Celtic Pendant Symbolism Revealed
When it comes to the Celtic pendants, necklaces and rings in our collection, we believe you’re not just wearing jewelry; you’re wearing a little piece of history. The various Celtic designs we have on offer all carry their own unique symbolism and it is fun to learn more about the motif you just purchased.
In a number of ancient cultures, jewelry was seen as a powerful object that contained and protected the energy of the wearer and it seems as if the Celts had this connection to the jewelry they wore. While the metal used to create the jewelry could help signify the class and wealth of the wearer, it was the designs themselves that really held meaning. Below, we look at the symbolism of some of the Celtic jewelry in our collection.
Tree of Life
According to the Celts, the Tree of Life (also known as crann bethadh) symbolized balance and harmony. For them, the Tree was a representation of how life in Earth and Heaven were interconnected. The branches grew upwards towards heaven, the roots descended into the underworld and the trunk stayed on Earth and managed to unite the branches and roots.
Whenever the Celts cleared land, they left one giant tree in the center of fields. It was common for them to hold meetings and even elect their chieftain under this tree. They believed the tree had the ability to look after all life because it provided people and animals alike with shelter, food and even medicine.
Some Celts even believed they came from the trees and saw them as living things. Indeed, the trees that protected the land were even deemed to be doorways into the spirit world. Cutting down the Tree of Life was one of the worst crimes any Celt could commit but chopping down an enemy’s tree was hailed as a success.
It’s said that St. Patrick used the shamrock to help teach the Irish natives about Christianity when he arrived in Ireland in AD 431 (this is a widely accepted date though scholars are not in full agreement). It represented the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit; otherwise known as the Holy Trinity.
However, the Celts also revered the shamrock because of their own obsession with the occurrence of three’s. You can see evidence of this in the wide range of Celtic symbols that are related to the number ‘3’ such as the triple spiral, triquetra and triskelion. The shamrock was also a major food source for the livestock of the Celts so it also became associated with nurturing and abundance.
Animals have a number of attributes that caused them to be considered strange by the Celts; yet this ancient people also desired animal traits such as flying, fast running, great swimming, sharp hearing and remarkable strength. When you see a Celtic design where humans and animals are joined by a knot, it is a representation of how humans rely on nature. The Celts had different meanings for animals including:
- Bird: A bringer of messages and a bridge between earth and water.
- Bull: Represents a strong will.
- Butterfly: Symbolizes rebirth, transformation and inspiration.
- Dog: Loyalty and companionship. It was also a symbol of good fortune.
- Salmon: Prophecy and wisdom.
- Snake: This animal represented healing, creation and fertility.
Also known as the ‘triquetra’, the Trinity Knot is arguably the most famous of all Celtic knots and like the rest, it is made up of a single continuous line. This of course symbolizes eternity as the knot has no beginning or end. According to the Celts, all of the important things in the world came in threes. Examples include the three domains (the sky, earth and the sea), the three stages of life and three elements.
As the Trinity Knot was such an ideal fit for the Christian belief system, it became widely used in Christianity as it represented the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In the modern era, neopagans use the Knot to represent the Three Stages of Motherhood; also known as Maiden, Mother & Crone.
This design is comprised of a regular cross with a ring around the intersection of the arms and stem. While a number of scholars have tried to claim that the Celtic Cross symbol was brought to Ireland by St. Patrick in the 5th Century, others claim the ring on the cross is actually a representation of Invictus, the Roman sun-god. If this was true, it would mean the Celtic Cross was almost certainly created before the arrival of St. Patrick.
Yet more experts believe Celtic High Crosses were only created in around the 8th century and were used to mark a religious place such as a church or monastery. It’s probable that a number of outdoor religious ceremonies were conducted around these High Crosses.
This is one of the most famous pieces of jewelry to have ever come out of Ireland and doesn’t appear to have any links to the Celts whatsoever on first glance. It was almost certainly produced in the fishing village of Claddagh, County Galway, in the 17th Century.
One legend suggests it was created by a local man named Richard Joyce. He made the ring while he was kidnapped and held by a Moorish goldsmith in Algeria. He was either released on the orders of King William III or escaped and went home to Galway where he proposed to the woman he loved with the ring.
Yet it seems as if the Claddagh Ring could have some Celtic meaning after all. It meets the Celtic criteria for ‘threes’ as the ring is comprised of three parts:
- Heart: Represents love.
- Hands: Represents friendship.
- Crown: Represents loyalty.
Traditionally, you must wear the Claddagh Ring a certain way to indicate your relationship status:
- Left Hand with Heart Inwards: You are married.
- Left Hand with Heart Outwards: You are engaged.
- Right Hand with Heart Inwards: You are in a relationship.
- Right hand with Heart Outwards: You are single and looking for love.
If you look through our collection of pendants, necklaces, rings and other Celtic jewelry, you’ll find all of the above designs and more.
Our Pendant Collection
Our collection of pendants feature numerous designs of common Celtic motifs as well as symbols like the shamrock, the horseshoe and the Celtic circle. They are all available in silver, yellow gold and white gold and come with exquisitely detailed chains to match. Whether you are looking for a gorgeous pendant to add to your own jewelry collection or that perfect gift for a loved one, you are sure to find what you are looking for in our extensive collection. Browsing through you will see that our designs honor the centuries old Celtic heritage while offering the attractiveness of contemporary designs.
A Celtic pendant is an elegant piece that should be a staple in every woman's jewelry collection. With a wide variety of Celtic designs to choose from, we are sure to have the hand crafted necklace that is the perfect fit for you. The beauty of owning a piece of Celtic jewelry not only lies in its elegance, but also in its sentiment. Choosing which Celtic symbol means the most to you is an extremely personal, heart warming process.
Do you want to represent your religious beliefs by wearing a trinity pendant? Do you want to convey romance by wearing a Claddagh pendant? Do you want to show pride in your Irish heritage by wearing a Celtic knot necklace? These are all questions that you will have to ask yourself while deciding which necklace will be delicately worn over your heart. Our jewelry embodies the convenience of versatile wearability. They are able to gracefully compliment a dress with their refined design, and also enhance a casual look by adding an element of sophistication. This flexibility allows our show stopping necklaces to shine on any occasion.
Not find the pendants you want? Check out our beautiful Celtic Cross collection for something different.