“Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”
Lord of the Rings
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
There’s a reason so much art and literature has been inspired by jewelry — because the pieces hold meaning for us. Throughout history and across cultures, both real and fictional, we’ve assigned personal significance to different symbols and designs and created pieces based on these motifs to carry with us.
Amy Kanarek, a New City-based artist and owner of Amy Kanarek Designs Artisan Jewelry (you can browse her wares online or at the Grand Bazaar in Manhattan on Sundays), shared the meanings behind some commonly used jewelry symbols.
“Jewelry is so personal,” Kanarek said. “It’s a way to express individuality,” and when presenting a piece to a loved one, “the choosing is part of the gift.”
Keep this guide in mind next time you’re on the hunt for the perfect anniversary, friendship, or birthday gift.
The infinite lazy-eight loop is a symbol that represents love, an eternal bond, and permanence. “It’s a sign of continuity in relationships and is often used on wedding bands,” Kanarek said, as it’s a common symbol to gift to a romantic partner.
Traditionally, a ring with three stones is representative of a couple’s past, present, and future. For that reason, it’s another symbol that is commonly used in wedding and engagement rings. “Usually the present is the largest element, indicating that while we honor the past and we look to the future, we live in the present.”
Unlike the Thanksgiving tradition, this wide V-shaped ring is a symbol of luck you won’t need to break in half in order to make a wish. “You’ll see this in pieces for anniversaries, birthdays, and other special occasions. It means long-lasting luck and happiness,” Kanarek said.
This Celtic symbol of a circle connected in triangular formation signifies never-ending love and eternal life, all intertwined, Kanarek said. “It has its roots in the Christian trinity.”
If this palm-shaped symbol looks familiar, that’s because it’s present across several cultures and religions. “It’s a universal sign of protection,” Kanarek said, adding that in Islamic culture, it is known as the Hand of Fatima and in Judaism, it is the Hand of Miriam. Traditionally, it’s a symbol someone would gift to themselves or to friends.
This traditional Irish ring, which originated in a small village called Claddagh, shows two hands supporting a heart wearing a crown. The hands signify friendship, the heart represents love, and the crown is loyalty. Quick tip: Wearing the ring with the heart facing outward means the wearer is single, while wearing it with the heart pointing inward means the wearer is in a relationship.
This Italian symbol whose name translates to “little horn” (also called cornetto or corno) is an amulet worn for protection. You may see it worn on necklaces as a good-luck charm.
The three interlocked spirals in the triskele symbol represent the celestial, physical, and spiritual realms, Kanarek said. “It’s the oldest symbol of spirituality,” translating to “three legs” in Greek.
Yin and Yangs
Based on ancient Chinese philosophy, this symbol represents opposing, dichotomous forces that balance one another, such as “light and dark, male and female, good and bad.”
Amy Kanarek Designs