Amethyst - February’s Birthstone

By Julie O'Shaughnessy
on January 28, 2019

Amethyst - February’s Birthstone

The beautiful purple amethyst is just right for February, for many some of the coldest and darkest weeks of winter, so the warmth of this stone’s rich, royal color makes this gem a perfect choice for this month’s birthstone  St. Valentine  supposedly wore an amethyst ring and Roman soldiers, recognizing the ring, would ask him to perform the marriage ceremony for them and their loves. Perhaps this is why this beautiful stone is said to attract love.

 

Celtic February Birthstone Sterling Silver Pendant


The stone’s purple color reminded the ancient Greeks of wine and it was thought that amethyst could protect one from drunkenness. Although there are many variations of the story, according to Aristotle, Amethyst was a nymph who was suffering the unwanted amorous attentions of Bacchus, the god of winemaking, and who pleaded with the goddess Diana for her protection. Diana answered Amethyst’s plea and transformed her into a gemstone. To commemorate his love for the nymph, Bacchus not only gave the stone its purple color but transmitted to it the quality of protecting whoever wore the stone from the ill effects of too much wine. Thus began the practice of drinking wine made from cups of amethyst.

February Birthstone w/ Crystals Claddagh Sterling Silver Pendant

Amethyst was thought to have many other wonderful qualities as well. Soldiers valued amethyst’s ability to protect them from surprise attacks and to make them victorious in battle. Hunters appreciated its assistance in the successful killing of wild beasts and the gemstone was widely thought to protect against witchcraft as well as black magic. Farmers who wore amethysts believed their crops to be protected from storms and hailstones. "Ahlamah”, the Hebrew word for amethyst, means ‘dreams’ and the stone is thought to be the cause of beautiful dreams.

 

Sterling Silver February Birthstone Claddagh Earrings


The English, in particular, held amethyst in high esteem. Beads made from the gemstone have been found in Anglo-Saxon graves. Queen Elizabeth has a historic set of amethyst jewelry, known as the Kent Demi-Parure, which was originally owned by Queen Victoria’s mother, the Duchess of Kent and has been passed down to the Crown. Tibetans hold much reverence for the stone as well, as they believe that amethyst was sacred to the Buddha and often make their prayer beads from it.

 

Sterling Silver February Birthstone Claddagh Ring


Most of today’s amethysts are mined in Brazil. At the beginning of the 20th century, large deposits were discovered in South America, making the stone much more widely available than it had been. This is the reason much of the older amethyst jewelry comes from that era. Before the Brazilian source had been found, most amethysts came from Siberia, a place that was cold, remote and inaccessible, so at that time most of these beautiful gemstones were in the possession of royalty or other aristocracies.

 

Sterling Silver Claddagh February Birthstone Pendant

Amethyst is also found in many locations within the United States, including Arizona, Texas, Yellowstone National Park, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and many other places. Canada also boasts large deposits of the gemstone, with the largest amethyst mine in North America located in Ontario. It’s no wonder the official gemstone of the Province of Ontario is the amethyst!

 

Sterling Silver with Crystal February Birthstone Claddagh Pendant


Amethyst belongs to the quartz family. Quartz, composed of silicon and oxygen, is colorless in its pure state. Just a few ‘stray’ atoms of another element will cause quartz to take on a variety of beautiful colors. With amethyst, it is just a scattering of iron atoms that cause the vibrant purple hue. Depending on the number of iron atoms in a particular stone, amethyst’s colors can vary widely from light lilac to deep violet to royal purple.

February Birthstone Rings

 

Only a relatively small amount of amethyst deposits are found in the soils of the Emerald Isle. One of these locations is on Achill Island off the western coast of County Mayo. The cliffside road to Keem Bay off Achill Island crosses a geological boundary where a vein of amethyst is exposed to view. Locals say the best time to hunt for amethyst gemstones on Achill Island is just after a rain. Fortunately for gem hunters, Ireland gets plenty!

February Birthstone Claddagh Pendant


But even if Ireland is not so well known for its amethyst deposits, this beautiful stone is shown off to perfection in this gorgeous Claddagh pendant with an amethyst stone set as the heart, in sterling silver, white or yellow gold. And what better complement to the pendant than these matching Claddagh amethyst earrings. Add to your collection with this Irish amethyst Claddagh ring and you will have a set worthy of royalty!

