Celtic Charm and Claddagh Classics
Celtic jewellery design has endured for millennia and still fascinates us today because of its intricate patterns, romantic connotations and strong symbolism. The beautiful interwoven knots and delicately shaped symbols are timeless, linking us to history whilst providing a stylish embellishment to any modern outfit remaining as relevant today as a thousand years ago.
The Celts believed strongly in the interconnectedness of all life and it is presumed that their interlaced patterns reflected this belief. Although some of the meanings have been lost to time, the Celtic knot, in particular, is seen as a symbol of the timeless nature of the human spirit, a representation of infinite cycles in nature and of everlasting, unending love. A piece of jewellery displaying the Celtic knot can, therefore, be given as a good luck charm – to wish the wearer a stable and uninterrupted life free from mishaps and misadventures – or as a token of true and eternal love.
The Celtic cross is again steeped in history and symbolism and pre-dates Christianity by many years. They are not, then, simply crosses embellished with Celtic knot-work but have a number of more ancient and subtle meanings. The original crosses were made of four arms of equal length and are thought to represent the four elements – earth, air, fire and water – against a circular motif that stood as a symbol of eternity and the path of the sun across the sky. After the introduction of Christianity, the Celtic cross was merged with the Christian cross and the design changed to make the lower limb more elongated.
The Claddagh is not as ancient as many Celtic designs but is still full of myth and legend. Again its origins are shrouded in mystery but it is believed that a young man called Richard Joyce from Galway designed the first as a tribute to his sweetheart who had remained true to him during his years of captivity at the hands of pirates. Sold into slavery, he was bought by a Moorish jeweller and trained in the art of goldsmithing. On earning his freedom, he returned home to Ireland to his true love and made her the Claddagh ring. Galway is also the home of the small fishing village of Claddagh, meaning ‘flat, stony shore’ and is likely to be the home of the young man and the reason for the design’s name.
The design consists of two hands clasping a heart and a crown – the heart representing love, the crown meaning loyalty and the hands conveying friendship. As well as the symbolism of the different elements, the way of wearing a Claddagh design ring is also significant. As a wedding or engagement ring, it is worn on the left hand but, when worn on the right, with the heart facing away from the wearer, it shows the wearer is looking for love and on the right, pointing towards the wearer, that they are not.
Celtic design is, therefore, a very versatile style and can be given and worn as a love token, a token of friendship, a celebration of faith or spirituality, a link to our ancestry or simply as a beautiful piece of jewellery.
Here at Gemondo you will find a charming collection of Celtic and Claddagh designs with many unusual variations of materials, gems and settings to make those classic designs really special.