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Celtic Jewelry: Ancient Symbolism In Popular Fashion

Celtic Jewelry Ancient Symbolism In Popular Fashion


How many times have we gone shopping and gone through a jewelry display case and seen through the crystals, looking at the gold, silver and jewelry that are displayed?

Man has had a great fascination for the jewelry practically from the beginning. The use of necklaces, bracelets, rings and even crowns, have accompanied the history of homo sapiens sapiens, but very few people know of a type of jewelry that matches the traditional beauty of traditional jewelry, which is much more affordable for our pockets. We are talking about Celtic jewelry, is a type of jewelry that has many years of history and tradition behind it and in this section we will explain its origin and the accessories that stand out because today are gaining more ground in popular fashion.

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Celtic Jewelry: The Ancient Symbolism In Popular Fashion 2017

Where does Celtic jewelry come from? Many of us may have asked ourselves the question: Where does Celtic jewelry come from? And in order to be able to respond to this we need to review the history of many years ago, so that we can understand the fascination of some women and great personalities in the world for this type of traditional jewellery that is linked to the culture and religion of a people.

The Celts came from different regions of Europe, about 2000 BC. and 500 A.D. starting from Britain, Galicia, Spain, Ireland, Austria and Scotland. In short, they were known to be a people who were closely linked to nature, because they worshipped forests, mountains and waters, whom they called by other names. All this culture was reflected in its symbolism, which was taken to jewelry being the main reason why type of jewelry is based on the traditions and original methods of these people.

Celtic jewelry symbolism: Claddagh ring

Nowadays, people who are interested in this kind of accessories can find numerous pieces of Celtic jewelry, and although many consider that Celtic rings, such as the Claddagh ring, are the most striking and predominant, these rings are just a small piece of the types of jewelry we can find. When you go further into this magical world you will discover all kinds of earrings, bracelets, pins and necklaces made in a style similar to that used by the Celts, and also that have many of the symbols used by the Celts.

Celtic Jewelry Symbolism: Two types of Celtic Jewelry

It is important to note that people can find two basic types of Celtic jewelry. There are very low-cost pieces that are made in series and have symbols in them that look very similar to Celtic symbols. Those truly interested in pieces that are long-lasting will be able to choose to purchase jewelry made from more expensive metals and that are considered much more authentic because they are made in Ireland or Scotland by the hands of the former inhabitants of these areas. This second type is a truly fine jewelry and very desirable by many, either for its beauty and the dedication of the craftsman who can give an incredible shape to each piece.


There are a variety of common symbols that can be found in the most authentic Celtic jewelry, including special knots, Celtic crosses, pentacles and even many animals. These symbols can be carved into rings or bracelets, and also into jewellery such as earrings can be created in this type of symbols.

There is much discussion about what each of the symbols represents, and this is a subject of great debate by Celtic culture lovers. Some designs are very common in things like engagement rings, interlaced rings or chains, which represent continuity. Many jewelers who do much of their work with their hands can include different Celtic designs as requested by the customer.

As we mentioned in previous paragraphs, the Celts were a people with a culture that was full of symbolism, each of these symbols represent something and therefore we present you the symbols most used in Celtic jewelry.

  • The Trisquel or the trinacria. It is undoubtedly one of the most popular symbols of Celtic culture. It is found by three spiral arms, which are joined at a central point. This symbol was very typical of the Celtic Druids, who were a type of monk or priest of the Celtic religion, because it was sacred and has a reference to the number three, which is very important in Celtic culture.
  • The Celtic spiral. It is another of the most representative symbols of art in this ancient culture and is characterized by not having a beginning or an end, which comes to be interpreted as the eternal life, time and the Sun that every night is hidden to appear during each dawn and day after day.
  • The symbol related to the spirit is the Awen, which is a word that comes from Gaelic and is translated as inspiration. This is represented with three parallel lines crowned with three circles and is linked to neo druidism, that is to say to the origin of the philosophy of the Celtic druids and whose main principle is to live in harmony with the world and especially with nature.
  • The tree. It is a very common symbol in all civilizations and ancient cultures. In the case of the Celtic culture, it is the tree of life and is better known as the Crann Bethadh, it is represented with its branches and roots and, usually surrounded by a circle. The meaning of the roots is related to the spiritual communication that exists with the world of the dead and the world of the branches and the trunk is linked to nature as a source of strength, energy and all that is necessary to live in peace with it.

