Love charms, tokens, and amulets have been collected and cherished from ancient times to today. But where did these ideas come from and what do they mean? Before you buy that padlock charm necklace for your loved one, add more to the gift and impress them with the hidden meaning.
Symbols of Love: Hearts, locks, and keys
‘Giving your heart’ is an emotional bond and is one of the most treasured jewelry gifts a loved one can receive. It invokes love and passion and guards of our innermost feelings. Heart jewelry became fashionable in Europe during the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Famously Henry VIII would give out heart-shaped pendants, bracelets, and brooches to his numerous lovers.
The Victorian age popularized heart shaped lockets as a symbol of love, devotion, and high fashion. They would use jewelry—like a padlock and key—as a hidden meaning and a symbol to secretly communicate their romance and passion. Locks were given to protect love and were worn by women. While the men would keep the key as a token of his enduring love.
Heart, locks, and keys have proved the test of time and are one of the most enduring jewelry pieces to give or get. A charm bracelet adorned with hearts engraved with secret messages, a lock and key, and photo charms of your loved one is classic, fashionable, and an extremely sentimental piece of jewelry.
Symbols of Faith, Protection, and Healing: Evil eyes, anchors, and angels
Carved objects from bones, leather, and stone have been used since the caveman days to ward off evil and protect loved ones. The first charm bracelets date back to 400 to 700 B.C. and were worn by the ancient Babylonians, Hittites, and Persians. These charms were small crystal and rock carvings of animals, gods, and humans and had etched inscriptions meant to bestow power onto the wearer.
Charms, amulets, and talisman are terms that are used interchangeably. However an amulet is believed to have power that is derived from a supernatural source and bestowed upon the wearer.
Evil eye is an ancient symbol that indicates spiritual protection by warding off the evil curses. These charms and talisman come in different shapes, materials, and colors (often with blue or green pupils), and are often worn as a pendant, pin, or bracelet. Since COVID, demand for evil eye charms, as well as other protective charm shapes (angels, crosses, and anchors) are in high demand. Literary references to the evil eye dates back 3,000 years to ancient Greece and Rome.
Anchors and angels are common signs of protection worn as necklaces, anklets, bracelets, pins, and earrings. Anchors and crosses are two well known male pendants of protection. The anchor, a common nautical symbol, extends beyond coastal regions and is an ancient symbol of safety. Christians use the anchor as a symbol of hope. The anchor also represents strength and security because it holds a ship in place. An anchor combined with a rose represents love and honor, while an anchor, heart, and cross are the symbols of faith, hope, and love.
Angels symbolize protection and are spiritual guides for those on earth. Guardian angels usually show the entire body of the angel and are given and worn as a symbol of love and protection. An angel charm pendant engraved with the name of a loved one, keeps them close to our hearts.
A single angel wing represents safety and that the wearer is protected beneath the wing of an angel. Angel wings also symbolize flight, freedom, and spirituality. The angle wing clamshell, (Cyrtopleura costata) will glow in the dark if put under ultraviolet light and are collected for their beauty and delicacy. Angel wing clamshell charms are a symbol of resurrection and birth.
Symbols of Healing: Praying hands and hamsa, the hand of Fatima
Praying hands are a symbol of Christianity and the power of prayer. When we fold our hands in prayer, we are communicating and honoring our God. Wearing a praying hands charm shows your faith and dedication to God and family and is a symbol of sacrifice and respect.
The Hand of Fatima has been treasured in Middle Eastern cultures for thousands of years. As a charm or talisman it will ward off evil and offer protection and good luck. The symbol comes from the legend of Fatima, who burned her hand in a pot of hot halvah until her husband, the prophet Ali, rescued her. The hand often has an evil eye symbol, which is thought to protect the wearer against the evil eye.
Symbol of Luck: Four leaf clover
The four leaf clover has been an accepted symbol of good luck for centuries. Druids considered them a sign of good luck. In 1620, Sir John Melton wrote, “If a man walking in the fields find any four-leaved grass, he shall in a small while after find some good thing.” There are 10,000 three leaf clovers for every one four leaf clover. Each leaf has its own significance. One leaf is for FAITH, second for HOPE, third for LOVE, and fourth for LUCK. The fascination of the four leaf clover continues today.
Talismans, tokens, and charms today
We aren’t that different today than the early cave peoples that carved animals from rocks and carried them on hunts – the desire to be loved and protected and to love and protect those we cherish hasn’t changed much. We still give and wear meaningful symbols that evoke love and make us feel safe. Who hasn’t fiddled with a charm on a bracelet during a nervous event, and who hasn’t clutched a cross or heart with the name of a loved one etched just for us to see? Charms go beyond fashion, they are moments and emotions we can touch that brings us closer to those we love.