From all over the world and for thousands of years, humans have participated in jewelry wearing; adorning their bodies to reflect their class, marital status, age, or tribal affinity. Similarly, these behaviors continue today and are seen in United States political jewelry (flag pins, and 9-11 insignias), as well as religious jewelry in the form of crosses, angels, and beads. Below is a short list of various types of religious jewelry and their meaning.
Egyptian Religious Jewelry- Egyptian jewelry motifs include the "Eye of Horus" which represents healing, the "Scarab," which is a symbol for resurrection and good luck, and the "Ankh," a symbol representing eternal life.
Native American Jewelry- The Native Americans were lovers of nature and worshiped the elements that they depended on (buffalo, rain) or were in awe of (eagles, waterfalls, canyons, natural wonders). These themes are characteristic of Native American Jewelry.
Catholic Religious Jewelry- The Catholic Church term rosary is derived from the Latin word rosarium, or rose garden. Rosary beads are thought to aid believers in entering a permanent garden within which they are free to meditate on their faith.
Angel Religious Jewelry- Angel jewelry gives you the solace of knowing that your guardian is protecting you and can act as a reminder that you to stay the right course. Many people wear a charm or pin of an angel that represents and protects deceased loved ones.
For centuries, jewelry has been worn as a symbol of ethnicity, cultural heritage, class, and religious beliefs. For many people today, jewelry is worn purely for it's aesthetic properties, however, there are still many individuals who carry the tradition of wearing jewelry as a symbol representing a belief in religion, such as Christian jewelry.
When St. Constantine Christianized the Roman Empire and founded Constantinople in Byzantium, the capital saw a blossoming of art and architecture. During this era, Byzantine, classical Greek, and Roman sensibilities were fused together, creating Christian religious expressions in abstract signs very popular.
Christian jewelry offers a vast array of colors and styles- incorporating a diverse range of stones. You can find more traditional Christian crosses, or more inventive styles through many online stores. Generally, online stores will state in their mission statement that they are dedicated to praising the lord and all of his creations. Hence, precious stones, semi-precious gemstones, gold, and other metals are all examples of his divine work and are not in short supply in the industry of religious-theme jewelry.
Cross- For Christians, the Cross is a symbol of Gods love and sacrifice for human beings. Christians are consoled when wearing the cross because they are reminded of the eternal love God has despite wrongdoing, and the sacrifice Jesus made to be a righteous example.
Rosary- Quite possibly, the most popular Christian jewelry item (after the cross) is the rosary. The rosary is not exclusive to the Christian religion, or even Western civilization. In fact, the rosary, (or prayer beads), have been a religious icon in Buddhism and Islam. These days, however, the Catholic Church remains the largest consumer of the rosary.
Christian Fish Charm- Ichthys [transliterated as ichthus, icthus, or ikhthus] is the Greek word for "fish". In the first century, early Christians made an acronym stemming from this word: Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter (Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior). Although the fish symbol remains one of the most popular Christian jewelry charms today, it has not always been exclusively Christian. Years before, the fish symbol was used among Greeks and pagans because it attracted less suspicion among people of faith that were persecuted.
In the first century after Christ, Christians adopted the fish symbol as a secret password to distinguish friends from enemies. Legend has it, if two strangers met in a road one would draw an arc on the ground. If the other stranger completed the arc- creating a fish, both strangers knew they could feel comfortable together.
Angels have played a role in human culture since the ancient Babylonians 3000 B.C. For the Babylonians, angels represented the divine spirit and everything good in human beings- much like how we envision angels today. The word, "angel" derives from the Greek, "angelo" which through Hebrew translation is interpreted as "messenger." Today, Western religions view angels as heavenly spirits that act as mediators between the mortal world and the divine. The Babylonians believed that each person was assigned two angels for either shoulder. One angel recorded the good deeds, and the other- the bad deeds.
