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Tree of Life - History, Meaning and Jewellery

Symbols are a meaningful and stylish way of representing an idea in the world of art and jewellery. Certain concepts can’t be expressed as deeply with words, and symbols transcend a message on their own. If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a symbol worth? Well, that depends on the meaning behind it. Symbols evoke a metaphor or signify something that often can’t be articulated.

The Tree of Life is a symbol that has a rich and long history spanning cultures and centuries.  Today the Tree of Life is a popular theme for symbolic, spiritual and fashion jewellery.

The Tree of Life Across Different Cultures:

Egyptian Mythology and Jewellery

The ancient Egyptians believed that the Tree of Life was connected to the god Osiris, and was a symbol of death and abundance. They saw the trunk as the centre of the universe with roots leading to the underworld and branches that reached toward the heavens.  Modern Egyptian Tree of Life pendants typically feature either a tree with roots extending into the ground and branches reaching toward the sky.

Celtic Lore and Jewellery

The Celts used to view the Tree of Life as holding a symbol of all life; the roots reached into the underworld, the trunk rested on earth and the branches reached toward heaven. Celtic druids believed the tree was a doorway between the spirit world and the human world, which allowed the gods to communicate with people.  Celtic pendants are the most popular type, with designs that include detailed engravings of abundantly leaved trees reaching skyward with a broad trunk and firm roots buried deep in the earth.

Chinese Folklore and Jewellery

Chinese folklore tells of a mystical Tree of Life that bore fruit only once every three thousand years. Anyone who ate the fruit would become immortal.  Necklace designs that follow Chinese folklore often depict an abundant fruit tree. Some pendants also include other symbols such as yin and yang.

Christian Biblical References and Jewellery

The Bible describes a Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. After Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, God casts them out of the Garden of Eden before they can eat from the Tree of Life, which would allow them to live forever. Christian jewellery ranges from simple engravings of a tree with roots too heavily foliaged trees with fruit reaching toward heaven with the roots ground into the earth.

Jewish Kabbalah Teachings and Jewellery

The Tree of Life is also a prominent part of the Jewish Kabbalah teachings. The Tree of Life is described in the Sefer Yetzira (Book of Creation), which explains creation in a precise set of numbers and letters of the Hebrew alphabet to form the "32 paths of secret wisdom". Tree of Life pendants inspired by the Kabbalah are often based upon sacred geometry concepts and symbolise unity and joy.

African Baobab Tree and Jewellery

In African cultures, the baobab tree (also known as the bottle tree) is generally known as the Tree of Life.  A Senegalese legend claims that the god Thora threw the baobab tree out of his paradise garden, where it landed on earth upside down and thrived. It’s also  called the "Tree of Life" because of its ability to store up to 4,500 litres of water in its trunk and bear a fruit that provides large quantities of vitamin C, calcium and antioxidants. When water is scarce, both people and animals have turned to the baobab as a life saving water source. Pendant designs include simple engraved images, as well as elaborate designs of baobab trees with gemstones.

Meaning Behind the Tree of Life:

As with the various cultural interpretations, there are various meanings associated with the Tree of Life, with the most popular being connection and unity.  The beauty of having multiple meanings is that you can find the meaning and symbol you most relate to.  Below are some of the various representations:

Connection

Circles are representative of connectivity and inclusion.  The cyclical structure of the Tree of Life shows how everything is interconnected.  Also, the roots of the tree reach deep into the earth while the abundant leaves flesh out and upward, connecting the earth and sky in a symbolic reference to how we are all connected.

Stability, Strength and Growth

A tree is a symbol of stability and strength. We use the metaphor of a tree with roots spreading into the ground to talk about strength, stability and being grounded. It also symbolises growth as a tree is the result of years of slow, patient growth from a vulnerable sapling to a sturdy tree.

Individuality

Trees have such a diverse spectrum of species, with even those of the same species having their own characteristics.  Different and unique, the tree reminds us that we too are different and unique.

Rebirth

Each new season brings change.  What may appear dead will, in the right conditions, come back to life.  The Tree of Life symbolises making it through the seasons and hard times of our life and turning a new leaf - making a fresh start.

Family and Fertility

We use our family tree to connect heritage and ancestry, with each new branch representing the cycle of birth and life.  Furthermore, with its ability to perpetuate, wether by seed or sapling, trees represent fertility and the ongoing bloodline.

Tranquility

Trees are rarely flustered.  Calm and peaceful, while being quietly nourishing and giving, they evoke a feeling of calm and serenity.

Tree of Life Jewellery:

The Tree of Life appeals to people from all different walks of life because of the symbol's rich history and the wide selection of beautifully crafted designs.  Everything from engravings of trees on metal or painted on resin to sculpted metal with gemstones to sterling silver to white gold.  No matter how you view the meaning, or what your jewellery preference is, there is undoubtedly a piece just for you.

Tree of Life Charms

Ideal if you want to keep it simple and subtle.  Charms are small and a great compliment to your bracelet or watch.

Tree of Life Necklace

Popularly worn on pendants, it is an ideal way to easily be seen by yourself and others.  There are many options available - from the more affordable fashion piece to high quality designs with precious metals, and everything in between.

Tree of Life Earrings

Eye-catching and beautiful, with the only down side being that you yourself won’t be able to see them.  If you are looking at wearing a piece of Tree of Life jewellery as more than just a fashion statement, you may prefer to wear it where you can see it, but, with all the stunning earring options out there, you might just be tempted to adorn those ears.

Tree of Life Rings

Creative and unique, these are usually in the form of statement pieces.  Wearing it on your finger is a constant reminder of what the piece means to you.

However you view the Tree of Life, whatever it may mean to you and no matter what kind of design you prefer, this theme will remain popular for many years to come.

View our Tree of Life jewellery: