TALISMANS & SYMBOLS
SECRETS OF JEWELS
written by Vivienne Becker
The earliest jewels were almost certainly magical talismans or protective amulets. Natural treasures, leaf, shell, feather, a glinting pebble or even a shed snakeskin, were seen as signs of the divine; intermediaries between man and the forces tha governed his fate. Imbued with supernatural powers, to protect from starvation or wild animals or invoke the good will of the gods, these objects were kept close o worn on the body, perhaps strung on plant fiber thread or animal skin. For the early hunter-gatherer, an animal’s claw or tooth was worn as a trophy, a sign of prowess, in the belief that the animal’s strength, speed or cunning would be magically transferred to the wearer. In ancient Egypt, women wore cowrie shells, strung in strands around the hips, thought to promote fertility. In ancient China, jade was believed to hold the secret of immortality, its color and sheen to represent heaven, virtue, purity. Such beliefs, channeled into treasured magical personal objects, were, in a sense, a way for primitive man to understand the universe, a way too of satisfying his instinct for self-preservation, and his need to foresee and control the future. Fotocredit: Lady Luck and Prosperity Frederic le Mane
Today, the role of the amulet remains much the same. Deep-rooted beliefs have endured through millennia, reaching across the globe, connecting countries, cultures
and civilizations, often, inexplicably, through common symbols: the sun circle, the spiral of life, the pyramid. In tribal communities, talismans and charms still play a
vital role in rites of passage, birth, coming of age and the marriage ceremony. Every age and every culture translates ancient symbols and beliefs in its own way,
making them relevant and layering them with more meanings, fables and superstitions, so that the vast lexicon of symbols is continually enriched and evolving.
Since the start of the new millennium, on the brink of the unknown, charms and amulets have swept back into fashion. Surprisingly perhaps in our rational, scientifically
advanced age, ancient beliefs in the amuletic power of symbols are as strong today as they ever were, or perhaps even stronger, judging by the new genre of
talismanic, spiritual jewelry. Shamballa’s beaded bracelets, based on ancient prayer beads, are a massive global success; new brands such as Bee Goddess and Dionea Orcini are focused entirely on spirituality; and even mainstream jewelry has revisited the amuletic origins of the jewel, as in Cartier’s Amulette pendants or De Beers’ Talisman collection. The power of symbols is meanwhile embodied in the ever-present, expressive emoticons. Fotocredit: The Third Eye by Emerald Gemvisions Talismans and Symbols
Now, as always in tune with, or one step ahead of directional trends, Swarovski Gemstones presents the special Gem Visions book on Talismans and Symbols, an in-depth, entertaining and illuminating study of this fascinating subject, a review of varied interpretations of the theme from across the globe. Looking to the future, the Gem Visions team sets out a wealth of ideas, themes and inspirations for modern-day talismanic jewels. Most of all, the book highlights the current awakening of consciousness, and the escalating desire for luxury with “soul”. It explains our craving for small, precious objects to keep with us at all times, to reassure and protect, offering a sense of continuity and connection to a power beyond our world and ourselves. The repertoire of talismans, charms and magical symbols across the world is endlessly fascinating. We hope this guide will charm and inspire you, opening up new vistas of creative opportunities and stimulating ideas for modern-day talismans, taking tradition into the future.