Celestial imagery has been appearing in art, literature, architecture and jewelry for as long as there has been such a thing. For centuries the contents of the sky was a realm of mystical and beautiful unknowns. Imagine being a part of primitive cultures and gazing on the depth of a night sky without any semblance of understanding for what you’re looking upon. The moon, sun, planets, and stars became the representations of gods and goddesses throughout the years as ways to explain their presence and permanence.
Symbolism evolved through the years, from deities to endurance to personal astrological signs. Though we now know a great deal more about the composition of the celestial universe now, we still ultimately know very little, and as such continue to be enchanted by the sky and its beauty. We wanted to take a wander through the history of moon and star jewelry, their lasting popularity and the meanings they hold now and then.
Romans and Greeks connected the moon to lunar gods, the only way they could explain the lights in the sky. It was emblematic of immortality, they believed that if you gave your romantic partner a crescent moon during a full moon that they would love you forever!
The major popularity of the types of lunar jewelry we think of today can be traced to 19th century Europe, especially the Victorian Era, which was marked by a sense of real transformation and sentimentalism. Queen Victoria was a notably sentimental soul, never more evident than during her relationship with her husband, Prince Albert. Tragically, Prince Albert passed at just 42 years of age. Victoria mourned for 20 years and never remarried, such was her utter devotion to him. Despite this she was an exceptionally stylish and progressive leader, pushing the boat in style (her engagement ring from Albert was in the shape of a snake) and substance (she reigned through the Industrial Revolution).
The Industrial Revolution ultimately changed the face of not just industry, but science, art, and fashion too. It was a time of huge transformation, making the moon a perfect symbol as it passes through many phases. For women of the Victorian Era the crescent moon became a symbol of female empowerment as more women entered the workforce and, as such, demanded more rights in society. Funnily enough, women also used to wear something called a “honeymoon brooch” after they wed during this period, often accompanied by a flower it was a symbol of magic and sweetness.
Today we still consider the moon to be a symbol of change and evolution, but also of permanence as despite its constant changes, it is always present. We are widely aware of the role the moon plays in the changing of the tides and its gravitational pull, and many people who use astrological charts believe the moon plays a major role in moods and motivation.
Whatever the reason you choose to wear moon jewelry, it is fun to know that there is a whole lot of history behind what appears to be a simple charm.
Star symbolism is similarly old in its origins, often carrying the meaning of light and clarity, especially the sun which is the brightest of all the stars. They were also symbolic of, and indeed actually used for direction, as travelers of old often navigated exclusively by the stars at night. Handheld compasses would often feature stars as their backgrounds heralding back to those days of celestial navigation. Jewelry and such compasses would often feature five- or seven-pointed stars as the Victorians co-opted Eastern belief that fives and sevens brought good luck to the wearer/owner.
Stars themselves came to mean good luck and something to be wished upon, to this day we still wish on stars in hopes of achieving our dreams. This is most likely an evolution of navigation and the idea that stars would always help to lead you to your desired destination and not lead you astray.
There is also a huge interest in and connection to the Zodiac and the corresponding constellations. Originating in Babylonian culture, astrological Zodiac signs are assigned based on the date and month of your birth and supposedly informs a person about their characteristics and modes of expression. It was used in ancient times as a way for priests to discern the will of the gods in a person's life. Zodiac constellations have been finding their way onto coin pendants and signet rings a lot in present years, usually as a way to honor oneself or family members.
Stars have nestled themselves firmly in the mainstream of jewelry design through the centuries. They have an ability to be understated or over-the-top, young or sophisticated, edgy or delicate, all based on the designer.
We hope you have enjoyed this trip through the ages to get a better understanding of what these beautiful images meant to those who came before us, and which of those meanings can be carried forward with us. It is always important to consider the past, but though these may be the historical meanings, the meaning that you assign to your own pieces will always be the most treasured, personal, and important.