Symbolism in Jewellery

Jewellery can hold far more power than simply being pleasant to look at, or adding glamour to an outfit. A number of commonly found shapes in jewellery hold much deeper symbolic meanings. Here are just a few examples:

1. Infinity

Looking like a sideways 8, this is the symbol for Infinity, and so is often found on engagement, wedding and promise rings, as well as jewellery which is often exchanged between couples. In Tibet and India, the symbol represented dualism, unity between male and female, and perfection, as well as time looping endlessly back on itself. It can stand for never-ending love, devotion and friendship.

2. Sword

Easily recognisable, the sword is a symbol of strength and power. It represents authority and courage, and has been used to denote the cutting power of the mind and intellect. Often associated with knights and chivalry, this symbol adds a powerful edge to the piece.

3. Triangle

The triangle has symbols within and outside Christianity. Those within the faith see it as the Holy Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It also has symbolism dating back to the pre-Christian era, in which a triangle facing upwards symbolises the male force, rising up, aspiration, and fire. The same shape pointing down is used to represent the feminine force, the womb, and the symbol of water.

4. Heart

This well known image has a less than obvious history. A symbol of love, affection and devotion, this shape became popular during the Middle Ages, when it was used to represent Jesus Christ, and his love for his people.

In addition, Victorian jewellery in particular holds a number of hidden meanings: pearls represented tears, clasped hands for friendship, doves for domesticity, forget-me-nots for remembrance, and butterflies for souls. Hidden messages could be shown through symbolism; a ring with a ruby, emerald, garnet, amethyst and another ruby was a hidden symbol for sending oneness regards - the acronym spelt by the gems selected.

Symbolism in jewellery is a tradition with an extensive history, and there can be far deeper implications in your stones than merely a beautiful looking gem!