There is a long-standing tradition of wearing pieces of jewelry that are symbolic in nature. Historically, jewelry was worn as a protective amulet or as an expression of faith, in addition to being a status symbol. Today, symbolism in jewelry has become popular and main-streamed, and many no longer understand the deeper meaning of the symbols that they wear. Have you ever wondered what a Chai means or perhaps the popular evil-eye symbol?
As we approach a season of important faith-based holidays, we wanted to better understand the symbols worn by those who identify with a particular faith. The rich history and cultural associations of each symbol have captivated us, endowing each of these sparkling designs with a greater depth and meaning. The Star of David has been associated with the Jewish people for many centuries. Called Magen David in Hebrew, the literal translation is “Shield of David”. This six-sided figure symbolizes that God rules over the universe and protects us from six directions: North, South, East, West, Up and Down. The middle of the hexagram symbolizes the spiritual dimension.
The Chai is a Jewish symbol as well, but this symbol represents physical life. The Chai is meant to remind those who gaze upon it to appreciate the life we have been given and to make the most of it. It is made up of two Hebrew letters, chet and yud, whose numerical significance are chet=8 and yud=10. Combined, they total to 18, which is a number representing good luck and fortune.The cross is a symbol that is central to Christianity. Wearing a cross is believed to protect the wearer from misfortune, which makes it both a symbol of faith and a protective amulet. There are other meanings associated with the cross that are found especially in Western culture. It is believed that all four physical elements make up the cross: fire, water, earth, air. It also symbolizes the directions of the North, East, South and West.
There are many types of crosses that are associated with different forms of Christianity. The simplest and most common Christian cross is the Latin cross, which most of these pendants are. The most ancient cross symbol is the Greek cross, which has arms of equal length. The budded cross, which as rounded elements on the end (second from the right), is a common form, with its trefoils representing the Trinity. The Evil Eye symbol is one of the strongest symbolic images in the world. Dating back to 3,000 years ago, the Evil Eye finds its origins in ancient Greece and Rome. It is symbolic in almost every country in the world and in every religion, including Judaism, Islam, Hindu, Buddhism and Christianity. In all of these cases, the Evil Eye is a protective amulet against evil forces.
The Hamsa is a Middle Eastern amulet, symbolizing the Hand of God. It too is a protective amulet, and is believed to bring the owner luck, health and good fortune. There are two main styles of the Hamsa, a regular hand and one with two symmetrical thumbs, with the latter being the more popular design. The word Hamsa is derived from the idea of five fingers on a hand. In Hebrew, the number five is “hamesh”, which is very similar to the Arabic pronunciation of “khamesh”. In Sunni culture, the Hamsa is associated with the five pillars of Islam. For Shi’ites, it symbolizes the Five People of the Cloak.
Often, the simplest symbols are the ones with the richest meanings. The infinity sign, the figure of eight, and the mathematical lemniscate all refer to the same shape that contains a wealth of complex meaning within its fluid lines. As a mathematical device, the infinity sign was discovered in 1655, but its signficance as a religious symbol dates back much farther. The symbol has its origins in the Arabic numerals whose design actually originated in India. The continuous fluid loops represent the balance of opposites: male and female, day and night, dark and light. The sign implies equality between these opposing forces, with the connecting point in the center representing a convergence and unity of the two. The symbol appears in Arabic calligraphic renderings of the Name of God and also as a representation of the idea of eternity.
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