What images do pop up in your head when you hear the word “Gothic”? Informal youth, black clothes, shocking make-up, and eerie symbolism? If you too think so, you, of course, have the point. However, very few people know that Gothic is more than this. In fact, Gothic encompasses many sub-styles and trends. There is even white Gothic! Why don’t we try to figure out all the facets of the Gothic style in general and gothic jewelry in particular?
What is Gothic?
Originally, the concept of Gothic refers to architecture. In the Middle Ages, people constructed majestic cathedrals with tall roofs, rib vaults, stained glass and rose windows. Jewelry and fashion created at that time carried similar features – elongated form, pointed edges, conical shape, intricate designs resembling stained glass, etc. The Gothic of the Victorian era smoothed the shapes and boosted elegance. Refined look, sophisticated metalwork, emphasis on femininity – these are the traits of Victorian Gothic.
Modern Gothic occurred less than 50 years ago, in the 1970s. While punk and rebellious views dominated throughout the early 70s, the end of the decade characterized by decadent moods, detachment from life, and the interest towards the other world rather than the real world. The newly Goths mixed and match the features of the Middle Ages Gothic, occult and alchemic symbols, as well as the atmosphere of Mary Shelley’s and Bram Stoker’s novels thus creating their own style, neo-Gothic.
Gothic Styles and Trends
Since neo-Gothic combines a bunch of ideas, features, and strands, it is by itself is variegated. There are many Gothic sub-styles that are, sometimes, strikingly different from each other.
Traditional Goths carry the stereotype image – black outfits, dark make-up, heavy jewelry. Along with that, Antique and Victorian Goths gravitate towards fancy ball dresses, open-work jewelry, an abundance of lace and precious stones. Steam-punk Goths blend industrial and post-apocalyptic elements with Gothic aesthetic while Cyber Goths benefit from digital-world motifs. There are even white Goths that look the same as traditional Goths but with a difference – they make use of white color instead of black shades.
Features of Gothic Jewelry
Gothic rings along with Gothic jewelry, on the whole, are crafted from white metals – silver, platinum, titan, white gold, stainless steel, etc. White metals are chosen for a reason – they signify the moon. Because Goths deem themselves as the children of the night, they adore everything associated with darkness, including the moon. Yellow metals such as gold are not welcome (only as accent metals) because they symbolize the moon’s foe, the sun.
Goths like contrasts of black and white details. Just like their whitened faces contrast with black apparel, they choose jewelry with diverse elements. Such finishing techniques as blackening, polishing, matting, brushing, and sandblast are widely used in Gothic jewelry production. Along with that, accessories for these grim people are heavily decorated with gems and precious stones. There are really no rules on which stones can be incorporated and which are ‘forbidden’ except one – no warm colors are allowed. Therefore, yellow, pastel and orange hues are a no-go. There is one exception though, the shades of red are much loved by Goths because they resemble blood.
Besides metals, there are many lace and leather accessories. Leather harnesses, necklaces, and bracelets adorned with spikes and studs have found many fans among Goths, especially among followers of fetish Gothic.
What makes Gothic different from other jewelry styles is peculiar symbolism. The subculture gathered symbols from everywhere – starting from décor and façade element of Medieval Cathedrals, alchemic books, steampunk motives and to symbols common in popular culture. If you’d like to learn more about Gothic jewelry and symbolism it carries, check this gothic ring. Now, there is a brief overview of widespread Gothic themes.
Ankh is an ancient Egyptian hieroglyph denoting justice. It looks like a cross with a circle atop. Since it resembles a cross but a much fancier one, the creators of the Hunger movie put an Ankh pendant on the main characters’ necks, who were vampires, by the way. This iconic film helped promote Ankh among Gothic followers. Now, it is one of the main Gothic symbols that means immortality and infinity.
Not only do Goths utilize Ankh in their jewelry (which is otherwise known as Egyptian cross) but other variations of crosses. Because they drew inspiration from the Medieval Cathedrals, it comes as no surprise that the Latin (Christian) cross is met all-over Gothic jewelry. While erecting grand Gothic temples, the architects imbued them with an idea of a little man as opposed to omnipotent God. They were supposed to suppress an individual and make him, and her feel unimportant. Gothic shares the same ideas of oppression, spiritual and physical suffering, and detachment from the real world. That’s why in Gothic, crosses as religious elements side by side with occult and demonic symbols.
Besides the Latin cross, there are many other crosses Gothic rings, pendants, and bracelets carry – Celtic, Jerusalem, Inverted, Greek cross, and even Neuron Cross that is now known as a peace sign.
Hearts and Daggers
Love and suffering is the running theme of the Gothic subculture. Fetish Goths find pleasure in physical pain while Romantic Goths learn to suffer through feelings. What can be more tragic and devastating than a broken heart? A heart pierced with a dagger symbolizes betrayed love that causes pain and agony. It is simultaneously a romantic and gloomy symbol. No wonder it is much respected in the Gothic circles.
Don’t get me wrong; Goths don’t like worship devil (although they admire the creatures of the night). Occult and Warlock symbols were borrowed from other cultures, but they hardly retained the original meaning. A pentagram was (and probably still is) used in magical rituals; a pentagram with a star tip on top is designed for white-magic purposes while the inverted one is utilized by Satanists. Goths flaunt this symbol solely for fashion purposes without giving it any profound significance.
A skull is another symbol associated with dark and gloomy sides of human lives. Nevertheless, in many cultures, it demotes rebirth, afterlife, and resurrections. It is easy to see why – a skull and bones remain indestructible while flesh decays. For Goths, a skull is a symbol of mysterious creatures and evil forces, and at the same time, it is hope for life in the other world.
Gothic is a controversial subculture, but you can’t deny that it is quite interesting. Its roots go back to the deep past but aesthetics and symbolism formed recently, less than half a century ago. Gothic rings can be intimidating and gloomy, or on the other hand, feminine and romantic.