Scoff at the evil eye? Belief in this ancient curse is still widely held. While we can’t support the idea scientifically, we do love the gems and jewelry thought to offer protection against the malevolent look believed to cause sickness, poverty and even death.
Fear of the evil eye appeared in many classical Greco-Roman texts. In ancient Egypt, the Eye of Osiris amulet was worn for protection. In early Middle Eastern cultures, depictions of the open right hand, or hamsa, were used. Later, Jews embraced it as the Hand of Miriam, Christians wore it as the Hand of Mary (or Virgin Mary’s Hand) and Muslims named it the Hand of Fatima. These are not just relics of the past – today, variations of these and other talismans against the evil eye can be found around the world.
Belief in the evil eye is still widespread. You’ll find protective charms hanging in taxicabs in Istanbul, as symbols painted on buildings in the Mediterranean and Middle East, as cornicellos (“little horns”) in Italy and as couture jewelry flashing on celebrities like Madonna, Mick Jagger, Rhianna, Brad Pitt, Kim Kardashian and many others. Two iconic examples of the evil eye haunting pop culture are the “eye of Sauron” from The Lord of the Rings and the Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland where the god Mara tells visitors: “You have looked into my eyes. Your path now leads to the Gates of Doom!”
Symbols in Evil Eye Jewelry: The Hamsa Hand
The hamsa is perhaps one of the most identifiable symbols of evil eye jewelry. It represents the power to defeat the evil eye, and gives strength and blessings. Derived from the Arabic word khamsah (“five,” or “the five fingers of the hand”), the hamsa also symbolizes protection.
Symbols in Evil Eye Jewelry: The Eye
A benevolent eye defeats an evil eye – or so goes the belief. A benevolent eye is also thought to bring the protection of a guardian spirit. The symbol regularly appears in evil eye jewelry.
Symbols in Evil Eye Jewelry: A Blue Background
Blue was thought to symbolize heaven, so the color was often incorporated into evil eye jewelry for its protective power. It’s an association that can still be found in evil eye jewelry today.
Symbols in Evil Eye Jewelry: Modern Interpretations
Symbols and their meanings change over time, and such is the case with evil eye jewelry: For some, it became a melting pot of images. One evil eye amulet created in the 5th century CE had a lion, stag, scorpion, dog, thunderbolt, snake and owl. Each animal was thought to offer additional protection. Jewelry designers now freely play with these symbols to reinterpret the ancient motif.
Gems that Ward off the Evil Eye
Gems have long been thought to offer protection against various maladies. Emeralds, for example, were believed to be antidotes to poison. So it’s not surprising that some gems were believed to have the power to ward off the evil eye.
Diamond aficionados have long appreciated the gem’s toughness and durability. Perhaps these qualities inspired an anonymous second-century BCE poet to write:
The evil eye shall have no power to harm
Him that shall wear the diamond as a charm.
You don’t need to believe in the protective powers of evil eye jewelry or gemstones to be captivated by their stories. Consider them as beautiful and fascinating additions to your gem and jewelry collection –and feel a little more magical just by wearing them.
What’s the opposite of the evil eye? The Lover’s Eye. We share how royalty exchanged secret signs of affection.