In recent years, silver Celtic jewelry has enjoyed a revival. Men and women prize Celtic jewelry and consider it a treasure among possessions because of its uniqueness in beauty and symbolism. Celtic symbols were evident in ancient Celtic jewelry craft and continue to be powerful motifs even in modern-day jewelry designs. Ornate, symbolic, and enchanting, silver Celtic jewelry was, and still is, highly coveted.
A Rich History
The ancient Celts who settled in Ireland many centuries ago, created enchanting designs in jewelry. Celtic craftsmen adapted ideas from nature to produce intricate designs based on simple motifs in silver and other metals. Silver and gold were used by Celtic craftsmen between 2000 BC to around 550 AD to create ornaments that were remarkably sophisticated. Spirals, animal motifs and later crosses were woven into Celtic rings, bracelets, brooches and pendants.
When one thinks of Celtic jewelry, the Celtic cross often comes to mind first. It had its start primarily in Ireland. Celtic crosses are not just crosses that have Celtic knot work on them. The early crosses were equal-armed crosses, enclosed or backed by a circle. After the introduction of Christianity, it was more common to see the equal-armed cross on a pedestal, which then gave it a more elongated form.
The arms symbolize the four quarters of the earth, or the four elements, earth, air, fire, and water. The Celtic cross represents a bridge or passage between heaven and earth. The circle or center ring is a symbol of infinite love and specifically, the endlessness of God’s love. It is a symbol of eternity and the path of the sun in the sky. Given the spiritual ideas and power represented by this jewelry, it is easy to see why Celtic craftsmen were so dedicated to pristine perfection in crafting the Celtic cross.
This symbol represented the very highest ideals and aspirations of the Celts, and silver Celtic ornaments are among the most timeless. Today, there are literal interpretations of the ancient cross symbols, as well as more contemporary designs with hearts or other spiritual symbols.
The Celtic knot ornamental patterns were originally created for the Book of Kells, the best-known source of Celtic knots as well as other types of Celtic ornament. The Book of Kells is a fantastic collection of paintings that illuminate the four Gospels in Latin, written in 800 A. D. The knots were also used in other manuscripts and on monuments. They may have also been used in woodcarving and textiles, but these art works have not survived time.
Celtic knots are a prevalent design feature of silver Celtic jewelry. They are complete loops without beginning or end. It is said that good Celtic artists never leave a loose end on a strand and that pure knots should be unending. Celtic animal designs also interlace like knots, but end with feet, heads or tails.
The Celts dominated Western Europe for a thousand years, but only recently has the importance of their influence on cultural, linguistic and artistic development in Europe been understood. The Celts as an ethnic group disappeared from most of Europe with the exception of Ireland and the Scottish Highlands. The Celts were well educated in areas such as religion, philosophy, geography and astronomy but transmitted their culture only orally, never writing down history or facts. For that reason, there was little knowledge of their culture before their contact with the classical civilizations of Greece and Rome. Celtic jewelry such as rings, bracelets, pendants, and brooches were so sought after for their beauty and style, that the trade of Celtic jewelry across the Mediterranean was quite successful.
For over a millennium, the intricate knot work and minute decoration of silver Celtic jewelry, woodcarving and calligraphy have enchanted the world. Creating new and fresh designs based on classic ancient symbols and motifs, today’s artists are bringing a new voice and interpretation to age-old designs.
Carol Ryerson creates eclectic, feminine, and luxurious personal adornment for her business Urban Organic Designs. The richness of handcrafted jewelry and universal themes has given depth and definition to her work. Carol casts and forges silver using visual references to nature and then adds gemstones to create color and light. You are invited to view her designs at: http://www.UrbanOrganicDesigns.com