Why do we use symbolic jewellery and other symbolic things as gifts to wish someone good luck? What are common universal and ancient symbols and their meanings?
And what are the most common symbolic things, symbolic gifts and symbolic jewellery?
Did you know that amulets are supposed to protect you from bad luck, and talismans are meant to bring you good luck? For thousands of years, people have worn amulets because they thought that they would protect them against evil spirits. Both amulets and talismans are more commonly known as lucky charms these days (especially on jewellery), but they were very symbolic to the people that used them all those years ago – and to some extent they continue to be so nowadays. The society in which they lived BELIEVED in their potency and the symbolism of things in general.
See some symbolic jewellery pendants in our Good Luck Gift Shop store
But what does jewellery symbolise, and why is jewellery with meaning still important?
A symbol is something that represents an idea, a belief, an entity . . or a meaning. In symbolic jewellery, symbols take the form of shapes, figures, tokens, emblems and word charms. For example, a heart can symbolise love and compassion.
People of many cultures wear bracelets, necklaces and other symbolic jewellery featuring these symbols, for example to ward off evil and provide protection (eg: when travelling): This is especially relevant to people of religious faith. The Christian cross is just one example of this symbolism, as is the Hamsa, the Ankh, the Star of David, Guardian Angels, Saint Michael and the St Christopher.
Others wear symbolic jewellery for more secular reasons – for good luck, for example as is the case of the Indalo, the lucky Four Leaf Clover, or an Horseshoe. Some people prefer jewellery featuring wise Owls and other creatures from the animal world like Butterflies, Elephants, Eagles, Scarabs and so on. And some prefer celestial or astrological symbols and different types of gemstones often found in rings and bracelets. There is a Native American legend that says “If you have a secret wish, catch a butterfly and whisper it your wish. Since butterflies cannot speak, your secret is safe in their keeping. Release the butterfly, and it will carry your wish to the Great Spirit.”
The significance of jewellery in society
In ancient cultures, jewellery pieces (particularly necklaces and bracelets) were used to indicate the status of a person, often connected with royalty, authority or religion. And it wasn’t just a reflection of wealth: Some symbolic jewellery was thought to possess magical powers and was often connected to a deity or God. The jewellery itself was thought to pass on power to the person (think of the Ring in the Lord of the Rings). And, although to some people nowadays it sounds far-fetched, there are still millions and millions of people that believe this. And why not?
Even today, it is a brave person who openly tempts fate and brazenly dismisses the possibility that some thing, object or charm that is (or has been) symbolic of good luck will be helpful to them – or that something that is symbolic of bad luck will not be a problem. If you’re taking a flight on Friday 13th and you accidentally break a mirror in the airport, you understandably going to feel a bit nervous. Why is this? What is the basis for this superstition? Is it that subconsciously we believe that we actually can make our fears (or our hopes) come true?
Of course, the simple wedding ring is a piece of symbolic jewellery. And the Heart is perhaps the love symbol most commonly found in the world. They are usually given as gifts. In Hindu belief, gold and silver are considered sacred metals. Gold is symbolic of the warm sun, while silver suggests a cool, but motherly, moon.
Symbolic jewellery has a personal meaning connected to the individual – or the person gifting it. As with many tattoos, there are some symbols (like the anchor, for example) that are just appreciated for their association with a particular lifestyle.
But why is symbolism in jewellery important?
Symbols and meanings and symbolic things, although rooted in history, are alive and well in modern society . . even in our modern Western culture which is more likely to spurn such things as whimsical or faddy. We may laugh at the fact that people in the past used garlic to ward off vampires, or that they threw salt over their left shoulder where the Devil was lurking. But just as we do these days, they avoided walking under ladders, said “Bless You” after someone sneezed, and crossed their fingers to encourage a good outcome. Indeed, would you willingly sit in seat No.13 on a plane? Well, don’t worry, you probably won’t have to because more often than not, it doesn’t exist! That is to say, on many flights, seat numbers skip from 12 to 14. Why? Because we as people really ARE superstitious . . we don’t want to tempt bad luck, and the airlines know this.
So even nowadays, lots of people use the notion of symbolic things in their daily lives to hopefully persuade “the Gods” to be a little bit in their favour. They will, for example, wear jewellery that is symbolic of something lucky – or a religious or spiritual symbol possibly.
So overall, the question boils down to: What do people actually WANT from their jewellery?
In reality, lots of people are looking for jewellery with meaning. So what exactly is this so-called Jewellery with Meaning? And how does it relate to life? From our point of view, Jewellery with Meaning is jewellery that has REAL significance: That is, it has some true and actual symbolic meaning that is relevant to the person who owns it or who is wearing it or carrying it: More often than not, it contains a symbol of something that the person not only wants, but may also need.
