Good luck charms: Long Islanders look for safety and strength in symbolic jewelry
In a world where protective gear is top of mind, some are turning to jewelry as a source of safety and strength.
Necklaces and bracelets imbued with positive and spiritual themes and that boast messages of security, love and hope are in demand. So says Karen Giberson, the president of Accessories Council, a trade association based in New York City. “I think people universally are feeling stress and uncertainty about what our future is going to be, so those things that we can hold close and bring comfort are more important than ever. We are 100% seeing that people want pieces that have meaning and symbolism.”
Sales of uplifting jewelry are soaring according to Lisa Zampolin of Massapequa, the creator of jewelry brand, “Love, Lisa Jewelry.” “One hundred percent of everything I’ve sold within the past [few] months is inspirational, religious or anything that creates a happy feeling. People want to feel safe,” she says. Zampolin says saints are particularly popular. “People of all religions are buying them — Jewish, Christian — they don’t care that they’re religious they just want what they perceive as the protection,” she says.
During quarantine, Zampolin created “Guardian Angel” beaded bracelets featuring an oval bearing the image of a winged Saint Michael on one side and an angel on the other. She asked her followers on Facebook to give her the names of 200 medical professionals on the front lines who could use protection. She sent them out free. “I have found such fulfillment in helping in the way we can,” she says.
In some cases, jewelry can quite literally spell out the feelings of the moment.
New York City-based designer Roxanne Assoulin is well-known for her playful take on beaded jewelry and is seeing a run on bracelets with hopeful phrases such as “This Too Shall Pass.” She says, “There’s more interest in these rights now because now, the messages are really applicable."
When staying put at her home in Southampton, Fern Mallis, 72, the founder of New York Fashion Week and a fashion industry consultant, found herself layering on multiple “meaningful” necklaces. “They give me comfort,” she says. “I think jewelry and accessories fill a very special place, and in difficult times like this, it’s anything and everything possible to ward off evil." Her grouping of necklaces includes round disks that hold family pictures close, a good luck Italian horn, an anatomical heart pendant and “healing crystals.”
Crystals happen to be a passion for Idayne Kaye, the co-owner of fine jewelry store Kravit Jewelers in Oceanside who has custom-designed crystal pieces for magician Criss Angel, Hoda Kotb and Joan Jett and recently introduced a collection of necklaces which she says her clients are turning to “for healing and protection." She adds, "I’m not one of those people who is burning sage, or a super hippie, but I believe that the stones help block negative energy. They’re like a good-luck charm. Everybody is looking for something extra to believe in or an extra sense of security.”
In April, one of her clients drove 30 miles to pick up a crystal necklace as a gift of safety for his wife. Kaye left it on her front stoop. Another client, Hailey Ulhar, 17, of Long Beach, has been sporting a simple crystal hanging from a vegan leather string these days. She says, “Wearing crystals, especially at a time like this, can bring positivity into your life.”
Wearing jewelry to harness power and protect is an age-old story, says jewelry designer Stella Flame who owns a namesake gallery and jewelry boutique in Sag Harbor. “Since the beginning of recorded time mankind has adorned himself/herself with forms of ornamentation that ward off evil or enhance power,” she says. And much of her jewelry utilizes meaningful stones and symbols including a recently designed “Gratitude Amulet” featuring praying hands as a symbol of thankfulness.
Kiebebe Francis, 39, of Rockaway Beach, who wears the work of Stella Flame, says, “something about this jewelry brings some sort of peace and makes you feel more settled." She wears the designer's gold hoop earrings and hammered bangle bracelet both which she says provide and earthy connection with nature and feel “emotional” to her.
One client, Michael Rivas, 29, a contractor and property manager from Sag Harbor says he wears two of Flame’s bracelets for “holistic protection and good luck. I wear them all the time now. It’s just something extra in these hard times. I don’t leave home without it.”