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Celtic Jewelry

Celtic Jewelry - Who are the Celts?

While Ireland and Scotland come to mind in reference to the term Celt, tribes actually covered much of Europe including Germany, Austria, Italy France and Britain. There are no real records of Celtic history before about 500 B.C. and most of what is known of this early time comes from the historical records of their enemies.

Celts were feared by these enemies because of their brutality on the battlefield. But, like any culture, the Celts evolved over the centuries and became quite skilled in working with metals. They combined this skill with their artistic talent to create the intricate designs well-known and easily recognized as Celtic Jewelry and artwork.

Irish Celtic Jewelry

Most of the jewelry that is so well-known is Irish. It is identified by the intricate scroll work, spirals, knots and lines that form a design or an object. Celtic jewelry is typically found in sterling silver and often is accented with a black antiquing. The metal may be smooth and shiny or have a more rustic aged look. Celtic gold jewelry can also be found as well so there is a color to match all wardrobes and tastes.

Rings, pendants, earrings and bracelets are all common pieces adorned with Celtic design. You can find celtic crosses and claddagh pendants hanging from silver and gold chains. But to add some extra flare, some items look better hanging from a woven leather necklace or black rubber chain.

Common Celtic designs

Celtic knots are a very common design in Celtic jewelry. The knot reflects the Celtic belief that all things in life are connected. While there is no set meaning for different knot designs, especially as the meaning can change with time and with designer, there are some popular ones marketed as wedding or love knots. This is just indicative of the sentiment that a couple is bound together, connected like all things are.

Another special design is Celtic crosses. These pieces, when originally created, were more organic in meaning as Christianity did not exist yet. This unique cross design incorporates the usual intricate swirls and loops to form four arms of equal measure with a circle around it. The arms originally represented the four elements of nature and the circle represented the eternal passage of time. Today, it can serve as either a religious symbol or as a more earthly symbol as in ancient times.

Just as the knot is a common in Celtic design, so are spirals. Variations of the spiral design include single spirals and connected double and triple spirals that flow together. An interesting take on the spiral is a design that creates the illusion using straight lines. The chevron is another motif used often in Celtic jewelry. This shape resembles a heart and is often used in repeating patterns. Braided patterns are also popular. The key to Irish Celtic jewelry design is that the lines and curves are always flowing into each other forming intricate patterns and designs that please the eye.

Because ancient peoples were so closely connected to nature in their lives and beliefs, it is no wonder that creatures also play a role in Celtic design. The serpent is animal that is easily incorporated into a piece because of its slender spiraling nature. In Irish mythology, it symbolizes the circle of life. Along the same lines is the dragon. This creature represents power. A cat found in Celtic design may represent a guardian and a salmon represents knowledge.

Many other designs and creatures are exhibited in Celtic silver jewelry. These are only a few of the common ones and their possible meanings. However, there is no dictionary of symbols to refer to. They don't have to mean anything, for these beautifully crafted pieces can be worn for their unique beauty and simple appreciation for the intricate design.

Celtic jewelry - How to care for Celtic pieces

Because much of what is found is sterling silver Celtic jewelry, silver cleaners are necessary to remove a tarnished finish. There are creams and wipes that address this problem. To avoid it altogether, store all sterling silver pieces in a special jewelry keeper designed for silver.

Gold Celtic jewelry

can be cleaned like any other gold pieces. Either use jewelry cleaner or warm soapy water to loosen up the residue. A soft brush can be used to scrub the dirt away, especially for very intricate cut-out patterns where dirt can really hide.

Celtic jewelry

is wearable art. It requires craftsmanship and creativity to make this jewelry. The art is one that has great history and, yet, has worldwide appeal even today. Born from people who were known for their barbaric battlefield practices, Celtic jewelry is finely designed art that has a delicate quality not normally associated with the ancient Celts. These designs capture the essence of beauty with a touch of that Irish magic.