History of Jewish Jewelry
Song of Soloman 1:10, 11 "Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold..."
As part of their culture, the Hebrew people have worn and made jewelry from the earliest times. The marriage of Rebekah to Issac appears in the Bible with an exchange of gifts, including clothes and Jewelry. Gifts of gold and silver jewelry denoted wedlock. High priests wore gold and jewels on their ceremonial robes.
The history of Jewish silver and gold artisans reaches far back to learning their craft from the Canaanites. Biblical references include the creation of gold and silver utensils for the Temple and the existence of guilds. A traditional bridal gift, a gold pendant, is referred to in the Talmud. In the sixth century, the city of Medina had 300 Jewish gold and silversmiths. Earrings, which men and women wore, necklaces, and rings sold to Gentile and Jewish clients alike.
The 11th and 12th centuries saw the spread of Jewish artisans; many lived in Muslim and Christian Spanish towns and were employed by the royal households. They also found employment crafting articles for Christian churches, such as reliquaries, goblets, chains, and crucifixes.
With the mass emigration of Jews from Eastern Europe to Western Europe and the Americas came the silver and goldsmiths. Fifty Jewish goldsmiths lived in England between 1725 and 1837.
And the most noted of early Jewish goldsmiths in the United States was a man named Myer Myer.
The prevalence of Middle Eastern ethnic artisans in the production of jewelry continues to modern times.
Jewish families everywhere with Goldschmidt, Goldsmid, Zoref, or Soref and Orefice names may have had an ancestor in the trade!
What makes Jewish Jewelry Special?
Adornments with Judaic symbolism meets the need for beauty and spiritual connection in what we wear every day.
The Star of David in Jewish Jewelry
Crafted in gold, studded with diamonds or simple silver, a Star of David pendant is one of the most famous Judaic symbols for both men and women. This star appears on Israels' state flag and comprises two overlapping triangles, and has six points. Tracing its roots to King David, the star represents both laws of the Torah and the teachings of the Kabbalah. Jeweler Anna Koplik creates exquisite Star of David pendants sparkling with Swarovski crystals, perfect for Bat Mitzah gifts.
The Importance of "Chai" in Jewish Jewelry
Judaism is very focused on life, and the Hebrew word Chai means "living." Chai is the combination of Chet and Yod, "the Living God," and thus jewelry of great significance. This word, considered to be a visual symbol of the number 18, is, according to numerology, a lucky gifting number. So, gifts of earrings or pendants with this symbol are popular and bring wishes of long life and prosperity to the wearer. Seeka studio in New York City creates unique and colorful Chai earrings and pendants using stainless steel, resin, and crystals.
Hamsa Imagery in Jewish Jewelry
The word Hamsa refers to the "Hand of Fatima" (daughter of the prophet Muhammad) or the "Hand of God." This image appears in many decorative arts throughout the Middle East and North Africa. It is an ancient symbol for "Good Luck" and a way to ward off the "evil eye. ." Predating Islam, possibly originating in Egypt, a Hamsa is denoted as an open hand, palm up. The five fingers may symbolize the five books of the Torah or five pillars of Islam. Many times stars, Chai, and eye images are added to a Hamsa. Noted artisan Michal Golon features a wide range of Judaic jewelry, including Hamsa pendants and bracelets in her ornate signature style.
Mezuzah Pendants in Jewish Jewelry
Typically a case affixed to the doorposts of homes, synagogues, and businesses holds a mezuzah. A mezuzah is a parchment scroll with two passages from the Hebrew Bible; the"Shema Israel" and V"havta." Mezuzah cases are metal, ceramic, or wood, many times inscribed with the Hebrew letter "shin" or the word "Shaddai." This letter and word reference being "one of the nations of God' and "Guardian of the doors of Israel." Judaism views mezuzah as strong symbols of divine protection.
Tradition suggests that when passing through the door, you touch the mezuzah and then kiss your fingers, expressing your love and respect for God.
A mezuzah pendant allows you a personal connection to your faith to wear every day. A Mezuzah pendant, made of silver or gold, in simple or more elaborate design, makes a memorable Bar Mitzah gift.
The Torah/Ten Commandments as part of Jewish Jewelry
Central to Judaic faith, the Torah was given to Moses and the Israelites by God after their flight from Egypt. The Torah describes God's teachings and guidance for his people, as interpreted by Moses and Joshua. It is also used as a term to designate the entire Judaic Bible. The Ten Commandments are a part of the Torah, so it is not surprising it has become a popular design motif. Wearing a Torah or Ten Commandments tablet pendant reminds you to live life according to God's law.
Jewish Jewelry with "Shema Yisrael"
Sometimes depicted as a flame, "Shema Yirael" means "Hear, Israel," appears in the Torah and is part of a prayer recited daily. A beautiful gold pendant with this quote affirms the wearer's acceptance of God's commandments and is a thoughtful Bar or Bat Mitzah gift.
Romantic Jewish Jewelry
"Ani Le'dodi Ve'Dodi Li" translates to "I am my beloved, and my beloved is mine," from the Song of Soloman.
It has become popular as an expression of love between husband and wife and often spoken on the wedding day. Beautiful, handcrafted gold wedding rings engraved with this quote are a perfect expression of the passionate love between two people.
Dove Symbolism in Jewish Jewelry
The Dove has been a universal symbol of love and hope since Noah's story of the flood. Noah sent a dove from the ark to find land, and it returned carrying a fresh olive leaf in its beak. A dove became a sign of God's forgiveness as the waters receded and the ark could return to dry land. Dove images abound as earrings and necklaces in silver, gold, and platinum. Wearing a pendant with a dove expresses optimism and hope for the future.
Jewish Jewelry with the Western or Wailing Wall
Also known as the "Kotel," the Western or Wailing Wall is an important Jerusalem landmark with significant spiritual meaning. Traditionally believed to have been part of the Temple of Soloman, the Wall is a place of prayer and lamentation. It is the most religious site in the world for Jews. An impression of stone texture from the Wall on a gold or silver pendant is a precious reminder of faith and the idea of redemption. Stones or a Star of David often appear on a Western Wall pendant.
The Healing Prayer Wheel of Jewish Jewelry
Prayer wheels engraved with words from the Mi Shebarakh revolve as you turn them to focus healing power. Pewter, silver, or gold three bead designs feature words of faith and love for healing.
Prayer wheel pendants make great gifts!
Combining Faith and Art in Jewish Jewelry
Express the tenants of the Jewish faith in beautiful and artistic ways with adornments created especially for you.