16 Jan 2012

Learn with Lily: Jewellery symbolism . . .

Hamsa Hands, the Evil Eye and Sideways Crosses
The Evil Eye. The Hamsa Hand. The Sideways Cross – just three symbols that have become incredibly popular in jewellery design in the UK over recent months. It’s so easy to buy something ‘just because it looks nice’, or because it’s fashionable, but what do the symbols you’re wearing actually mean? I thought it might be interesting to take a look . . .
1: Urban Outfitters. Bracelet - £6 | Necklace - £14
2: Aamaya by Priyanka. Charm Necklace - £150
3: Butler & Wilson. Crystal Eye Ring - £18
4: House of Harlow. Eye Studs - £27 (on sale)
5: Dana Levy. Braided Hamsa & Eye Bracelet - £75
6: Lovehearts & Crosses. Red Cord Hamsa - £9
7: Urban Outfitters. Evil Eye Ring - £6
8: Lovehearts & Crosses. Topshop-dupe Eye Ring - £14
9: Ileana Makri. Hamsa Bracelet - £399
10: Lovehearts & Crosses - Coral Hamsa Ring - £14
11: Dana Levy. Glass Bead Hamsa Bracelet - £35 (also sold at Liberty) 

The Hamsa Hand:
The Hamsa Hand is an ancient symbol of protection found under various guises in many religions... and Urban Outfitters. With ‘Hamsa’ literally meaning ‘five’ (as in five fingers), the palm shaped amulet is a universal symbol of protection and depicts an open right hand, sometimes with two thumbs, one either side of the palm. As well as protection, the open hand also symbolises blessings, power, and strength whilst also being seen as potent in deflecting the Evil Eye, a malicious stare believed to be able to cause illness, death, or just general unluckiness.
Historically and traditionally hung or painted in homes, or carved in jet or formed from silver – a metal believed to contain ‘magical properties’ – the Hamsa Hand can be depicted with the fingers spread apart to ward off evil, or closed together to bring good luck. In recent years new interest has been bought to the Hamsa symbol by the celebrity endorsement of Kabbalah bracelets. That famous red Kabbalah string bracelet worn by celebrities such as Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mick Jagger, Britney Spears and co (on their left wrist if they read the rule book), often features the Hamsa and perhaps sparked this new interest in the symbol and the related Evil Eye charm.

The Evil Eye:
The Evil Eye charm is very popular in mainstream jewellery design at the moment and a staple of tourist knick-knacks across the Mediterranean. But what does it represent?
The ‘evil eye’ is, as the name suggests, a malicious stare believed to be able to cause a person misfortune, ill-luck and possibly death. Wearing the Evil Eye talisman has been seen as a means of protection for centuries, with the charm believed to protect the wearer from any harm the glare might inflict. Disks or balls (known as Nazars) featuring a simplistic blue and white circular ‘eye’ design are popular talismans across the Middle East and Mediterranean, with the staring eyes believed to bend the malicious gaze back on the sorcerer. These amulets are commonly found worn as beads or used as hanging decorations in houses, cars and on boats in countries such as Turkey and Greece. The blue eye symbol can also be found on some forms of the Hamsa Hand.

Sideways Crosses:

This is a grey area. The quick answer is that no one really seems to know what the Sideways Cross represents – unless I missed a newsflash and you all know? In which case, fill me in! There doesn’t seem to be much out there on the symbolism of the Sideways Cross. Some believe it could link to an ancient use of the cross in symbolism where the horizontal bar indicates the equator and the vertical bar represents the path of the sun across the equator in Spring time. My hunch is that the Sideways Cross was simply born out of someone taking artistic licence with a universal symbol and it’s taken off due to the current trend for meaningless crosses in highstreet clothing and jewellery, in a similar way that meaningless rosary beads were popular in the mainstream a few years ago . . .
So there you go, a little light has been shed on the meanings behind Hamsa Hands, the Evil Eye and the Sideways Cross. I hope someone out there found that useful! Please let me know if you did, it would make my day. 


  1. I always find the origins of these things so interesting! I'm a bit obsessed with all things evil eye and hamsa related at the moment and I think it'll only get worse in the run up to summer...

    Penny x

  2. Amazing items!



  3. Ohh I love those hamsa! I always wear mine in my neck!
    Lovely blog!! Xoxo


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