Labradorite Gemstones and Lucky Hamsas

Hamsa jewelry is all the rage right now.  Who hasn’t heard about the alluring power of the hand and the luck it provides?  If you haven’t, well read our post about hamsas by clicking here.

While purchasing gemstones to make jewelry, the grey to black gemstone, called labradorite, interspersed with black needle-like lines, was fascinating.

Hamsa bracelet with labradorite gemstones
Hamsa bracelet with labradorite gemstones

 

According to an Eskimo legend, along the coast of Labrador northern lights were once imprisoned in the rocks. One night, a wandering Eskimo warrior found them and with a mighty blow of this spear, was able to free most of the lights.  Some of the lights were still trapped within the stone, making the needle-like imagery and allowing almost an iridescent play of colors.  As a result we now have  the beautiful mineral known as labradorite.

Hamsa jewelry with lucky grey gemstones
Hamsa Necklace with Labradorite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In reality, labradorite was originally discovered in St. Paul Island, Labrador, Canada in 1770 but is also found in Australia, Finland, India, Madagascar, Mexico, Newfoundland, Norway, Russia and the United States.  It is known as spectrolite and often called black moonstone. The Eskimo legend sounds much more interesting, a little folklore always lures the reader in with visions of a cold night, warm furs bundling up the warrior.

Originally chosen for its beauty and dark hues, with a little research we learn that labradorite also increases energy, reduces stress and anxiety, and is said to protect its wearer from danger.  However, when reading about its aiding in anti-aging, and providing its wearer with a healthy body and good fortune, well —one can totally rethink its medicinal qualities!  Why not look good while wearing stylish jewelry?

Star of David necklace with labradorite gemstones
Star of David jewelry

 

 

Here are a few designs using labradorite that can be found at Alef Bet Jewelry.

Cable Bracelets Galore

 

Stack them up, pile the bracelets on!
 
Judaic Themed Cable Bracelets
Too Many Bracelets?

 

Ok, so the style nowadays is bracelets. Bracelets stacked, piled on high, jingling and jangling on your wrist!

I have to admit I love the sound of the clanking and movement on my arm as my bracelets hit against one another making a soft melody of sorts. 

I call it jewelry music to my ears.

This image is of stainless steel cable bracelets set in sterling silver with diamonds.

The evil eye design has a large center sapphire, worn to bring you good luck.

The nice thing about the steel metal is that is doesn’t tarnish as silver does.

 

Clank, clank, clink, clink. How many can you wear at once?

 

Each design is available in four colors: rose, silver, black, gold

a) hamsa with two hearts

b) rondels

c) tri-color cuff

d) evil eye

e) triple hearts

f) circles

g-j) triple six pointed stars aka Jewish Stars

k) Chai — Hebrew for Life

 And if you wanted a matching ring with all luck symbols, well hey…. take a peek here!

ANTI-AGING JEWELRY?

Oynx and Evil Eye Necklace
Oynx and Evil Eye with Diamond Necklace

 It’s no secret that the “anti-aging” market represents the biggest segment of consumer spending today.  No one wants to grow old gracefully, and today men as well as women spend billions and billions of  dollars trying to keep their skin taut and smooth, their hair gloriously abundant, their bodies firm and perky, even as the decades roll on.

And it’s not just Boomers who are obsessed with staying young. Today everything from pomegranate juice (yum) to exfoliants are marketed as preventive aging, to people in their 20s, as well as to more mature buyers.

Frankly, it’s exhausting. But we do have a suggestion—a Hamsa, an “eye” pendant, or even a piece of jewelry designed after the life-giving pomegranate!

Pomegranante Pendant
Pomegranate Jewlery

The Hamsa is a hand-shaped pendant which has been worn across the Middle East, Mediterranean and North Africa for millennia. The “eye” of course is an amulet which  resembles an eye, with an equally long history in the same areas of the world.  Both are traditional talismans for protecting the wearer from the so-called  evil eye.

Coincidentally, I suppose, the eyes and the hands are the first parts of our bodies to show our age. These are the two areas where our skin is the thinnest. Because the skin  here is so thin, fine lines and wrinkles show up here first as the result of constant UV exposure, weather, stress and repetitive gestures (smiling, frowning). Hands in particular are tattle-tales when it comes to age, because they contain no oil-glands—they often look older than the rest of us!

Moisture is key to keeping the skin young, as the manufacturers of zillions of skin care brands will tell you. Again, perhaps coincidentally, moisture plays a role in the concept of the evil eye.  The brilliant Dr. Alan Dundes, who taught at the University of California at Berkeley, wrote a landmark essay on the history of the evil eye, observing that the ill effect of the “eye” was always dehydration. He surmised that because the tradition arose in the Middle East, where water has always been scarce, the worst possible thing that could happen would be for an oasis or well to run dry, or  for drought to blight the land, as is happening in Africa today. This would cause your flocks and  orchards to perish. Other metaphorical losses symbolized by moisture-loss—for instance, loss of sexual potency and fertility—are also
associated with the “eye”, and guarded against with the Hamsa and eye amulets.

