Fleur-de-Lis Jewelry: Understanding Its Meaning & History

fleur de lis jewelry meaningsFleur-de-lis (pronounced fluhr duh lees or fluhr duh lee) is a symbol depicting a stylized flower that you’ll often see in jewelry, decor, the New Orleans Saints logo, and even national emblems — most notably in France.

Besides its multiple pronunciations, fleur-de-lis can also be spelled fleur-de-lys. The term is French, so the fleur-de-lis meaning in English translates to “flower of the lily.”

However, there’s debate over the origin of the name, the flower it depicts, and even the symbol’s origins overall.

We’ll sift through all of this today as we look at the symbol’s history and interpretations of it as we uncover the meaning of fleur-de-lis jewelry.

fleur de lis jewelry meanings

What is the Fleur-de-Lis Symbol?

You probably know the fleur-de-lis symbol, even if you don’t know its name. The fleur-de-lis is a stylized three-petaled flower, traditionally golden in color, though it has many variations with additional elements.

When the fleur-de-lis is used in heraldry, a system of symbols used in ancestry-distinguishing armor, the three petals are above a triple stalk bound by a ring or cross-bar. This is the most common depiction, even outside heraldry.

The fleur-de-lis is the national flower and a national emblem of France. The symbol is also important in the French-colonized US state of Louisiana, particularly the city of New Orleans.

Louisiana’s official state wildflower is also the giant blue iris, which brings us to the first fleur-de-lis debate.

fleur de lis meaning lily or iris flower

Fleur-de-Lis Flower: Lily or Iris?

If you compare the fleur-de-lis to a lily vs. an iris, the fleur-de-lis clearly resembles an iris more.

Both lily and iris flowers have three petals and three sepals (leaf-like structures that enclose the bud as it grows). Both flowers’ sepals resemble their petals, but the petals and sepals in lilies look like 6 symmetrical, splayed-out petals.

Meanwhile, the three petals in the iris bunch and stand together at the center, with the three sepals (or “falls”) hanging downward. At the correct angle, the iris appears to have two sepals on either side of the petals in the middle… sounds more like the fleur-de-lis, right?

So, where does this mix-up come from?

One possible answer is that “lily” and “iris” were terms used interchangeably; many flowers with “lily” in their name (like Calla lilies) aren’t actually lilies. As such, historians theorize that the fleur-de-lis was stylized after the yellow iris.

Another possibility comes from debates over the etymology of fleur-de-lis.

Some historians believe the term “fleur-de-lis” actually derives from the Lys (or Leie) river, which runs through France and Belgium.

Yellow irises commonly bloom there, and the early kings of France came from this area. Supporting this argument is that old French flags depicted a gold fleur-de-lis against a blue background, the latter possibly representing the river.

On that topic, it’s time to travel through time to discover the origin of the fleur-de-lis.

ancient fleur de lis historyPictured above: A bronze handle with animal head finials and a “fleur-de-lis” handle attachment discovered at the Florida State University-operated archaeological site Cetamura del Chianti | Image credit: FSU

History of Fleur-de-Lis

Where did the fleur-de-lis originate from? The exact origins of the fleur-de-lis aren’t yet known, but we do know that there are ancient uses of the fleur-de-lis that predate France, despite the symbol’s predominance in French culture. (For reference, France started around 486 AD.)

Ancient History

One of the oldest known artifacts depicting the fleur-de-lis is a Scythian gold helmet dating from 200 to 700 BC.

Other ancient examples of the fleur-de-lis include:

  • Statue of Indian emperor Kanishka (127 to 150 AD)

  • Coin from Kshatrapa Dynasty in ancient India (35 to 415 AD)

  • Bronze handle with animal head finials and fleur-de-lis handle attachment from ancient Chianti artifacts (around 300 BC; pictured above)

  • Ancient Greek pottery from Mycenaean period (1600 to 1100 BC)

  • Sassanid Dynasty textiles from Iran (224 to 651 AD)

  • The fleur-de-lis also appears in various architecture and art from ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, Mali, Iran, and Japan.

