Types of Symbolic Jewellery
Inspired by ancient and modern cultures, jewellery imbued with symbolism is as meaningful as it is enchanting. Representing the whole spectrum of human emotion and sentiment, symbolic jewellery comes in many forms, from necklaces sporting angel motifs to brooches shaped like foliage.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular forms of symbolic jewellery, so you can get an idea of what they represent and where they come from.
Angels are celestial beings who mediate communications between Heaven and Earth. As such, they are regarded as symbols of divine connection, spirituality, and protection and are regularly used as motifs in jewellery pieces. Angel jewellery can be given as a gift for religious festivities or milestone events.
Anchors generally symbolise steadfastness and spiritual strength and anchor jewellery has been popular for decades. Anchor motifs are most often found on necklaces and anchor pieces generally have a nautical theme.
Apples appear frequently in popular myths, folktales, and ancient legends. The fabled fruit symbolises knowledge and goodwill, which is maybe part of the reason that apple jewellery has received moderate attention in recent history.
Butterflies are associated with the soul in many cultures and they also symbolise transience, transformation, and change, making them an ideal jewellery motif for someone embarking on a new chapter in their life. Butterflies are most often used in butterfly-shaped brooches that use the natural iridescence of certain gemstones to their advantage.
It’s said that cats have more lives than most, and they certainly carry more symbolic meanings than most other animals, too. Cat jewellery is often found in the form of cat-shaped pendants on necklaces and the cat motif is generally symbolically liked to the themes of adventure and curiosity.
The dancer symbol is as individualistic as dancing itself is, meaning different things to different people. However, typically, jewellery that uses dancing figure motifs will be associated with freedom, self-expression, poise, and strength, making it a symbol of one’s unique character.
Practised by traditional cultures throughout history, floriography (‘the language of flowers’) assigns flowers with symbolic meanings. In the West, Shakespeare ascribed flowers with symbolic meanings, while Victorian England saw interest in floriography soar. Today, flowers represent the feminine form and therefore symbolise the empowerment of women. Symbolic flower jewellery is about as common as any form of symbolic jewellery, and flower motifs are often found on necklaces, brooches, and bracelets.
Hamsa/Hand of Fatima jewellery
The Hamsa is a-palm shaped amulet that is popular throughout North Africa and the Middle East. Historically, the Hamsa signified protection against the ‘evil eye’, a malevolent stare thought to induce illness or misfortune. Today, it is recognised as a global talisman of good fortune.
The heart metaphorically symbolises a person’s deepest emotions, including affection, and perhaps most significantly, romantic love. In its physical manifestation, it circulates our lifeblood, and thus represents the very core of our being. Heart jewellery, like this diamond engagement ring with heart shaped shoulders, is often reserved for romantic gestures, like proposals!
Infinity symbol jewellery
In popular culture, the mathematical icon for infinity has come to symbolise many emotive concepts, from devotion and empowerment to eternity and everlasting love. Just like heart jewellery, its symbolism is profound and sincere, meaning jewellery featuring the infinity symbol is given mainly for romantic reasons.
The key is a profound representation of freedom and opportunity and key jewellery is often gifted to those who are turning twenty-one as a coming of age gift. Keys also have a romantic connotation, as the keys to someone’s heart.
Lotus flower jewellery
Rising with the morning sun to bloom from its muddy waters, before submerging into the river as the sun dips below the horizon, it is little wonder that the lotus flower has symbolised growth and rebirth for centuries. Other meanings that spring from the lotus flower’s challenging life cycle and environment are strength, tenacity, detachment, and purity.
Sacred to the Greek goddess of learning, Athena, the owl symbolises wisdom, intelligence, and intuition, making owl-adorned jewellery perfect for graduates and grandparents alike. The Greeks also regarded owls to be a symbol of wealth and included them as motifs on their coins.
In Greco-Roman mythology, the peacock’s tail was said to hold the ‘eyes’ of the stars’, with those looking upon it set to receive good fortune and kindness. Contemporary meanings are as diverse as a peacock’s feathers, with compassion, nurturing, protection, and guidance just some of the symbolic meanings ascribed to peacock jewellery.
Pixies, along with fairies and sprites, are mythical creatures of folklore, often associated with magic and mischief-making in the spiritual realm. Throughout history, their form has been used in jewellery that denotes female strength, spirituality, closeness with nature, and unbridled imagination.
Inspired by ancient Tibetan techniques, spinning rings are used as a tactile guide to aid meditation, by gently pressing fingers over the ring’s surface in a rhythmic motion. This is said to ease anxiety and sharpen focus – two invaluable techniques in both bygone eras and today’s hectic world.
As the sky’s primary astronomical body, the sun’s presence has radiated through art, literature, and mythology for millennia. Without it, life would not be possible, which gives sun jewellery strong symbolic connections to life and warmth. Sun motifs are common in all types of jewellery, but particularly in necklaces such as this Art Deco sunburst pendant.
Trees and leaves have deep-rooted meanings in most cultures, from ancestral heritage to our close relationship with nature. The family tree notion carves out familial symbolism, while metaphors such as ‘putting down roots’ and ‘turning over a new leaf’ refer to permanent dwellings and life changes, respectively. Because tree and leaf motifs can have so many different meanings, they’re commonly found in jewellery like this tourmaline, opal, and diamond brooch.