History Life Style

What Jewelry did the Vikings wear?

As you know, our passion here at VKNG is Viking-inspired jewelry and creating authentic pieces that are true to the Viking style and ethos, while being more than just replicas.

So, a very important question to us, and I’m sure many of you, is what jewelry did the Vikings actually wear?

Viking man and woman wearing viking clothes

Materials

Jewelry was commonly worn by both men and women in the Viking age. Most people wore bronze and silver pieces, though the very wealthy also wore gold. They were created using the “lost wax” method, in which a mold of the piece is made and then metal poured in. Once cool, the wax was broken and the metal polished.

Interestingly, the Vikings rarely wore pieces with inset stones or gems, though separate pieces were made from these materials. And pieces could also be made from a variety of other materials, such as wood amber, glass, pewter, and animal bone.

Religious Pendants

Among the most common pieces of jewelry worn by the Vikings were pendants in the shapes of religious symbols that carried some meaning to the wearer. They also sometimes used personal symbols, which were given as gifts.

While a variety of examples survive, by far the most popular symbol among the Vikings was Thor’s hammer Mjolnir. More than twice as many Mjolnir symbols survive in the Viking archaeological record than all other symbols combined.

It was a symbol of protection, as Thor was the designated protector of both Midgard and Asgard against the chaotic forces of the giants. It was also a symbol of a warrior’s strength, as Thor was considered the strongest and best of warriors.

These Mjolnir pendants continued to be used well into the Christian period, and so they become associated with continuing in the old religion in the face of spreading Christianity.

Viking jewelry thor's hammer

You will find a variety of Mjolnir pendants in the VKNG shop.

Viking Jewelry in VKNG shop

Warrior Arm Rings

Aside from these pendants, the most common piece of jewelry among Viking men were arm rings, which were basically torque-shaped bangles worn on the arm and made out of gold or silver.

These arm rings were important symbols of social status. They were exchanged between allies, and wealthy lords often gave these rings to their warriors to ensure their allegiance.

But it was not common for Vikings to swear oaths of their rings (like seen in the TV show Vikings). The presence of a ring helped ensure loyalty because it showed that the chieftain had the inclination to share his wealth with his warriors. The quality of your arm rings was more about status.

Arm rings were also used as currency. Made from precious metals, the Vikings would often cut pieces of precious metal off their ring and use them as a form of payment.

Armrings Viking

Check out the arm rings available in the VKNG shop.

Silver and bronze viking armrings

Viking Brooch

Probably the most common piece of jewelry worn by Viking women were brooches, which were used to hold the straps of their dresses in place. Men would also often use brooches to secure their cloaks at the shoulder.

They were usually made from bronze, and while they tended to be oval-shaped in the 9th and early 10trh centuries, but the second half of the 10th century disk-shaped brooches were more popular.

viking broochs

Other Forms of Jewelry

The Vikings also wore several other types of jewelry including finger rings, toque-style neck rings, beaded necklaces, and more. One thing that there is no evidence that they used is earrings, though they would have been familiar with the concept from contemporary cultures with which they had contact.

The Verdict

The Vikings used an eclectic range of jewelry, just as is common today. Jewelry was designed for aesthetic appeal, and it was common for Vikings to wear symbols that had a personal or religious significance to them as an individual.

But jewelry was also practice. It was used to secure clothes, make monetary payments, secure allegiance, and mark social status.

With that in mind, there are few better ways to mark yourself out as a modern-day Viking than an authentic, Viking-inspired, piece of jewelry. Check out our jewelry reviews!

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