Personally I am not, by nature, superstitious. I routinely open up umbrellas inside, I avoid black cats about as much as I would avoid chocolate covered caramels, and sometimes I’ll walk under a ladder – while bragging – just to prove a point; knock on wood. But there’s something about a good luck charm, powerful trinket or apotropaic talisman that appeals to my deep-seated love of pretty things; enough to wear a delicate gold hamsa tied through a red string on my left wrist every day, anyway (because apparently the right wrist is no good).
Historically, these charms have been worn to ward off the curse of the evil eye – a look bestowed, intentionally or unintentionally, by the envious onto the fortunate – mainly those unabashed by their prosperity – causing injury, bad luck, or even death. A nazar, as they are known in Turkey, is said to bend the curse back on to the bestower.
But thousands of years after Plato warned Grecian citizens of the evil eye’s curse, a new guard of jewelry designers, who are as stylish as they are superstitious, have transformed what was once a simple piece of red thread wound around Rachel’s Tomb on the outskirts of Bethlehem as a prevention for evil calamities and inscriber of good luck, into one-of-a-kind iconographic charms and precious keepsakes worn by supermodels (Naomi Campbell was seen with a nazar bracelet at Kate Moss’ wedding) and superwomen (Diane von Furstenberg is another proud wearer of the evil eye) alike.
Alexa Chung’s affinity for the luck-changing amulet is also well documented – from her recurring all-seeing eye manicures, to one of her first collections for Madewell, scattered with prints of her own nazar ring. Suddenly talismans against the evil eye became the most fashionable way to protect yourself.
Delfina Delettrez, who often incorporates the nazar into her exquisitely detailed designs, told Style.com: ‘I love a talisman, I do believe in symbols.’ And Salvador Dali-influenced Wan Baobao, founder of jewelry label Bao Bao Wan, also gravitates towards intricately crafted pieces with meaning – like an owl pendant which symbolizes longevity and wisdom, an elephant for good luck, or a gold bottle pouring out tiny stone drops to represent an outpouring of charitable hopes and wishes.
Whether you’re the kind to hop over cracks on a sidewalk, throw salt over your left shoulder, hold your breath while passing a cemetery or your tongue in the praise of others, so as not to invoke the evil eye, think of these protective talismans as magically stylish armour, for luck in the everyday.