In a modern continuation of both ancient design and techniques, the traditional ring brooch of Norway recalls the northern tribal creative connection to peoples stretching across the globes. Centrally, the theme of the sun is reproduced, both in the color of the metal, the gold of the sun, and the wheel-like pattern of radial symmetry. They describe the outpouring of life’s sustaining solar energy from that central moving point in the sky, and they are fastened to clothing by pinning, near to the heart and breast.
The Norse style of these ornaments have remained, in style and decoration, a part of folk ornament, continuously made to this day. Few cultures have maintained such a long reverence to their traditional ornaments. The Norse tradition of burying grave goods for the afterlife was extended to gold, allowing both local crafts and seized treasures to be discovered today. In other cultures, gold was melted and reused routinely, being nature’s perfect recyclable, and impervious to oxidation and decay. These hoards allow us to observe just how continuous this ornamental aspect of the culture has endured.
The use of gold discs to honor high ranking burials is, to our knowledge, the oldest use of gold we know of. The Varna Burial, of a Thracian noble woman in modern day Bulgaria, dated to 4,500 BC, contains these first examples. If we were to evaluate only the ornaments, we could surmise that some form of this solar worshipping cultural expression was shared and expressed between peoples ranging as far east as the Tochari Basin in China, and as far west as Greenland.
A feature that especially denotes the Norse origin are the dangling cups that capture and redirect light in their own unique way. These jewels present a sophistication that was available in their ancient counterparts, metallurgy influenced by raided goods from England and Ireland in the 7th-9th centuries, and trade with Constantinople until the Mongol invasion in the 12th century. Even the use of garnets is true to their origin, which were found from early times in river beds, often already naturally faceted and polished to a certain degree.