According to Roman author and philosopher Pliny, an amulet is “an object that protects a person from trouble.” And such objects can come in any form, including jewellery, ornaments and even animals. In her book The Complete Book of Amulets & Talismans (1991), author Migene González-Wippler writes: “An amulet can be anything, a small seashell, a colored stone, a root, a diamond ring, or an old horseshoe. Its most important quality is its alleged power to safeguard its owner from harm and to bring him or her happiness and good luck. This “power” has been the subject of many theories and controversies among students of both the natural and supernatural phenomena. Some claim that amulets really have magic powers. Others insist that amulets are only psychological aids that help strengthen humanity’s courage and self-assurance. Maybe there is some truth in both statements.”
Thanks to their popularity and often striking aesthetic, amulets have been adopted by the contemporary fashion and jewelry industries to create spectacular-looking and fashionable jewellery reminiscent of traditional amulets, including gemstone bracelets and intricate metal necklaces and rings. Modern jewellery also often uses talismans and charms; you may think they’re all the same thing but, in fact, they’re very different. Typically, amulets are used for protection from danger while charms are worn to encourage good luck, and talismans used to attract personal benefit in the form of wealth or good health, for instance. Despite their differences, amulet jewellery groups the three together.
For thousands of years and even preceding the ancient Egyptians, amulets have been widely used and often incorporated into jewellery. The most common types of amulet include engraved gemstones, coins, pendants, and rings; however, larger objects such as statues, drawings, plants and even animals can also be amulets. Early on, the ancient Egyptians used amulets such as the frog to promote fertility; ankh as a symbol of life; and the eye or udjat for good health and protection against evil. Similarly, Hebrews wore crescent moons for protection against the evil eye, and the Assyrians and Babylonians wore metal cylinders with semi-precious and precious jewels inside – each stone had unique properties. For instance, throughout history, red carnelian or bloodstone has been thought to slow the loss of blood from wounds, which was particularly important for ancient warriors and healers.
While there is a piece of amulet jewellery for almost every amulet, talisman or charm, some are more popular and prominent than others due to their unique benefits. Below, we explore some of the most common types of amulet jewellery you can wear to help ward off evil and encourage good health.
Possibly one of the most widely known forms of amulet, evil eye jewellery is purposed to ward off the evil eye curse, which is believed to be cast by an evil glare and bring bad luck and health, including headaches and neck pain, fatigue, anxiety and bouts of stomach pain, dizziness and nausea. Today, the evil eye remains a huge part of Armenian, Turkish and Egyptian culture, and evil eye jewellery and, particularly, evil are bracelets are a popular choice of souvenir in Greece, Spain and Mexico. According to author Alan Dundes, as written in his book The Evil Eye: A Casebook (1981), “Amulets are frequency worn to attract the first glance of a person and thus avert the possibility of evil. Bright and shining amulets are considered most efficious,” which explains why evil eye jewellery is often finished with lacquered beads or encrusted with sparkling semi-precious stones for a truly eye-catching finish.
A famed piece of Egyptian iconography, the Eye of Horus is a stylised eye that is thought to not only protect against the evil eye curse but also to enhance wisdom, prosperity and aid protection. Today, the Eye of Horus often features as necklace pendants; worn to not only protect in the traditional sense, but also for emotional protection and strength. The amulet is also thought to keep negative energy away and encourage positivity and positive energy in your life which, in turn, will lead to prosperity.
The four-leaf clover or lucky clover is another popular amulet with numerous benefits. Traditionally, a four-leaf clover is believed to bring good luck; however, additionally and unknown to some, each leaf on the four-leaf clover represents something different, including faith, hope and love. Even though a found four-leaf clover is the most powerful, the symbol also features in various types of jewellery, as well as popular culture. For instance, in 2008, Los Angeles-based space exploration company SpaceX included an embroidered four-leaf clover on its mission patches – the Falcon 1 rocket launch was its first success, and a four-leaf clover has featured ever since to bring good luck to its various missions.
Particularly popular in the Middle East and North Africa, the Hamsa is a palm-shaped amulet that represents blessings, power, and strength. Most commonly in amulet jewellery, the Hamsa is formed from silver which, traditionally, represents purity. Often, to deflect the evil eye, the Hamsa features an eye in the centre of the palm – often, the eye is encrusted with gemstones. The hand can also be depicted with the fingers together or apart; if the fingers are together, the amulet brings good luck while if apart, the Hamsa wards off evil. For Hindus and Buddhists, the symbol has a unique meaning – the thumb and fingers represent the chakras, including the heart, solar plexus, throat, root and sacral chakra, as well as the five senses. Hamsa jewellery can, therefore, also help to restore balance.
As well ancient symbols, semi-precious and precious gemstones on their own can also be worn as amulets. For instance, amber is thought to protect against injury; garnet promotes sexual energy; lapis lazuli attracts love and friendships, and onyx dispels negative energy and helps you to avoid danger and misfortune. For the best of both worlds, wear gemstone jewellery featuring ancient symbols.