Ireland has a rich history, and Celtic jewelry reflects that. Celtic jewelry dates back to the arrival of the Celts in Ireland around 500 BC, which is exactly where our story begins. Back then, the Celts would gather people together and recite poems that would regale these epic tales. And as is with many stories, they needed symbols to help relay their significance. This is really where Celtic jewelry was born, albeit it wouldn’t be until much later that they would be adorned around someone’s wrist or neck as opposed to simply living in their head.
Celtic jewelry has evolved but its significance and beauty have persisted.
What is the Meaning of Celtic Jewelry?
When the Celts would recite these stories, they used symbols to convey their power and meaning. This principle still rings true today, as Celtic jewelry most commonly represents strength, family, love, and the cycle of life.
Below are a few examples of the most popular types of Celtic jewelry and the meaning they hold.
- Celtic Cross – perhaps one of the most notable forms of Celtic jewelry, the Celtic Cross is linked to St. Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint, and his interaction with a pagan. It is believed that St. Patrick saw a pagan carving a stone circle for the pagan god of the sun and blessed it, combining it with the cross.
- The Claddagh Ring – This Irish symbol represents love and friendship. It is often worn as a promise ring or wedding band. There are multiple ways to wear the Claddagh ring depending on your relationship status. If you are single and looking for love, you should wear the ring on your right ring finger with the heart facing outward. If you are dating, you should have the heart facing you. If you are engaged, you should wear the ring on your left ring finger facing outward. Likewise, if you are married you should wear the ring on your left hand with the heart facing towards you.
- The Tree of Life – This piece of Celtic jewelry represents balance and harmony. According to Celt culture, the tree represents food, shelter, and protection.
- Ogham – This piece of jewelry represents the first known Irish writing in history. In most cases, these stones would have a person’s name and their ancestors inscribed on them.
- Irish Harp – This is a traditional Irish emblem. Harpists were common in Celtic culture as Irish Kings would always have a musician available to provide entertainment to guests at various feasts and gatherings. The wire strings of the harp are meant to represent the arms of the king. This design is one of the most commonly used in Ireland as it is seen when currency and official government documents.
While there are many Celtic designs on the market, these are a few of the most common. Below, we will take a look at other Celtic Design symbols and meanings.
What Does Celtic symbolize?
When it comes to Celtic jewelry, a lot of its meanings have transformed over time. Many Celtic jewelry designs include three intertwined parts. When Christianity first arrived in Ireland, these three parts referred to the Holy Trinity. However, these three intertwined parts sometimes represent the Earth, sea, and sky, whereas others represent the mind, body, and spirit. In other cases, the number three was used to represent the three life stages – or a beginning, middle, and end.
One of the most widely known symbols in Celtic culture, of course, includes the Shamrock. While you may associate the Shamrock with good fortune, the three heart-shaped leaves also have significant importance in Celtic culture because they thought that everything good comes in threes.
While the significance of the number three can be found in many cultures, it is most significant in Ireland.
What Does the Celtic Trinity Knot Mean?
You may have noticed that we didn’t include the Trinity Knot with the other popular designs. That’s because it deserved its own section. Like all other Celtic jewelry, the Celtic Trinity Knot carries a lot of significance in Irish culture. This design has three corners and sometimes has a circle in the center. The meaning of the Celtic Trinity Knot varies depending on the group. In neo-pagan culture, the Celtic Trinity Knot represents the nature of the goddess. The goddess represents the mother, maiden, and the crone, representing innocence, creation, and wisdom. Because of its intertwined design, the Celtic Trinity Knot is also thought to be a symbol of female fertility.
In Christianity, the Celtic Trinity Knot has also represented the Holy Trinity – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with the circle in the middle representing eternal life.
However, today most people wear the Celtic Trinity Knot as a symbol of their Irish heritage. This design is not only symbolic of Ireland’s culture but it is also known to represent eternal love, causing it to sometimes be referred to as the Celtic love knot.
When it comes to a piece of jewelry, you might just look at it as something pretty, but with Celtic jewelry, you’re wearing a piece of history. Celtic jewelry emerged as a result of the Iron Age, which allowed the Celts to develop new materials and techniques involving iron and steel. One of the most famous designs to come out of the Iron Age was the metal torque, which was a simple neck ring that became the first known traditional Celtic necklace.
As you can tell, the symbolic nature of Celtic jewelry varies depending on the design and the group of people wearing them. Not only are these designs important to our Irish heritage, but they have become popular in modern culture, often being depicted in television shows, movies, on CD covers, and even body arts. In many ways, these designs have taken a life of their own, while continuing to represent the most important aspects of life: strength, faith, family, and love. To find your perfect piece of jewelry, Celtic DNA Jewelry has an incredible collection.