Angel jewelry is an increasingly popular way to connect with a guardian angel or remember a loved one that has passed on. Angel jewelry gives you the solace of knowing that your guardian is protecting you and can act as a reminder that you to stay the right course. Many people wear a charm or pin of an angel that represents and protects deceased loved ones. Popular angels in the hierarchy for loved ones include Archangel Michael who represents protection and is represented by the color blue.
For others, the angel hierarchy is so vast that you can wear angel jewelry representing Colopatrion (unlocks prison gates), Harahel (protects libraries), and even Trgiaol (protector of wild birds).
Prayer beads were very common during the late Middle Ages among the largely illiterate populace. It wasn't until the rosary approbation in 1520 that the Catholic Church officially accepted prayer beads. Throughout the world, the word "bead" is akin to prayer. In the Catholic Church the term rosary is derived from the Latin word rosarium, or rose garden Rosary beads are thought to aid believers in entering a permanent garden within which they are free to meditate on their faith.
Materials Catholic jewelry are made from:
Catholic jewelry is made from a variety of gemstones, trees, and seeds. For monasteries, wood is more common, and among the populace more decorative rosaries are found. Some materials have no religious significance, while others, such as the olive tree in Bethlehem that have been bearing fruits since Jesus and the Romans time, are used.
Examples of Catholic Jewelry:
The chaplet of Our Lady Star of the Sea has a medal of Stella Maris, three separate beads, and 12 additional beads. Our Lady Star of the Sea is the patroness of those who sail the seas. Our Lady assists those who sail the stormy seas of life.
The chaplet of St. Peregrine is a standard nine-bead chaplet with a medal of St Peregrine and three groups of three beads. He is the patron of cancer patients.
For the Native Americans up through the 1600s, jewelry had many social, economic, and religious implications. For hundreds of years, the Indians of North America used beads as a form of currency, a representation of treaties, a form of exchange to create alliances, and special meaning in ceremonies.
Rites of Passage: For Native Americans, jewelry was not just a form of aesthetic beauty as we see today. Indian jewelry was primarily a form of identity and used to indicate that an individual has entered an important stage in life. Among many tribes, adolescents were initiated into adulthood when they received a spiritual totem consisting of beads, shells, or symbols representing animals and natural landmarks in nature. Indian religious jewelry was worn among women after their first menses and newly married couples.
Ceremonies: Native Americans integrated beads and pendants into traditional ceremonies. Admiration, dependence, and gratitude for the natural world influenced Native American's religious jewelry. Consequently, natural materials (feathers), minerals (turquoise), and metals (silver) were incorporated into Indian jewelry in ritual expressions. During rituals, individuals took great care in preparing for the event. Donning their most prized possessions, the participants were decked to the nines in body adornment and ornamentation. Healing ceremonies, season celebrations, harvest rituals and warfare all required specific Indian jewelry that were in a particular color, made of a specific material, and representing a specific symbol.
American Indian Jewelry
These days, much of the world perceives Native American Indian tribes to stem from a mystical and spiritual culture. Some individuals crave a quick solution to their own spirituality, and hope that if they purchase American Indian religious jewelry, they can be a part of this spiritual heritage. However, as most Native Americans know first hand, achieving Native American spirituality is not that simple. For many practicing Native Americans in Native American communities and reservations, being spiritual requires countless hours participating in the ancient oral tradition (stories told by elders of the tribe).
Unfortunately, Native American objects such as healing stones, drums, and pipes are often falsely sold as legitimate spiritual icons- claiming that the new owner will achieve religiosity (not without a buck, of course). Many Native Americans find this trend yet another abhorrent way to undercut Native culture.
When purchasing Native American Indian jewelry, keep in mind that you are not buying a ticket into a spiritual community you wish to be part of. If you truly desire to contribute to Native culture, and want to benefit from ancient prayers, life lessons, and heritage, consider joining a Native American community. Remember, Native American jewelry is beautiful, but not a one way ticket to heavenly bliss.
