The Tales of Talisman: Stories of luck and protection
We all need good juju as much as the next person –and many of us have turned to our jewels to bring us good luck, romance and protect us against danger. This is why amulets and talisman (both thought to have magical powers since early civilization) have never gone out of style. They may have changed from naive designs to more elaborate crafted tokens and totems –but the symbolism, spirituality and significance remain the same. We want to be safe, secure, loved, guided and enjoy a life of good fortune. And while some women put more faith in their talisman than others- we all have some jewel that offers us one or more of these qualities.
Personally, I cover all of the bases and have created charm necklaces that have very specific roles. I can only hope I have selected wisely, choosing those that look stylish AND have the ability to exceed at their jobs.
My travel charms land planes, my love tokens help me meet new men, I am guided by my stars and always find direction while wearing a compass. I could go on, but the next time you see me my secret superstitions will be revealed if you look at my fingers, neck or wrist…
So on to the designers, jewelry store owners, antique dealers, jewelry historians and collectors of modern vintage, period and ancient jewelry to let us in on their favorite protective, sentimental tokens and good luck charms- those that they have made for themselves, received as gifts or show in their collections:
Kara Ross, Kara Ross/ Diamonds Unleashed
“It’s ironic at this moment in my life to talk about wearing a good luck or protective talisman as I just designed a four-leaf clover. Due to my Irish heritage this symbol has always held significance for me but was never a motif I incorporated into my personal jewelry wardrobe or professional designs until our latest Diamonds Unleashed collection for HSN.
According to Irish legend each of the leaves are deeply symbolic and represent hope, faith, love and luck–but on our charm, that fourth leaf stands for empowering brilliance because I believe that luck is working hard for what you want- and if you do then good fortune finds you. And now I wear my bracelet everyday with the clover charm.”
Metier SF’s co-owners, Sheri Evans and Trina Papini’s Sentimental Charm Necklaces
“Everyday we wear our treasured charm necklaces for protection and luck. They tell our stories of growing up, soul searching, careers, marriage, and children – each pendant marking a major moment in our lives. The charms were bought for ourselves or were gifted to us from friends, lovers, husbands, or passed down through family. There are antique pieces and modern designs, lockets, medallions and heavy gold talisman. Every piece is equally cherished. They protect us because we feel naked and vulnerable when we aren’t wearing these beloved tokens.”
PENNY PREVILLE, Penny Preville
“From the spiritual to the symbolic—I have always worn jewelry with meaning. For all the years I have been designing, I start with the question, ‘what would I want to wear—what would make feel good, comfortable and confident?’ And I think about various significance in different motifs. Throughout my career as a designer– and also in my personal life–I am most drawn to pieces that represent balance, serenity and peace. For a long time, I wore an OM and crescent moon (for female strength) and incorporated these charms into my collection as well. These days I am mad about moonstones—they are truly magical and bring good fortune and love and protect travelers. Since I travel a lot the moonstone is always with me. For other aspects of my life, I wear my star to follow my dreams and the feather to help me know I always have freedom in my choices and to take flight and bring me to the next level my life and help me to soar.”
HANNAH PETERS, Hannah Peters Jewellery
“There are pieces in my collection which have extremely special meanings to me. One that I wear most often is an 18K gold medal by Louis Rault. It’s of the goddess Ceres, which I found at Ishy Antiques and converted from a brooch into a pendant. I purchased this not long after my husband and I bought our first house deep in rural Weardale, UK. The field across from our front door is kept as a hay meadow and is rich with tall waving grasses and wild flowers. To me, this piece symbolizes prosperity and happiness after famine, and the feeling of being ‘home at last’. I wear it often, but especially if I’m going away, even just for a day or two, so that I feel I carry some of the safety of home with me.”
ELIZABETH KRANZ –THE MOONSTONED
“It’s hard to ignore that jewelry has certain “powers”- an essence, a magnetic soul.I remember the first time I really felt like I needed to own a particular ring. I was going through some of my great grandmother’s possessions with my mother after she had passed away. Little bits of odds and ends from her life: embroidered kerchiefs, a passport with an old photo of her and my great grandfather with whom she shared a true love story. After he passed away (still young), she never loved another man. I came across a charm bracelet in this box with talisman from their travels together. I was drawn to a particular charm, which ended up being her first wedding ring from him. A thin simple platinum band inscribed with the faded initials “W.N. to E.K.”(E.K. also happens to be my initials!). I freed it from the charm bracelet and slipped it on my right hand ring finger. It hasn’t left my hand since that moment and I feel this indescribable sense of lightness and love when I look at it. It was given to her with such promise, such absolute adoration and excitement- and I feel that by wearing it I have absorbed some of that beautiful energy and bring it into my own relationship.
