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B.5.8 Royal Arch Jewels

The jewel of a Royal Arch Mason who has been e...
The jewel of a Royal Arch Mason who has been elected to the position of High Priest. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most Masonic jewels are medals and badges of distinction and honour, although there are also many examples of real jewellery. Early Royal Arch jewels are beautiful, although rather simple, and now they are rare and valuable. Craft jewels are known since 1727 when Masters and Wardens of private lodge were told by the Grand Lodge to wear the “jewels of Masonry hanging to a white ribbon”. The approved Royal Arch jewel, the badge of the Order, includes the interlaced triangles and the triple tau.

Some of the early Royal Arch jewels of the “Antients” show an altar under a broken arch and include the sun in spendour on a triangular plate. They are known since 1781. Others have, in addition, the Ineffable name and the triangle

includes a torch extinguished by the light of the sun.

The Royal Arch jewels of the “Moderns” are often based on the Craft Master’s jewels -the open compasses and segment- with the arch and columns. The jewels of the Three Principals were changed between 1796 and 1802 to make

them more similar to those of the old Craft Masters. They have an arch with keystone supported by two columns, which stand on the lowest of three steps. To emphasise the Craft qualifications of the holder, a pair of compasses with square, rest on a segment of a circle, both points of the compasses being visible. The jewel of the First Principal has also, in addition, a sun in splendour between the compasses and the square.

The Royal Arch jewel may be worn in a Craft lodge according to the Grand Lodge regulations. This was not foreseen in the Craft Constitutions following the Craft Union but it was decided later on in 1841, 1853 and 1884. The symbolism of the interlaced triangles offers a very interesting view inside Masonry. The interlaced triangles portray the duality of Masonry and its comprehensive teaching, covering the twofold nature of man, spiritual and material. On the jewel is a sun within a triangle representing an emblem of the deity. Enclosing the interlaced triangles are two concentric circles, the inner one denoting the Deity and His omnipresence, and the outer one eternity. At the bottom, outside the two circles, is a small circle, again an emblem of eternity, and within that circle is the triple tau, the badge of a Royal Mason that represents the completion of a candidate’s spiritual journey into Masonry. On the reverse of the jewel, between the two concentric circles, is a double triad in Latin: Deo, Regi, Fratibus; Honor, Fidelitas, Benevolentia. The two triads read conjointly mean.

Deo Honor = To God, Honor
Regi Fidelitas = To the King, Fidelity
Fratibus Benevolentia = To the Brethren, Love

The second inscription on the reverse on the interlaced triangles is also a double triad. On the first triangle there is “Concord, Truth, Peace”, and on the second “Wisdom, Strength, Beauty” that refer to the “Omniscience, Omnipotence and Omnipresence” of the Deity. On the face of the jewel we have the following wording: “Nil nisi clavis deest” that means, “Nothing is wanting but the key”. The other inscription between the two concentric circles is: “Si talia jungere possis sit tibi scire satis” or “If thou canst understand what follow thou knowest enough”. On the interlaced triangles on the face we have another double triad, but the second one is not yet complete. The triangle with the apex pointing upward is the spiritual triangle, and the inscription on its base is “We have found” that is repeated in Greek and Latin on each side of the triangle. On the triangle with the apex pointing down there is initially nothing on the base (but later on the word of the Candidate is engraved there) and, on the sides, we have “Cultor Dei; Civis Mundi”. With the name of the candidate the triad is complete and read: “A.B.; Cultor Dei; Civis Mundi”. The new Royal Arch Mason recognises that he is a worshipper of God, a citizen of the world and that, at the same time, he subscribes to the wording on the spiritual triangle, “We have found”. The jewel of the Order is worn pendent from a narrow ribbon on the left breast (white for Companions, crimson for the Principals, tricoloured -dark blue, crimson and light blue- for all other Excellent Companions, including Grand Officers). The jewels of the Tree Grand Principals are the open compasses, their points touching interlaced triangles; a crown within the compasses distinguishes the jewel of the First, the all-seeing eyes the Second and the V.S.L. the Third Grand Principal. Chains and collars are worn according to the rules, and must have appended the jewel appropriate to the office or rank to which they relate.

The High Priest of some old chapters, when he was a Third Principal, wore a breastplate, and even to day a few chapters still uses this custom, for instance in Scotland. (10)

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