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 lion's roaring appeal across continents, cultures, and even centuries is far from surprising. The ruler of the jungle has long reigned as the mightiest depiction of strength and courage, both within its natural habitat and in civilization. Its power is perhaps most significantly symbolized in the design domain, where the animal's fiercely regal features have been idolized throughout history in the form of ornate jewelry pieces and majestic accessories. We chatted with Andraya Kenton, founder and creative director of jewelry line Celeste Starre, about how there's so much more to this motif than muscle. According to Kenton, the lion isn't just a physical embodiment of her heritage — it's a portal into the past.
"It has been said that if you wear a ring with the lion's face on the right hand, you activate your leadership skills and the desire to win," the designer explains. But for Kenton, the owner of a company whose name itself is an homage to her Italian great-grandmother who immigrated to New York in the 1930s, the lion represents more than sheer force. "My ancestors were merchants and they planted sculptures of lions everywhere they traded. And, the buildings, bridges, and waterways of the beautiful city of Venice to this day are adorned with the lion motif," Kenton explains. Rumor has it that the ancient city is now home to so many of these lion-like adornments that you couldn't even count them if you tried.
This feline fascination dates back to as early as the 18th dynasty in Egypt when lions were carved into granite statues and Pharaohs used them as either pets or prey to assert their own supreme authority. The animal is also an object of desire for many in the luxury realm, particularly within fashion houses from Versace to Gucci and beyond (name a stronger sartorial statement than an 18k lion ring flaunting fire opals from its jaws). Not to mention its affiliation with the Zodiac world, which Kenton — wife and mother to two Leos — points to as another reason why the beauty of this beast has inspired some of her most cherished Celeste Starre pieces. "It’s like a little love note to [my son and my husband] every day that I wear one."
If you're looking to unleash a wilder side of your personal style or take a journey back in time, we've hunted down a selection of the fiercest lion pieces ahead that are fit for kings and queens alike.
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