Celtic jewelry symbolism: The most representative jewels of Celtic culture

Let’s believe that you’ve had enough of history and it’s the right time to talk about jewels in particular, so here’s a list of the most significant jewels of Celtic culture, those that have stand out for centuries.

  • Celtic Cross. Probably, when most people think of when Celtic jewelry, the Celtic cross can immediately come to mind. The cross had its origins in the British Isles, which appears mainly in Ireland. This Celtic symbol has long been represented as the bridge or passage between heaven and earth, and the four arms can also be an idealization of the four elements, fire, earth, air and water.

The ring that is placed in the center of the Celtic cross becomes a Celtic symbol of infinite love, especially the infinite love of God; likewise, the central ring can represent a halo that emanates from Christ. Due to the concentrated power of this Celtic symbol, it is very easy to realize why Celtic jewelry makers were so dedicated to pristine perfection in the Celtic cross process, as this represents the highest ideals and aspirations of the Celts, and this piece of Celtic jewelry is catalogued as one of the most ageless.

  • The Claddagh. Many legends can be found around this emblematic ring, however, what is certain is its origin because it dates from 300 years ago in the small fishing village of Claddagh, in Galway located in Ireland, where it was first developed and designed during the seventeenth century.


The Claddagh is identified by its symbols, being these two hands that are surrounding a heart and are complemented with a crown, basically it is the purest expression of pure love. The heart represents love, the hands represent friendship and the crown represents loyalty and fidelity. It is important to emphasize the motto of the same one, being this Let love and friendship reign (what comes to be understood to reign the friendship and the love). Although it is said that the literal meaning comes to be: with my two hands, I give you my heart, and crowned it with all my love.

Perhaps the most popular legend is that of Richard Joyce who was an Irishman from Galway who had to emigrate to the East Indies to work in the hope of raising money and marrying his fiancée. However, the ship was captured during the voyage and Joyce was sold as a slave to a Muslim goldsmith from Algeria, where she learned everything about the art of jewellery.

When King William III ascended to the throne and asked the Arabs for the release of all British prisoners, Richard Joyce was released after 14 years of captivity. The Algerian jeweler had taken such respect for Richard that he had given him half his fortune and his daughter in marriage if she agreed to stay with him, but Joyce decided to return home to marry her lover, created a ring as a symbol of her love and gave it to her when she returned to Ireland, and they got married.


There is also a legend that linked to the creation of the Gladdagh with the Celts, being this related to Dagda, the Sun God fell in love with Anu (Danu), ie the Goddess of the whole firmament and the progenitor of the Celts. From his love was born Beathauile (i.e. humanity) and life itself. And by this love was created the ring of Claddagh, the right hand comes to represent Dagda while the left hand to Anu and the heart the life that surged from their union.

As we can see from all these stories, the historical origins of the Claddagh are lost over time and do not have an exact date. What is true is that they represent love and it is not surprising that many historical figures have used this beautiful ring, usually the members of the royal families were the ones who wore it. The first recorded case was that of Queen Victoria, but it was also used by King Edward VII, Prince Rainier of Monaco and Princess Grace.

  • Tara’s brooch. It is known to be a Celtic brooch that archaeologists have reported dates back to 700 BC and is considered one of the most elaborate and artistic Irish brooches found to date. It was found during 1850 and is considered one of the most exquisite pre-Christian Irish handcrafts in the world.

It is about seven inches long and is made of silver, which has a rather intricate design and somewhat abstract both front and back and is composed of several pieces that fit together, when it appeared in the year 1850 had more pieces, however, in the transfer of collections between museums some were lost.

If you do not live in Ireland or Scotland, it may be very difficult to get a real job that communicates the true Celtic craftsmanship and culture in jewelry, however, at present we have a number of excellent online shops that can sell many varieties of Celtic jewelry, it is suggested that you look for those companies that do their work in Scotland or Ireland. Obviously, if authenticity is not a concern for you and your interest is primarily the culture and symbolism of this ancient people, there are many cheap pieces worked in less expensive materials by jewelers from all over the world, and these can be a good alternative to simply honor the Celtic beauty of the symbols.