Sterling Silver February Birthstone Ring


Amethyst jewelry should not be overexposed to strong sunlight, as this can fade the color. Avoid subjecting your amethyst to heat, so your stones should not be steam cleaned. The safest method for cleaning your amethyst jewelry is to use warm soapy water. With a little care, your amethyst jewelry will remain beautiful for generations to come.

Mo Anam Cara Rings

By Julie O'Shaughnessy
on October 08, 2018

article on Mo Anam Cara Wedding rings

Men's Mo Anam Cara Ring - Sterling Silver
The Mo Anam Cara rings are probably one of our most popular Irish or Gaelic rings.  The meaning of Mo Anam Cara is “my soul mate” and these rings are a wonderful way to remind both yourself and your soulmate of your shared connection.

Each of these beautiful Irish rings is handcrafted in Dublin, Ireland.  Just before they receive their final polishing, each is submitted to the Assay Office at Dublin Castle for inspection and hallmarking.  It is the Irish hallmark that serves as your guarantee both of metal quality as well as the authenticity of origin.  Over the years, we’ve come across many knock-offs and imitations, but there is only one original series of Mo Anam Cara rings complete with an Irish hallmark.  Don’t accept inferior products for such an important jewelry item.

CelticByDesign.com offers the complete range of genuine Mo Anam Cara rings.  We have styles and metals to fit every budget, from sterling silver to 14K white, yellow, and two-tone gold.

Visit us online at www.celticbydesign.com for all of your Irish jewelry needs!  If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, just contact us and we’ll do our very best to help!

October's Birthstone - Tourmaline

By Julie O'Shaughnessy
on October 01, 2018

October's Birthstone - Tourmaline

Luckily for us, the Empress Dowager Cixi didn’t buy up the entire world’s supply of pink tourmaline, as evidenced by our beautiful sterling silver Irish Claddagh ring with a pink tourmaline stone set as the heart. This ring, paired with these dainty Claddagh earrings with simulated pink tourmaline stones set as the hearts and a matching Claddagh pendant will have your October born loved ones (or yourself!) dancing for joy.
 

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The Sapphire - September’s ‘Stone of Blue Fire’ Birthstone

By Julie O'Shaughnessy
on September 27, 2018

September's birthstone - the sapphire stone of blue fire

But you certainly don’t have to have royal blood to own or gift one of these lovely blue gemstones. This sterling silver Irish Claddagh ring with a blue sapphire stone set as the heart,, plus a set of matching Claddagh earrings with simulated blue sapphire stones set as the hearts or this beautiful Claddagh pendant with a simulated blue sapphire heart, will win the heart of any September born friend or loved one.

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Peridot - August and the Goddess of Fire

By Julie O'Shaughnessy
on August 06, 2018

Peridot  -  August  and  the  Goddess  of  Fire

If you or a loved one has an August birthday, you are in luck! August, like the months of December and June, is one of only three months to have multiple gemstones from which to choose. Sardonyx was the original August birthstone, then later peridot was added and became the best known August birthstone. Most recently, those born in August can also choose the lovely spinel as their birthstone gem.

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The Ardagh Chalice - One of Ireland's ancient artifacts

By Julie O'Shaughnessy
on July 23, 2018

The Ardagh Chalice - One of Ireland's ancient artifacts

The Ardagh Chalice is now widely recognized as one of the best examples of eighth-century Celtic metalwork in existence.

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Connemara Marble - The Stone from the Land of Savage Beauty

By Julie O'Shaughnessy
on July 16, 2018

Connemara marble jewelry blog post

Connemara marble is truly an Irish treasure as it is one of the most authentic, iconic and beautiful Irish products. The Connemara region is located in the west of Ireland and is an area of stunning natural loveliness, with this serpentine rich stone reflecting the rugged beauty of the nearby mountains.

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The Ruby - July’s ‘King of Gems’ Birthstone

By Julie O'Shaughnessy
on July 05, 2018

July Birthstone Blog post - Celtic by Design

July’s birthstone is known as the king of precious stones, the gorgeous red ruby. The ruby’s name is derived from the Latin Rubeus meaning red and these beautiful gemstones have been treasured for centuries for their fluorescent vibrant color. A ruby is really a red form of corundum, with all other colors being sapphires.

