The two main devices (symbols) in the Hemy blazon are the bend and star. The three main tinctures (colors) are azure, argent and or .
The bright, strong blue color in Heraldry is known in English as azure, and similarly in other European languages – azul in Spanish, azurro in Italian and azur in French. The word has its roots in the Arabic word lazura, also the source of the name of the precious stone lapis lazuli 1. Despite this, those heralds who liked to associate colours with jewels chose instead to describe blue as Sapphire. According to Wade, the use of this colour symbolises “Loyalty and Truth” 2.
Argent is the heraldic metal Silver and is usually shown as very pure white. It is also known more poetically as pearl, moon (or luna) 3. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 4.
Or is the heraldic metal Gold, often shown as a bold, bright yellow colour. It is said to show “Generosity and elevation of the mind” 5. Later heralds, of a more poetic nature liked to refer to it as Topaz, after the gemstone, and, for obvious reasons associated it with the Sun 6. In drawings without colour it is usually represented by many small dots, or by the letter ‘O’ 7.
The bend is a distinctive part of the shield, frequently occuring and clearly visible from a distance – it is a broad band running from top left to bottom right 8. Indeed, so important is the bend that it was the subject of one of the earliest cases before the English Court of Chivalry; the famous case of 1390, Scrope vs Grosvenor had to decide which family were the rightful owners of Azure, a bend or (A blue shield, with yellow bend). 9. The bend is held in high honour and may signify “defence or protection” and often borne by those of high military rank 10.
There were of course many widely recognised symbols that existed long before the advent of heraldry and it should be no surprise that some of these were adopted as charge in coats of arms 11. The estoile is a typical example, reflecting the stars in the sky and represented with six wavy points, often with a little shading to give it some depth. 12. The ancient writer Guillim assigns these symbols as the emblems of God’s goodness”. 13More modern arms might use the term star explicitly to refer to the celestial object, in which case it is usually known as a blazing star 14