The aging process really consists of several factors—genetics, stress, conditions, attitude.  Other than a good skin care regimen, especially eye and hand-cream (our favorites: Dermalogica Hand and Nail Treatment, Intensive Eye Repair, Total Eye Carehttp://dermalogica.com), what can really be done? To wear in good health, whatever your age, and to see you safely from one year and one decade to the next, we recommend #gwn-f, a modern silver Hamsa with small “eye”, #ww17,  our Diamond “eye” pendant with your choice of gemstone strands, and for even  juicier protection, try # Pom5, our Ruby Pomegranate necklace, set in 14karat rose gold.

Getting older? Mazel tov—
and go in style.

Hamsa Necklace with Diamonds

Hamsa and Diamond Necklace
Hamsa Necklace

 

The new jewelry trend is setting full cut diamonds in sterling silver.  I know, at first you’re like, “huh?  That  totally cheapens the product!”  Then you take a look at the quality and the think, nice… Then the big whammy comes…. it is priced to sell and to buy.  Affordable.

The price of gold is awful, unless you are selling it and making a great profit, but if you are selling jewelry it hurts.  I guess the same holds true if you are buying jewelry.  Duh.  The prices of metals are just out of control.

So, now sterling silver is set with diamonds.  Makes sense now, right?

Here is a new necklace with my favorite symbol, a hamsa.  The little gold on the side is just an added touch.  Click here to see it on the website.

 

Travel Safe | Jewish ways of Protection and Travel

SUMMER TREK

It’s summer, and your schedule is probably packed with travel: weddings, family reunions, class reunions, and hopefully some gorgeous vacation-time to restore and refresh you.

Travel itself is dehydrating. Whether you’re flying first-class or crossing the country in a beat-up van (both can be fun, in their different ways), you’ll find your sleep schedule interrupted, perhaps a bit of anxiety as you wait for your suitcase on the luggage carousel at the airport, pass painstakingly through security and customs, the occasional frustration if your flight is delayed, etc.

Fear not! Wearing an evil eye amulet or one of our Hamsa designs cannot guarantee that your baggage won’t get temporarily misplaced in Cleveland. But, as we always say, it couldn’t hurt. Hamsa Design with Pearls

Wearing a piece of “protective” jewelry is like carrying-on a little peace of mind. We also like to take a bit of ribbon and tie a Hamsa or “eye” inside our suitcases when we travel. A reader of this blog recently even suggested that we create a Hamsa-shaped luggage tag, and we’re considering it.

Now, back to the hand-symbolism of the Hamsa itself. We have to re-blog ourselves. Our last blog on the origins of the Hamsa contained a rather esoteric illustration of the Aaronic blessing.

But we left out some of the more important aspects of this hand-position which is familiar to many Jews worldwide, as part of worship. This blessing-gesture forms the hands into the shape of the Hebrew letter “Shin”.

Shin in Hebrew
Shin in Hebrew

This letter appears on the mezuzahs which sanctify and guard Jewish homes, and call to mind the names of Almighty God, Shaddai, and the Shechinah, the Divine Presence and Sabbath Queen. Of course, thousands of scholars have written thousands of pages about the implications of all of this, over the past few centuries. Just a little light reading for the beach this summer.

An aspect of this blessing, offered to the congregation by the priestly Kohanim, involves an emanation of powerful light through the gesture—a light which is so powerful that we are commanded to look away.

Does this light emanate from a galaxy far, far away? Wait a minute….yes, there is a similarity to the famous “Vulcan salute”, created by actor Leonard Nimoy for his half-Vulcan character, the unflappable Mr.Spock.

Mr. Spock

Nimoy was inspired by the Aaronic blessing which he observed as a child in Temple. Below, from his autobiography, I Am Spock”:

“The special moment when the Kohanim blessed the assembly moved me deeply, for it possessed a great sense of magic and theatricality… I had heard that this indwelling Spirit of God was too powerful, too beautiful, too awesome for any mortal to look upon and survive, and so I obediently covered my face with my hands. But of course, I had to peek.”

Even if you’re not a Trekkie, travel safely this summer—and live long and prosper.

Hidden Hamsas, Hidden Hands

hamsa jewelry
Sparking and adorable hamsa necklace

When we look at our hands, we can’t help but remember one of the most beautiful lines from the Book of Isaiah, where the speaker is feeling neglected and forgotten by the Almighty.  The Almighty responds that it would be easier for a mother to forget the growing child in her womb than for Him to “forget” Zion, adding rather fiercely, “I have carved you in the palm of my hand.”  Looking down into the creases of our own hands with this passage in mind, especially if we’re feeling a bit lost, can be a comforting meditation.

Much of the beauty of Judaism is its sense of Mystery.  We’ve all heard that expression, “The Lord moveth in mysterious ways.”  So true.

As you know from reading our blog, one of our favorite icons of Judaica is the Hamsa, the protective hand. And our “TINY HAMSA CZ” series of necklaces and bracelets is among our most alluring and meaningful.

This design is not the straightforward Hamsa, or stylized protective hand, which appears in many of our most popular pieces, though we love those, too. The “Hidden Hamsa” pattern looks like a delicate, dainty, floral filigree abstract, punctuated with a tiny gem. We offer this design in several different iterations—silver, gold-dipped, on leather, or on a fine chain.  (Check out our items Hidwn, hid4, hidn3, hidhn1.)

