Handcrafted jewellery has always had a very special place in Celtic life. We can see this because of all the items that have been found in burial tomes and in sacred religious settings that have been very important in the Celtic history. These pieces of handmade jewellery were worn by both women and men unlike today when jewellery is prominently worn by women.
The crafts men of the ancient Celts were very talented and skilled and produced some amazing pieces of jewellery considering the equipment and materials that were available to them. These pieces were produced with the popular Celtic patterns and themes and these stunning designs are still produced today in the same way.
If we are to think of a piece of handcrafted Celtic jewellery our first thought might go to the famous Celtic ring. This ring has great significance and can be given on an engagement, as a betrothal rings, and as friendship rings. These are predominately a European thing but in the last few years the demands for these designs have become worldwide. These traditional handmade Celtic rings have very beautiful intricate designs of spirals, knots, scrolls and chevrons and all of these have a special meaning and significance.
The most popular and well known of these designs is the Celtic knot and the significance of this lies in obscurity and no one knows it’s true meaning or origin. Some scholars say that the knot symbolizes all the interconnections of life in all forms both in nature and in relationships. The connections of nature were very important to the Celts. Many of these references are seen in myths and legends but no clear theme has been emerged from this.
Celtic crosses are seen on many pieces of handcrafted jewellery and this is no ordinary cross it is quite unique to the Celtic culture. This Celtic knot work is found in designs that pre date Christian times. The designs of these crosses have equal arms that have been enclosed by a full circle. This is known to symbolise and represent the four corners of the earth and the four elements which are air, water, earth and the forth being fire. The circle that is around the cross symbolises infinity and also represents the path of the sun to the sky. This is a contrary mix of designs both the religious Christian symbolism and also the mystical.
This cross design was not only used in making pieces of handmade jewellery like pendants, necklaces, engraved on bracelets and in charms but it can be seen on pottery and in the designs of handcrafted fabrics.
The next most popular design used in the making of handmade Celtic jewellery is the pentangle and this is a five pointed star and this star sits within a circle and again this is said to represent the five sacred elements, fire, water, air, earth and also the spirit. It also represents the five stages of our lives. These five stages are birth, the coming of youth, the coming of adulthood, aging and finally death. This pentangle sign has its roots in paganism and is also associated with Wicca.
Many of the pieces of Celtic jewellery have designs of animals and these are used to represent various aspects of life. Handcrafted jewellery will contain motifs of a geometric motif and these play a large part of the designs and these have been the inspiration for these beautiful pieces for centuries. You will find single spirals, dual spirals, triple centred spirals and chevrons that look like arrowheads. These designs of arrowheads were used by hunters and warriors as good luck charms.
These designs can still be seen today in modern pieces of handmade jewellery and you will see them on earrings, bracelets and pendants and the metal that is commonly used to create these beautiful pieces is silver.