are never exactly symmetrical, they were all made by hand long ago and were meant for fobs so it wasn’t important that they had perfectly symmetrical sidewalls and edges. For these reasons, CAD usually helps us achieve a cleaner visual setting. Then it’s on to a lot of hand finishing before a piece is ready. For example, our Double Dragon ring has about 40 hours of hand finishing because the scale work is so detailed and each scale had to be carved deeper and then each scale was hand polished to a satin finish.”



A group of glass seaol and cast gold rings



Double Dragon Poison ring set in 18K gold with scale engraving

Double Dragon Poison ring set in 18K gold with scale engraving


Year you started?

“I launched Seal & Scribe in 2016, but the collecting of intaglio seals probably started about 2013.”

How have you evolved?

“When I first began Seal & Scribe, it was all about necklaces in our signature setting of very fierce claw prongs, with a nod to the Georgian era settings which were a bit clunky so we refined that aesthetic. The first rings debuted about nine months after the necklaces, and I tried three styles: two were more ‘theme’ settings that spoke to the actual imagery on the seals, and one was my first prototype for our Moon rings, which have become a mainstay in our in stock collection. As people found Seal & Scribe, our custom business took off and really that now accounts for perhaps 75% of our overall clientele.





Remember Me seal and moon ring in 18K gold with diamond accents


People love the process that we create with them. It is very collaborative and extremely rewarding when a custom commission comes off the bench and it exceed both my and my client’s expectations. As our custom work settled into more of a rhythm, I felt it was time to create a more cohesive collection that I designed from start to finish and launched the Love Letters Collection. Going forward we will continue to provide a very special, extremely intimate custom experience, but we will also be creating and presenting smaller capsule collections.”

Love Letter collection of glass seal rings in modern settings


Two Hearts Together glass seal ring with diamond accents set in 18K gold

How else have you evolved the collection?

“When we come across a seal that we fall head over heels for and feel that it will resonate with different clients on multiple levels, we cast them in gold from the originals so that when the one-of-a-kinds sell, it will allow our clients to enjoy the same mottos and meanings as those that have sold. We will only cast a small amount of these seals so our customers still feel that they are wearing unique pieces. And often we will change the shape, add a halo of diamonds and create different styles of pieces in the gold.”


Two rings cast in 18K gold from original season and set in 18K gold with diamond halo

What is your favorite piece in your collection?

“My favorite piece is whatever is in front of me at the moment. I’m passionate about the Love Letters rings because they are extremely special pieces infused with so much sentimentality. But every time we pick up one of our solid gold pieces, we are smitten with their heft, the glow they possess, and their deep meaning. Then we put on one of our hand-engraved Love Shields and boom! We’re in lust with those too.”

Love Shield in 18K white and rose gold


How should a woman wear your jewelry?

“Any way she wants to! We make each piece with the intention that it can withstand being worn on a daily basis. I don’t think too much about how someone will wear our pieces, I’m more concerned about what they feel, their emotions, when they wear their Seal & Scribe.”


What are the pieces you never take off?

“I’m not one to wear any piece of jewelry 24/7, however, I do wear my antique diamond stud earrings daily. One of them is the center stone from my grandmother’s engagement ring and it carries enormous sentimentality to it. I never knew my grandfather as he died before my parents married, but he was apparently larger than life with a big personality, well-loved by all, and my grandmother’s engagement diamond is a link to them both, so I think of them twice a day when I put on and take off my earrings.”

Favorite heirloom or handed down to you piece?

“My Grandmother’s charm bracelet. It is a chunky 1950’s gold bracelet with only one charm on it. She was very active in organizing social events on the East Coast. No matter where she was she would be organizing something fun. Through my own middle school years, she had a small cottage near a lake in New Jersey and belonged to a club nearby where she was the entertainment coordinator for many years. When she stepped down, the club gifted her this charm bracelet with its single charm – a large three-dimensional birdcage with a bird on a swing inside. It has little pearl tassels hanging from it, and it is engraved with a message of deep appreciation for all the many years she volunteered.  I love how one simple charm can encapsulate so much of who she was.”

Shari’s Grandmother’s charm bracelet

The most sentimental piece you own and why?

“My engagement ring and wedding band, for obvious reasons. The wedding band brings back for me all the sights and sounds of my wedding day. That’s what I love about sentimental jewelry, it can conjure up such detailed memories!”

What was the first piece of jewelry you ever bought for yourself?

“A Victorian cameo ring in rose gold with filigree shoulders. I must have been about eight or nine years old and one of my friend’s mothers was an antique dealer. In her living room she had a glass topped display side table where she often kept some of her inventory. I used to love sitting in the chair next to that case, staring into it, asking her about the pieces. I’m sure my friend thought was completely bonkers because I was far more interested in talking to her mother about the jewelry than I was in playing Mystery Date with her up in her room! I still have that ring. Someday I’ll past it on to a little girl and start her off on her antique jewelry journey, you can never start too young!”

Shari’s first self purchase of a Victorian cameo ring