Here's What Your Evil Eye Accessory Really Means

Ileana Makri ring photo courtesy of Net-a-Porter.
When it comes to gems the hidden ones are often stories, not stones. Welcome to Demystified, where we look beyond the jewelry box, past our closets, and into the depths of our most cherished possessions to reveal their cross-cultural significance.
The eye: a small but mighty organ that harnesses tremendous potential beyond its base biological function. It's a master of emotion, subject of creative masterpieces by Margaret Keane to Van Morrison, and focal point for many of literature's most profound love stories. But, for thousands of years, it's also been known to transmit a spiteful curse that can only be broken with a certain accessory.
Ever snagged the only open spot in a packed parking lot or, swiped the last jacket at an Acne Studios sample sale? If so, then you know the wrath of a vicious look. Because these types of envious glares were thought to cast curses of misfortune or physical harm, eye-shaped talismans were historically employed as a form of eye-for-an-eye protection. Superstitions surrounding the evil eye may vary, but ocular amulets are worn across the globe as quasi-universal mechanisms of defense. The popular aesthetic interpretation of what was originally a small, eye-like blue bead has evolved with contemporary fashion's growing interest in mystical jewelry and design. But, long before the evil eye pins à la Alexander McQueen and Gigi Hadid's embellished mules for Stuart Weitzman (and now, the evil eye bracelet she dons to match that of her boyfriend and future baby daddy, Zayn Malik), the use of this enchanted motif spanned centuries and civilizations dating back to 3300 BC — most notably in the Ottoman Empire.
According to Ileana Makri, a Greek jewelry designer who draws inspiration from ancient mythology, the significance of the evil-eye charm extends far beyond its ability to deflect bad luck; The incantation lies in its broad appeal powerful enough to bridge cultural divides. "I see that with time many people around the world enjoy wearing an amulet that makes them feel protected from the negative forces that might be directed towards them," Makri says. "It creates a connection with the metaphysical world."
A figurative armor of sorts, this symbol allows for its wearer to feel as though they're actively preparing for life's unexpected challenges. Ahead, discover the design in a glittering range of iterations you can employ as style with intention.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

More from Shopping

R29 Original Series