The fact that the protective hands Hands are  “hidden” from plain sight is
intriguing. Perhaps a reminder that even when we can’t see the actions of the
Almighty, we are always in good hands.

CAPTION : On the subject of hands, here is a drawing of the traditional Priestly Blessing of
Aaron. Occasionally, one sees this esoteric image carved into the entryway of
Temples. The interpretation of the characters and the mathematical meaning of
the numerical sections of the drawing could cross a Rabbi’s eyes. Suffice to
say, the name of G-d, and the word “Koach”, or strength (derived from the
Hebrew number for 28, since the hands are divided into 28 sections), are the
take-away message.

Red String Bracelet?

What is it about the red thread, worn around the wrist?

Bendel bracelet with heart charm and lucky chai
Bendel bracelet with chai and heart charm.

 

Speaking from the Judaica perspective, we call this simple, traditional bracelet a bendel. Our “red thread” bracelets, accented with a tiny charm (protective eye, star, hamsa), are one of our most popular items.

With the popularity of Kabbalah studies on the rise these days, these red threads are everywhere. The Book of Splendor (Zohar) tells us that the red thread invokes the protective power of the matriarch Rachel, who guards the wearer like her own child. Speaking as two generations of Jewish mothers (and descended from many more), trust us—this is a very good thing.

Mauli red string
Mauli red string drying

But here’s a mind-blower. It’s not just a Jewish thing…..while India is significantly east of our frame of reference, there is apparently a parallel Hindu tradition.  In India, the red thread is called Mauli, Mouli, Kalava, Charadu, Nada Chadi, Raksha, Rakshi….and if I’m getting it wrong, sorry! These red threads, sometimes with jeweled charms, are knotted around the wrist in observance of puja, or ritual.

The Indian red thread may have a yellow bar-pattern, and is knotted around the wrist as part of many rituals. There is a special tradition, for instance, of brothers and sisters knotting the thread around each other’s wrists.

Depending upon who you ask, some Hindus say that wearing the thread signifies protection by the Mother Goddess Shakti. The general idea seems to be that you wear it until it naturally disintegrates or falls off.

Some discussions of the Hindu red thread say that it even turns to “gold”, although we’re taking this metaphorically, not literally. In many of our bendels, the red thread is woven through a gorgeous sterling chain-link bracelet. You just replace the red thread when it unravels. If your bracelet turns to gold, please call me personally!

Hamsa red string bendel bracelet

 

Here is an excerpt from www.hindu-blog.com:

“Legend has it that Lord Vishnu during his incarnation of Vamana tied a red thread on the hands of King Bali to grant him immortality and to rule the netherworld.

There is also a popular belief that the sanctified red thread with blessing of the deity protects a person from diseases, enemies and other dangers.”

Tony Blair and red string
Tony Blair with red string

A few years back,UK Prime Minister Tony Blair made headlines when he wore one which had been gifted to him by Swaminarayan Mandir at theHinduTemplein Neasden in Northwest London.

And not too long ago in The New York Times, we read about William Lauder, heir to the Estee Lauder empire and Lauder company chairman, wearing a red thread bracelet that he picked up at a Hindu shrine at Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Raksha red string
Raksha red string

Good ideas know no boundaries! Wear your red thread bracelet, by any name, in good health!

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HAMSA JEWELRY= PROTECTION

Tattoo Hamsa Necklace

One of our most popular jewelry motifs is the Hamsa, or protective hand. This icon is used as an amulet by many Middle Eastern people.

Of course, we see it created in silver, gold, bronze, diamonds, pewter, glass, as a personal ornament. I have also seen it woven into lush Turkish rugs, and painted on gorgeous
fountain-tiles in North Africa. As you know from previous blogs, especially in the desert, protection and well-being are linked symbolically to having easy access to water.

I have heard the Hamsa called the Hand of Miriam, as well as the Hand of Fatima, depending upon who wears it.  I have seen it displayed with the fingers pointing up, and pointing down, although the fingers pointing down in my experience is more common.

Middle Eastern Hamsa Necklace

Sometimes, as in our alluring “Middle Eastern Necklace” (our item # art-m), the hand and fingers are stylized to abstraction, though we know the protective powers are still there!

It’s intriguing to know that the icon of the hand extends beyond our immediate frame of cultural reference. “The Mano Poderosa”, or Hand of Power, is often portrayed in Latin Roman Catholic sacred art, especially religious art from Spain and Mexico.

Abhaya MudraAnd check this out: the Mudra (hand-position) of Protection, known to Hindus and Buddhists as the Abhaya
Mudra. Portrayals of the Buddha often depict his right hand in this sheltering, yet liberating gesture, which is often translated from the Sanskrit to mean  “Fear not”.

Scholars say that Buddha first made
this gesture when he became enlightened. Prophets and saints of many other spiritual paths also are often depicted with their right hand in this position.

Coincidence? Doesn’t seem likely.
In any case, enjoy this universal symbol of protection from harm.Image of a Mudra Hand