Ancient Egyptians first wore jewelry made of widely available gold and precious stones to symbolize good luck, healing, and eternal life. The scarab (beetle), the lotus, serpents, the eye of the Horus, and the ankh were the main symbols. Native Americans, too, wore jewelry made of turquoise and silver to honor the spirits, using specific colors and animal totems.

Early Christians identified themselves with crosses and rosary prayer beads, but because they faced much persecution, they often preferred the less-obvious fish charm, as the Greek word for fish, “ichthys,” was an acronym for “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.”

Christian icons, particularly crosses made in Berlin ironwork, made a comeback in the Victorian era, the first time the symbol had been worn widely since the Renaissance. Women also wore belt buckles featuring Medieval Gothic architectural motifs such as stylized shamrocks known as trefoil, the three-leaf symbol of the Holy Trinity, and quatrefoil, the four-leaf sign of the four Gospels.

In Jewish culture, the Star of David is a popular charm, thought to be the symbol King David used to decorate his battle shield.


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