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What Is Quatrefoil Jewellery?

The term ‘quatrefoil’ means ‘four leaves’. The word derives from the Latin ‘quattuor’ meaning four and ‘folium’ meaning leaf, and is generally used to describe four-lobed or ‘leaf’ shapes and designs. The iconic emblem we find embedded in our history is used across cultures within architecture, fashion and of course jewellery.

Symbolism of Quatrefoil jewellery

The representation of the quatrefoil has a broad and diverse meanings. The shape Most commonly, the quatrefoil shape is linked to that of the allusive four-leaf clover. The four-leaf clover, and in turn the quatrefoil, bears superstitious meaning as a widely considered symbol of good luck and good fortune. Alternatively, in some cultures such as Native American, the quatrefoil is thought to bear similar structure to the compass, symbolising the four directions (North, South, East and West).

Universally, the timeless design is thought to bring good fortune to the wearer and makes an excellent gift.

The History of Quatrefoil Jewellery

The quatrefoil motif is a design that can be traced back centuries and seen to be incorporated into design across cultures. Quatrefoil designs can be traced to as far back as 5700 BCE where the four leaved motif is painted on pottery from Syria. In Europe, the motif is seen prominently in the gothic and renaissance designs from the 12th to 17th centuries, particularly used in cathedrals and churches.

In terms of quatrefoil jewellery, the quatrefoil shape became popular during the renaissance period and was further embraced during the gothic revival of the 19th century in Victorian brooches and pendants. In more recent times, the quatrefoil has become the popular icon of Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra collection, launched in the late 1960s and beloved by celebrities.

Religious Links to Quatrefoil jewellery

The quatrefoil motif requires a high level of craftsmanship and can be seen in high status buildings such as churches and cathedrals, especially in tracery around stained glass. In Christian culture, it is thought that the quatrefoil is a representation of the four gospel writers or an interpretation of the cross. The barbed trefoil, a combined version of the quatrefoil with triangles, is viewed as a symbol of traditional Christian and Celtic religion, interpreted as stylised thorns and the cross.

Popular Jewellery in Quatrefoil Design

The quatrefoil motif is seen in rings, pendants, brooches, bracelets and many more types of jewellery. At AC Silver we’re proud to offer a range of quatrefoil jewellery pieces that are all unique and rare in their own style.

Quatrefoil rings

Quatrefoil rings make a fine addition to your jewellery inventory, and look a little different to a typical ring. Quatrefoil rings can look amazing on all hands, as they create a slightly elongating effect without being overpowering, similar to the marquise shape. The unusual shape is a great contrast to a traditional ring and usually incorporates a mixture of gemstones or an intricate design.

Quatrefoil Ring
Quatrefoil Rings
Quatrefoil Ring

Quatrefoil Bracelets

Quatrefoil bracelets and bangles come in a variety of styles due to the classic design’s versatility. This impressive Victorian opal and diamond gold bangle, incorporates the quatrefoil shape to the centre of the setting, whilst this 1920s French import diamond bracelet holds a more irregular quatrefoil pattern. Explore our range of antique and vintage bracelets at AC Silver.

Quatrefoil Jewellery
Quatrefoil Bracelet
Quatrefoil Bracelets

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International Federation of Art and Antique Dealer Associations CINOA
National Association of Jewellery UK's trade association NAJ