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The Meaning Of The History Of Ireland Symbols

By Julie O'Shaughnessy
on April 24, 2018


This History of Ireland jewelry collection features 12 Irish symbols that depict important milestones in Irish history. Below is the meaning of each of the History of Ireland symbols that you'll find in this superb collection.

Circle Of Life
Circle of Life - History of Ireland Symbol Meanings The Celtic swirl or the Circle of Life is a symbol without beginning or end. It was carved on various structures that dot the Irish countryside by some of our earliest ancestors, such as the stones at Newgrange. Signifying the cycle of death and rebirth, it represents the pathway that we all take during this life.

Our traditions, beliefs, and heritage have been passed down to the next generation for millennia. Our culture is rich and strong, providing us all a sense of life, faith and hope against obstacles, wherever they may arise.
Saint Patrick
Saint Patrick - History of Ireland Symbol Meanings Ireland's patron saint, Saint Patrick was not actually Irish by birth. He is most likely from Wales, and was captured by Irish raiders when 16 years of age. The raiders then sold him as a slave to a man named Milchu in Dalriada (what we would call Co. Antrim today).

Patrick worked as a shepherd and herdsman for Milchu. After 6 years of enslavement, he managed to escape and return home. He then entered into the priesthood, as was the tradition in his family. He eventually became a bishop and decided to return to Ireland to spread the word of Christianity and replace the Druidism that he had experienced. During his six years in Ireland, he had learned the Celtic tongue, and became very familiar with the Druid religion.

Whilst in Ireland, Patrick authored two important texts that would change the nation from one of ignorance and illiteracy into one renowned for learning, culture, and Christianity. Patrick died on March 17th, 461. Today, this date is celebrated the world over as Saint Patrick's Day, and is a testament to the influence this great man had on Ireland.
Round Towers
Round Towers - History of Ireland Symbol Meanings Monasteries and churches began to dot the Irish landscape from the 6th century onwards. Either as a place of refuge for people and supplies, or as bell towers, these imposing round towers began to appear in the 9th century, and were constructed as late as the 12th century. There has never been agreement as to their actual purpose. More recent studies have favored their use as a bell tower due to problems associated with their use as a defensive hideout.

The door to each tower was always built so that it faced the western door to the church. This fact has enabled archeologists to find destroyed churches when the tower still exists. It is believed that there were approximately 120 of the round towers in existence. Today, only about 20 remain in excellent condition. Due to their colocation with churches and monasteries, they remain an enduring symbol of Christianity in Ireland today.
Vikings
Vikings - History of Ireland Symbol Meanings Towards the end of the 8th century, the Vikings began to make small raids on Ireland, pillaging the valuables in the monasteries, as well as the towns around them. This continued for the next two centuries, and the raiding parties grew both in numbers and in violence. Eventually, the Vikings founded permanent settlements in Ireland, using those to venture further and further inland in search of new treasure and supplies.

In the 11th century, an attempt to take control of the entire country was thwarted by the armies of Brian Boru at the Battle of Clontarf. However, the Vikings did not leave Ireland, and retained possession of their permanent settlements. We know those settlements today as Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Wexford, and Limerick. Artifacts from these early settlements are still being unearthed today. The influence of the Vikings on Ireland was profound, and Irish society was forever changed.
Norman Invasion
Norman Invasion - History of Ireland Symbol Meanings The Norman invasion began under an exiled Irish king, Dermot MacMurrough. Seeking to regain his throne in Ireland, MacMurrough requested assistance from King Henry II in England. MacMurrough's forces were quickly victorious, and his throne was taken back. He then named his son as heir to the throne, further cementing his position of power.

Fearing that this new Norman state may prove a threat to his own, King Henry II led an invasion force to Ireland two years later. In 1171, he became the first English king to step foot on Irish soil. His armies forced the Irish Kings to submit to English authority. Henry's youngest son, John, was given the title Lord of Ireland and awarded this new Irish territory in 1185. Ireland then became possessions of the English crown when John eventually succeeded to the English throne in 1199.
Battle of the Boyne
Battle of the Boyne - History of Ireland Symbol Meanings In 1690, the Battle of the Boyne was fought between two English Kings. At stake were the Throne of England, French domination of Europe, and control of Ireland.

