Viking Jewelry is jewelry with symbolism associated with the ancient Viking peoples. Viking jewelry often has a distinctive design with references to animals, gods and sacred attributes.
Although history may not talk about it much, the Norse people were not just skilled fighters. They were incredibly skilled metalworkers and woodworkers. Just as we wear jewelry today, Vikings wore jewelry as accessories and adornments on their clothing.
The pieces they made ranged from simple and understated to extravagant and striking. Women loved to use brooches to hold their clothing together, and their pieces were often quite ornate and fashionable.
Men, on the other hand, wore brooches that were less detailed, necklaces, and especially rings. Warriors even used jewelry to decorate their weapons. Vikings could often be found wearing neck rings, necklaces and bracelets. Here at Viking Store you will find several pieces of Viking Jewelry in the collection with these special meanings.
Because jewelry was often used as a symbol of wealth, the more beautiful the piece, the richer seemed the person wearing it. Vikings also loved pendants, the most popular of which was seemingly Mjölnir - or what you may know better as Thor's hammer. Thor was known as the god of thunder and his hammer had the power of lightning. The Vikings held his hammer as a kind of religious amulet.
The Tree of Life - known as Yggdrasil - came in a close second. It represented the full circle of life, death and rebirth, and it was seen as the center of the cosmos and the connection between the Nine Worlds.
The Vikings made sure that their jewelry was largely made of precious metals - although they also used beads, rocks and stones. Mostly they used silver and bronze and kept gold jewelry for the elite. If a piece was more valuable than what they were trying to buy, they would break it down into smaller pieces. In fact, they had a name for this: hack silver. When making purchases, they literally broke off pieces of the jewelry they were wearing as payment.
History of Viking Jewelry
Viking jewelry was finely crafted from a variety of materials, including gold and simple animal bones. Jewelry was popular with both men and women. To symbolize their rank, they wore rings, brooches, bracelets, and necklaces.
The less wealthy used bronze, pewter, or the bones of the animals they ate for dinner, while the wealthy used valuable metal and gold. To secure their shawls, men wore a single brooch on their right shoulder, while women wore one on either shoulder.
The Vikings adopted jewelry styles from the countries they visited and adapted them to their own. Many Viking decorations contained animal imagery, particularly snakes in their twisted forms.
As there were no banks during Viking times, most people kept their possessions in a hidden location. The term "hoard" refers to an accumulation of buried treasure. A treasure may linger in the earth for centuries if a Viking died in battle or forgot where it was concealed.
Where to find authentic Viking Jewelry?
Some amateur metal detectorists discovered on the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea a valuable treasure of gold and silver that was buried in the mid-10th century and found an impressive collection of Viking-era artifacts consisting of a gold bracelet, a massive silver brooch, a silver bangle and other pieces of jewelry, which were buried around 950 AD.
The gold bracelet, undoubtedly the star piece of the hoard, is made of three braided gold rods, with both ends merging into a flat diamond-shaped band that has been decorated with a patterned design. Gold jewelry was not very common during the Viking Age. Silver was by far the most common metal for trading and flaunting wealth. It has been estimated that gold was ten times the price of silver and that this bracelet could have been worth 900 silver coins.
Early discoveries of Viking gold bracelets on the island include one that is part of the Ballaquayle Treasure (late 10th century), discovered in the town of Douglas in the 1890s, which features a much simpler design.
On the Isle of Man, three gold bracelets and a complete gold ingot from that period have been discovered to date. These finds suggest that there may have been some gold working workshop on the island during the Viking Age and that some particularly wealthy people may have lived there.
The recently found gold bracelet reinforces this theory. For its part, the silver brooch is of a type known as a "ball-type thistle brooch". It is large: the hoop measures about 20 cm in diameter and the pin is about 50 cm long.
Although it is bent and broken, and has some small pieces missing, the brooch is complete. Its function was to be attached to the shoulder to keep thick clothing in place, such as a cloak, with the pin tip facing upwards. This brooch is one of the largest examples of this type ever discovered.
It features intricate designs and, like the bracelet, would have been an immediate visual indicator of its owner's wealth. Perhaps it had a ceremonial use. Researchers believe that this type of brooch originated in this region, and it is even possible that the brooch was made on the Isle of Man itself. The hoard also includes the remains of a decorated silver bracelet, carved during the antiquity.
Most of the Viking-era jewelry discovered on the Isle of Man was almost certainly deliberately buried, especially during periods of upheaval. But they were not buried forever.
The owner of such treasures no doubt intended to retrieve their belongings when the situation permitted. However, the bracelet and brooch are the earliest of their kind to be located on the Isle of Man and offer a very clear picture of the wealth that circulated there and throughout the Irish Sea.
Viking and Norse influence was maintained in the Isle of Man for a further three hundred years, much later than in the rest of the British Isles.
All of the objects that make up this hoard are personal ornaments of someone who enjoyed high social status and represent a great deal of accumulated wealth. The fact that they were all found together, associated with a single deposition event, suggests that whoever buried them was extremely wealthy and probably had to feel very threatened to dispose of them all at once.
Different Styles of Viking Jewelry
Within the Viking jewelry, there are different styles. After all, as we have mentioned before, the Viking civilization lasted for hundreds of years, and logically, throughout those years the "trends" were varying giving rise to different evolutions.
Oseberg Jewelry Style
In this style, the jewels represent fearsome beasts, mainly imaginary. Dragon-shaped fibulae, silver bracelets with mythological creatures... Both men's and women's jewelry were inspired by this type of monsters.
Borre Jewelry Style
This style is the one that has transcended the most until today and is characterized by the use of geometric patterns based on braids and knots. Nowadays, many contemporary jewels are inspired by this style for their creations, as we can see in the following picture.
Jelling Jewelry Style
This style is identified by the use of animals. But in this case, instead of mythical figures, we find real animals (crows, deer, wolves, wild boars...) exaggeratedly stylized, often with elongated S-shaped bodies and always represented in profile. These figures are often surrounded by the braided geometric forms typical of the previous period.
It is surprising how, after so many centuries, we continue to use jewelry and accessories inspired by these styles. Here at Viking Store we also have pieces that reflect this Nordic tradition.
Reasons to Wear Viking Jewelry
Our craftsmen designed these pieces jewelry with stunning artistry and beauty.
The motifs captured in the pieces are of exquisite delicacy. If you are a lover of Nordic or Celtic culture (with which they had great similarities) you will surely like to display these magnificent jewels.
And, even if Vikings are not exactly your thing, the organic designs that Scandinavian and Danish artisans conceived are totally timeless and can blend in with whatever style is yours.
Jewelry and accessories carefully selected from the best Design.
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