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Ireland for Visitors

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Jewelry Design

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Frederic William Burton - The Meeting on the Turret Stairs, 1864
The Meeting on the Turret Stairs, 1864
Frederic William Burton
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CelticShamrock Gifts


Irish Jewelry with Meaning and Beauty

galway bay

Galway Bay - photo by Jane Huffman

by Suzanne Barrett

Most jewelry is designed purely to be beautiful, but Irish jewelry stands out because it goes beyond simply being beautiful. It also features a host of symbols that represent Irish culture and history in different ways. When you are looking for Irish gifts, jewelry is a great choice because it is elegant and distinctive while also making a statement about the wearer’s heritage or appreciation of Irish culture. Here's a roundup of the most beloved symbols used in Irish jewelry.

The Claddagh: Named for an ancient fishing village that has been absorbed by Galway city, this popular design features a heart held in with two hands with a crown above it. It represents love, friendship and loyalty. Originally it was used for rings, but now Claddagh earrings, pendants and bracelets are also popular Irish gifts. The Claddagh ring is often used as an engagement ring or wedding band: left hand pointing outward for available, left hand pointing inward for engaged. It has a suitably romantic history. In 1675, Richard Joyce set sail from Galway Bay and was captured by pirates. He was sold into slavery to a goldsmith, and when he eventually won his freedom, he returned to Ireland and married. Joyce's ring design has continued to grow in popularity.

The Celtic Cross: If you travel around Ireland, you will notice the distinctive Celtic cross, also known as the Irish high cross, everywhere. It is a classic design for gravestones, and appears on all sorts of Irish gifts. What sets it apart from other crosses are the circle symbolizing eternity, the widened ends and the elaborately detailed engravings.

The Shamrock: While this is probably the most well-known symbol of Ireland, not everyone knows why. It's not just because it grows here! St. Patrick, one of Ireland’s patron saints, used the three leaves of the shamrock to explain the concept of the holy trinity (God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit) when he brought Christianity to Ireland.

The Trinity Knot: Like the shamrock, the trinity knot symbolizes the three in one idea of the holy trinity. But it has also been used to symbolize many other trinities, including the pre-Christian triple goddess once revered in Ireland. It is also a stunning example of the beautiful knot work that is such a large part of Ireland’s artistic heritage.

The Harp: Used in everything from government documents to beer logos to historic flags, the harp is a very versatile symbol of Ireland that is also a popular design for jewelry and other Irish gifts. It harkens back to the days of traveling bards, who spread news and political ideas as well as music.

Ireland has a complicated history, so it makes sense that we need a lot of symbols to represent our culture. These five are the most popular ones used for jewelry and other Irish gifts ranging from clothing to kitchenwares. The great thing is that no matter what your taste, you can find a symbol you like to wear that will celebrate your love of Ireland. provided this guest feature. They have a huge selection of Irish and Celtic jewelry. Beautifully styled wedding rings and wedding bands, Claddagh rings, Mo Anam Cara jewelry, Celtic jewelry and much more for both women and men.

Until next time.

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