I was also raised with Native American influences and a respect for the animals, elements and the connection to us as humans. I create a pouch with crystals and healing herbs and write an intention on a tiny piece of paper and wear it against my skin to attract whatever it is that I’m needing to be open to at that time. These pouches have as much power in them as you feel like you have in you. And I suppose that’s what is what jewelry is for me — it holds protection, love, purpose and magic because we hold all of that in ourselves.”
Joanne Teichman, Ylang 23
“I’m not a superstitious person, but I do believe in lucky charms and they are part of my uniform. They make me feel good and they make me think about my favorite designers who are now friends that I’ve known for years. I have collected so many different pendants and charms and love mixing them up that now most live on a long 32″ chain- with the exception of my favorite Jennifer Meyer Good Luck pendant which includes 7 good luck symbols: elephant (trunk up!) 4 leaf clover, horseshoe, eye, heart, om, the number 13, and heart. My charms on the long chain include two Irene Neuwirth pieces, a Ten Thousand Things charm of my dog Eddie, a ceramic eye from Ileana Makri, and five Cathy Waterman charms including a former leftover diamond daisy I once kidnapped from Cathy’s work desk and asked her to make charms of. It’s now called Joanne’s Flower.
My mother had a charm bracelet when she was a girl in Germany, and it had a number 13 and other lucky symbols, and as a child I collected for my own charm bracelet, so I guess it was just in my genes to be drawn to jewelry of this type. I am the luckiest girl in the world and whether or not my jewelry has anything to do with it is anyone’s guess!”
Katey Brunini, K. Brunini
“The pieces of jewelry which resonate the most with me have a timeless quality about them. They never go in and out of style, they exist simply and harmoniously forever, regardless of trend. I have selected my treasure necklace to feature because each charm represents an era of my life, my history. There is the stone gifted to me by my first love at a disco on the island of Sardinia. (imagine a gorgeous Italian hunk walking up to you and giving you the necklace he is wearing, few words exchanged, only the look in his eyes which forever burned my soul, as powerful today as it was 22 years ago). The necklace also holds a piece of coral from the Spiagga Rosa traded with a fisherman for an orange. There is a Balinesian orb carved of wood with a mermaid—a symbol I treasure, another gift and a crystal with a crystalline growth inside of it, a memory captured in stone. I have added simple and small charms from each of the collections I have designed to remind me of the progress of my creative evolution. There is a carved leaf from the private collection of Dr. Gubelin, grandfather of gemology, a Turkish saber, crescent moon, and evil eye. These are the treasures I most value, experiences I have shared with those I have loved. It protects me with the power of eternity, much like the amulets of a shaman. I feel strong and untouchable wearing my necklace with feeling of timelessness and undertanding that charms and my experiences will continue to go on…”
KAREN KARCH, KAREN KARCH
“It’s funny to say it now because it seems so long ago but I was originally inspired by the popularity of the horseshoe pendant the Carrie worn on the HBO series, Sex & The City. I wanted to create an alternative symbol for good luck and fortune- this was the spark for the idea. I remembered that I had a cool horn that I wore during the 80s, before I designed jewelry, which I’d bought at a flea market. It always made me feel cool & fierce. I started designing versions of the Lucky Horn around 2004, a few years before the New York Times included mine in a trend story in which I was quoted, ”Shapes with meaning are popular in jewelry right now. The horn symbolizes strength, bravery and good luck.” My personal Lucky Horn amulet in yellow gold studded all the way around with colorless diamonds has been my go to piece for luck and protection. For many years I have been wearing mine on a platinum chain with a diamond that belonged to my grandmother. I wear it almost every day and I love to pile it on with various other clusters of amulets. I am constantly updating all my amulets it for the collection.”
ROBIN RENZI/ ME&RO
“I have quite a number of pieces that I feel bring me luck and protection. Moons for sure! The moon in this picture I created when I was 18, it was my first piece of gold jewelry- I only worked in silver before. These stones: the ivory, turquoise, coral and uncut or unusual diamonds are my favorite stones, along with lapis. My love affair with diamonds started when I was an infant and would play with my mother’s diamond rings on her hand. Turquoise and coral I fell in love with in high school when I started making jewelry and lapis, probably a bit later. The red coral flower I found in a vintage shop in Hawaii on the Big Island and the turquoise is Sleeping Beauty, which is the most beautiful blue! These are the talisman I wear myself, along with others I create for the collection. I have cut and carved ivory, ebony, lapis and turquoise into amulets such as hands, hearts, crosses, horns, elephants and, of course, moons. I believe that these amulets bring us what we believe they will, and that we infuse our own meaning, desires and faith into them.”
