Celtic Jewelry

Written by Jill Morrison
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Celtic jewelry is symbolic and meaningful to those with Celtic heritage. The stories behind the creation of Celtic jewelry designs can also be inspirational to other cultures. Some of these jewelry designs are Celtic symbols that were created over 5,000 years ago. Each symbol has a special meaning or story attached to its development.

There are many different historical symbols that can be seen in Celtic jewelry designs. Some popular examples include knotwork, spirals, Claddagh, animal art, and crosses. Most of these symbols represent love, but some also represent other emotions such as faith, devotion, grief, or hope. Because these symbols have such powerful meanings, Celtic jewelry often makes a great gift for special occasions.

The Meaning of Celtic Jewelry Symbols

Each Celtic symbol that is used on jewelry may have a specific meaning. For instance, knotwork is a common design for Celtic jewelry. This style uses many connecting knots in a never-ending pattern. Knotwork represents true love that is everlasting, since the knots are also everlasting in design. You can find knotwork designs primarily on rings, pendants, brooches, and earrings.

The Celtic cross is a powerful symbol in Celtic history and for many other cultures and religions as well. For the Celtic culture, the cross is a symbol of faith and ethnic heritage. The true meaning of the Celtic cross is not known for sure. Some say it was originally a pagan symbol for the sun, while other say it represents God's endless love through Christ's death on the cross. Some even refer to the Celtic cross as a phallic symbol. Regardless of its true meaning, the cross is a symbol for ancient Celtic history and is worn to show respect for Celtic heritage.

Animal art and spirals were used in many early forms of Irish artwork. They do not have one simple meaning, but are often associated with magical or mystical occurrences. Spirals were often found on old Dolmans and gravesites as well. The one symbol that carries a specific meaning in Irish history is the Claddagh ring. An inspirational legend is associated with this ring design.

The Legend of the Claddagh Ring

The legend of the Claddagh ring has been told for centuries and its design is perpetuated in Celtic jewelry stores. The ring has specific symbols including a heart, hands, cuffs, and a crown. Each symbol refers to a certain occurrence in the story of Richard Joyce. The ring was originally only made from gold, but is commonly made from silver as well today.

Richard Joyce was captured and sold into slavery in the mid-17th century. After years of struggles, Joyce was allowed to return to his home town of Claddagh. His pardon came from negotiations between Queen Isabella of Spain and King William of England, after sailors took his story to the Queen. After Joyce returned to his home he decided to fashion a ring to show thanks for those who helped him to return and for those who waited for him. Richard gave the ring to his wife and to this day, it symbolizes friendship, love, and loyalty.

Uses for Celtic Rings

The Claddagh ring is one of the most well-known pieces of Celtic jewelry. It can be worn on your right hand with the heart facing outward if you are yet to find your true love. If you are in love or married, you should wear the Claddagh ring on your left hand with the heart facing inward. Claddagh rings, in addition to other styles of Celtic rings, may be worn for decoration, as a friendship ring, promise ring, or wedding band. Knotwork patterns are also popular Celtic designs for promise rings or wedding bands.


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