About Viking Jewelry
While the Vikings are principally known as ferocious warriors, jewelry also played an important role in Viking culture. Fine jewelry was worn as status symbols; only the most successful warriors and traders could afford to wear gold!
Pendants and amulets were worn to honor the gods. And the Vikings just liked to look good! Neighboring cultures complained that the Vikings took too much care over their appearance, bathing once a week! They also always carried small combs with them to detangle their hair. They imported expensive materials and jewelry from the foreign countries they raided and traded with.
Thousands of authentic pieces of Viking jewelry survive from burial mounds in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the United Kingdom. There are purely decorative pieces using the intertwining swirls and geometrical forms that characterized Norse art, and there are pieces showing motifs from Norse mythology, such as wolves, serpents, ravens, and gods!
Mjolnir, Thor’s Hammer, is the most common symbol to appear on jewelry in the Viking world. It appears more often than all other symbols combined. It was worn as a symbol of protection, as it is Thor who is responsible for protecting Midgard with his mighty hammer. During the conversion period, it was also worn as a symbol of continued allegiance to the old religion.
Pieces had to be sturdy to remain in one piece while fighting on the battlefield, herding cattle, or ploughing fields.
The Vikings wore their jewelry for decorative purposes but also as currency. There is good evidence that the Vikings would strike pieces of precious metal off their jewelry to make payments.
Jewelry was also often used in religious rituals. We know from one saga that the Vikings would often swear their oaths on arm rings that were dedicated to the gods.
There are a lot of similarities between Viking Jewelry and Celtic Jewelry, which used similar design styles. Symbols such as the triquetra and the Celtic Cross look at home in the Norse world as well as the Celtic world. Torques, brooches for keeping clothing on place, and rings and bracelets were commonly worn in both cultures.
Both cultures also incorporated deep symbolism into their jewelry, often nature based. For the Vikings, the great tree Yggdrasil sits at the center of the cosmos and represents the primacy of nature. The power of three is also evident in both cultures. The Celts had the triquetra, a symbol of natural magic. The Vikings had the horned Triskelion, a symbol of mastery of the spoken word, and the Valknut, the symbol of Valhalla, the Viking warrior afterlife.
Slavic Jewelry is also closely related to Norse Jewelry, with the groups sharing common ancestry and trading links. But while the Vikings wore Mjolnir as a symbol of protection, the Slavs wore the Axe of Perun, also called Mjolnir. Perun was also a god of thunder.
While earrings were uncommon in the Viking world, despite the fact that they would have known about them, elaborate earrings were very popular among the Slavs.
Viking influence is also very apparent in late period Anglo-Saxon jewelry, thanks to the strong Viking presence in England. The mix of design styles creates something completely new and compelling. These pieces are often finer, but revisit the same themes.
In the VKNG collection you will find a huge range of Viking jewelry, but also smaller collections of Celtic, Slavic, and Anglo-Saxon pieces. We have replicas of genuine pieces that survive through archaeology, and original designs inspired by Norse mythology and art styles used by the Vikings.
Check out our collections of pendants that include Mjolnir, Odin’s spear Gungnir, Yggdrasil, and magical runic staves taken from the Icelandic grimoires. We have torque-style necklaces and arm rings with decorations inspired by Fenrir wolf and the Midgard Serpent Jormungandr. We have rings with the horned Triskelion, earrings with the Triquetra, bracelets featuring the axe, and handmade wooden watches featuring detailed images of the Norse gods.
There is something for everyone in the VKNG collection, and many pieces can be personalized and made in the precious metal of your choice.