Celtic Jewellery

Article from Berganza


Monday 19th January 2015

The name ‘Celt' describes the group of societies living in Europe during the Iron Age who spoke Celtic languages and had a similar culture. This period is characterised by the development of metalworking skills- used for creating weaponry, cutting tools, implements... and jewellery.

To the Celts, jewellery was worn as a symbol of prestige and social status. When thinking of the jewellery of the Celts, the torc style of necklace or bracelet probably comes first to mind. The Celts however wore many other types of jewellery. Jewellery was made of bronze, iron, silver or gold and featured amber, jet, shale, glass or enamel decoration- red enamel being especially popular. Jewellery of the earlier period took the form of beads strung on necklaces as well as torcs which wrapped around the neck or wrist, and earrings. Brooches in the shape of safety pins, or ‘fibulae', were next developed to fasten clothing together- made possible by the discovery of how to make wire. These were usually made from bronze, but also have been discovered made from iron, silver or highly decorated gold. Finger rings were not a typical form of jewellery and so it is even more unusual to find a Celtic ring today.

Britain was rich in alluvial gold and this was formed into simple yet striking designs. Gold was hammered and beaten into sheets, then enhanced with embossed or repoussé work detailing. The patterns used to decorate the jewellery were often similar to the designs which were used on the pottery of the time- repeating geometric kite shapes, zigzags or triangles.

Survivals of Ancient Celtic jewellery are very remarkable and normally are only seen in museum collections. We are privileged to have several exceptional pieces of original Celt jewellery in our collection of antique rings which can be worn and enjoyed today. These pieces are highly unusual and sought after due to their scarcity and are truly special pieces of jewellery.

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