Connemara marble formed from sediment deposits in the sea over 600 million years ago. These deposits were packed together and solidified over millennia through the forces of nature. People from the Stone Age used the marble to make weaponry 4000 years ago, examples of which are on display in the National Museum of Ireland. It is unique to Connemara in County Galway, at the heart of the Wild Atlantic Way.
It is not just the marble that makes Connemara unique, however. It is nestled into the coastline of the West of Ireland with breathtaking views of the Atlantic and the Aran Islands, and awe-inspiring natural scenery with its lakes, bogs, and fishing coves. The locals cherish an authentic way of life in Connemara, as well as the Irish language and music. This beautiful emerald marble is an important part of its story, and the story of Irish craft. Today we’ll have a look at our favorite pieces of Connemara marble jewelry at Gifts of Ireland, crafted by the leading purveyors of Connemara marble and one of our most prestigious makers, J.C. Walsh & Sons.
1. Inlayed Marble Trinity Knot Pendant
The Trinity Knot was used by early Christians to represent the Holy Trinity and was a key symbol in Celtic art of the Middle Ages. It has since become a hugely popular design for Celtic jewelry. The smooth, deep forest green of the Connemara marble in this pendant
evokes a deeply traditional sense of Irish heritage.
2. Celtic Cross Earrings
The Celtic Cross
first appeared in Ireland and Britain during the early middle ages, when missionaries were spreading Christianity among the Celtic populations. The style represents a unity of Christian and Celtic motifs and was again an integral feature of Celtic art of the Middle Ages. These carefully crafted, lightweight earrings are made even more eye-catching by the pop of beautiful emerald marble panels set into the silver.
3. Claddagh Earrings with Connemara Marble
The Claddagh is one of the most popular designs in Irish jewelry and was named after the small villiage in Galway that produced them. These sterling silver earrings are fashioned with beautiful stipple detail on the crown, and with the clasping arms in a unique teardrop-like shape. At the heart (literally) of these earrings is a beautiful piece of smooth green marble, making them a particularly special piece of Irish craft.
4. Fairy Tree Earrings
These gorgeous earrings represent a more whimsical aspect of Irish culture. Fairy trees are an enduring feature of Irish superstition, believed to be gateways belonging to the ‘Sidhe’ or faerie people from the otherworld. The sterling silver casings of these earrings are fitted with Connemara marble to bring the fairy trees to life and are left bare to show off their design. Each pair of earrings comes with a story card explaining the fairy tree folklore, so you’ll be well able to tell admirers all about them!
Indeed, there is more to this marble than its color that makes it a treasured and distinct feature of Irish heritage. Each piece of Connemara marble is a part of the Emerald Isle itself. If you want to know even more about the rich history of this beautiful feature of Ireland, you can take a tour
of the The Streamstown Marble quarry in Clifden, County Galway, the oldest of the marble quarries in Ireland. If you're planning a visit to Ireland, Connemara is an essential stop.