In the hectic bustle of daily life, many people find they long for something deeper. Mistakenly, they may turn to a quick solution in hopes to enrich their lives with more spiritual meaning. This is particularly true of Native American jewelry.
Many distributors of Indian jewelry sell healing stones with the promise of good health, or beaded pendants claiming it is associated with mythical properties. Real Native Americans that have been brought up in the ancient oral tradition perceive this commercialism as just another way the larger society has turned Native culture into an artifact and product. True spirituality, they claim, takes a lifetime to achieve and requires constant contact in the Native American community.
When you purchase Native American jewelry that is supposedly Indian religious jewelry- beware. Legitimate Native American businesses will sell traditional turquoise and silver jewelry using traditional techniques, but not under the guise of spiritual enlightenment.
To protect yourself and be sure you only purchase authentic Native jewelry, research the company. The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 prohibits any seller to falsely advertise that their products as authentic Native American merchandise. Anyone who falsely suggests that their merchandise is Native American is subject to pay hefty fines and even jail time. You can verify that a retailer is authentic by contacting the the Arts and Crafts Act.
As long as man had the ability to travel for leisure, Egypt has remained one of the top vacation spots. As it was with the Romans hundreds of years ago, people from all over the world visit Egypt to get a glimpse of man's earliest triumphs, take a cruise on the Nile, or swim in the Red Sea. Tourists return with fantastic memories and Egyptian jewelry busting out of their suitcases.
For the Ancient Egyptians, many prized gemstones such as pearls and tigers eye existed in far away places and were very expensive. In response to the impractical nature of obtaining these items, the Ancient Egyptians began to imitate precious stones using sophisticated glass technology, creating the first costume jewelry. Glass jewelry continues to be produced in Egypt and is considered to be more of a luxury item than the run-of-the-mill fashion jewelry.
For modern day adventurers that can't quite get enough time off of work to take the voyage, you can purchase authentic Egyptian jewelry in the vein of that Ancient culture. Online websites feature hieroglyphic jewelry that translates your name or an Egyptian saying into hieroglyphic lettering embossed on a jewelry item. Other popular Egyptian jewelry motifs include the "Eye of Horus" which represents healing, the "Scarab," which is a symbol for resurrection and good luck, and the "Ankh" symbol representing eternal life.
For the Ancient Egyptians, jewelry was not merely a way of improving one's looks. Jewelry played a crucial role in expressing religious and spiritual beliefs. Archeologists know that Egyptian jewelry was inspired by religious deities based on the minerals used, the symbols engraved, and who the jewelry was buried with.
Minerals and metals were identified with specific deities as well as mythical properties. As with many precious stones today- scarcity largely determined the value of gems and metals in Ancient Egypt. For example, silver was more valued than gold due to its relative scarcity. Stones (such as lapis lazuli), and metals that required a high cost- for example, due to location or expense, was more coveted and given higher spiritual significance.
Amulets were worn among the poor and the nobility to ward off evil spirits and to bring good luck.
Scarab- The most important amulet in Ancient Egypt was the scarab- a dung beetle believed to roll across the sky.
Udjat- The Eye of Horus represents healing and wards off the evil eye.
Ankh- A symbol representing eternal life.
Created in Spain, the balance bracelet is said to relieve pain, increase energy, and encourage spiritual health. Designed to aid electro polarization, the balance bracelet may restore a normal ionic balance. Proponents claim that the magnetic bracelet absorbs cells "negative energy" and recharges them to their normal state. It is celebrated as a drug-free pain reliever and healer.
Wear the balance bracelet on your right wrist with the two terminals facing upwards. If no change is noticed within 72 hours, remove the bracelet and wear on the left wrist with the terminals facing down. The balance bracelet is more effective if not in contact with other metals, such as watches. The bracelet lasts 12-24 months and may improve an athlete's performance, the elderly, and individuals who experience pain on a daily basis.