Around the World

Symbolic and Spiritual Jewelry

Through many religions and cultures across the world, symbolic jewelry is used to express faith or to bring protection and good fortune. But you don't have to subscribe to certain beliefs to wear these fascinating icons. Even so, these emblems have a rich history which is worth exploring. Here are some popular choices:


 

Fu, Lu, and Shou

Fu, Lu, and Shou are the three star gods of the Chinese culture which together create the essence of a good life. Each is represented by a character which you may see in jewelry, tattoos, and adornments. Fu means "happiness," Lu means "prosperity," and Shou means "longevity."

 
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Evil Eye

"The Evil Eye" is a supposed curse that's transmitted through a malicious stare, whether intentional or unintentional. Evil Eye beads were created to block this curse from happening. This belief is popular in the Middle East, East and West Africa, South Asia, Central Asia, and Europe, especially the Mediterranean region. Originally, Evil Eye amulets were primarily blue glass beads with an eyeball motif at the center. But over time, as they became fashionable, they started taking on many forms and colors. You can find the Evil Eye symbol in all kinds of jewelry, made from diamonds, gemstones, and enamel, in addition to the traditional glass.

 
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Cross

A cross is a right angle X-shape or a lowercase "t" which is a popular symbol in religion as well as fashion. The earliest cross symbol was the "Ankh," which is the Egyptian symbol of life and fertility. Later, the cross was adopted as an official symbol of Christianity, representing the wooden post that Jesus was crucified on. The cross is recognized today as a universal symbol of faith and it is most popularly worn as a pendant.

 
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Hamsa

Originating from paganism, the hamsa is a right-hand symbol often presented with an Evil Eye on the palm. Today, it has become an important emblem in both Islam and Judaism as it is believed to bring protection and happiness to its wearer. The name comes from the Arabic word "khamsa" which literally means "five," a number that is believed to ward off evil. Hamsa is known as the hand of Miriam (Moses' sister) or the hand of Fatima (Mohammed's daughter) and is identified by the three extended middle fingers and two curved finger on the sides. Whether worn for religion or fashion, it is popular in charms worn on necklaces or bracelets.

 
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Peace Sign

The peace sign is a fairly young symbol of universal peace. It was designed in 1958 by Gerald Holtom specifically for the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. The sign was cleverly inspired by Flag semaphore, which is a communication system that uses flag waving and positioning. The vertical line is the semaphore signal for "N" (nuclear) and the downward V-shape means "D" (disarmament). The peace sign was soon after adopted as the icon for the American counterculture movement during the Vietnam War. Since then, it has taken off in fashion, tattoos, and novelty jewelry.

 
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Infinity

The infinity symbol is a sideways figure-eight which was originally used in mathematics to represent a possible infinity in an equation. Its official use was first introduced by John Wallis in 1655 but has also been accepted by modern mystics for spiritual purposes. The infinity symbol can represent the idea of eternity or signify something that is long-lasting. Today we find it in trendy jewelry as well as tattoos.

 
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Fleur-de-lis

Sometime spelled "fleur-de-lys," this symbol literally means "flower of the lily." Its origin comes from French royalty and it depicts a decorative water lily or lotus flower. Its meaning is a bit ambiguous and no one knows for sure why it was adopted by the crown. Legend has it, King Clovis (466-511) had the flower presented to him at his baptism by the holy Virgin Mary and assumed it as a mark of purity and sanctity. Many wear fleur-de-lis jewelry simply because of its elegant design, rather than its spiritual significance.

 
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Claddagh

Named after the village of Claddagh, this symbol is a traditional Irish icon with hands wrapping around to a crowned heart. The hands represent friendship, the heart represents love, and the crown represents loyalty. Though the Claddagh can be found in hoop earrings and pendants, it is most commonly found as a ring which is meant to be gifted to a loved one. Some couples wear the Claddagh as a promise or engagement ring.

 
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Horseshoe

Since 14th century London, it has been believed that finding a horseshoe by chance is sign a good luck, similar to finding a head-up penny on the ground or a four-leaf clover. Many people used to nail horseshoes to their doorway in hopes that it would ward off witches. Horseshoes are still considered to be lucky charms and are commonly worn as pendants, earrings, or rings.

 
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Wishbone

The term "wishbone" comes from an early 17th century after-dinner game where two people would pull on either end of a forked clavicular bird bone. Whoever snapped the larger piece was granted a wish. It has since then become a superstitious symbol of good fortune which is worn in anything from earrings and rings, to pendants and pins.

 
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Star of David

This hexagram symbol is composed of two overlapping equilateral triangles. It is most widely known as the official symbol for Israel and Judaism, as it is believed to be the shape of King David's shield. However, this symbol is not exclusive to Jews and has been used by many other religions, including Islam and Hinduism. It is popularly worn as a pendant.

 
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Tree of Life

The Tree of Life is one of the most universally used symbols, employed in religion, philosophy, mythology, and even science. The motif depicts a tree with many intricate branches and is often framed by a circle. Cross-culturally it represents the interconnection between all life on earth. Because of the intricacy of the design, the Tree of Life looks best on pendants or large charms.

 
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