King James II was Catholic, while King William was Protestant. The English Parliament had invited William, of the Dutch House of Orange, to displace King James on the English Throne. Their armies met at the Boyne river in Ireland. William had an army of approximately 36,000 soldiers, vastly outnumbering the army of James, who only had 25,000. William accorded James surrender terms, but they were punitive that battle was chosen instead. According to legend, James provided his troops with alcohol the night before the battle to boost their morale. This resulted in his soldiers going to battle hungover and also with inferior weaponry.

James had to return to Dublin, eventually making his way to France, and never stepping foot again on Irish or English soil. Even so, the battle was militarily indecisive, and the war continued. This battle is viewed as a cornerstone in the difficult relations that have existed since between the Catholic and Protestant populace of Ireland, the effects of which are still felt today.
United Irishmen
United Irishmen - History of Ireland Symbol Meanings The United Irishmen was founded in 1791 with the aim of removing religion from politics, by way of supporting the Catholic people. At the time, divisions in the two religions were being used as a tool to defeat both sides in Ireland. These ideas found support on both sides.

In 1797, and with membership of approximately 100,000 people, the leader of the United Irishmen (Theobald Wolfe Tone) tried to land in Ireland with a fleet of French vessels. The landing was unsuccessful due to weather and some poor leadership decisions. Forced to act, the United Irishmen began a revolution in 1798 without the French support. What followed was three months of bloody violence, and the rising eventually failed. In 1803, the United Irishmen was no longer in existence.
Irish Flag
Irish Flag - History of Ireland Symbol Meanings The green, white, and gold of Ireland's tricolor flag includes all her people, regardless of belief. The green represents Ireland's Gaelic traditions, and catholic community, while the orange represents Protestant supporters and their beliefs. The hope of lasting peace between the two groups is signified by the white band that separates the two colors.

While the flag became the national flag only in 1937, its history goes back to 1848. Thomas Meager, the leader of Young Ireland, was the first to publicly display the flag. It was flown above the GPO during the Easter Rising in 1916, and was the "unofficial" Irish flag until 1937.
Famine
Famine - History of Ireland Symbol Meanings Often viewed as a turning point, the famine resulted from repeated failure of the Irish potato crop. At the time, over one third of the country was dependent upon the potato for food and their very survival. When the crops failed due to blight between 1845 and 1852, the effects were devastating.

The British government failed to properly address the crisis, and it is estimated that over one million people perished from starvation and disease, with a further one million emigrating - mainly to America.
Famine Ships
Famine Ships - History of Ireland Symbol Meanings Prior to the famine, most Irish people tended to remain in Ireland, despite the relatively poor conditions experienced by many. However, with little food to eat, mass emigration became not only desirable, but for many a necessity. The emigration continued for decades after the famine, with America and Canada being the two most popular destinations.

The famine ships were notoriously over-crowded and ill-provisioned, some barely had provisions at all. This subjected the immigrants to appalling conditions at sea, and led to the deaths of led to the deaths of countless numbers. Mortality rates of 30% were not uncommon. The 1847 typhus epidemic in Canadian quarantine stations was a direct result of the terrible conditions that many were subjected to onboard these vessels.
GPO
GPO - History of Ireland Symbol Meanings The GPO (General Post Office) is located in the heart of Dublin. During the Easter Rising of 1916 (April 24th) , this building acted as the military headquarters for the Irish Republican Brotherhood - the leaders of the Rising. Before the battle commenced, the Proclamation of the Republic of Ireland was first declared at the GPO. Given the relative might of the British army, the Rising turned out to be a military failure. The building was heavily shelled with artillery for days, including naval artillery from the TSS Helga II. Eventually the GPO caught fire and was completely gutted except for the facade.

After the Rising was quashed, the leaders of the rebellion were executed. The notable exception was Éamon de Valera, who was spared the executioner in part due to his American birth. The harsh treatment of the leadership managed to sway many Irish opinions towards the republican side and independence from England. Bullet holes can still be seen in the facade of the GPO today, and it is the most recognizable symbol of the Easter Rising.
Partition
Irish Partition - History of Ireland Symbol Meanings The Declaration of Independence in 1919 ratified the earlier 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic. However it also caused the War of Independence as rival republican factions sought control. This war ended with the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921the War of Independence which formed the initial Irish Free State. Northern Ireland had the option to opt-out of the Free State, and due to its large Protestant population loyal to the crown, it chose to do just that in 1922.

This had the effect of partitioning those six counties into Northern Ireland, operated as a province of the UK. The remaining 26 counties became the Irish Free State, and later in 1948, the Republic of Ireland. The split between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland continues to this day, however "the troubles" have since given way to peace.


Now that you know the meanings of all of the History of Ireland symbols, be sure to see our complete selection of this fantastic jewelry collection! Each piece makes a perfect Irish gift!

Blue Topaz - December’s Icy Birthstone

By Julie O'Shaughnessy
on December 07, 2017

Blue Topaz - December’s Icy Birthstone

With the winter season comes ice and snow. The beautiful golds and muted browns of fall are gone now, and in their place, the blue of the sky is reflected on frozen ponds. This icy color is reminiscent of this month’s birthstone, the blue topaz.

 

Celtic Knot Birthstone Pendant - December


The name ‘Topaz’ comes from Topazios, which is the name given by the ancient Greeks to St. John’s Island in the Red Sea. Yellow gems were mined on this island but in all likelihood, they were not topaz. However, the name soon became applied to all yellow gems. Topaz is mentioned in the King James Bible as well as in ancient Greek texts, but it’s not at all certain that these texts actually referred to true topaz or to other yellow gems.

Topaz, in its pure state, is actually colorless. Like so many other birthstones, it’s the presence of impurities in the stone that give it color and life. Topaz ranges from a brownish orange to a yellowish color, with the most sought-after color being imperial topaz, which is a vibrant orange with undertones of pink.

Although blue topaz has become increasingly available, it’s rarely found in nature and is usually produced by radiation treatment of common colorless topaz. A light blue variety of topaz is found in Texas, and although it is not commercially mined, the blue topaz became an official gemstone of Texas in 1969. Utah has also honored blue topaz as its state gemstone.

Most topaz comes from South America, with Brazil the largest producer. The stone is also mined in Nigeria, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Australia, Germany, and Mexico. Topaz is also found in the United States, mostly in New Hampshire, Utah, and California.

Russia was a leading producer in the 19th century and a pinkish orange topaz was mined in the country’s Ural Mountains. This topaz was given the name ‘Imperial topaz’ in honor of the Russian czar and not surprisingly, only members of the royal household were allowed to possess it. In 1740 what was originally thought to be the largest diamond ever found, at 1,640 carats, was found in Brazil and eventually set in the Portuguese crown. The stone is now believed to be, not a diamond, but a colorless topaz.

Topaz is relatively hard compared to other gemstones, with only diamonds, corundum, and chrysoberyl being harder. Although it’s a hard stone, there is a peculiarity in its cleavage that makes it subject to chipping or cracking if it is not cut correctly.

Topaz has a long association with healing powers. African shamans employed it in their rituals, using it for healing. The Hindus believed topaz to be sacred and thought wearing a topaz pendant would bring both longevity as well as wisdom to the wearer. In the European Renaissance, many people thought topaz could calm anger and break spells, cure madness and dispel nightmares. Another popular association, most likely because of the stone’s golden color, was to wealth, with many people believing it had the mystical power to attract gold. Blue topaz is a stone that evokes peacefulness as it soothes, aligns and heals.

Besides being the December birthstone, topaz is given as a gift on the fourth and nineteenth marriage anniversaries, as the stone has often been seen as a symbol of love and affection. Nothing will cheer her this winter like a beautiful sterling silver Irish Claddagh ring with a blue topaz stone set as the heart. Matched with these gorgeous Claddagh earrings with simulated blue topaz stones and this Claddagh pendant with a simulated blue topaz stone set as the heart, this is a gift that will melt the thickest winter ice!

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Amethyst - February’s Birthstone

Amethyst - February’s Birthstone

January 28, 2019

The beautiful purple amethyst is just right for February, for many some of the coldest and darkest weeks of winter,...

Read more →