The history of Signet Jewelers dates back two centuries with a pioneering female entrepreneur named Harriet Samuel. Since then, the company has strategically grown to the renown banners of today, becoming the world’s largest retailer of diamond jewelry. While Signet’s story has evolved, our mission to enable all people to Celebrate Life and Express Love has remained our focus. It is brought to life every day thanks to the tens of thousands of dedicated team members who live our Purpose of Inspiring Love.



  • 1862

    Harriet Samuel begins mail-order watch business in Manchester, England.

    A remarkable entrepreneur, she took over her father-in-law’s ailing clock- and watch-making shop and recreated it as a mail-order business.
  • 1890

    First H. Samuel retail store opens in Preston, England.

    H. Samuel would become one of the nation’s best-known High Street jewelry retailers, with stores throughout the United Kingdom.


  • 1910

    Sterling Jewelers Inc. founded in Akron by Henry Shaw.

    The owner of regional brands such as LeRoy’s Jewelers and Shaw’s Jewelers, Sterling would become one of the nation’s largest and arguably best-managed retail jewelry chains.
  • 1912

    H. Samuel moves to Birmingham, England.

    Growing demand from customers led to a move from Manchester into larger premises in Birmingham, a city where its offices are today.
  • 1916

    Kay Jewelers founded in Reading, Pennsylvania.

    Today one of the most-recognized brands in the world, Kay had its start when brothers Sol and Edmund Kaufmann opened a small jewelry shop in the corner of their father’s furniture store and called it Kay Jewelers.
  • 1919

    Peoples Jewellers opens its first store in Toronto, Canada.

    Company founder Frank Gerstein is credited with pioneering consumer credit in Canada, with the slogan: “We do not sell for cash.” The terms were 10% down and 10% a month, interest free. Today, Peoples is the largest retailer of fine jewelry in Canada.
1920s - 1970s

1920s - 1970s

  • 1924

    Morris Zale, William Zale, and Ben Lipshy open the first Zales Jewelers on March 29, 1924 in Wichita Falls, Texas.

    In addition to jewelry, their inventory included cameras, small appliances, and cookware.
  • 1925

    Zales unveils revolutionary credit plan of "a penny down and a dollar a week”.

    By making jewelry affordable for the average working American, Zales grew rapidly, adding nearly one new store a year over the next decade.
  • 1949

    Leslie Ratner opens a jewelry shop in Richmond, Surrey, England.

    By 1970, Ratners had grown to 100 stores. The business shook up the staid jewelry industry with its bright lighting and low-priced merchandise advertised by gaudy orange signage.
  • 1957

    Zales Jewelers broadens its reach, opening the first store in a shopping center – a major shift from operating only in downtown locations.

    The company also announced the initial public offering of its stock (ZLC) and began trading on the American Stock Exchange the following year.
  • 1972

    Piercing Pagoda, founded by Bernard and Bertha Cohen, opened its first jewelry kiosk in Plymouth Meeting Mall in suburban Philadelphia.

    The idea for the business came from Bertha’s family, which operated jewelry stores in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and had begun piercing ears in small booths to spur sales of diamond earrings.


  • 1984

    Zale Corporation unveils acquisition of the 890-carat “Incomparable Diamond,” the largest internally flawless diamond in the world.

    After being unveiled to the world as part of the company’s 75th anniversary celebration, the enormous rough diamond was put on display at the Natural History Museum of the Smithsonian Institution.
  • 1986

    Ratners acquires the H. Samuel jewelry store chain, then the largest in the United Kingdom.

    The merger expanded Ratners from 180 shops to more than 600.
  • 1987

    Ratners Group makes two significant acquisitions: Ernest Jones in the United Kingdom and Sterling in the United States.

    With these acquisitions, Ratners added 720 stores in the UK and 117 in the US, making it the second-largest retail jeweler in the world.


  • 1990

    The company acquires Virginia-based Kay Jewelers.

    This acquisition boosted Ratners Group’s U.S. retail operation to nearly 1,000 stores.
  • 1993

    Ratner Group changes its name to Signet Group.

    The new name was one of many changes: Ratners stores were converted to H. Samuel signage, and the company began restructuring, including selling a number of operations and closing some 300 stores.

    Jared the Galleria of Jewelry launches, and with it, the superstore format.

