The Guide to Celtic Jewellery
Grafton Street: the heart of Dublin's City Centre, one of the most favoured shopping streets in the country and home to Weir & Sons historical premises. Dublin city sees hudred of thousands of tourists pass through its streets each year. Some may be visiting the Book of Kells, the statue of Molly Malone, the Guiness Storehouse or simply browsing and shopping all that Grafton Street has to offer. We at Weir & Sons are lucky to be part of such excitement and welcome customers from all over the world each day.
Among our collection of jewellery and watches, we also carry a wide variety of Celtic jewellery pieces. Some of our most popular items include Celtic knot wedding bands which signify eternal love, Claddagh rings for the person who holds your heart and Shamrocks as a souvenir of your trip to the Emerald Isle.
But what do all Celtic designs mean and what do they stand for? Here is our guide to understanding what all our Celtic designs symbolise.
"With these hands I give you my heart and crown it with my love."
A Celtic Ring which is designed with two hands clasping a heart with a crown on top.
Probably the most popular piece of Celtic jewellery, as it is recognised all over the world. It is normally bestowed as a gift to the one you love. The Claddagh stands for Love, Loyalty and Friendship; the hands represent friendship, the heart for love and the crown for loyalty.
There are two ways of wearing the Claddagh ring which signify your status to a loved one. When the heart is pointed towards you, this indicates your heart is taken, when it is pointed outwards, your heart is open to new love.
The Trinity Knot is featured in many ancient Cletic manuscripts including the legendary "Book of Kells" which is on displays in Trinity College, Dublin.
Christians believed the three points on the Trinity knot represented the Holy trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Nowadays, the endless intertwining curves of the Trinity Knot represent eternity, unity, love and commitment and jewellery bearing this symbol is often given as a gift to a loved one.
Celtic knots, very similar to the Trinity knot represent unity and eternity because they contain no beginning or end. It is a symbolic pattern of loops which infinitely goes on. They can be dated back at far as the 8th century, used in many artworks and decorations. This design also features heavily in the Book of Kells. Each day, a librarian changes the page to be displayed. The only way to ever see the entire book would be to visit every single day for one year!
There are many intepretations to the meaning of a Celtic knot, however they are always viewed as a positive symbol, signifying emotions of love, faith, friendship and happiness.
Rooted in the soil, yet reaching for the sky, they stand tall around the Irish landscape. The Celtic cross pays tribute to the precious Celtic heritage of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It usually features a circle ring around the axis of the cross. Four key features distinguish a Celtic Cross: The base, the shaft, the cap and the head.
Similar to many Celtic symbols, the cross can be interpretted with many different meanings. One meaning which is believed, comes from the ring around the axis of the cross, offering support and strength to the cross. Others believe that the ring represents eternity and continuity. The four points of the cross have been said to represent the four directions: North, South, East and West. They have also been believed to represent the four elements: Water, Air, Fire and Earth.
Amongst these many meanings, it represents strength, knowledge, compassion and infinite love. It is a powerful symbol of faith usually worn as a pendant.
Celtic Shamrocks date back as far as Ancient Greece and are found around all famous historical sights around Ireland. It was believed that the Shamrock owned mystical properties and could predict such events as the weather. Legend said that the Shamrock leaves would move towards the sky when a storm was brewing.
The three points are said to refer to the Holy Trinity - the father, the son and the Holy Spirit. Saint Patrick is said to have used the Shamrock as a metaphor for the Holt Trinity in his teachings. Others believe hat they represent ideals of life such as love, faith and hope.
The emerald green clover typically has three points, but if you spot a four leaf clover, you are considered very lucky indeed as these are so rare.
An iconic instrument in Irish culture and another recognised emblem of our nation since the 10th century. Is is said that ancient Irish high kings employed a harpist to entertain them in song and dance. This special instrument was only played in royal circles. The absolute oldest Harp that is still in existence in the world is referred to as the “Trinity College Harp”. This instrument is proudly displayed in the Long Room, which is located at the Trinity College in the City of Dublin.
The harp has been used many times in modern Ireland in celebration of our heritage. Guinness uses the harp on their logo, it is featured on the back of Irish coins and in recent years the harp was used as the designs for a modern bridge, the Samuel Beckett Bridge, which crosses the River Liffey in Dublin. In the modern Irish language, the Celtic harp is known as the "Clairseach."
Tree of Life
The Tree of Life symbolises the power of earth, connected to ancestors and spirits. Used for food, shelter and a place to gather by the Celts. Without trees life would have been more difficult in Celtic times. Rooted in the ground and reaching its branches out and up to the sky, this design is worn by many for more reasons than their Celtic heritage.
The tree of life is often associated with knowledge, power and wisdom. Many modern designs of the symbol are stylish and contemporary and worn as fashion pieces.
Celtic jewellery plays a significant part in the Silver Department here at Weir and Sons, as we are based on Grafton St. in the heart of Dublin city. We are just minutes away from Trinity college: Ireland’s Oldest University and home to the Book of Kells.