Jewel School: Bridal Jewelry of Ancient Greece

Herakles Knot Diadem Jewel School

Welcome back to Jewel School! Spring is wedding season! So let’s talk about bridal jewelry in ancient Greece. If you’re about to tie the knot, and even if you’re aren’t, check this out!

By: Paraskevi for Paul’s Jewelers


Bridal jewelry of ancient Greece

Are you tying the knot this spring? Well, if you are, do you own this one essential piece of jewelry that every bride should have?

We all know about the wedding ring. Now you have the wedding dress, and then there’s ‘something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue’. Do you, however, have your Heraclean Knot, that fundamental and important element of your wedding trousseau, which was worn on the girdle of the bride? For the well-dressed Ancient Greek bride, this was an indispensable article of jewelry to purchase and wear for this occasion.



Herakles Knot Diadem Jewel School Bridal Jewelry
Daidem, featuring the Herakles Knot, was worn around the waist. PHOTO: peterjr1961 via / CC BY-NC


The Heracles Knot

The Heracles Knot goes by several other names. It’s also known as the Knot of Hercules, Hercules Knot, Love Knot, and Marriage Knot. This piece of bridal jewelry wasn’t simply for adornment. It’s a symbol for marriage, symbolizing undying love and commitment. The knot, itself, made from two intertwined ropes of fabric or gold, was integrated into the bride’s girdle or bodice. It was worn as a love token and protective amulet — and it represented the fertility of Heracles himself. After the wedding, the groom would ceremonially ‘untie’ or remove the knot.


What’s in a name?

This amulet was named for the Greek god Heracles (or the Roman, Hercules), the most famous god/man in Mythology. Known for his might, masculine prowess, and his monumental deeds, he underwent adversities but was a protector of the human race. Because of the knot’s strength it was named for this legendary god. When Heracles died, he was called back to Olympus to live with the gods.


Herakles Knot armband Jewel School Bridal jewelry
Gold armband featuring the Herakles Knot. PHOTO: peterjr1961 via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC


Bridal jewelry: what will you wear?

So if you are ‘tying the knot’ soon, know that the very saying itself, has its roots linked to the famous Greek god, Heracles and his knot. Perhaps, then, when you select your bridal jewelry, you, too, may want to reach back to your own ancient roots and wear a modern version of the Heraclean Knot as a ring or a bracelet. Mirroring the the original design, this knot design echoes the past by incorporating into your wedding outfit the time-honored symbol of marriage, commitment and unity.


Many more ‘gems’ to share

There are many more stories of Greek influence on jewelry design. We’ll see you next time, at Jewel School.



Ancient-Symbols website

The Perseus Project, Department of Classics, Tufts University

Vivian Paul Anton "Paraskevi" of Pauls JewelersParaskevi, also known as Vivian Paul Anton, is a 2nd generation jewelry designer, certified gemologist, and proprietor of Paul’s Jewelers in Milwaukee, WI. She trained at the Gemological Institute of America and at the Kulicke-Starke Academy of Arts. Early in her career, she interned with Ilias Lalaounis in Greece. Her pieces have been featured in major magazines and acquired by actors, athletes, and patrons all over the world.


More Jewel School with Paraskevi for Paul’s Jewelers

Jewel School: Classical Greek Themes in Jewelry

Jewel School: Meet an Ancient Greek Gemologist & More

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