The Meaning of the Sword Symbol
Symbolism in jewellery has been a prominent feature for many centuries. Whether it’s the jewellery itself acting as a symbol or some iconography involved in its design, jewellery can be a powerful indicator of many hidden truths.
Sword and dagger symbols have been used in jewellery throughout many eras, carrying a plethora of different meanings at different times in history. The most obvious associations made with sword imagery is power; as is the case with a lot of weaponry-based imagery.
Another theme commonly associated with swords and daggers is protection. In Biblical scripture, the separation between humans and the Garden of Eden is described as a flaming sword. Whether the protection here is intended to be for humankind or for the Garden itself is unclear, but – with archangels like Uriel brandishing a flaming sword at the gates of Eden – the sword is clearly given a big responsibility.
Swords are also associated with authority across many cultures, with only respected (and wealthy) members of society being capable of becoming knights or samurai, for example. The natural allusions to strength and courage blend together with the symbol of authority, making swords a very powerful statement to include in something like jewellery.
Beyond Christianity, swords have symbolism associated with Tarot cards, dream interpretation, and more. Norse mythology has a giant from another planet wielding a sword of legend, while Buddhist beliefs seem to view the sword as a symbol of purity capable of cutting through ignorance to reach the truth and enlightenment.
In the Middle Ages, when making a sword it was important to get the wholeness and balance right in order to make it worthy for battle. To do this, it was said that all elements were required; earth, fire, air and water. Through this need, swords have become almost something of nature itself, being made from the elements. From this we can start to see how the meaning of the sword has transcended throughout time.
The alchemical symbol for the sword represents purification through the process of life and death. In Celtic tradition, it was common for swords to be given as offerings by releasing them into the depths of the sea. Again, in the Middle Ages, it was common practice for the dearly departed to be laid to rest with a sword for their journey to the afterlife; a symbol of transcending from an earthly life to an otherworldly one with protection and strength to guide oneself.
When a symbol as powerful and all-encompassing as the sword is used in jewellery, it certainly amounts to a beautiful piece to be admired and adored. Here are four of our jewellery pieces featuring sword and dagger designs that would make anyone feel as powerful as a Norse god, or as wise as a Buddhist monk, or as brave as a medieval knight.
Let’s check them out.
Diamond Jabot Pin Sword Brooch
A jabot pin such as this one is the perfect style for utilising the sword design. Jabot pins have either end of the design visible, while the centre is used to anchor the pin in place, meaning the sword can be appearing to be ‘stabbing’ through the material of your clothes.
This is a dramatic style that’s very befitting of the sword, allowing the wearer to appear powerful and yet graceful all at once. This Edwardian pin is accented with diamonds in such a way that guarantees this pin catches the eye.
Victorian Sword Brooch
This brooch is also made in the jabot pin style, but this time it benefits from a pearl-accented safety chain which creates a very impressive finishing touch. Where this pin differs to our previous example is in the overall decoration. Not only do the diamonds on the tip of the sword climb most of the way up the blade, but the hilt of the sword is also extremely decorative, replicating a rapier.
Victorian jewellery is well-loved for its dramatic features, and the level of decoration on such a fine pin as this one is no exception. The settings feature subtle millegrain decoration at points that pushes this pin over into stunning territory.
Antique Diamond Sword Pendant
The design of this pendant is understated, but thanks to the use of some unique sword imagery, it manages to have a stunning presence. The four Old European cut diamonds on the hilt add some brilliance that catches the eye when worn about the neck, hinting at the strength and power of the weapon itself.
Wearing a sword pendant also plays into the idea of the sword being a symbol of protection; keeping a helping hand this close to such a fragile area will keep you safe whilst out and about.
Sapphire and Diamond Snake and Sword Brooch
Finally, one of our grandest sword-based pieces. This is another antique Victorian piece, showing a sword being encompassed by a snake. Serpents were often viewed as symbols of loyalty and eternity in the Victorian era, making this brooch a real story of a jewellery piece.
The sapphires on the hilt of the sword and the head of the snake create a cohesion in the brooch that’s truly a sight to behold. A brooch like this lets people know how important you are without you even having to open your mouth.
And there you have it, a look at the meaning and symbolism of swords around the world and in jewellery. Whenever we get a piece of jewellery with such strong and obvious symbolism in our collection, we like to explore the history of that iconography and see what kind of a journey it has traversed. When it comes to swords, we were not disappointed!