The words cross and crucifix are so often used interchangeably that it is useful to know the difference between the two terms – especially when purchasing jewellery. Crosses and crucifixes are both signs of faith for Christians, and are also worn by many non-Christians for cultural or style reasons. Here are the differences…
A cross is simply a cross -shaped piece of jewellery without a figure on it. This is the crucial difference. A crucifix is a cross with a depiction of Jesus on it; sometimes engraved but most commonly in relief, i.e. projecting from the cross.
The images below show examples of each:
Figure 1: A simple Cross in 9ct gold, taken from our collection
Figure 2: A silver Crucifix from our collection
Does the distinction matter? In some cases yes. Crucifixes are generally preferred by Roman Catholics, while crosses are preferred by Protestants. Orthodox Christians may wear crosses or crucifixes, but there are particular styles to bear in mind. Some people simply don’t like having a figure on their pendant, regardless of their religious affiliation, so please check before you buy someone a cross or crucifix pendant as a gift.
Within each style there are a whole range of differences. Crosses and crucifixes can be plain or ornate. Crucifixes can include the figure of Jesus in the same metal as the cross, or in a different metal in order to stand out e.g. gold cross, silver Jesus. Some crucifixes include additional detail, such as an ‘INRI’ plaque above Jesus’s head, or a more ornate cross style.
Crosses can be plain, but can also be embellished with gemstones, diamonds etc. Style wise, a cross can include fancy ornamentation and engraving, and may also include details such as a dove, heart or a person’s name.
There are also several distinct styles of cross, which have their origin in European heraldry and design. The examples below can each be ordered from our online store and fully customised to suit your taste.
Cross of Lorraine: A cross with a long vertical bar and two horizontal bars
Figure 3: Cross of Lorraine in silver
Jerusalem Cross: An equilateral cross with four smaller crosses at each of the cardinal points
Figure 4: Jerusalem Cross in 9ct white gold
Ankh Cross: A cross with a loop on the upper segment. A design taken from ancient Egyptian symbolism and used today sometimes as a symbol of peace, and also as a religious symbol by Rastafarians.
Figure 5: Ankh Cross in 9ct gold
Celtic Cross: A cross superimposed on a hollow ring, thought to symbolise the sun or eternity. The cross is often engraved with Celtic designs.
Figure 6: Celtic Cross in silver
Crosses & Crucifixes From British Jewellery Workshops
For millions of Christians, a cross or crucifix pendant is an important outward sign of their faith, and a symbol of comfort in daily life. We stock a wide selection of crosses and crucifixes to suit all tastes and budgets, many of which can be customised with personal engravings, crests or other details. We can also design completely bespoke crosses for special occasions. Please get in touch for further details.