Calling all astrological and zodiac jewellery lovers, do you know the meaning and symbolism of celestial jewellery? If you pardon the pun, celestial jewellery is one of the most universal and recognised symbols of beauty and grace, but it is also steeped in divinity. From crescent moons to starbursts and Halley’s Comet, these transcendent symbols of romance, hope, guidance and fate have scattered the skies and adorned our bodies for thousands of years. It’s magic and meaning have captivated humans for millennia, from the ancient Greeks to the Victorians. So naturally, it was the perfect inspiration for antique jewellery!
Our Homage to the Heavens: The Meaning of Antique Celestial Jewellery
You cannot deny that antique celestial jewellery is beguiling, whether it’s the symbols or the sparkle, the galactic illumination of Opals, or the astrid adularescence of Moonstones, you don’t need an excuse to wear one of these pretty beings. But why are we always continually enchanted by stars, moons, planets, and the galaxy? One of the main reasons is because these celestial beings are not tangible. We cannot fly to the moon or touch a star on a whim, but it is far easier for us wear a Diamond star pendant or Crescent moon brooch to feel connected with our greater being and purpose. These dignified and beautiful creatures give us hope when we need it most, a comfort amongst the solace of the night sky.
Words like “astrology” “manifestation'' and “crystal healing” are currently the cultural zeitgeist of millennials and generations Z. No wonder zodiac jewellery is more present and relatable than ever before! Inspired by this, we have not only curated a celestial jewellery collection of dreams, (think north star pendants, moonstone necklaces and otherworldly Opal rings), but we also wanted to unravel why our ancestors adored the heavens above us. So, without further ado, let us entertain you with this celestial compendium of sparkle.
From North Star Pendants to The Meaning of Crescent Moons, The History of Celestial Jewellery
The adoration of all things celestial dates back thousands of years. The earliest nomadic societies used the stars to guide them in their conquests, pagan societies worshipped the sun, moon and stars as deities and Greek Gods and Goddesses were associated with them too.
Though we cannot accurately discern when celestial jewellery first came into being, but it is clear that this celebration and homage to the heavens began thousands of years ago. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has a crescent moon shaped amber bead dating from the 6th century BCE and an ancient Roman pendant necklace with a crescent moon centre and sunburst-style clasps from the 1st century A.D. In fact, it almost seems like fate that jewellery and the stars are so intertwined. Up until the middle ages, jewellery was seen as amulets of protection, and what is more comforting, shielding and also powerful than the night sky above you?
Throughout the years of the 13th to the 19th century, the stars and the moons never lost their powerful and romantic associations. The Biblical story of the Three Wise Men being guided by the North Star to Jesus, and the Jewish Star of David has cemented itself as stars being symbols of religious guidance, motivation and also of human life. Pentagrams were widely recognized symbols in Ancient Greece, Babylonia and Wicca, and even early Christians would wear pentagrams as a symbol of the five wounds of Christ. Pythagorous created a 5 pointed star with the 5 points representing the earth, wind, fire, water and spirit, also giving the association that stars were at the core of humanity. Crescent moons were painted and sculpted with the Madonna and Child in the 15th century, and the star and moon were an iconographic symbol of the Ottoman Empire.
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Gypsy Rings, 9ct Gold Star Pendants and Crescent Moon Brooches, Why the Georgians and Victorians Loved The Stars
All of this history gave the stars and moons a tender association that permeated until the Victorian period. The age of science in the 18th and 19th century led to a more practical and scientific understanding of the stars, but whilst this may have kept their romantic symbols at bay, this did not dull their sparkle in antique jewellery. The Georgians and Victorians were frankly obsessed with the stars, creating star-set settings in antique gypsy rings and gold star pendants. The moon also drew equal fascination and intrigue, especially in the Victorian era. Crescent moons were classical symbols of female empowerment, linked to the Greek and Roman goddesses of Diana and Athena. The longest reigning female monarch on the throne, Queen Victoria (1837-1901) was enough to inspire other women around Britain to wear crescent moons, especially with the fruition of the suffrage movement towards the end of the century.
The phenomena of Halley’s Comet in the 18th and 19th century created a legacy of comet jewellery through the form of stick pins, brooches, pendants and earrings. This was the perfect intersection between art and science as the night sky was still relatively unknown. Today, we can quickly google the solar system or consult our astrological birth chart through an iphone app, but for our ancestors, it was a dedicated practise of discovery.
The Archaeological revival period in the latter half of the 19th century also saw an impressive resurgence in these captivating jewels. The discovery of ancient tombs and burial sites found the aforementioned crescent amber beads and sunburst pendants that bedazzled the Victorians. The plethora of Crescent shaped Etruscan earrings, necklaces and pins, with star-set details was enough to inspire another generation of antique celestial jewellery. As you can see from our collection, we have a plethora of Etruscan revival jewellery in the mix!
The Georgians and Victorians loved capturing the innate magic and majesty of these jewels through the flickers of old cut Diamonds, Black dot Paste, Pearls, Moonstones and Opals. The adoration of Moonstones and Opals, by the Victorians in particular allowed for a more referential approach to antique celestial jewellery. In fact, if you have always wanted to know what Moonstones and Opals mean, their symbolism and lore is written in the stars! Ancient civilisations believed that Opals were brought to the earth by viscous storms and bolts of lightning, and Moonstones contained the hidden beams and powers of the Moon itself.
Of course, all good things must come to an end! The futuristic architectural styles of the Art Deco period saw a stark shift away from traditional romantic jewels. Persons were more interested in the present (and partying) than dreaming about the sky above them, their dreams could only extend to the skyscrapers that dominated the night sky, eclipsing the stars above. But, this wasn’t for long. The new age movement of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as the Victorian revival period in jewellery saw celestial jewellery waxing and waning once again.
Today, celestial jewellery is just as magical and beguiling as it was a century ago. The stars, moons and sun still contain their majesty. The interest in astrology has certainly peaked in the last 20 years. Notably, the past 5 years has truly revealed the ugliness and impact of the data-driven age, but the advent of the internet has brought astrology and the zodiac into a new light. Easily accessible, easy to understand and easy to admire, the recognisable symbol of a star, made a Gold star pendant a fitting gift for someone on a new adventure or an uplifting piece for someone struggling through a hard time. Through the Covid-19 pandemic, our combined need to establish some control, as well as reconnect with ourselves saw the rocket rise of manifestation, tarot readings, crystal covens and astrology apps, with a plethora of zodiac jewellery to match! In many ways, our fascination with the stars and their meaning was not only a comfort in dark times but it was another way for us to connect with nature.
The world of high fashion has paid attention to our generation's newest obsession, making the star and crescent persevere despite the intoxicating flash of our phone screens. The 2017 Metropolitan Museums of Art “Heavenly Bodies and the Catholic Imagination” brought celestial jewels into the furore, and Dior’s Spring 2021 collection tantalised with tarot and zodiac. All of these instances show that the enduring legacy of celestial jewellery continues to live on. Whether you are spiritually inclined or not, celestial jewellery is just another way for us to feel like we need to strive and connect towards the divine. A centuries old appreciation that is deeper than a 9ct Gold surface.