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One of the most well-known and best-loved symbols in the West, the horseshoe has been around for a long time with a history going back to 16th century. It’s a popular symbol in jewelry and is often worn as pendants, charms, earrings or bracelets.
But where did the symbol originate and what exactly does it mean?
Why is it a horseshoe?
Read on as we outline the history and meaning of the horseshoe and how it’s represented in jewelry today.
History of Horseshoe Symbol
Victorian era horseshoe pin. See it here.
No one really knows how the exactly the horseshoe as a lucky symbol originated but there are three associations to luck and protection in this symbol:
- In the middle ages, iron was considered to be a metal that could ward off evil spirits such as Faeries.
- Traditionally, a horseshoe would be fixed onto the hoof of the horse using 7 nails. 7 was believed to be a lucky number.
- Blacksmiths made horseshoes and blacksmiths were considered lucky as they worked with fire and iron, two powerful elements that were highly respected.
These associations could be why the legend of Dunstan, a 10th century saint, originated. This legend gave associated the horseshoe with Christianity.
According to the legend, Dunstan, a blacksmith, was approached by the Devil who walked into his blacksmith’s shop and asked him to shoe his horse.
Quick-witted Dunstan agreed to do the job for the Devil, and instead of nailing the shoe to the horse’s hoof, he nailed it onto the Devil’s foot.
The Devil begged for Dunstan to remove the shoe and promised that he would never enter a house that had a horseshoe nailed onto the door.
Dunstan removed the shoe and the Devil left. Dunstan then went on to have a long and illustrious career as the Archbishop of Cantebury.
Since then, the horseshoe has been viewed as a way to ward of evil and bring in good luck.
Meaning of Horseshoe
The horseshoe itself doesn’t hold any meaning, apart from its associations with the Dunstan legend. However, there are many variations to the tradition and how it should be used.
Here are some views about the horseshoe that are distinct to certain regions and cultures in the West:
- A horseshoe should be hung on a door as that keeps evil at bay.
- Good luck will only happen to the person who owns the horseshoe. This discourages stealing or borrowing horseshoes.
- The horseshoe should be used and not brand new
- You have to find the horseshoe in order for it to be lucky. Purchasing it won’t give you the same luck.
- Nailing a horseshoe on a ship’s mast will help in bringing quiet and calm seas
- The horseshoe contains luck which pours out from the ends
Which Way to Wear Horseshoe
There are essentially two ways that the horseshoe symbol can be worn.
Horseshoe pendant with ends pointing upwards. See it here.
The first way is with the ends pointing upwards. This is believed to keep the luck inside the shoe without falling out from the ends.
Horseshoe with ends pointing downwards. See it here.
The other way to wear the symbol is with the ends pointing downwards, so that luck can pour onto you. However, some cultures view this as bad luck.
So which way should you wear the horseshoe?
It really doesn’t matter.
Choose the style that you find attractive or that makes more sense to you.
How to Buy Horseshoe Jewelry
The most popular type of horseshoe jewelry is pendants, but you’ll also find horseshoe earrings, charms and rings.
Horseshoe pendants come in a range of styles, and can be made of only metal like this beautiful 14k yellow gold pendant necklace. However, for a more elaborate design, look for a pendant that features gemstones and diamonds.
Dainty diamond horseshoe ring. See it here.
Horseshoe’s are also very popular worn on rings. They make for excellent unisex rings and come in a range of prices. With a horseshoe ring, you can wear the shoe either way simply by switching the ring around.
Wearing horseshoe rings is quite popular among gamblers and card players, and they may touch the ring during moments when luck is required.
7 nails and a love heart for luck. See this here.
Horseshoe earrings are another way to feature this beautiful design. Pick out a pair of simple studs or more elaborate dangling earrings.
You’ll find many stunning antique horseshoe jewelry on Etsy and Amazon that cost thousands of dollars and look amazing. But modern designs are more affordable and perfect for casual wear.
Should I Wear Horseshoe Jewelry?
The horseshoe is a lucky symbol that anybody can wear. While it has some roots in Christianity, it’s not seen as a Christian symbol, so whether you’re Christian or not, this doesn’t have to be an issue for you.
The horseshoe may not have the deep and philosophical meanings that we see with symbols like the nazar boncugu, yin yang or the hamsa hand, but it’s a symbol of hope, positivity and luck, and we can all use a little bit of that sometimes.
And if you’re not superstitious, the horseshoe design is beautiful and stylish, easily integrating with any outfit, meaning that you can wear horseshoe jewelry for aesthetics if nothing else.
Where to Buy Horseshoe Jewelry
Because of how popular the horseshoe symbol is for jewelry, you might be able to find horseshoe jewelry at your local stores. But for a range of options, we suggest taking your search online.
Amazon and Etsy are two of the best places to begin your search. You can easily compare prices, quality, materials, craftsmanship and designs across vendors and choose the best option for you.
Here’s why we recommend these two platforms:
Browse through Etsy’s collection of modern and vintage horseshoe jewelry for unique and artisan designs. Etsy is a platform that features multiple independent stores which gives you a lot of options to choose from.
Amazon brings together different jewelry vendors on the same platform. There’s a wide range of horseshoe jewelry on Amazon, so there’s bound to be something for everyone.