“There’s a sense of protection and magic woven into all my designs,” says jeweller Annoushka Ducas. “In dark, uncertain times we intuitively seek the light to provide hope and security.” Jewellers have long had an obsession with talismans – objects imbued with mysticism, exuding elemental forces. Ducas pinpoints ancient symbols such as the evil eye and the hand of Fatima, both of which feature in her designs, but also a gold pea pod charm holding five freshwater pearl “peas” – an emblem of victory, eternity and hope.
The protective evil eye charm has become a much-used motif. While Greek designer Ileana Makri was one of the first to rethink this traditional talisman, translating it into a colourful, gem-encrusted range of earrings, rings, pendants and bracelets, in California Lauren Harwell Godfrey has given it a geometric spin inspired by her African heritage. Harwell Godfrey’s latest design is envisioned as a healing talisman to support the fight for black justice. The pendant features a black onyx heart, and all profits will go to civil rights organisation NAACP (the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).
Another brand giving back is Alighieri, founded by London-born, Zambia-raised Rosh Mahtani. Ten per cent of its online sales will go to Refuge, a charity helping women and children who are experiencing domestic violence. Its “pieces for strength and courage” are modern-day amulets inspired by different traditions and cultures, wrought in gold-plated hammered bronze – from the Hand of Protection necklace to the Shield of Poetry earrings.
Further symbolism comes in the form of the cowrie shell, an object that for Almasika’s French-Beninese founder Catherine Sarr signifies good fortune; the planetary-connected nine-gem Navratna amulet, which makes its way into the collections of Jaipur jeweller Amrapali; and the snake, a mythological emblem once used to guard temples and other sacred spaces.
The latter is used by Los Angeles brand Retrouvai on its smartly contemporary talismans, as well as by Boucheron, whose elegant Serpent Bohème collection was inspired by a necklace that founder Frédéric Boucheron gave to his wife to protect her when travelling. On a dazzling two-finger knuckleduster of a ring, the motif’s protective powers are twofold. But more often than not, the talisman appears as a pendant. Layering several strands adds aesthetic clout to a plain T-shirt; here’s hoping it also multiplies the auspicious auras.