Amulets, Part One: Symbol and style

Part One of a two-part post.

An amulet or charm nudges an
accessory into talisman territory. Worn for protection or luck, to honour a memory or remind yourself of a quality you revere, amulets invite magic.

They exist outside fashion, unique, antique or found objects. One of my friends wears three gold wedding bands on a chain around her neck, two once worn by her parents and one found.

An amulet may be your your grandmother's sapphire brooch, a tiny pebble from that beach walk with your true love, drilled and worn on a silk cord. Invested with deep meaning, the amulet is a possession that breaks your heart if lost.
(Shown, sapphire and diamond clover brooch, Firestone and Parson.)

But life offers new amulets if
you stay open. Walk by an artisan's stall in India and choose a silver elephant bracelet, or pick up an enameled fleur de lis pin, already distressed, at a jumble sale. Amulets do not have to be in perfect shape!

(Shown, traditional Indian elephant bracelet from eBay seller rajathstanjewellery.

Take the tiny leaf you found on your holiday and have it cast in gold, with a pearl on the bale.

You may have a number of talismanic pieces, and you will know which they are. Wearing them feels significant; they're for days when you want an infusion of strength and support.

When I chose pieces for this post, I realized that each is directly connected to my family, but yours need not be.

A friend, single after years in a painful marriage, bought herself a charm in the shape of a Nautilus shell, symbolic of her emergence. Hers is gold; shown, diamond and gold Nautilus pendant by Van Cleef & Arpels, $3,850 from Beladora.

Here are some of mine:

1. My father's class ring, De Paul Academy, Chicago, 1922.

2. Hammered
gold bangle inscribed inside, "Je t'aime, je t'aime, je t'aime", given by Le Duc.

3. Art deco
pate de verre, onyx, marcasite and silver lavaliere, ca. 1924; the first piece of jewelry my father gave my mother. She was fifteen, he was twenty.

What are your amulets, and what do they mean to you?

Tomorrow: Amulets, Part Two: Some choices


Rubiatonta said…
I've got a Mexican "orthoceras" (or "cucaracha de mar") pendant that always makes me feel special. It's a talisman for sure. (And there's also the Kokopeli pendant, which tends to get me into mischief.)

But my favorite talismanic jewelry are my charm bracelets -- two of them -- which are loaded down with charms from my travels and childhood. Since I'm not the subtle type, when I wear one, I wear both, one on top of the other (same wrist). Jingle, jingle...
mette said…
I only have one, the riding boot, which has been shown already. I had a golden one earlier, but I gave it as a gift to a now young woman, who had taken care of our horse, Golden, for a year, before we could take her home, as we were rebuilding our stable. I thought she deserved it. I guess I´d always choose an equestrian amulet, as horses have been a part of our family for so long. I do like the gold bracelet you are wearing. It is well in proportion with you, as you are tall. And I like your cat, so big! This is the first time i got to see her/him.
~Tessa~Scoffs said…
I wear a silver Monet bangle that was a birthday gift from a favorite aunt 30 years ago. I only ever take it off for airport security.
I have an actual amulet, a Zuni fetish of a "mountain lion" (cougar, puma) in jet, with silver hammered into it for the eyes and mouth. I don't know how to mount it on a necklace - I don't want to have a hole drilled into it.

In response to this posting, I've just opened up the little authentification card accompanying the fetish, with the artist's name, and several of Renzo's long white whiskers fell out. (Renzo is almost all black, so the whiskers are striking). I must have inserted them in the card when Renzo went missing the autumn before last, so I guess all of us have our superstitions. He did return, after 5 weeks away. The fetish lives in the drawer of my office desk.

I hadn't noticed your cat - I couldn't see that pic very well but clicked on it to enlarge it. He is a beautiful cat, but looks as big as a lynx, knowing that you are 5'10"! He's twice Renzo's size.
LPC said…
Very, very touching. I have a necklace that I wear almost all the time. The rare times I go without, I find myself reaching for it.
Duchesse said…
Rubiatonta: Two charm bracelets! Would love to see; I enjoy the jingles, you do too, while other women don't wear them for that reason.

metscan: What a lovely gesture of gratitude. He is a very shy, elderly cat.

Tessa: A tender memory, and wearing it for thirty years, the bracelet becomes part of you. (And a testimony to how well made it was.)

lagatta: I remember when Renzo went missing and his remarkable return! Your fetish may not be suitable for mounting- like you, I don't like to alter them. Some people carry them in their pockets but I like fetishes displayed on a small stand or bookshelf.

Our cat is a big boy, very lynx like.
Rubiatonta said…
Duchesse, I'll send you some pix when I get back from Madrid. (I cleverly managed not to pack them, though the cucaracha made the cut!)
Glennis said…
It's funny, but for some reason I don't wear pendants, it just doesn't occur to me.

I do wear bracelets and especially like a lot of different earrings.

Your pendants look gorgeous.
Anonymous said…
My amulet is the most cherished posession of my late Aunt - an Early Victorian Men's Tie NEcklace of Silver, Gold , Onyx and Opal. Hard to describe - an ornate medaillon slider on a heavy silver chain, like a bolo tie perhaps. She loved it so much - and wearing it I feel intesely connected to her through time and space.
Belle de Ville said…
I'm sorry to be late in thanking you for posting this VCA piece. So, thank you. I'm just now catching up on all the blogs that I follow.
Jewelry for most people has meaning, and the idea of wearing an amulet, trandscends the intrinsic value of the any piece. I absolutely adore the idea of a piece given in love and worn with appreciation like your Je t'aime bracelet.

The posts with the most