Its talismanic qualities may be steeped in classical myth but contemporary jewellers, from Ileana Makri to Delfina Delettrez, have set their sights on the Evil Eye. Their new variations augment obscure notions of throwaway beach trinkets by using precious materials to heighten the ubiquitous symbol’s graphic potential and emotional pull.
Ileana Makri was one of the first designers to unveil the modern potential of Evil Eye jewellery. The symbol appears across her collections: in bomb rings with ghoulish veins, crying eyes with exaggerated tear drops, and delicate chains with a more traditional take on form but with uncommon colour variations.
Delfina Delettrez, meanwhile, has played her part in reviving the Evil Eye with her quirky takes. The distinct Surrealist vibe of her celebrated Anatomik collection, adding lips and noses into the design mix, has done much to revive the Evil Eye as the jewel symbol du jour. 'My reference is more romantic, it comes from the lover’s eye,' she explains. 'Women used to sew small delicate eyes into their husband’s clothes, to be protected from betrayals. Like a third eye who watches over their love.' Delettrez’s new interpretations are modern and playful with variations in glitter and enamel.
The motif is also to be found in more graphic guises with designs from Indian jeweller Amrapali. Its Dover Street Market line is all the more powerful for its straight take, avoiding a figurative interpretation in favour of form and colour. The gesture of the Evil Eye is there but it’s so subtle you’d not necessarily be aware that is what you are looking at.
Lebanese designer Noor Fares takes a similarly understated view, alluding to the Evil Eye in a secretive way. Her new ‘Eye Do’ collection of geometric wedding and engagement rings hides the tiniest of Evil Eyes on their reverse. She admits that the talisman effect is something ‘that was passed onto me by my grandmother, who told me that it offers protection to whoever wears it.’
Natalie Kingham, buying director at Matchesfashion.com, believes the current taste for Evil Eye jewellery is not a transient fad but instead indicative of a growing appreciation amongst customers for the stories behind fine jewellery. ‘My personal take is that there’s a wider awareness of their spiritual meaning, though the designs by Makri and Delfina are done in such an elevated way that the Evil Eye remains eternally chic.’