Irish Jewelry has always been inspired by Its Celtic heritage together with its story-telling and culture. Let’s check out all the symbols and see what they mean.
Table of Contents
Early Irish Jewelry
The Early Irish Jewelry was heavily influenced by the Celtic civilization. The jewelry was beautifully crafted from a variety of materials but essentially iron, bronze, silver, and gold. They first excelled at ironworking and were said to have invented chainmail.
Symbols and Meanings in Irish Jewelry
The tradition of using symbols in Irish Jewelry stretches back to the Celts who were not originally from Ireland. They were in fact a collection of tribes from Europe. They were said to have arrived in Ireland between the years 800 to 400 BC. The Celtic warriors became more and more restricted to the British Isles as they were defeated by the Germans and the Romans.
The meaning was radicated deep within the souls of the Celts. They wore their jewelry embellished with symbols of love, loyalty, and unity with great pride.
The Irish are great storytellers and the meanings attached to the symbols, under the influence of the Catholic Church, were often amplified as a result.
If you are interested in jewelry history, check out my post ‘ A potted history of Jewelry’
Torcs: From status symbols to artistic marvels in Early Irish Jewelry
Torcs were one of the more iconic kinds of Celtic jewelry. They were worn like a necklace and made out of a single piece of metal often in gold or bronze. Torcs were twisted into a circular or oval shape.
The ornaments were worn by both men and women and were symbols of status and wealth.
Celtic knot rings: Symbolic and stylish
Irish jewelry rings often feature intricate knots and motifs that are inspired by Celtic-inspired designs.
They have three intertwining parts which are said to represent the earth, the sky, and the sea.
The knotted pattern found on pendants, bracelets, and earrings has no start or finish. Thus, it is said to represent eternity in friendship and love. The design is often used on wedding rings.
The spirals too have cultural significance as they represent themes of continuity, interconnection, and eternity.
Check out this Celtic love knot design in Black Titanium
The Magic of the Claddagh Ring: Unveiling its Secrets.
The Claddagh ring features two hands holding a heart with a crown on top. It comes from the fishing village of Claddagh in Galway.
The design consists of three main elements:
1 The Heart: represents love.
2 The Crown represents loyalty and commitment.
3 The Hands represent friendship.
How to Wear the Claddagh Ring
- Worn on the right hand with the heart facing outward means ‘her heart is not yet taken’
- Worn on the right hand with the heart facing inward signifies a committed relationship.
- Worn on the left hand with the heart facing outward indicates the wearer is engaged.
- Worn on the left hand with the heart facing outward means the wearer is married.
These rings have a deep cultural significance in Irish tradition and are often used as engagement or wedding rings. Sometimes they are family heirlooms.
The Celtic Cross
The particularity of this design is the circle or ring intersecting or overlaying the cross.
Symbolically the vertical arm represents the spiritual realm while the horizontal part represents the material or earthly. The intersection of the two would be the union of heaven and earth. In other words the union of spirit and matter.
The Celtic Cross is closely associated with the fusion of early Celtic traditions with Christianity.
You can find various variations on pendants, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings, and is a cherished reminder of ancestral roots.
What does The ‘Triquetra’ symbol mean?
Three is an important number in Ireland! The Triquetra actually means three cornered in Latin. It consists of three overlapping loops or knots that create a triangular shape. It is also known as the Trinity knot.
It is believed to represent the three stages of life or life cycle-birth, life, and death. An inner circle was added so that the never-ending loops form the concept of infinity.
Others interpret the three loops as the mind, the body, and the spirit. Yet another interpretation is the past, present, and future.
The Celtic Harp
The Celtic Harp is strongly associated with Irish culture and is one of its emblems along with the shamrock. The harp symbolizes the expression of emotions, storytelling and the power of music to connect.
It has inspired beautiful and meaningful jewelry pieces.
The Triskelion: Unveiling the mystery
The Triskelion is an ancient motif that represents perpetual motion. It consists of three spirals united in the center. In fact, all three arms make it appear as if it is moving out from the center. Thus it is associated with cycles, progress, and even revolution.
Then, of course, there are those who associate this symbol with spirit-mind-body or past–present and future. Others see in this symbol creation-preservation and destruction.
The Irish love to tell stories and so the combinations of three are endless.
The spirals used in jewelry can be clockwise or counterclockwise and they often intertwine to form an intricate and beautiful design.
The Green Man
This man often depicted as a face surrounded by leaves, vines, and foliage is associated with various cultures.
In Irish mythology, it is sometimes linked to Cernunnos who was a Celtic god. He was associated with fertility, nature, and the hunt.
It is one of my favorites as it was also the name of our local pub in London! Apart from that the Green Man is universally connected to the cycle of the seasons and the renewal of nature.
The Tree of Life
This tree, again used in many different cultures, is typically depicted as a tree with spreading branches and roots. Again linked to the cycles of life. The roots represent grounding and stability. The branches represent growth and wisdom while reaching out for the divine.
It was called Crann Bethadh which means ‘The Feeding Tree’.
In jewelry, the branches and the roots often feature knotwork or intricate interwoven patterns.
This symbol is associated with both Druid and Celtic traditions.
It is depicted as three vertical rays that converge at the top and is often encircled by a larger ring.
The three lines can symbolize the past, present, and future or even body, mind, and spirit.
It is often found on Irish jewelry pendants.
The Cross of Santa Brigida
Apparently, Ireland has 3 patron saints. One is a female Saint and was called Brigid. Very popular with the Irish was her ability to turn water into beer!
The Brigid’s Cross is not a traditional cross but features a woven or plaited design made from rushes or straw. The woven pattern creates a four-armed design with a woven square in the center.
The Cross is supposed to represent protection and faith. It is connected with the Celtic traditions of weaving and agriculture. It symbolizes again the cycles of life and the interconnection of all things.
In jewelry, it is found in a variety of materials from gold or silver as well as wood and woven materials.
This three-leaf design is believed to be an ancient Druid symbol.
The style of Shamrock or Trifoglio jewelry can range from delicate and understated to bold and intricate.
Different Types of Irish Jewelry
Irish symbolic images lend themselves to all types of jewelry
Irish Engagement Rings
Looking for something truly original?
Why not design your own ring?
This stunning antique Halo ring with baguettes and Celtic engraving is waiting for your finishing touches.
Looking for something more romantic? This 14k Claddagh ring is for you!
Irish wedding bands
Instead of a plain band, why don’t you show some personality and check out this engraved Celtic knot ring in Titanium?
Are you having a night out with your Irish friends and want to send a subliminal message? Check out these Claddagh 10k gold hollow hoop earrings
Irish Necklaces and Pendants
Check out this 14k gold engravable Celtic Heart symbolizing the love between two people.
For him, a Celtic Football fan, he must have this silver Celtic crest pendant:
If you are into Celtic Triquetras how about this sterling silver version
Many Irish Celtic symbols were handed down over thousands of years and their meanings were lost in time. This has given rise to endless stories and interpretations. Nevertheless many have a common theme of love, loyalty, strength, religious belief, and the cycle of life.
Many of the symbols have three parts as the Celts divided life into three phases. These phases were the past, the present, and the future. Alternatively, they could represent perhaps even the earth, the sea, and the sky.
When Christianity arrived the trio was co-opted into the Holy Trinity.
Whatever story you believe your symbolic jewelry will surely bring you a lot of satisfaction.
If you like this post on symbolic jewelry, you will like this post too: