When kings and other nobles controlled most of the land throughout Europe, they often made a point of wearing some type of Catholic jewelry. Later, as they became less powerful, members of the general public acquired enough resources to purchase such lovely accessories. Today, Roman Catholics continue to display the strength of their religious beliefs by wearing accessories with Catholic symbols.
The crucifix has to be viewed as one of the most important symbols in the Roman Catholic Church. Each structure in which Roman Catholics gather to worship is supposed to display the thirteen Stations of the Cross. When the crucifix becomes part of a pendant, it can contain some of the most unique materials. For example, it might be a silver crucifix inlaid with olive wood, or a silver Jesus on an olive wood cross.
Whenever a simple cross has been used as a pendant, it might display the work of a skillful artisan. For example, it could have engraved or etched symbols on its surface. It might even have some impressive scrolled designs along its borders.
One piece of jewelry goes with every Roman Catholic whenever he or she enters a place of worship, one decorated with the thirteen Stations of the Cross. That is a rosary, something that is usually either a necklace or a bracelet. Sometimes a rosary contains a silver cross along with black matt beads. As a bracelet, it could be a band of sandalwood beads with silver accents. As a necklace it might have a yellow gold or white gold chain.
As a strong believing Roman Catholic prays, he or she handles the various rosary beads, counting the number of times a certain prayer has been said. Sometimes a rosary is a ring instead of a bracelet or necklace. In that case, an outer ring spins around an inner one. Both rings are fashioned from a precious metal.
Because the concept of the Holy Spirit has long been mentioned in the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, a symbol for the Holy Spirit has been used in certain pieces of Catholic jewelry. The dove is the most common symbol for that spiritual concept. As an accessory, it can appear in a variety of pieces. For example, it could be a pewter dove on a cord necklace or a silver or gold dove in a circle of the same precious metal.
At times, a practicing Roman Catholic might choose to pray to one of the many patron saints. By wearing a medallion that bears the image or symbol of a saint, a believer can feel closer to that blessed soul. Sometimes such a medallion carries a special prayer along with the beloved image. That prayer is usually placed on the reverse side of the engraved medallion.
No article about Catholic Jewelry would be complete without mention of the accessories that depict the image of Mary. Sometimes such a piece reflects the way a certain culture has adopted the adoration of that blessed woman. An example of such an adaptation can be seen in the French Mary of the Lilies Medal, which is worn on a leather cord.