Draped in symbolism and rich with significance, Irish jewelry is one of the loveliest ways to express your personal Irish side!
Most jewelry from Ireland is highly stylized. The designs might be elegantly simple or highly intricate, but they are always eye-catching.
And, while jewelry of any type is intended to be attractive, the true beauty of jewelry from Ireland is often what it 'means' to the wearer.
A basic understanding of Irish symbols can help you appreciate the full beauty of Irish jewelry. Let's have a look at several different types. Links within the sections will take you to more information.
The beautiful design of Claddagh rings originated several centuries ago, in a small Irish fishing village named Claddagh.
Legends hold that the Claddagh design was created by a 16th-century Irish man who had been enslaved by Barbary pirates while on his way to the West Indies.
After regaining his freedom, the man returned to his village, where he fashioned the first Claddagh ring for the woman who had waited there faithfully.
He could not have known that his tiny village would become famous because of the ring he designed and gave to the woman as a symbol of enduring love.
The traditional “Claddagh design” features a hand on each side of a heart, with a crown resting on top of the heart. Each part of the design has its own symbolic meaning.
The heart symbolizes love, while the hands embracing or clasping the heart signify the bond of an abiding friendship. The crown represents loyalty and trust.
So, collectively, the Claddagh design stands for enduring love, everlasting friendship, and faithfulness and fidelity.
The Claddagh design has become almost as iconic of Ireland as the humble green shamrock. In some cases, Claddagh rings are worn simply to express one’s Irish heritage or cultural affinity, but normally they mean much more.
Claddagh rings are most often worn or given as a sign of love or friendship. They are ideal as wedding rings, engagement rings and what we’ve come to call “friendship rings.”
The Claddagh design is used in other types of Irish jewelry (pendants, earrings, bracelets, and so forth), but it is most often seen in rings.
Even the way a Claddagh ring is worn has significance. If worn on your left hand with the design facing out, the ring means you’re engaged. If the design is instead facing inward, it indicates you’re married.
Worn on the right hand facing out, a Claddagh ring means you’re unattached; facing in means you’re in a relationship (although not engaged).
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Contrary to popular belief, the Celtic cross wasn’t originally associated with Christianity.
Far from it: although the basic Celtic cross design features a cross with a circle surrounding the juncture of the two crossbars in the center, it actually originates in pagan, pre-Christian Ireland and Scotland.
Celtic crosses carved from stone were used by Druids and other ancient Celts to worship the sun. At that time, the circle in the design symbolized the sun, which was the central figure in life. Celtic Crosses did not become associated with Christianity until at least the 4th century A.D.
While Christian monks such as St. Patrick were converting pagan Ireland to Christianity, they adopted the Celtic cross but altered the circle’s meaning: once representing the sun it came to represent Christ as the central figure in Christianity.
Today, Celtic crosses are often given as baptismal or confirmation gifts. They can be worn to signify belief in the Christian faith, but they are equally popular as Irish jewelry that indicates pride in an Irish/Celtic heritage.
In Ireland, the harp has a lot more meaning than just being the famous Guinness® logo. Music has always played an important role in Celtic culture, and harps have always been the most meaningful Irish musical instrument.
Irish harpers were the treasured companions of Ireland’s ancient kings and local chieftains. Today, the harp is an instantly-identifiable symbol of Ireland. It is found on the country’s coins and coat of arms, and it’s a common design in Irish jewelry.
A harp pendant, pin or brooch is often worn as a symbol of pride in Ireland’s cultural heritage.
The shamrock has long played an important role in Irish culture and folklore.
St. Patrick used a shamrock to illustrate the Christian Trinity to the pagan Irish back in the 5th century. And, in addition to its religious significance, the shamrock is known throughout the world as being a good-luck charm.
Shamrock necklaces and pins are often worn on March 17th - St. Patrick’s Day. But this identifiably Irish jewelry can also be worn throughout the year to signify pride in the Irish culture.
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Irish jewelry is known for its stylized designs and fine craftsmanship. But the true beauty of Irish gift jewelry is its ability to express messages coming from the heart.
Here at Irish-Expressions.com, we want to show you many creative ways to express your Irish side. But if you are looking for an online source of truly authentic Irish jewelry, there is only one place to go:
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