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Warrior Spirit: Jewelry That Shield and Make Us Courageous

Warrior Spirit: Jewelry That Shield and Make Us Courageous

Here’s to all the times we wear jewellery to protect, bring positivity and make ourselves brave.

Mankind has historically worn jewellery for symbolic reasons. For thousands of years, jewellery was worn as a symbol of status, wealth and victory in battles, worn as amulets for protection and good luck – and for actual protection (think decorated breastplates and archer’s rings). Leaning more into modern times, it was worn to symbolise more sentimental narratives, from love and marriage to friendship and personal mottos.

We only need to look to Francesca Amfitheatrof, the artistic director of watches and jewellery at Louis Vuitton, to understand how deeply jewellery can affect us. Amfitheatrof has always believed that jewellery and its wearer are inextricably linked. When she revealed her fourth collection, Spirit, for Louis Vuitton in 2022, she said, “I don’t think anything else in the world has the power to hold the spirit of the person so much as jewellery does.”

Francesca Amfitheatrof's designs play into her belief that women wear jewellery like armour
Francesca Amfitheatrof’s designs play into her belief that women wear jewellery like armour

Weaving together the codes of the maison, Spirit Chapter II, launched in 2023, is set across four universes that speak to the values of Louis Vuitton as well as Amfitheatrof’s own core beliefs. Radiance, quite literally, is designed to be like armour, playing into her belief that a woman’s jewellery is armour, a kind of protection that shields and emboldens her to go forth in her adventures. The Radiance necklace is a geometric masterpiece of golden pyramids and diamond-pavé V signatures that hold together a fiery 17.48-carat Mandarin Spessarite garnet. There’s also a five-strand cuff bracelet and a set of earcuffs, with the same chainmail-like design to bring the warrior woman look full circle.

In fact, warrior women have always inspired Amfitheatrof. Who can forget her first high jewellery collection for the maison, Riders of the Knights, which pays homage to medieval heroines who fought in a world ruled by men? Inspired by the likes of Joan of Arc, Queen Elizabeth I and Eleanor of Aquitaine, the idea of strength was captured through chains, armour, amulets, even swords. In her jewellery tome, Fantastical Jewels, which details the creative process for her collections, Amfitheatrof described the armour-inspired Riders collection as “talismans, touched with the power to strengthen and protect the woman who wears them”.

Radiance necklace from Louis Vuitton’s Spirit Chapter II high jewellery collection was inspired by warrior women

Annoushka, who creates charms that can tell your life story, designed a series of Art Deco-inspired arrow jewellery pieces that symbolize courage, peace and protection. For another fellow British designer, Liv Luttrell, spear tips are among her most distinctive designs. The design starts from the pointed claw that cradles the stone, then curves around to form the Spear tip rings or the pointed structure of the Spear tip earrings.

Arrow earrings from Annoushka
Arrow earrings from Annoushka

For Luttrell, the Spear tip design is symbolic of strength and stability, while also capturing the ephemeral quality of a sunbeam. “A narrative that frequently occupies my thoughts involves the power attributed to the obelisk in Ancient Egypt, linked with the sun god Ra and representing a petrified sunbeam,” she says. “The idea of capturing something as potent as a sunbeam in physical form inspired the creation of my Spear tip earrings.”

Spear tip earrings from Liv Luttrell

Nature is powerful. The beauty of strength in nature is also celebrated in Graff’s Tribal Collection, which tells the enchanting folk tale of the girl who created the stars, a warrior woman who threw fire embers into the night sky to light it for eternity. Motifs in the collection are striking, from New Dawn, which harnesses the power of the blazing sun in richly hued yellow diamonds; to Graff Gateway, an arched motif that links the past and the future; and Night Moon, symbolic of clarity and reflection, evocative creations that enchant with their talismanic beauty.

