Forget Any Preconceived Notions About #13 – It Might Be Your Luckiest Charm Yet

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.

Hi, hello, and happy November! We're not sure how we even got here (week #666 in the chaotic tumble of months we're calling 2020... but who's counting?), but we've also arrived at the thirteenth installation of our Demystified series which, admittedly, is giving us a mild case of the heebie-jeebies. Is this just some creepy coincidence, or is it a sign from the sartorial powers that be? Whatever's behind this eerie alignment of events, be not afraid, because we asked jewelry designer Lynette Ong and she's assured us that there's nothing to be scared of when it comes to the number 13.

"The concept of a lucky number, as in one that brings prosperity, protection, and guidance, isn’t so prevalent in the West. But I grew up in the heart of Singapore where knowing your lucky number is like knowing your zodiac sign — you just do," she says. The value of one's destined digits is so important within Ong's culture that the 2014 launch of her jewelry brand, Edge of Ember, featured a whole Lucky Numbers collection. And go figure — it's one of her best-sellers to this day.
"I think ‘unlucky 13’ is more of a western thing," says jewelry designer Lynette Ong.
Ong explains that this Chinese tradition has been adopted by many countries in East Asia where age-old myths and superstitions still play a part in contemporary life. Much like in astrology, your lucky number is not a random selection, but rather determined at birth by an ancient calculation. Curious what your's might be? Us too, and you don't need to be a wizard to figure it out — there's an easy-to-follow formula for that. Even pronunciation matters when it comes to fortuitous numerals in Chinese culture, which is why despite its bum rap here in the U.S., 13 is a real winner in other parts of the world. "Four sounds like death [in Japanese, Cantonese, and Mandarin], so four is the bad luck number rather than the number 13," Ong says. "The number 13 means 'assured growth' or 'definitely vibrant' in Chinese. That’s why it's actually considered very lucky."

Still, regardless of its perceived goodness elsewhere, the number 13 is often met with real fear outside of Asia. So real, in fact, that it's got an official name: triskaidekaphobia. Buildings have noticeably absent 13th floors while slasher films like Friday the 13th certainly aren't doing the ill-fated double-digit any favors. The roots of 13's unpopularity remain unclear, but some theories suggest its unholiness is biblical; the Last Supper was attended by 13 people, one of whom turned out to be the ultimate betrayer. On top of that, 13 will forever live in the shadow of its younger sibling, 12, which is appreciated for its evenness and thus used for everything from the number of months in a year to the hours on a clock.
But Ong's insight paints the number 13 in a brighter light, and even if it doesn't turn out to be your lucky number, it can make for a special and personalized gift when commemorating a sentimental date, a birthday, or an anniversary. And while we'd never attribute Alex Morgan's bad-assery on the soccer field to anything other than pure skill, one has to ask, if 13 has been carried proudly on the back of an American hero, shouldn't we all be warming up to it by now?

If you're still not convinced, maybe Rihanna's decision to emblazon pieces of her Fenty x Puma collaboration with the ol' one-three will change your mind. The way we see it, that's one helluva stamp of approval, and it might just be worth taking the risk with some #13 apparel of our own. From sports jerseys to antique charms, there are plenty of unique ways to invite these digits into your home and your jewelry box without having to worry about any kind of misfortune — at least not as far as Ong is concerned.
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