For Talismanic Purposes ~ Designing the Evil Eye Necklace
One of my favorite pieces of jewelry I ever designed was an Evil Eye Necklace with blue and colorless diamonds and finished with delicate hand-engraved details giving the piece a golden aura-like appearance.
I am half Greek, on my mother’s side, and very connected to the culture. It was my maternal great-grandparents that originally came to the United States from Greece. On my Yiayia’s (Greek for grandmother) side my great-grandfather was from Sparta (“This.Is.SPARTA!!” could not resist adding this in from the movie 300 :-) ) and my great-grandmother was American, by way of County Cork, Ireland. My Papou’s (Greek for grandfather) side is from the island of Cephalonia. Kefalonia, and island in the Ionian Sea, is where the story for Captain Corelli’s Mandolin takes place. Being a bit of hybrid myself (French-Italian father) I have been influenced by these different cultures. I spent many summers in Greece and grew up eating pasticcio and loukoumades (aka Greek lasagna and doughnuts) and dancing to traditional folk music of the various regions.
The Evil Eye, or Mati, is symbolic of the Greek culture so designing my own version of it just made sense. It is a piece that I wear daily as my own personal talisman. Traditionally, the Mati, is worn to protect the wearer from the “evil eye” which can be cast upon them through jealous or negative thoughts. To capture the blue of the Mediterranean sea and the white sunbleached ruins of ancient Greece, it felt natural to set blue and colorless diamonds. The finishing of the piece was very important too. I had captured the sea and the land but needed to capture the sun. Greek jewelry has always been fabricated using a rich yellow gold. Think of the golden jewelry of ancient Greece with the detailed granulation. Referencing my art background, I wanted to create some kind of texture on the surface of the metal. A surface where you can see the “hand of the artist”. I accomplished this by developing a hand-engraving technique that is similar to Florentine engraving. This finishing is all done by hand and makes the surface look like spun gold.
The typical design interpretation of an Evil Eye in modern jewelry tends to be a flat eye in solid metal or studded with diamonds. I wanted to design a piece with layers that seems to come alive, especially in the light. I believe I succeeded as my necklace comes alive, it pops, sparkles, reflects and has layers. Deep layers that give it talismanic importance and reflect the deep beliefs of the society and history it represents.