    The large, self-standing stores were five times larger than mall-based stores, and offered amenities such as onsite repair services and children’s play areas. By 2000, Jared stores were Signet’s fastest-growing segment.
  • 1998

    Zales launches online shopping at

    At the time, fewer than one-third of retailers boasted their own online store.
  • 1999

    Kay Jewelers launches “Every Kiss Begins with Kay” advertising tagline.

    Penned by a copywriter at Kay’s agency Stern Advertising, the famous line has become one of the most recognized slogans in advertising history.
  • 1999

    Signet establishes its partnership with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

    Since then, Signet’s customers and employees have raised more than $81 million to help fight and cure childhood cancer.


  • 2000

    Signet is among the founding members of the World Diamond Council.

    Representing the entire diamond supply chain, the organization has been instrumental in greatly reducing the trade of “conflict diamonds.”
  • 2001

    Jared introduces “He went to Jared” tagline.

    The memorable tagline helped Jared achieve widespread brand recognition. It was retired in 2018 and replaced by “Dare to Be Devoted.”
  • 2005

    Signet becomes a co-founding member of the Responsible Jewellery Council.

    The RJC is the leading standards authority in the global watch and jewelry industry, working with members worldwide to create a sustainable supply chain respectful of human rights.
  • 2007

    Signet is among the first supporters of the newly created Diamond Empowerment Fund.

    Later renamed Diamonds Do Good, this global nonprofit supports programs to develop and empower people in diamond-producing communities.
  • 2008

    Kay Jewelers launches a 100-store test of Jane Seymour’s Open Hearts collection.

    Soon rolling out nationwide to all Kay stores, it would become one of the most successful programs in Signet’s history.


  • 2012

    Zales partners with Vera Wang to create the Vera Wang Love Collection of diamond bridal jewelry.

    The collection would become a flagship offering for Zales, popular with customers for years to come.
  • 2013

    Signet implements the first Signet Responsible Sourcing Protocol (SRSP) to cover gold and the 3Ts (tin, tungsten, and titanium).

    Today, the SRSP covers all precious metals and stones, including lab-created diamonds. Setting the standard for the jewelry industry, the SRSP is known around the world for its collaborative approach built on compliance with the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains.
  • 2014

    Signet acquires Zales, adding more than 3,600 retail stores.

    The acquisition included Zales subsidiaries the Piercing Pagoda and Peoples Jewellers of Canada.

    Signet commits $10 million to Akron Children’s Hospital.

    Funding the Kay Jewelers Pavilion, the commitment marked the start of a decades-long partnership between Signet and Akron Children’s Hospital, which has touched the lives of thousands of children and families in the greater Akron community.
  • 2015

    Signet commits $50 million to fund the KAY Research & Care Center at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

    Located on the St. Jude campus in Memphis, the Kay Center houses state-of-the-art technology and embodies forward-thinking approaches to children’s healing.
  • 2016

    Signet launches the Ever Us collection.

    One of the most successful product launches in Signet’s history, the Ever Us collection of two-stone diamond rings, earrings, and pendants has remained a popular staple of the Signet catalog.
  • 2017

    Virginia C. Drosos appointed Chief Executive Officer of Signet.

    Drosos has served as a director of Signet's Board since 2012. She has more than 30 years of executive leadership experience in the consumer goods, beauty and healthcare industries, as well as retail.
  • 2018

    Signet announces its “Path to Brilliance” strategy.

    This 3-year transformational strategy established Signet as a leading digital-first jewelry retailer, bringing the best of Signet's banners to customers however and wherever they choose to shop.
  • 2019

    Signet receives first-ever inclusion on the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index.

    Recognized for its continued commitment to gender equality and transparency in the workplace, Signet has been included on the Index every year since.


  • 2020

    Signet is Great Place to Work-Certified™.

    This certification, also received the following year, reflects the company’s commitment to fostering a positive and inclusive workplace community.
  • 2021

    Signet launches "Inspiring Brilliance”.

    Following the successful completion of its three-year Path to Brilliance transformation, this multi-year strategy was introduced to establish Signet as the growth and innovation leader of the jewelry industry.

    Signet joins the United Nations Global Compact.

    As a participant signatory, Signet is committed to making the UN Global Compact and its Ten Principles an integral part of the company’s business strategy, day-to-day operations, and organizational culture.

    Signet publishes its ambitious 2030 Corporate Sustainability Goals.

    Aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Signet’s goals set the course and build on the company’s longstanding commitment to corporate citizenship and sustainability.