Although the concept of Celtic jewelry brings immediate associations with Ireland, this type of ornamental jewelry has a complex history that spans not only several centuries but many countries. That is why it might be interesting to understand what is meant by Celtic jewelry and its rich history. The term “Celtic” has been utilized by both historians and archeologists to refer to the European culture of the Iron Age from around 1000 B. C. to the Roman Conquest. Most of the artifacts from that time were discovered in Switzerland and metalwork and jewelry from that period include intricate spirals and geometric designs in bronze, silver, and gold.
5 Common Types of Celtic Jewelry
These days, the rich tradition and design of the Celtic symbols have been incorporated into original and unique jewelry pieces. Most of them, fashioned in either gold or silver, include intricately carved works that reflect traditional Celtic legends and themes.
The Claddagh Ring
This is without a doubt the most popular and enduring representation of Celtic jewelry. The ring’s simple design is made up of two hands that represent friendship. At the point where they come together, they hold a heart that holds a crown which indicates loyalty.
Myths related to this ring include the ways in which it has to be worn, such as with the heart pointing away from you to let people know that you are single. Claddagh designs have also been incorporated into bracelets.
Children of Lir
The swan motif of these pieces is linked to the legend that tells how Lir’s children were morphed into swans by their stepmom who was a witch. They would spend nine hundred years as swans until they could hear the bell of the new god, that is the god of Christianity, which was just being introduced to Ireland. Jewelry that incorporates the swan motif is still quite popular in Ireland.
The Celtic Knot
An integral part of Celtic lore, these knots signify the continuity of life since the design reveals that there is never a beginning or an end. A single knot with three loops is often taken as a symbol of the Christian Trinity. The knots are used in many different types of jewelry pieces, such as bracelets, earrings, and rings.
A long-standing representation of the Christian Trinity, legends claim that St. Patrick found a shamrock on the ground and used it to teach the Irish people about Christian concepts of the Holy Spirit, God the Father, and Christ the Son.
Although shamrocks are still perceived as items of religious meaning, for others they are simply symbols of good luck. Shamrocks have long been incorporated into traditional Celtic jewelry pieces such as rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings.
Symbols of Ireland’s violence-plagued history and its struggle to obtain autonomy and independence, warrior shields are most often used in men’s rings. Their design tends to be quite simple and it consists mainly of a metal disc that is carved around its edges. Some more elaborate designs have also added mythical creatures such as dragons. Some may also incorporate Celtic crosses which include a circle that holds together the arms of the cross.
No matter what type of Celtic crystal design jewelry you select, you can be sure that you are wearing an important and lasting symbol of Irish heritage.