Wishbone in Jewelry – Meaning and Symbolism

As Jewelry Shopping Guide editors, we write about things that we love and we think you’ll like too. We often have affiliate partnerships, and may generate some revenue from these links at no cost to you.

Over the last few centuries, wishbones have come to symbolize good luck, optimism, and love. It’s a symbol that many resonate with and is ideal as a gift for just about any occasion.

Symbol Sage Sale Banner

Luck’s always a good thing, and the wishbone goes beyond that, implying that you have a say in making your luck. 

No wonder the use of the wishbone symbol has become ubiquitous and well-loved.

Let’s take a look at the origins, meaning, and symbolism of the wishbone and why it’s an excellent symbol to wear in jewelry.

What is a Wishbone?

Wishbones have been a part of Western culture for so long that most people take them for granted and don’t even notice them anymore.

It’s in the language (you can have a lucky break, bad break, or a clean break), in poetry (“A person will sometimes devote all his life to the development of one part of his body – the wishbone.” Robert Frost) songs, art, jewelry and so much more.

But what exactly is it?

Jennifer Aniston Wishbone jewelry
Jennifer Aniston wearing a wishbone necklace.

Put simply, the wishbone is a part of a bird’s skeleton. Also called a furcula, the wishbone is a forked bone with the function of strengthening the bird and helping it during flight. Wishbones have also been found in some dinosaurs.

The wishbones that people break for luck come from chickens and turkeys.  

wishbone furcula
Wishbone from chicken. Source

Now, why would a bird bone come to be associated with good luck? The superstition can be traced back to the Medieval Period when certain people claimed that they could divine the weather and a person’s fortune by using a bird’s wishbone. Apparently, the wishbone of the goose was believed to help in divining the weather.

The custom of breaking the wishbone for luck came about later on, somewhere in the early 1600s. at this time, the bone was called a merrythought. It was in 1860 that the word wishbone was first used to reference this curious custom.

How to Break a Wishbone?

So what exactly is the custom? There are a few steps to this if you want to do it right.

First of all, the bone has to be taken out of the cooked bird, typically chicken or turkey. This is usually done during carving the bird. Then the bone has to be cleaned and put aside to dry. In the past, drying the wishbone for three days added extra luck. Drying results in a brittle and easy-to-break bone. 

Now the bone is ready for the wishing ritual. The two people going to wish on the bone need to pull each side of the bone with their little fingers until the bone breaks in two. They make a wish while they do this.

The person with the longer piece has a ‘lucky break’ and whatever they wished for will come true. The person with the short piece has had a ‘bad break’ and their wish won’t come true. The best-case scenario is that the bone breaks cleanly in half in which case, both wishes come true.

An unbroken wishbone is a symbol of luck, promise, and potential. Because of this, it’s become a popular symbol for gifts.

Take a look at this video that shows just how you can have an edge when breaking the wishbone.

Wishbone Symbol in Jewelry

The wishbone symbol is often used in jewelry and its interesting shape makes for beautiful, functional jewelry designs.

1. Wishbone Pendants

When used in pendants, the wishbone symbol is typically faced downwards as in this is more functional and makes for a beautiful design. It’s believed that if you wear a wishbone pendant, you should say your wish when you put on the necklace.

14K Gold Wishbone Necklace
Face down wishbone pendant. See it here.

One of the best things about the wishbone pendant is that it can be used as a ring holder if it is just large enough. This makes it an ideal choice for someone with a wedding or engagement ring that they need to take off often or for a ring that doesn’t fit.

Simply putting the ring through the chain and over the pendant will keep it in place in a stylish and meaningful way.

Wishbone pendant with ring holder
Wishbone pendant as a ring holder. See it here.

This adds an extra element to the meaning of the ring, bringing in an implication of good luck and future potential.

Wishbone pendants as a ring holder are perfect for people who use their hands a lot, are exposed to chemicals, or spend a lot of time outdoors. It’ll keep your ring safe while looking stylish.

2. Wishbone Rings

Wishbone rings have become a popular, meaningful design that has come to represent love as well as luck. Giving a wishbone ring to a loved one is symbolic of bringing the two people together.

Wishbone rings are commonly made of a shaped piece of precious metal but adding diamonds and other elements to the ring adds to its beauty and also its symbolism.

wishbone stacking ring
A classic wishbone ring. See it here.

Wishbone rings make for symbolic wedding bands. They’re also very functional as the v-shape of the design easily fits above engagement rings and can typically accommodate a gemstone. 

Small Wishbone Ring
Stylish wishbone wedding ring. See it here.

There’s some debate over whether you should wear the wishbone ring facing up or down. But unlike the claddagh ring, the direction of the wishbone ring doesn’t change its meaning. You can wear it any way that feels comfortable to you and that accommodates your other jewelry.

3. Wishbone Earrings

Wishbone earrings are a very popular design and come in a range of styles. Threader wishbone earrings are one of the most popular ways to wear this symbol. They don’t look like typical wishbones and are instead a stylized version.

Threader Wishbone Earring
Threader wishbone earrings. See them here.
Wishbone Geometric Earring
Wishbone geometric earrings. See them here.

There are a variety of stylized wishbone designs for earrings. The shape of the wishbone allows it to be used in versatile and creative ways, from minimalist to maximalist styles.

When to Give Wishbone Jewelry

Man giving wishbone ring to his girlfriend

Because of its symbolism of luck, potential luck, and love, the wishbone is an ideal symbol as a gift for a variety of occasions. It’s acknowledging that the person has a wish that you hope will come true for them.

Here are some:

1. Valentine’s Day

Giving wishbone jewelry on Valentine’s day is an expression of love. It can mean things like We’ll make our luck together or You’re my lucky charm. It can also simply mean I love you.

2. Graduation

A wishbone jewelry gift on graduation is apt as it symbolizes untapped potential and a positive outlook toward the future. It also implies that you make your own luck.

3. Wedding

Perfect as a wedding gift, the wishbone symbol suggests a fresh beginning, a new chapter, and a world of opportunities.

4. To a Traveller

To someone about to embark on a journey or travel the world, a wishbone gift is a reminder to be positive, open to adventure, and see the potential in every situation.

5. New Job

If a friend or loved one has had a promotion or a new job, a wishbone jewelry gift implies that while we can’t always predict the outcome, we can try our best to make our own luck.

Where to Buy Wishbone Jewelry

The wishbone symbol is so prevalent in jewelry that you’re bound to come across it when you shop. But for the most options, we suggest searching on online marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon.

The options are unlimited and there is a wide range of prices and designs compared to physical stores.


Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years in the jewelry niche. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education. She has always been interested in expression through fashion and accessories, and her extensive experience in the field has made her a respected voice in jewelry trends and education. As the chief editor of Jewelry Shopping Guide, she not only leads the content strategy but also shares her insights through engaging articles. Her passion for storytelling is reflected in every piece she curates, exploring the intricate relationship between jewelry and personal identity.

Jewelry Guide