Many people are drawn to Celtic art because of its intricately knotted designs. The knots have no beginning and no end. They are symbols of infinity and, when crafted into a Celtic diamond engagement ring, represent eternal love.
The ancient Celts were an extremely passionate people known for their wit, their love of liberty, and their bravery in battle. Traditional Celtic knot-work was designed by the Irish monks who were trying to convert pagan Celts into Christians during the 6th and 7th centuries. The monks believed the knots' designs and symbolism would appeal to the pagans' earth-based beliefs while incorporating the basic principles of Christianity. Much of the modern-day interpretation of Celtic knots comes from illustrated manuscripts written by the monks during this time period.
One popular knot, the lover's knot, consisting of two intertwined infinity symbols, is believed to represent two together as one. Many Celtic engagement rings and wedding bands include the lover's knot in their design. Traditional Celtic engagement rings will often depict Creyr, the Heron, on either side of the diamond. To the Celts, animals were the messengers of the gods. Each animal was linked to a natural cycle of the Earth. Creyr was the Celtic creator of life - the bearer of babes - similar to the American rendition of the stork.
Another popular Celtic engagement ring is the Celtic cross. Interpretations of this design vary depending on the legend, but a common interpretation is based on the Celtic monks' efforts to incorporate Christianity into pagan beliefs - the cross represents the eternity of God's love, demonstrated through Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Celtic crosses have a circular symbol enclosing the cross section of the crucifix. The circle, or halo, is said to represent the angelic quality of God's endless love.
The Claddagh ring, another traditional Celtic diamond engagement ring, consists of a cross and crown with a heart in the center of the crown. The name "Claddagh" comes from a small fishing village (of the same name) where the ring is believed to have originated. The history surrounding this ring varies like that of other Celtic artwork, but one legend has it that, back in the late 1600s, there was a Celtic king who fell madly in love with a peasant woman.
Because of their class differences, they were unable to be married. The king, consumed by his misery, committed suicide. In his will, he asked that his hands be cut off and placed on either side of his heart as a symbol of his undying love for the peasant. Gruesome as this tale may seem, the Claddagh ring, when worn on the left hand, is believed to bring happiness to the marriage that will last into the hereafter.
Because each Celtic design has its own distinct meaning, many jewelers will customize your engagement ring to incorporate the Celtic knots and symbols that appeal to you. Oftentimes, jewelers choose to make their Celtic rings out of titanium, lined with gold or silver. Traditionally, the rings were made only of gold or silver but, due to the delicate nature and intricacies of the designs, titanium is now used as a base metal for durability.
Whatever your nationality and cultural heritage, Celtic engagement rings represent the endless path to one's heart and soul - the perfect metaphor not only for tying the knot but also for symbolizing the interconnectedness of life.