In ancient Egypt, the fleur-de-lis may have originated in a hieroglyph for “plant” that also represented their tree of life. This hieroglyph had three stems similar to the fleur-de-lis and a lotus flower representing resurrection atop each steam. Ancient Egyptians may have also used the fleur-de-lis as a symbol of the snake they believed bit and killed Cleopatra.

People in one of the earliest civilizations in Mesopotamia, the Sumerians (4100 to 1750 BC), saw the fleur-de-lis as a symbol of their sacred triad of gods: Anu, Enlil, and Enki.

Sumerians were pagan, so is the fleur-de-lis a pagan symbol? In that culture and time, yes. But the fleur-de-lis history in France was quite the opposite.

Thaler_de_la_ville_de_Strasbourg.pngPictured above: Thaler (coin) of the Free Imperial City of Strasbourg; first half of the 17th century | Image credit: Ville impériale libre de Strasbourg

French Origins of Fleur-de-Lis

The fleur-de-lis has been a prominent symbol in France for centuries, often in association with Catholicism and royalty. The origins of this association go back to King Clovis I, the first unifying King of the Franks who reigned from 481 to 511 AD.

After believing his battle victory against the Alemanni was aided by God, plus some convincing from his Catholic wife, Clovis converted to Catholicism in 496 AD and was baptized in 508 AD.

Two legends explain Clovis’s adoption of the fleur-de-lis. One legend surrounding Clovis’s baptism says that the Virgin Mary or an angel gave the king a golden lily at his baptism. Another legend says that water lilies helped Clovis cross a river safely and win the aforementioned battle.

Regardless, many saw the fleur-de-lis as a symbol of purification after Clovis’s conversion, cementing its place as a royal and religious French symbol.

Fleur-de-Lis Uses in France

The first French monarch to use the fleur-de-lis on his shield was either King Louis VI or King Louis VII, placing this usage between 1108 and 1180 AD.

During the 1300s, knights started commonly incorporating the fleur-de-lis into family insignia on their coat of arms. This helped cement the fleur-de-lis in heraldry, especially after the Heralds’ College was established in 1483.

Some historians also believe the three petals in the fleur-de-lis represented the three social orders in medieval France: peasants, clergy, and nobility.

Throughout the history of France, monarchs used the fleur-de-lis in everything from their clothes and art to architecture and flags. Other European monarchs sometimes adopted the symbol to show allegiance to France.

Unsurprisingly, the fleur-de-lis was adopted in French-occupied places like Louisiana, USA, and Quebec, Canada, as an emblem of heritage and local pride.

fleur de lis bracelet meaning

Fleur-de-Lis Jewelry Meanings

Knowing the history now, you’ve probably guessed that the fleur-de-lis meaning has many interpretations.

Starting with the religious interpretations, what does the fleur-de-lis signify?

Fleur-de-Lis Catholic Meaning

Given the Clovis legend, is the fleur-de-lis Catholic? The fleur-de-lis isn’t a solely Catholic symbol, but it does have significance in Christianity, some tied to the lily.

Some Catholic myths say that lilies came from the tears of Eve when she was banished from the Garden of Eden in the Biblical book of Genesis.

Catholics believe the lily represents purity and innocence, commonly incorporating it into depictions of the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph.

Tying into French history, a famous Catholic political depiction of the fleur-de-lis was on the white banner carried by Joan of Arc. The banner depicted God blessing the fleur-de-lis, the royal emblem of France, and she carried it while leading the French army to victory.

Another interpretation of the fleur-de-lis in Catholicism is that the three petals symbolize the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Similarly, other Catholics use the three petals to symbolize faith, hope, and charity or faith, hope, and love, Biblical virtues they live by.

As such, some believe an upside down fleur-de-lis meaning is the opposite, associating it with Satan and the underworld. Not everyone follows this interpretation, though.

