Gothic jewelry is much older than you think. It is believed that Gothic is a sub, culture took place in the 1970-80's, but it has ancient roots dating back to the 13th century. After a few decades of domination and the oblivion that followed, it returned to the Victorian era and finally finalized as a subculture only in the 20th century. Today, echoes of past times can be seen in the Gothic style jewelry. These are the Christian and floral motifs of the medieval period, the luxury, rigor and sophistication of the Victorian period, and the scandalous symbolism of the modern interpretation.
Many people associate the Goths with Satanists because they share a common symbolism (pentagrams, inverted crosses, bats, etc.). In reality, they are people with a different vision. The Gothic subculture was built on the concepts of vampirism, decadence, sensuality, the forbidden, passion, obsessions, romanticism, tragedy, suffering and cruel reality. Forming an organic whole, they define gothic fashion in general and gothic jewelry in particular.
Gothic accessories and jewelry
The accessories are the backbone of the Gothic. The Gothic subculture evolved from the punk-rock music landscape of the 1980s and props played a key role in the punk and gothic images. As for the latter, they complete their look with hats, gloves, necklaces, rings and caps, among others. Even though there is a wide variety of styles within Gothic fashion (Steampunk, Victorian, Vampire, Androgen, etc.), accessories are essential to define a person belonging to this mysterious and diverse subculture.
Gothic jewelry revolves around so-called white metals, especially silver, platinum, white gold and steel. White shades are adored because they contrast with dark outfits and favorably underline the gloominess and heaviness of the gemstones. Popular gemstones are black (onyx, black pearls, black CZ stones) but stones that add a touch of color are also welcome. These are emeralds, sapphires, amethysts, and basically any colored gemstone. The only exception is rubies and garnets, i.e. red stones, because their red finish resembles blood drops.
In general, the gothic likes to play with colors, despite the predominance of monochrome shades. Specially inlaid gemstones of many colors cause associations with stained glass windows, which are the culmination of the Gothic style in architecture.
Gothic motifs and jewelry
Victorian Goth, Romantic Goth, Renaissance Goth and Ancient Goth are styles that build on the traditions of medieval fashion and art. The products corresponding to these styles are the most beautiful, spectacular, sophisticated and refined. The culmination of these jewels is the intricate patterns.
If you've ever seen a Gothic cathedral, you can't ignore the elaborate patterns embellishing the exteriors and especially the interiors. Refined gothic jewelry has adopted these complex patterns and motifs.
Interlacing, the most common and best-known type of Gothic lace ornament, which has greatly enriched Gothic jewelry designs. This ornament is extremely diverse: roses, fish bubbles, clovers, quatrefoils, six-leaf foliage, straight geometric shapes, spherical triangles and quadrangles.
However, not all motifs were inspired by architecture. Images popular in art and conforming to the spirit of the Middle Ages are also visible in Gothic jewelry. Some of them denote the negative aspects of our lives, e.g. suffering, the eternal battle of good and evil, death, etc. These motifs are coats of arms, skulls, swords, points, coffins, etc. At the same time, Gothic is romantic, and we can see it through pendants and rings displaying hearts, interlaced hands, keys and crowns.
Three characteristics of gothic jewelry
Unlike other styles of jewelry, Gothic cannot be defined in a single sentence. That's because Gothic has so many ramifications, often controversial, that their mode ends up being totally different from each other. Nevertheless, we will try to distinguish a few key features:
Gothic white gold or silver jewelry is made of white metals symbolizing mortality, mystery and restraint. Their cool colors are complemented by contrasting inlays (rubies, sapphires, black diamonds, etc.). Such a palette of colors makes sense: scarlet colors represent blood, black and dark blue imply darkness and gloom.
As we have already pointed out, the Gothic cannot do without symbols. The large skulls, crosses, crowns, knights, dragons and many other themes are Gothic bread and chick butter.
Despite the fact that the Goths are associated with darkness, rigidity and occult rites, Gothic jewelry in itself is super feminine and exquisite. Many items in this style feature delicate lace lines, often complemented by pearl inserts. Just as English Gothic cathedrals had pointed arches and sharp corners, these body ornaments convey mystery not through brutalism but rather through grace.
Influence of the subculture
The cross is an ancient symbol and its history is still uncertain. It was known centuries before the birth of Christianity. Images of two bars placed perpendicularly can be found in Egyptian and Assyrian sculptures and paintings. However, there are many different explanations and legends about the original meaning of this sacred symbol.
The second reason also has to do with religion. The cross is a derivative of a Catholic crucifix. The link between Catholicism and Gothic dates back to medieval times, when the Gothic style in architecture was common for cathedrals.
The third reason is aesthetics. The crosses, despite their simplicity, seem exceptional. They are recognizable symbols that catch the eye like a powerful magnet. Combine this familiar shape with openwork patterns, the scattering of dazzling gemstones and intricate designs, and you have an eye-catching accessory that deserves praise and admiration.
Types of crosses in Gothic
The crosses that we normally see in Gothic style jewelry come mainly from the Germanic culture (since this is where the Gothic was born). Depending on designs and shapes, crosses can have different meanings. For example, an inverted cross is believed to represent death. Although this meaning is not incorrect, the inverted cross also symbolizes the disagreement between a person and all that Christianity represents.
There are many types of crosses, and most of them are found in one way or another in Gothic jewelry.
Reverse cross (st. peter cross)
This cross is typical of Satanists. Christians believe that the upside down cross symbolizes a perversion of the Latin cross, a parody of God and his symbolism. Black wizards and sorcerers often used the inverted symbolism to demean good and exalt evil. While the inverted cross truly projects ideas opposite to Christian ideas, in fact it is directly linked to one of the most revered saints, the apostle Peter.
According to legends, Saint Peter was crucified on such a cross. The unusual manner of death, or rather such an instrument of death, was chosen by Peter himself as punishment for Christ's betrayal. Peter was crucified upside down and died in that position.
So why is this cross widely used among Satanists? A regular cross has four ends, and each of them has its own meaning: the upper end is God the Father, the two lateral ones are God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, and the fourth lower end of the cross means Satan. By turning the cross upside down, the people have placed the devil above the Holy Trinity, thus demeaning him.
The tau cross takes its name from the letter T in the Greek alphabet, although this form is common in many other ancient cultures. For the ancient Egyptians, the symbol Tau referred to both fertility and life. Combined with the circle (which represents eternity), it became the "ankh", the signifier of eternal life. In biblical times, since this symbol was the last letter of the Hebrew letter, T gained the meaning of the end of the world. It also represented the sign of Cain and the sign of salvation. Its alternative names are the Egyptian cross and the cross of St. Anthony. Because of its resemblance to the gallows, it is also called the gallows cross. Some people think that it is the shape of the cross where Christ was nailed to the cross.
Ankh had no special meaning in the Gothic until the movie Hunger, the story of vampires wearing Ankh necklace, was seen. Since then, it has become one of the most sought-after props.
Gothic can be intimidating, but for most people it is irresistibly beautiful. You don't have to be one of the Goths to make Gothic accessories vibrate. Also, most Gothic style jewelry has little to do with the Gothic subculture, as the artistic style born in the Middle Ages and the modern movement have little in common outside of the name. But perhaps this dissimilarity and diversity is what makes the Gothic even more intriguing.