By Ashley Davis
Foundrae’s Wholeness Medallion in 18-karat gold with diamond ($2,650)
Medallions have been worn since antiquity but have gained a new resonance over the past few years among fine jewelry designers, who are updating classic symbols and making them their own.

The reasons for making and wearing such talisman haven’t changed. Designers are donning their own medallions to invoke protection, guidance, luck, or as reminders of where they’re going or what they’ve overcome.

“I love protective medallions because it reminds us to have inner strength and that we are warriors,” said Joy Smith, designer of Communion by Joy.

Like all the jewelry she makes, Smith carves the wax molds for her medallions herself and considers herself a channel for messages from the universe.

20180518 Medallions CommunionbyJoyCommunion by Joy’s 14-karat yellow gold Light Language Halo medallion necklace in 14-karat yellow gold with white diamonds. It’s also available in pink sapphire or garnet.

While many of her medallions feature symbols pulled from various religions and traditions, such as the Virgin Mary or a dove, some styles are unique to Smith.

Her favorite medallion is her “Light Language Halo Necklace,” which she inscribes with abstract symbols directly conveyed by the divine life source.  

“The symbols are etched by my hands, which are channeled by the divine light, which carry the vibration, or energy, of light,” said the designer, who recently opened a Culver City, California showroom and event space that hosts healers of a variety of modalities.

Smith’s spiritual take on medallions is a theme I encountered with the other designers I interviewed.

Beth Bugdaycay’s line Foundrae is completely centered on symbols, elevating contemporary fine fashion jewelry to heirloom-worthy talismans laden with meaning and emotion.

The themes of her symbols range from strength to karma, but wholeness is the concept resonating most with Bugdaycay.

20180518 Medallions FoundraeFoundrae’s Wholeness Medallion in 18-karat gold with diamond ($2,650)
“To me, the feeling of being whole holds a special place in my heart because I didn’t feel this way when I was in the midst of leaving a 20-year career. You’ll see a diverse group of symbols implemented throughout our Wholeness medallions and these symbols signify what I needed to feel whole again,” she explained.

A snake symbolizing rejuvenation and a crescent moon symbolizing growth are among the icons that Bugdaycay relies on as visual intentions, and wants her customers to use as guides as well.

“I want people to remember that this medallion is not a lucky charm and I want those wearing this piece, and all of my pieces for that matter, to use it as a guide to find what they’re looking for within themselves because it’s there. They will begin to grow and feel whole once they acknowledge that.”

In an industry that relies on the emotional value of jewelry to connect with customers, and struggles with societal delays in traditional life milestones like marriage and anniversaries, perhaps the fine jewelry designers creating such intention-packed pieces have found a new, authentic way to engage.

20180518 Medallions CaroleLeBrisPerezCarole Le Bris Perez’s 14-karat gold pendants with enamel and diamonds. The “Luck” pendant is in the middle, while the “Love” pendant is on either side.
Designer Carole Le Bris Perez creates jewelry that is an homage to her favorite visual artists from Pablo Picasso to Jean-Michel Basquiat. Her new medallions, launched within the last year, are similarly inspired by art but mark Le Bris Perez’s most personal jewelry yet.

“Luck and love,” she mused, “I think these are the two most important things in life. I wanted to create a good luck medallion that I can wear every day, even under the shower, and with every outfit; jewels that create good luck and love, with a nice sparkly diamond in it.”

 Her “Luck pendant” features an ancient pentacle symbol found in a French book of magic while the “Love” pendant is a loose interpretation of works by the artist Nicky de Saint Phalle.

“She made huge sculptures of ‘nanas,’ representing love, fertility and femininity. I loved her whimsical designs so she inspired me to do that medallion with a heart and pastel pink and bone-colored enamel. I layer them and wear them every day. It makes me feel protected.”

20180518 Medallions MarloLazMarlo Laz’s 18-karat gold and sapphire Guiding Light Pendant ($7,530)
Marlo Laz designer Jesse Lazowski’s aesthetic is entirely her own but the seed of inspiration for her latest collection is nature, particularly of the Southwest, its landscape and peoples.

"The ‘Guiding Light Sapphire Pendant’ is my interpretation of the Native American sun symbol,” said the young talent. “With a palette of sapphires from orange to purple, the hues capture the desert sunset and sunrise. Not only does it stand for happiness and strength, but it also serves as a reminder to let your intuition guide you and let your inner light shine through."

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