Strega Jewellry's Blog

jewelry, beads, stone lore, music, kids and nature

Amulets, Talismans and Symbols

Throughout history man has worn amulets and talismans for many and varied reasons.   Just what is the difference between the two?

An amulet is an object that is either natural or man made in which the owner believes to have power to protect by magical means.   An amulet can be a natural stone you carry in your pocket or it can be an object  made with a special pictograph or word of power

Jade has been used for centuries as a bringer of health and wealth in oriental cultures.  People all over the world now acknowledge jade as having these attributes.

Jade bracelet

This bracelet from Pink Rododenron Studio on Artfire  would be perfect for someone in need of be better health or luck.

Hearts are another universally recognized symbol, often presented in a piece of jewelry to illustrate love, the piece may become an amulet of sorts which causes the person wearing it to feel loved.   A heart may be worn to bring a memory of love in a special time or place to the person wearing it.

These earrings from Blue Tina’s Studio are a perfect example of romantic style jewelry presented to symbolize love.

romantic earrings

This steampunk heart necklace has a different style, evoking a more ribald Victorian style love.

Steampunk heart necklace


A talisman is a “magical” object that must be “charged”.   There is a special thing a person must do for it to be effective.   Probably the most common talisman that everyone can claim is an article of clothing.   I fisherman may have his “lucky” hat that he has to wear or the fish won’t bite.   It can’t be washed or clean and has to hang in a special spot to “charge” it.   A baseball player might have his “lucky” number on his shirt or his “lucky” socks.   Almost everyone you know has some kind of talisman they wear or carry for luck.   I know a lady who loves to scratch lottery tickets.  She has to use her “lucky” pencil and has to tap it three times on the counter or she won’t win.

Some items can become amulets or talismans because they hold  memories of good or comforting times or persons we knew.   They are symbols of persons, places or events in our lives that have special meaning because of memories or something good that happened when we found that object or wore it.    Because they have special meaning for us, we can incorporate them into an object that we make.  By doing this, we invest our belief into the idea that the object has the means  to intervene in our lives by interacting with a Power that is greater than ours.

Here is a common example:   a person will keep an old ring that a grandparent or parent wore and have the stone reset into a new piece of jewelry, a reminder of that person or good times spent with them. It seems as though though that person were still close when the jewelry is worn.

Most amulets and talismans that are worn as jewelry incorporate symbols used by cultures or religions to represent certain attributes.

One example of a symbol of religious origin is the Christian cross.  It’s probably the most well known and commonly recognized symbol.  Yet it can be used in a variety of uncommon ways.  It  represents sacrifice for the good of all by commemorating Christ’s death on the cross at Calvary.   Also a symbol of the Christian religion itself

Ginger, has a beautiful cross necklace for sale in her shop Personal Oasis.

Here is a more modern adaptation of the cross symbol from 4 Essentials Designs.

The Celtic cross is a blend of the Eurochristian cross and the circles and knots of an older faith.   From MZ Tracy’s Studio.

Celtic cross

Here is an example of use of religious symbols that are not common at all.  The voodoo veves were drawn on the ground with cornmeal to represent sybolically the attributes of a loa (spirit, god,goddess).   These intricate designs have been incorporated into articles of clothing and jewelry.

Orignal veves were meant to be a temporary thing, for ceremony only, to encourage the loa to appear.   Their use became more common with technological advances that made the images readily available to everyone.  You may see them in designs and have no idea of their significance.  These earrings, from my own shop remind me of veve drawings.

Veve earrings

Epicetera has two powerful symbols in this piece:   the circle and the butterfly.   The simple circle is a symbol of unity, wholeness, infinity.  In the pagan religions it’s also a goddess symbol of feminine power.  The butterfly stands for transformation and regeneration.   It’s also a Christian symbol of being “born again”.   The butterfly always reminds me of an old native American proverb:  “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Creator calls a butterfly.”  Many cultures use he butterfly symbol.

Another artist who uses a simple circle in a piece is Ocean Charms studio.  The circle cradles sea glass treasures from the soothing ocean.  This piece is a potent symbol of feminine power enfolding and protecting precious things.

The spiral is one of the  most often used symbol in our jewelry makers guild.   It is an ancient goddess symbol representing the womb, fertility, continual change and the evolution of the Universe.  To see a more in depth exploration of the meanings of spirals, check out The Spiral Dance.  

Crystal Bazaar has these ceramic components in her studio.


Almost every JCUIN artist uses spirals in one manner or another.  Check out this collection to see the great variety of ways that spirals appear in our studios.    Spiral Dance.

Handmade Gifts
Next week, we are going to explore some of the lesser used symbols from other cultures and how they have become integrated into universal symbols.

December 2, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Very nice post, Lee! I have a lot of my grandmother’s jewelry and always do feel close to her when wearing it. And some of my great-grandmother’s as well. Thanks for including the spiral collection, too!


    Comment by Renee Sumner | December 3, 2011 | Reply

  2. I know what you mean about that Renee. I wore my “hand me down” ring so much I had to have the shank repaired 3 times. I finally made it into a pendant.


    Comment by stregajewellry | December 3, 2011 | Reply

  3. Great post, Lee! I love the perspective you bring in your posts. It educates me each time I read. Thanks so much for taking the time.


    Comment by personaloasis (Ginger) | December 4, 2011 | Reply

  4. Ginger, thank you so much! That makes my effort worthwhile.


    Comment by stregajewellry | December 4, 2011 | Reply

  5. Everything is very open with a precise clarification of the challenges.
    It was truly informative. Your site is useful. Thank you for sharing!


    Comment by how to make friendship bracelets instructions | November 3, 2012 | Reply

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