Since ancient times, jewelry has been an integral part of wedding ceremonies. In several cultures, jewelry not only adds flair to the bridal attire but also infuses symbolism and splendor into the marital union. Furthermore, some cultures use wedding jewelry traditions to express their values, beliefs, and affiliations.
Read on to learn about some fascinating bridal jewelry traditions from across the globe.
1) The Irish Symbol of Love
Irish weddings are full of meaningful traditions influenced by the Celtic culture. Regardless of where they reside, most Irish couples follow interesting wedding traditions such as the Celtic handfasting, wearing a blue wedding gown, and using the horseshoe as a sign of good luck. Apart from these symbolic rituals, the traditional Claddagh ring is an important part of the bridal wear. The ring symbolizes love, fidelity, and friendship. The bride usually wears it on her left hand with the heart facing her body, indicating that hers is taken.
Wearing the Claddagh ring, which holds a heart (love), crown (fidelity), and hands (friendship) is a 400-year-old tradition followed by all modern couples. The ring goes with the old Irish quote, "With these hands, I give you my heart and crown it with my love."
In traditional Irish families, the Claddagh ring is passed down from the mother to the eldest daughter as a part of her inheritance for generations.
2) Norwegian Dangling Charms
Norwegian weddings are not merely about serving kransekake! On the wedding day, a Norway bride wears Solje (pronounced as SOL-ya) ornaments, considered to be the national jewelry of this Scandinavian country.
The bridal Solje jewelry is traditionally made in silver with a heart and a crown, symbolizing the Norwegian wedding crown. According to the Norwegian wedding tradition, marriage is a time in life when the bride is most vulnerable to evil spirits. Therefore, the bridal ornaments carry many silver dangly spoons, believed to ward away evil spirits.
Years ago, Solje was an embellished brooch or a pin used to give a finishing touch to the Norwegian costume, Bunad. However, today it has become an integral part of the bridal jewelry. The bride usually receives heirloom Solje ornaments from her parents to wear on the wedding day.
3) The Sacred Indian String
Traditionally, an Indian bride wears sixteen pieces of bridal adornments from head to toe, thereby celebrating her beauty and fertility. Though this ritual has evolved over a period of years, the Mangalsutra or the sacred beaded necklace remains a crucial aspect of a traditional Indian Hindu wedding.
The Mangalsutra usually comprises a gold pendant and two strings of black beads (black onyx), which are supposed to protect the newly-wed couple from the evil eye. In ancient times, the Mangalsutra was literally a yellow thread dipped in turmeric, considered to be an auspicious spice in the Indian culture. However, in modern times, brides can take their pick from an exclusive collection of beautiful Mangalsutras with diamonds, precious gemstones, and a variety of metals used as embellishments.
During the marriage ceremony, it is customary for the bridegroom to tie this holy thread around the bride's neck, symbolizing unity and devotion to the marital bond. The Mangalsutra is a sign of their marital bond, which is as auspicious as the thread, and indicates that the couple will be united until the end.
4) Four Pieces of Gold for the Chinese Bride
Chinese bridal jewelry is laced with culture and symbolism. In a traditional Chinese wedding, the bridal jewelry is gifted by the groom's family to welcome the bride into the household and symbolize that she is as precious as gold. Moreover, it also represents the groom's ability to provide for her.
The groom's parents bless the bride with the gift of Four Pieces of Gold (necklace, bracelet, ring, and earrings), reassuring her that she will always have a roof above her head and never encounter hard times.
The bridal jewelry typically has a dragon (Ruler of Beasts) and a Phoenix (King of Birds) engraved on them, signifying unity, harmony, and balance in the marital bond.
5) The Symbolic Bead-Studded African Trinkets
Though beaded jewelry is a raving fashion trend, it holds a special meaning in African wedding traditions. Beaded jewelry in Africa is a symbol of one's standing, age, and affiliation to a specific tribe. Therefore, an African bride wears traditional heavily-beaded necklaces, bracelets, and other pieces of jewelry on her wedding day. The more colorful and elaborate her jewelry, the higher is her family's social status.
For instance, in the Massai tribe, the bride traditionally wears beaded jewelry made by her mother and close relatives. Each aspect of her jewelry has a symbolic meaning. Red beads symbolize power. The number of rows in the necklace indicates her economic status. Further, the strings attached to the necklace represent the number of farm animals she will bring in her dowry.
Originally these trinkets were made from gemstones, glass, clay, metal, cowrie shells, ivory, ostrich eggs, and bones. However, today these beads are primarily made of plastic and glass.
Brides around the world wish to flaunt the best look on their wedding day. Regardless of the culture, jewelry has always been an important part of the bridal ensemble, adding significance and beauty to the occasion. No wonder, every culture has meaningful and exciting customs and traditions revolving around bridal jewelry. We hope you enjoyed learning about the fascinating bridal jewelry traditions shared in this post.