christian mysticism may come and go, but faith is always in fashion. Crosses, crucifixes, saint medals, and more, these are the jewelry pieces that we will cherish forever. But the hottest new styles in Christian jewelry are the ancient symbols of faith, which predate even the cross.
These symbols, such as the Ichthys, anchor, and dove, are the oldest symbols used in Christian jewelry. Each has a very special and very specific meaning. Because of these special qualities the ancient symbols of faith are making a huge resurgence in Christian jewelry and fashion.
The symbolism of ancient Christian jewelry:
The cross did not become openly used in Christian jewelry until around the 3rd century A.D., when the emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of Rome. Since then the cross has become the most significant of Christian symbols, and has been widely used in art and Christian jewelry.
Christian jewelry played a large part in the protection and promotion of early Christianity. Since early Christians were often persecuted for their faith, it was not safe to openly display the cross. Early Christians instead wore other forms of Christian jewelry, such as:
The Ichthys: The Ichthys consists of two intersecting arcs resembling the profile of a fish, and in modern Christian jewelry usually has the name “Jesus” written in the center. The Ichthys is symbolic of Christ as “the fisher of men”. The clean, simple lines of the Ichthys form an elegantly understated piece of Christian jewelry, for the person who revels in the richness of simplicity.
The anchor: The anchor obviously has special significance to mariners, and is in fact commonly known as the mariners cross. But it was originally used not only by the seagoing, but also by Christians from all walks of life. The anchor is used in Christian jewelry as a symbol of Jesus as the anchor of Christian life, as well as hope based in the faith in Christ. The anchor is the perfect piece of Christian jewelry for those who spend a lot of time at sea, as well as those who need steadfastness in their lives.
The dove: The dove is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. The story goes that when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of the dove. The dove is also a universal symbol of peace and purity. The dove is the perfect baptismal gift.
The Lamb of God: The Lamb of God, or Angus Dei, is the oldest depiction of Jesus. Jesus was named the Angus Dei when John the Baptist, upon seeing him, proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. In Christian jewelry he Lamb has become the symbol of innocence and triumph over sin.
These are just a few of the ancient symbols found in Christian jewelry. With so many different symbols with so many different stories it is easy to find the perfect piece to celebrate the individual, while still celebrating faith.
When the Emperor Constantine converted all of Rome to Christianity the cross became far more widely used in Christian jewelry. Soon many different variants of the cross would emerge. These ancient forms of the cross have withstood the test of time, and are still as popular today as they were fifteen hundred years ago. Some examples of ancient cross forms in Christian jewelry are: