Traditional Celtic Jewelry Motifs

Whether it’s inspired by ancestry or lineage, love of swirling and intricate knots and braids, or just an ardor for all the romance and lore that Ireland represents, Green Lake couples look to traditional Celtic design to bring depth and meaning to their custom wedding rings.

Here are just a few of our favorite Celtic motifs:

Claddagh Rings

The traditional Claddagh ring dates back to the 1830’s, and can represent friendship, romantic love and promises. Commonly gifted from mothers to daughters to mark a coming-of-age, in more modern times these beautiful rings have become most associated with promise and engagement rings. Three distinct symbols are contained within the popular design: hands representing friendship, a heart representing love, and crown to represent loyalty. While the lore surrounding their meaning and purpose is varied, a common belief is that if the ring is worn on the right hand you are looking for love, and if worn on the left hand you are either engaged or already married.

Ring No. 129754
Ring No. 131401
Ring No. 117393

Knotted Patterns

There are hundreds of Celtic knots, and within each variation are several versions and styles, each becoming more intricate. While some of the most popular versions are modern interpretations, most date back millennia. Many experts agree that the Book of Kells contains the definitive collection of this art form. Page after page is adorned with complex knots and interlacing patterns in gorgeous color, which seem to lift from the paper. We receive requests for all sorts of Celtic knots, but the three most popular are the trinity knot, the sailor’s knot, and the lover’s knot.

Ring No. 112817
Ring No. 123824

The trinity knot, or Triquetra, alternately represents the Holy Trinity, the pagan representation of The Goddess, or the Celtic concept of three domains: earth, sea, and sky. The unending, interlinking strands are considered a strong symbol of love and fidelity.

Ring No. 122945

The sailor’s knot features two intertwined pieces of rope and was made by sailors on long voyages as a way to remember their loved ones. While simple to tie, it is an incredibly strong knot, making it an obvious symbol for those committing their lives and love to one another.

Ring No. 121183

The lover’s knot features two overhand knots combined, “each flexible to move about the other,  yet nevertheless inseparable.” To find out if a young couple’s love will last, legend tells us to have them each tie a lovers knot around a tree branch. If the knot holds while the branch grows for approximately a year, their love will stay true.

Vibrant Green Gems

Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle, so what could be a more natural choice than a brilliant green center stone? Emeralds are the classic choice for Celtic-inspired designs. With an unmatched verdant appeal, wearing an emerald was believed to reveal the truth or falseness of a lover’s oath, as well as make one an eloquent speaker. Green sapphire is also a hugely popular choice, with its lighter, glassier green tones illuminating these intricate and meaningful designs.

Ring No. 124626
Ring No. 115845
Ring No. 128185

Inspired By Ireland

For so many of our clients, Celtic design is a starting point and then builds to combine with other elements, creating some truly unique and stunning custom rings. We are always excited to see Celtic knots become more intricate, to see other gemstones and colors get brought into the mix, and to see other symbols of Ireland and Scotland start appearing.

Ring No.  116591 & 116831

A fairy-tale wedding set: Intertwining vines, evoking a lyre, swirl up to create a central Celtic knot. The engagement ring is set with a cluster of blue sapphires and marquis diamonds.

Ring No. 128487

This stunning pendant takes inspiration from the classic Luckenbooth brooch, a Scottish Celtic tradition. This token of love is shaped like a heart and often topped with a crown, and is given at the time of betrothal or the day of a wedding. The intertwining strands of the ginkgo leaves and stems evoke Celtic knots, and perfectly emphasize the lustrous bezel-set cabochon pearl.

Ring No. 129754

These gorgeous matching bands feature sailor’s knots set with tiny emeralds and a harp in honor of the national symbol of Ireland.

[A fascinating fact: Both the country of Ireland and the Guinness company bear a harp as their emblem. As Guinness managed to trademark the symbol of the harp first, the distinguishing feature between the two harps is that the Guinness Harp always appears with its straight edge (the sound board) to the left, and the government harp is always shown with its straight edge to the right.]

Ring No. 130128

Inspired by the swirls decorating the Entrance stone to the Newgrange Monument in County Meath, Ireland, this euro-style white gold engagement ring contrasts a stipple textured background with the brightly polished curls of this centuries-old Irish motif.

Photos of Ireland by Christine Dove