If you’ve got any Irish blood in your veins — or even if you simply have a fascination with the culture and traditions of the Emerald Isle — then chances are that Celtic jewelry appeals to you. It’s just one of the several reasons why many couples today are choosing Celtic wedding rings to symbolize their love and commitment to each other.
The romantic tradition of Irish wedding rings goes back many hundreds of years. Celtic jewelry incorporates several of the motifs and designs that can also be found on ancient rock carvings, crosses and manuscripts. Some of these symbols have a special spiritual significance; others, an elemental association that links them to the natural world.
Symbols and Motifs in Celtic Wedding Rings
While some scholars maintain that the true meaning of symbols in Celtic culture is uncertain, many people admire its art and jewelry for the spiritual associations and messages that they interpret from it. Celtic wedding bands often feature design elements such as these:
- The ring itself: as in other cultures, the wedding band symbolizes a never-ending devotion. In this sense, the ring becomes more than just a piece of jewelry — it’s a token of the unity of the married couple that is worn for a lifetime.
Knots: these are some of the most distinctive motifs in Celtic art. The Trinity Knot is a favorite emblem found on Irish wedding rings and has been given both Christian and pagan associations. The Trinity Knot is formed from a single coil that wraps around itself to produce a triangular design, which can be taken to represent the central mystery of the Christian faith: God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The unending nature of the knot has a more general connection with the concept of eternity.
Knots and weave designs used in Irish wedding rings also recall the gorgeous illuminations found in medieval manuscripts. Chief among these is the Book of Kells, produced by Celtic monks around 800 A.D., in which the text of the Gospels is finely decorated with lavish detail.
- Claddagh symbols: The Claddagh ring named after a village near Galway in Ireland, dates back to the 17th century and the story of an Irish seafarer who was captured by pirates, sold into slavery and eventually became the apprentice of a Moorish goldsmith. The Claddagh design incorporates the motif of two hands holding a heart, decorated with a crown or fleur de lys. It’s traditionally worn on the right hand with the heart pointing outward before courtship, and pointing inward on betrothal. The ring is later worn on the left hand, again with the heart pointing inward, after marriage.
Celtic wedding rings are often made of gold or white gold, platinum or silver and can be worn by men or women alike.
While those of Irish descent have a particular affinity with Celtic jewelry, it also has a special charm for those who appreciate its meanings and decorative qualities. Celtic wedding bands in particular are a beautiful expression of enduring love and a lifetime’s affection.