The four main devices (symbols) in the Starr blazon are the estoile, balance, heart and human eye. The three main tinctures (colors) are vert, or and azure .
The deep green colour that is so often observed in heraldry is more properly known as vert. According to Wade, the use of this colour signifies “Hope and Joy”, but may also represent, rather delightfully, “Loyalty in Love” 1. It has other names also, the French call it sinople, perhaps after a town in Asia Minor from where the best green die materials could be found 2. More fanciful heralds liked to associate it with the planet venus and the precious stone emerald 3. More strangely, there is some evidence that the term prasin was anciently used, being the Greek for the vegetable we call the Leek!
The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.4. Along with, argent, or silver it forms the two “metals” of heraldry – one of the guidelines of heraldic design is that silver objects should not be placed upon gold fields and vice versa 5. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.6.
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 7. 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” 8.
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 9. 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. 10. The ancient writer Guillim assigns these symbols as the emblems of God’s goodness”. 11
Although we expect to find fierce creatures and fearsome weapons depicted in a coat of arms this is not always the case – sometimes simple household objects are used 12. The balance or scales is a typical example of this. Sometimes these objects were chosen for the familiarity they would have for the obsever, helping them identify the owner, and sometimes they were used because of some association with the owner, or a similarity to the family name. 13
The heart is represented by the conventional symbol that we see today on playing cards. In later arms it can also appear emflamed and crowned. 14 Guillim, the 17th century heraldic author, believes that it shows the holder to be a “man of sincerity…who speaks truth from his heart”. 15