Autumn, Acorns and Oaks

September 11, 2014 , In: Culture, Folklore, General, Inspiration
Since returning from my vacation to the USA ten days ago I have noticed a certain autumnal feel to things here in the UK…the days have been sunny and warm but there is a definite freshness to either end of the day and nature is beginning to signal autumns arrival. This really is my favourite time of the year so I’m definitely ready for the change in seasons.

I’ve also been photographing seasonal acorn and oak leaf beads this week and it got me thinking about these natural forms we seem so attracted to and  I thought it might make for an interesting post. Well it didn’t take much googling to work out there is an enormous amount of information on the subject – much more than I could ever do justice to here. So instead I’ve included some fairly random but interesting snippets and I’ve added some links at the bottom should you wish to find out more and of course, I’ve included some lovely examples you might want to use as inspiration for your jewellery designs.

Detailed of carving on choir screen, Lincoln Cathedral

The Oak Tree and acorns have long been venerated in many cultures as symbols of power, strength endurance and nobility. Many rulers wore crowns of oak leaves to signify their connection
to the gods and oak crowns were presented to victorious Roman generals on their return from battle. Oak leaf regalia is still used as a symbol of rank and leadership in the military today.

The oak is is also often  linked to legends of deities that typically had control over thunder, lightning, and storms. The Celts, Romans, Greeks and Teutonic tribes all had legends connected to the mighty oak tree. Druids held rituals in oak groves and believed
mistletoe found on oaks to be evidence of a god appearing there via a lightning strike. In
Norse legend, Thor sat beneath an oak to shelter from a storm and it is
a custom in some Nordic countries to place an acorn on a window sill as
protection from lightening strikes. In Classical mythology, the oak was a symbol of Zeus and his sacred tree.
In Celtic symbolism the mighty oak embodies wisdom through it’s towering strength and it’s size was seen as a clear symbol of this and therefore to be honored. The wearing of oak leaves was also a sign of special status among the Celts and is often depicted in the images of the ‘Leafman’ which we see today.

Laurels Fairy Doors on Etsy

the acorn only appears on a fully
mature oak, it is often considered a symbol of the patience needed to
attain goals over long periods of time and the need for periods of rest
or dormancy. Small but hardy It represents perseverance and
hard work in alignment with the seasons hence the saying “mighty oaks
from little acorns grow”   

During the Norman Conquest, the English carried dried acorns to protect themselves from the brutalities of the day. Considered to be an emblem of luck, prosperity, youthfulness and power, the Acorn is a good luck symbol which also represents spiritual growth. There was a custom in parts of great Britain for young girls to wear an acorn around the neck as a talisman against premature aging.

I happen to live near to the ‘New Forest’ which became a hunting ground for William the Conqueror of the aforementioned Norman conquest and some of the people who live there are still entitled to certain ‘verderers’  (commoners) rights. One of these called “Common of Mast’ occurs during the autumn ‘pannage’ season and at this time New Forest Commoners can put their pigs out to forage freely on acorns and Beech masts. This free feast fattens the pigs up nicely but also provides a valuable service by clearing acorns before the ancient breed of New Forest ponies can get to them…while harmless to the pigs acorns are potentially deadly to the ponies.

These symbols have also been used in more modern concepts as with this commemorative Olympic £5 coin featuring a depiction of an oak leaf and
acorn with the London 2012 logo incorporating the Olympic Rings.

common English Oak and acorn are powerful symbols for strength and
endurance. The quotation “To strive to seek and not to yield”, is by
Lord Tennyson and many Olympic and Paralympic athletes share these
qualities in their plight for glory.’
Shane Greeves, Designer

Royal Mint

So there you go – a few interesting facts about oaks and acorns and they are of course beautiful in their own right and a great source of inspiration for designers as you can see here (click on the images for links)…

Some of my own interpretations to be listed shortly..
Cabachon by Sculpted Windows on Etsy

Enameled oak leaves by Gardanne Beads on Etsy

J Davies-Reazor on Etsy

Gwydion’s Garden on Etsy

MoosUpValley Designs on Etsy

Kristi Bowman Designs on Etsy

JettaBug Jewellery on Etsy

Angelas line on Etsy

Blueberri Beads on Etsy

Suburban Girl on Etsy

Resource links:


The Gossiping Goddess


Lesley Watt

Lesley Watt started making jewellery in 2009 with a handful of hobby store beads but quickly discovered art beads and became completely smitten. Taking courses in metal clay, metal smithing, enamelling and etching she began making her own components in 2011 and has never looked back. Always looking to try new things she has branched out into ceramics, bead embroidery, mixed media and textiles.
  1. Reply

    Loved reading this on oaks and acorns, the oak is one of my favourite trees and I have a necklace I made with oak leaves which I wear in the autumn and winter months, I loved designing it and its so special to me.

  2. Reply

    I do love autumn as well Lesley. Great article, and of course, lovely eye candy! 🙂

  3. Reply

    Thank you for the lesson!

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