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The compass has been a classic symbol for travellers for as long as navigation of the planet has been around.  

The symbol is ideal for travellers, adventurers and free spirits.

Compass symbols can be used to decorate your home and your body with jewellery and even tattoos.

In this post, you are going to learn about the history of the compass, its symbolism, various meanings and why a compass makes an incredible gift for any traveller in your life.

History of the Compass

Magnetic Compasses is the most familiar type of compass. It was first used in China in the 11th or 12th century as a navigation device mainly for sea navigation by sailors and explorers.

By the end of the 13th century, their use for navigation had spread to Western Europe and the Middle East.

In their earliest use, they were likely used as a backup for when the sun, stars or other landmarks could not be seen due to weather. As compasses became more reliable and explorers understood how to read them they became a critical navigation tool.

The design and construction of magnetic compasses has changed significantly over the centuries but the concept of how they work has remained the same. Magnetic compasses consist of a magnetised needle that is allowed to rotate so that it lines up with the Earth’s magnetic field. The ends point to the magnetic north and south.

Early compasses were made of a magnetised needle attached to a piece of wood or cork that floated freely in a dish of water. As the needle settled the marked end would point north.

As engineers and scientists discovered more about the earth’s magnetism the compass needle was mounted and placed in the middle of a card that showed north, south, east and west.

The compass is a symbol for guidance and is also a popular choice for a tattoo - read this awesome article we found about Compass Tattoos if you're thinking of having one:

Why Travel with a Compass Pendant

The ability for a compass to forever point north is what makes it so symbolic, especially for travellers. You know if you have a compass you can never really get lost.

This gives the compass significant meanings and symbolism which include the following:

1. Guidance

The compass provides a sense of comfort and safety as you know you can always rely on it to point you in the right direction no matter where you are. Whether it is in the ocean, hiking through mountains or exploring unfamiliar roads. It is like the North Star, celebrated as a symbol of guidance.

2. Orientation

Having a compass means you will always know which way you are facing. This means that you can always orient yourself and get your bearings no matter how unfamiliar the location is that you are in.

3. Travel

The word ‘compass’ comes from the Latin word com which means together and passus which means step. This combines to mean to step together or travel together. By its very definition compass means to travel. This means it is an amazing symbol for travellers and those who travel together or meet each other on their journey.

4. Independence

A compass is a device that shows you which direction you need to go and can take you there without anyone else. This signifies independence and willingness to push yourself out of your comfort zone and go at it alone. Know that no matter what happens you will always find your way.

5. Safety and protection

Since ancient times when the compass was first created, it has been viewed as a symbol of safety and protection. It can always guide you home safely and protect you from getting lost.

6. Luck

The compass is seen as a device that will bring luck to someone who is lost by guiding them in the right direction. It motivates you by showing you the path ahead. The direction of north symbolises progression and advancement which is the direction that the compass shows.

It is easy to see why the compass has become well-loved for lovers of travel and jewellery. Plus it looks amazing as a pendant on either a necklace or a bracelet. The options are endless when it comes to different unique designs and metals used.


Off The Map Compass Pendants

Off The Map Jewellery has a range of beautiful and unique compass pendants. There is a variety of designs, finishes, sizes and chains which come in either solid gold or silver. There is a compass pendant to suit every traveller, whether they are male or female, bold or reserved.

Enamel Outline Compass Silver Necklace

The pendant comes in either a small or large size. You can decide between a sterling silver ball chain or curb chain in a variety of lengths to suit you or the lucky traveller best.

The compass design is unique and tactile with hollow spaces between the points symbolising direction. The border shows north, south, east and west. The back is a bold, bright aqua enamel, making this a reversible piece and an original alternative to a Saint Christopher pendant which has always been a trusted travel keep-safe steeped in history. 

The smaller size is perfect for women or as a subtle men’s pendant. The larger size is ideal for men or as a bold travel necklace for women. These pendants are made from hallmarked solid sterling silver.

Wear it, treasure it, love it, take it on your worldwide adventures to bring you luck and safe travels. This is an ideal travel gift for men and women alike.

Dog Tag Compass Necklace with bold blue enamel & a skinny dog tag pendant engraved with latitude & longitude coordinates.

When to gift a compass pendant

Here are some ideas for when to gift a loved one an Off The Map Compass pendant

  • Gift a compass pendant to a loved one or a friend about to travel or move overseas to symbolise safety, protection and good luck on their journey
  • A gift for graduation to signify finding one’s path in life and moving in the right direction and finding their independence.
  • Valentine’s day gift to symbolise that you will always be there for that person and that you would be lost without them. 
  • As an anniversary or wedding gift to a partner to suggest that they are the compass of your life.

As we can see, the compass is a truly beautiful and historic symbol which holds so much meaning and significance for many different reasons.

The gift of a compass pendant to a loved one or yourself is special and to be treasured for a lifetime. 

compass meaning