Since the dawn of time, humans have sought answers in the stars. Cave dwellers used to mark the phases of the moon and the earliest evidence of astrology dates back to the third millennium BC. Celestial observations were even used to inform science and medicine until the 17th century. Never mind that it’s considered a pseudoscience: astrology is once again in vogue, as we try to make sense of our complex, unpredictable world. Its influence infiltrates even the most stylish wardrobes and jewelry boxes of our time.
“Zodiac jewelry peaked in popularity during the 1930s, the 1970s and today: all eras of great uncertainty,” says Marion Fasel, jewelry historian and founder of online jewelry magazine The Adventurine. “People look to the stars and want their jewelry to act as a talisman during difficult, uncertain times.”
In the 1960s and 1970s, the so-called ‘Age of Aquarius’, Parisian jewelry houses responded to the booming interest in spirituality by creating gold pendants depicting the signs of the zodiac. Half a century later, these vintage pieces are hugely sought after at auction. And there’s an explosion of contemporary jewelers turning to the skies for inspiration.
Zodiac-inspired jewels and pieces that feature birthstones are a spiritual evolution from the pendants that have been popular for many years. Women want to wear jewelry that feels unique, and in a world where we’re all searching to feel understood, horoscopes and astrology offer the recognition we crave.
“Astrology has universal appeal: it creates a personal connection between the jewel and its wearer,” says Brooke Gregson, whose zodiac pendants have been bestsellers since she launched them in 2003. Crafted in textured 14kt gold, inspired by a battered Indian coin she discovered at an antiques market, each pendant is adorned with the wearer’s zodiac constellation picked out in diamonds. “The beautiful thing about wearing your constellation is its abstract quality. It’s secretive and personal to you,” adds Gregson.
“People yearn for the meaning birthstones and zodiacs bring to their jewels,” says Fasel. These pieces also lend themselves perfectly to layering, allowing wearers to curate a unique look – and they make ideal gifts. “Birthstones seemed a natural fit for a collection that was the ultimate gifting product,” says Monica Vinader of her new Fiji Bud range of teardrop-shaped gemstones that can be strung onto earrings, bracelets or necklaces. “Each stone is a stunning pop of color, and the added meaning of the birthstone means it’s a gift to cherish for life.”
Sarah & Sebastian is another brand to render zodiac constellations in diamonds, while its birthstone collection sets colored gemstones, each corresponding to a different month, on delicate gold chains. Meanwhile, Andrea Fohrman’s moon-phase collection reminds the wearer of the cycle in the lunar calendar at the time of their birth: another celestial event that’s believed to influence one’s personality.
London-based brand Alighieri depicts the the animals of the Chinese zodiac on rugged 24kt-gold-plated coins, whose molten quality lends them a time-worn, talismanic feeling. “Each figure carries a personal story of fortune, which can be worn as an emblem of hope all year round,” says Alighieri’s founder Rosh Mahtani.
“Jewelry has always been talismanic – in every culture we look to symbols for strength and protection,” she continues. “The whole world is going through the same fight right now, and I think there is hope in reading the stars and thinking about how everything is connected. It grounds us, and we need to be grounded now more than ever.”
The models featured in this story are not associated with NET-A-PORTER and do not endorse it or the products shown