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What is Scottish Jewelry?

As the name implies, Scottish jewelry is jewelry created in or associated with Scotland. Scottish jewelry is often in the Celtic style and features themes of nature, Celtic knot patterns, and Scandinavian mythology.

History of Scottish Jewelry

Scottish jewelry has a history dating back to at least 300 BCE. It is influenced by the similar styles of Celtic and Pictish art. The Celtic style emerged earlier, and Pictish jewelry dating from the post-Roman period has been found.

During the Middle Ages, ornate jewelry was mainly worn by the rich, while lower-class people generally wore simpler items that were more functional than decorative. In the 1800s, Britain built a system of railways that significantly increased access to travel and trade. This resulted in Scotland becoming a popular vacation destination, and Scottish jewelry rose in popularity due to travelers wanting to buy it as souvenirs.

During this time, jewelry using agate became especially popular because it was one of Queen Victoria’s favorite stones. Celtic and medieval-style jewelry also enjoyed renewed popularity in this period.

In the modern era, Scottish jewelry incorporates a range of styles, from the ancient Celtic and Pictish styles to Victorian-era jewelry and more contemporary styles.

Materials Used in Scottish Jewelry

Scotland jewelry makes use of multiple different materials native to the Scottish countryside. Metals used most commonly include silver, gold, bronze, enamel, and pewter. Silver and gold were both mined in Scotland in the past. Many stones found in the area are also frequently used as material in Scottish jewelry. Agate became particularly popular in the 19th century due to the influence of Queen Victoria. Granite, malachite, jasper, and cairngorm citrine were also mined in Scotland and found their way into jewelry made there. Pearls are common as well, and even sapphires are sometimes used.

Heathergems Heart Scottish Bracelet jewelryHeathergems Heart Scottish Bracelet jewelry
All images courtesy of Celtic Crystal Design

Types of Scottish Jewelry

Traditional Scottish jewelry typically began as items with a particular function that became decorated and embellished over time to the point that they have become accessory items instead.

Kilt Pins

Kilt pins were used to weigh down the edge of a kilt to keep the material from flying up as the wearer moved around.

Celtic Brooches/Penannular Brooches

Penannular brooches, sometimes called Celtic or Viking brooches, were initially used as clothing fasteners starting around 700 AD. These brooches were mainly owned by elites and made out of precious metals.

Thistle Brooches

The thistle is the national flower of Scotland. Thistle brooches emerged as an evolution of the penannular brooches around the year 1100. These are simpler versions of the earlier, fancier brooches and are typically made of silver.

Pebble Jewelry

Pebble jewelry is a style category rather than a specific item, but it typically features stones like agate, jasper, pearl, and bloodstone.

Luckenbooth Brooches

Luckenbooth brooches are traditional Scottish tokens of love, often given as engagement or wedding gifts. “Luckenbooth” comes from a Scots word for a lockable shop, and shops and stalls selling these brooches were the first permanent shops in the city of Edinburgh, Scotland. Luckenbooth brooches typically are silver and may feature either a heart and crown shape or two intertwined hearts. Luckenbooth brooches date back to the 16th century and were also used as lucky charms, pinned to a baby’s clothing to ward off dangerous witches and fairies who might wish to harm the child.

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