All that said, the fleur-de-lis meaning isn’t solely religious.

Other Fleur-de-Lis Jewelry Meanings

First, the fleur-de-lis symbolizing purity can extend beyond Catholicism or religious meanings. But it can also symbolize strength — you might give a fleur-de-lis bracelet to a loved one going through a difficult time as a token of resilience and hope, similar to tree of life jewelry.

In fact, some military units use the fleur-de-lis as a symbol of strength and power, as the symbol resembles a spearhead.

Some people may wear fleur-de-lis jewelry to simply honor their French, Canadian, or Louisiana heritage.

Flower Meanings in Fleur-de-Lis Jewelry

The symbolism tied to both lilies and irises also connects to the spiritual meaning of fleur-de-lis jewelry.

Lilies can symbolize:

  • Rebirth & renewal

  • Devotion

  • Motherhood

  • 100 years of love (in China)

  • Gratitude

  • Happiness

Given those meanings, fleur-de-lis jewelry can make a great Mother’s Day gift, “push present” for a new mother, token of gratitude, or wedding gift.

Now, iris flowers can symbolize:

  • Faith

  • Bravery

  • Wisdom

  • Hope

  • Trust

  • Victory

Yellow irises in particular symbolize friendship and commitment, making a gold fleur-de-lis pendant the perfect gift for a partner or close friend. If they were born in February, their birth flower is the iris, so you can opt for fleur-de-lis jewelry with an amethyst or bloodstone, the two February birthstones.

Speaking of, let’s take a look at what kinds of fleur-de-lis jewelry is available!

fleur de lis jewelry pendant with sapphire gemstones

Types of Fleur-de-Lis Jewelry

Given the widespread adoption of the fleur-de-lis and its many meanings, it’s no surprise that fleur-de-lis jewelry comes in an array of designs and styles to match all the fleur-de-lis art and architecture out there.


Fleur-de-lis jewelry comes in all types of metals and other materials like ceramic, glass, and fabrics.

The most common fleur-de-lis depiction is yellow or golden, making a yellow gold fleur-de-lis accessory the traditional route. Of course, you can also opt for other shades like rose gold or white gold, along with different metals like silver, platinum, or titanium, to name a few.

Alternatively, you can find fabric jewelry like leather or ribbon wrap-around bracelets. These often mix materials with a metal fleur-de-lis charm in the center.


Like most symbols used in jewelry, you’ll typically find fleur-de-lis pendants most often. These pendants can range from minimalist metal shapes to elaborate diamond-encrusted options. Some designers even have hybrid options, like a fleur-de-lis as the head of a key.

Another popular option is a fleur-de-lis ring. One historical (but back-in-fashion) option is a fleur-de-lis signet ring that you can use to stamp wax for sealing letters, which will really impress the recipient. But fleur-de-lis rings come in thin or thick bands, along with single symbols or repeating fleur-de-lis symbols around the band.

We mentioned wrap-around fleur-de-lis bracelets above, but you can also take the subtler approach by adding a small fleur-de-lis charm to a bracelet.

You can also find plenty of beautiful fleur-de-lis jewelry boxes or stands!


Today, there’s fleur-de-lis jewelry for every taste and style.

If you prefer minimalist jewelry, you may like a delicate fleur-de-lis pendant on a thin chain or a thin-chain choker with small fleur-de-lis charms around it.

For those who want a bit more sparkle but on a budget, you can find fleur-de-lis fashion jewelry with colorful gemstones.

Antique brooches or enameled fleur-de-lis jewelry is also great for antique and vintage jewelry lovers.

fleur de lis symbol meaning

The Fleur-de-Lis: A Resilient Historical Symbol

As you can see, the fleur-de-lis is a significant symbol ingrained in many cultures throughout history. You can still see it in art and architecture, but fleur-de-lis jewelry allows you to be the canvas to display this beautiful symbol and remember its many meanings.

Ready to shop? Browse our collection of vintage to modern jewelry!

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