New Dawn necklace and earrings from Graff’s Tribal Collection
New Dawn necklace and earrings from Graff’s Tribal Collection channel the warrior spirit

Protection can also be greatly spiritual, an element that appears everywhere from ancient to modern times, from high to fine jewellery. In the Dark Ages, soldiers wore pearls, which were said to keep harm at bay. Turquoise, too, has been said to hold great powers of protection. Many treasure gemstones for their beauty and rarity, as well as for the sacred power they hold, and entire high-jewellery collections have been dedicated to a single stone.

Turquoise used in Piaget’s Possession jewellery
Turquoise, a stone used by ancient warriors, appear here in Piaget’s Possession jewellery

“Jewellery is so much more than meets the eye,” says Jacquie Aiche, for whom gemstones and symbols play a huge part in her designs. The Los Angeles-based jewellery designer has always referred to her jewellery as sacred amulets, adornments that inspire magic; she recalls how, when she was small, her grandmother, who strongly believed in symbols, would adorn her in evil-eye charms for luck and protection. When she began designing, she knew immediately that she needed to incorporate the evil eye into her collections. The Gigi Eye was her very first sketch, but the collection has since grown over time, with more versions of the eye motif, as well as thunderbirds, shark teeth, hamsas and double horns, all incredible symbols of protection.

“I see jewellery as a practice of self-love,” says Aiche. “Everything I design is meant to celebrate the unique natural beauty we each share with the world, to make you shine brighter.”

The evil eye is one of Jacquie Aiche’s most used designs
The Evil Eye is one of Jacquie Aiche’s most-used designs

In fact, the evil eye is perhaps one of the most universally recognised motifs for protection. A symbol steeped in history and meaning, it’s traditionally a bright blue eye with a white iris and black pupil within a dark blue circle, with its earliest iteration in Mesopotamia in 5000 BCE, but countless other cultures have adopted it since, whether Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu or Buddhist.

The ancient evil eye also holds a special place at Suzanne Kalan, whose aesthetic jewellery often comes with deeper meaning. Kalan, who runs her eponymous brand alongside daughter Patile Kalandijan, believes strongly in the talismanic and protective power of jewellery, calling it “more than just a decorative item” and “a bearer of personal stories, a symbol of faith, and often, a guardian”. In modernising this timeless symbol, Kalan makes use of her brand’s hallmark Fireworks setting and plays with asymmetry. The result is beautiful, elegant and versatile jewellery that merges the old and new in a way that’s still relevant and sophisticated for today’s consumers.

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The horseshoe is another common symbol believed to attract blessings. At Sig Ward, the Manifest collection comprises a rich variety of horseshoe jewellery studded with vibrant stones. Citrine, aventurine, turquoise, pink opals, amethysts and diamonds come together in a pastel palette that guarantees at least to bring a smile to the face, if not the abundance, love and health the symbol is said to attract. 

Sig Ward’s horseshoe jewellery designs
Sig Ward’s horseshoe jewellery designs

And meaning in jewellery can be ascribed by both the designer and the wearer. “We all give our jewellery and other precious objects power by pouring meaning and feelings into them,” says London-based jewellery designer Jessie Evans. “It’s like a channel for your emotions, something tangible for us to focus a certain sentiment into, which in turn gives us comfort when we wear or hold these objects.”

Evans has long held a fascination for symbolic jewellery, and you’ll find beautiful creations under her Jessie V E brand that hide meaning in unique ways, be it secretive Morse code, or symbols of prosperity and luck in diamond tea leaves. “The wearer can read their own fortune and attach their personal interpretation of the symbols to their own life goals, both short and long term,” she says.

Jessie V E Fortunate Collection inspired by tea leaf readings
Jessie V E Fortunate Collection inspired by tea leaf readings

“We purposely made the symbols in the scattered diamonds indistinct, so they can be viewed as different things by each person and from all angles,” Evans adds. “Some symbols hidden are the classic good fortune signs such as the horseshoe, the key, the moon and the sun, but some wearers have seen other more unusual symbols like a giraffe, a strawberry or a palm tree, which makes the pendants even more magical and personalised. It really does come down to what the wearer see themselves.” 

(Header image: Radiance cuff bracelet and ear cuff  from Louis Vuitton’s Spirit Chapter II high jewellery collection)

Source: Prestige Online

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