It is easy to find some of the most popular symbols in jewellery if you look for:
– Jewellery that passes on a “message”
– Jewellery that promises some sort of wellbeing (or even, good health) – as is often seen in gemstones, or the protective properties of an ancient talisman (a Guardian Angel symbol, for example)
– Jewellery that offers friendship or love
– Jewellery that supports a faith or belief (especially for people who turn to their faith or belief as a source of solace and protection in times of trouble)
Pendant symbols and meanings, and what are the most popular symbols in jewelry?
The Christian cross (like the Latin cross, or the cross of St. James or of Caravaca), is just one example of this symbolism in jewellery with meaning, as is the Hamsa Hand of Fatima, a St Christopher pendant, a Guardian Angel charm, and so on. They are all symbols with meanings found in jewellery.
For jewellery that promises well-being and possible lifestyle benefits, we have the Yin Yang symbol of ancient China meaning ‘shadow and light’, which is used to describe how opposites or seemingly contrary forces are inter-connected and inter-dependent . . representing the concept of harmony and friendship. Or, we could look at Shamballa – a symbol of ancient Buddhism which, for lots of people, has strong spiritual meaning, and it is thought to impart a special feeling of peace, happiness and calm. In Europe, we have the symbol of the Indalo found particularly in southern Spain which offers good luck, prosperity and protection. And also in this region of the world, we see the Scallop Concha shell of the Camino de Santiago – the Way of St James, a famous pilgrimage route through southern France and across northern Spain walked by many to find inspiration – and thought to improve a person’s outlook on life, bringing them closer to nature and expanding their horizons.
Some people wear symbolic jewellery featuring four-leafed Clovers or lucky Horseshoes to hopefully bring them good luck. The little lucky Turtle, or Gecko or Ladybird are other example of this. People also wear jewellery featuring Owls, Scarabs, Butterflies, Elephants, etc. And it’s not just to do with luck: Things can be symbolic of good health, of safety (like an Anchor), of love (a Heart), of harmony and friendship (like a Yin Yang symbol), or a Zodiac “star” sign or Birthstone . . or even just ostentatiously symbolic of wealth (a diamond-studded tiara, will do!) Colours and flowers can be symbolic things too.
What is the symbol for love?
For jewellery that promises friendship (or even love), the Heart is definitely king and it can be an extremely powerful symbol of love when coupled with other symbols (or inscriptions, such as word charms, saying such things as “Thinking of you”). The Butterfly can also be associated with love when it comes to relationships and its symbolism with change: We are all on a long journey where we encounter endless turns, shifts, and events that affect our emotions. A Butterfly charm necklace can therefore make the perfect gift for a friend’s new start in a new romantic relationship . . their new beginning, and a time of excitement and hope.
Almost every day, we wish a friend or loved-one “Good Luck” for a particular event in their life, and sometimes we give them a lucky symbolic gift such as a piece of symbolic jewellery. Myth, legend, folklore, religion, etc, all add to people’s beliefs as to what makes something “lucky”. (See our article about Symbols of Good Luck for more information on this.)
Some people possess a piece of jewellery that has a special meaning for them alone – possibly something sentimental or a love symbol, or a gift. Others like to wear jewellery such as necklaces and bracelets for a specific occasion or event that passes on a message or has a special significance such as a symbol of good luck. And some people like to wear a piece of jewellery like a ring, for example which is symbolic of what they believe or hope or want; something spiritual or religious perhaps, like a Saint Michael dogtag common among the armed forces and the Police, with the inscription: “St Michael Protect Us”. It is all symbolic jewellery with symbolic meaning / symbolism and it appeals to men and women, boys and girls – whether that person is simply a good friend or your mother or father, brother or sister, son or daughter, girlfriend or boyfriend, fiancé / husband / wife, or a work mate. Objects and living things like flowers can also be symbolic.
Yes, there are many symbols and symbolic things in the world. Even nowadays, we use many of them and rely on them to tell our subconscious that things are going to be OK. Perhaps it’s all about positiveness. As Henry Ford said: “If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t . . you’re right!”
So please visit our Good Luck Gift Shop to see Symbolic Jewellery, Symbolic Gifts and Symbolic things in general. We stock a large range of such meaningful gifts and jewellery charms on unique pieces of jewellery with meaning – including such diverse pieces as the Saint James Cross of Santiago, Spain, from El Camino, Faith jewellery, Travel amulets, Wise Owl pendants, Carpe Diem talismans, Thinking of You tokens, Thank You blessing rings, Horseshoes, Crosses of Grace, St. Christopher dog tags, Lucky four-leafed Clovers, Hamsa Hand of Fatima bracelets, Charmstones and Birthstones, the Spanish Indalo of Almería, Ladybird earrings, Yin-Yang necklaces, the so-called “Real Cross” of Caravaca in Murcia, Heart and Key lockets, Concha Scallop shell jewelry of La Vieira, Butterfly necklaces, Tau Crosses, Precious and Semi-Precious Gemstones, Silver jewellery and, of course, Gold.
Gifts and jewellery with meaning . . that’ll be us!
Almost every day, we wish a friend or loved-one good luck for some event or other. So why not give them a lucky symbolic gift sometime, like a piece of symbolic jewellery to say “Good Luck”