Every culture takes pride in their traditions and the jewelry that represents them, and the Irish are certainly no different. For one, the Irish are proud of the Claddagh ring, which originated in the fishing village by the same name. It was originally made in the 17th century, and its distinct design is representative of friendship, loyalty and love. Friendship is represented by the hands, while the loyalty is represented by the crown, and of course, love is represented by the heart.
Their beautiful hand design dates back to the Roman times, and in the Renaissance era, they were popular wedding and engagement rings, so they could also be used today to capture the Irish symbolism of all these important qualities of marriage. The ring’s design clearly shows the two hands holding a crowned heart, a symbol that became very popular around the world, embellishing store and pub signs with what has become to be known as the Irish identity.
Over time, jewelers have embellished the design with their own touches, adding interlacing, and other beautiful features. The ring we know today, legend has it, was actually designed by a man who was enslaved for 14 years in Algeria, where he created it. However, the Claddagh ring is attached to too many stories and myths to accurately identify the real history and origins of its design.
Variations also exist, where the ring does not bear a crown, and are symbolic of many things, besides marriage or engagement. For instance, in Ireland, they are often given by mothers to their daughters as their girls come of age, and also, the way it is worn indicates whether the girl is single or taken. In other cases, they are offered as friendship rings. The traditions as to where and how the ring is actually worn has much to do with where the individuals live. View claddagh rings and more online at Irish Blessings.
In addition to the ever-popular rings, the Celtic brooch is another sought after piece which is actually a clothes fastener, often large in size. These were extremely popular in the Early Medieval times, both in Britain and Ireland. It was the Scots and Irish elites between 700 to 900 that adorned their clothing with these brooches, which were simplified in design as they entered the 11th century, with what is more commonly referred to as the thistle brooch.
These, and other traditional Irish jewelry pieces are experiencing a huge resurgence in popularity, as people are constantly on the lookout for meaningful pieces that are symbolic of certain time periods. The brooches worn today are mostly worn by women, but were worn by both men and women of the upper class in the past, and mostly inspired by the early designs of the Celtic brooches. There is definitely something special about owning and wearing traditional jewelry, perhaps because it is reminiscent of a time past, when life was very different. Of course, shopping for Irish jewelry should come from jewelers who specialize in such designs, so that they may be as authentic as possible.