JULIE HORWITZ—VIRTU CHICAGO
“My daily rotation of jewelry has a strong meaning attached for me. My right hand stack involves my grandmother’s wedding ring, another band sprinkled with ten diamonds to celebrate my (then) tenth year in business, an Anne Sportun aquamarine for my ninth anniversary. The stack is topped by a trio of bezel set diamonds to represent the three of us-husband, son and me. The top of my right forefinger is graced by an Insight eye ring from Carla Caruso. While I feel naked without each of these pieces, none is more important to me than a Jamie Joseph ring that I wear on my left forefinger atop the vein that runs straight up my arm to my heart (in latin veinus amoris). The ring features a pair of Indian ruby teardrops. Ruby means passion and is July’s birthstone. Both my husband and son were born in July and the ring represents the two of them—the great loves of my life. Wearing the ring I feel them close at hand, even when I’m traveling on business. While I am running the store, I feel as long as they are with me in this way, I can do just about anything.”
LUCY VERITY-ANTIQUE DEALER/LONDON
“My mother had an antique jewelry shop for almost 30 years . I joined her when I was 16 years old- I like to think she needed my company in the shop. I spent 11 years working with her. We laughed and cried and had the most wonderful mother daughter relationship. All of a sudden a husband turned up—or so it seemed that simple at the time. After we were married, I moved to Cardiff, Wales, an hour away from the shop. But on days when I could travel back to London I would hang around the shop as if I still worked there. One day I went to a local auction and decided to buy stock for her. I’m not sure she was pleased with this but she didn’t leave the shop much and I felt that she needed some new antique pieces to fill in gaps. Amongst many lots, I bought a Deco emerald and diamond ring. I accidentally– well ok, yes, on purpose–wore the ring home. Two days later a card arrived. ‘Have a lovely birthday darling daughter and by the way you are wearing your birthday present.’ Twenty-six years later, I still wear the ring and hear her laughing at my cheekiness in how the ring came home with me. Interestingly, her name was Beryl (the family of stones of which the emerald is part) and her favorite gem was emerald. I still feel her presence around me every time I feel the ring on my finger.”
LESLIE KERR- AKA @travelsandtreasures
“All of my talisman jewelry has a common link–whether lockets, charms or rings–they all represent fierceness and strength. This is what I tend to gravitate towards. My protective charms are from different time periods–some are mythological while others represent true historical tales–they all allow me to feel powerful. I love a growly lion or a fire-breathing dragon around my neck. But my favorite symbol of fierceness is Joan of Arc. She represents a unwavering belief in oneself and one’s mission in the face of adversity and a willingness to sacrifice for what you believe. I can’t think of a better symbol of female strength, protection or guidance.”
WENDY SMITH- JEWELRY HISTORIAN
For a while I had been feeling the need for a talisman or charm to remind me of my own strength, but also to feel protected when wearing it. I couldn’t quite figure out what that talisman might be until I had a vivid dream one night about two male lions that walked regally into the room I was in (I had just escaped from someone trying to rob me – remember, this was a dream!) and sat down in front of me, facing forward like sentinels. I felt an immediate sense of peace and knew they were there to protect me. That was it – my talisman was a lion! I recalled being particularly drawn to the Lion of St Mark, the symbol of the city of Venice, when I was there a few years earlier and went in search of a pendant or charm depicting that particular lion. Eventually I found the most beautiful antique silver medal of that winged lion; a medal that was given to resting or wounded soldiers at a facility in Venice called the “Casa Del Soldato” during World War I. Not only is the medal striking and like a work of art, it has this lovely history to it as well. I wear my lion talisman with an antique niello chain that beautifully mimics the medals border – and indeed, I feel brave and protected when I wear it. It also reminds me that I have wings to fly in the direction that was meant for me.”
ROBIN KATZ, ROBIN KATZ
“I have been collecting the zodiac pendants on this necklace for many years. Together they represent the astrological signs of each of my three children and myself. They were made by Van Cleef & Arpels in the 1960s and 1970s in the French workshop of master jeweler Georges Lenfant. I wear them frequently and with each jingle am reminded of the love between my children and me. My steadfast wish for their wellbeing guides my choices and lights my path. It’s really a symbol of devotion rather than a talisman of luck or protection although maybe the presence of this piece does bring me luck and protection…even though that’s not my intention in wearing it. Perhaps the positive thoughts of love and adoration chase away negativity or fear. What I am certain of is that it makes me happy to wear it and happiness is both lucky and protective.“