I am a big cat lover and so no wonder I have many cat theme things at home including adornments. But browsing recently through my collection of jewelry I was surprised to notice that I have quite enough pieces of fish ornaments as well: two pairs of earrings and three pendants. Seems that this design started to attract me without even my realization. Who could guess that a fish, not the most attractive in its appearance creature, would become a popular theme for jewelry designs.
Egyptian fish amulet. Gold, beryl. 1981-1640BC, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Actually, fish motif has been in jewelry for many centuries. In Ancient Egypt images of the tilapia fish were worn by women as amulets to increase fertility power and reproductive strength. The boulti fish was associated with the sun and its image carried protective properties for ancient Egyptians. So, the boulti fish amulets were worn to protect from potential pitfalls in this or in the afterlife. Fish amulets called nekhaw were worn especially by children to protect them from drowning and were usually attached to the end of the side-lock or plait, which symbolized their youth. It was thought that the amulet allowed the wearer to acquire the abilities of a fish, and therefore survival, if she/he happened to fall into the water.
A ring with the image of fish. Gold. Indonesia, 8-10th c, Metropolitan Museum of Art
In many ancient cultures fish often symbolized the reproductive organs of a fertility goddess, from Syrian Atargatis, Greek/Roman Aphrodite/Venus to the pagan Great Mother goddess. In India and Nepal fish still represents fertility and as such appears as a design in jewelry for brides and married women.
Pendant jewel. Gold, ruby, pearl, garnet, amethyst, emerald, enamel. Spain, 16th c. The British Museum
In Nubia the fish-shaped amulets are used as a talisman to bring good luck and ward off the evil eye and in Thailand such amulets serve for improving one's business and for gambling luck. Many sailors and fishermen around the world wear fish amulets to ensure safety at sea and luck in fishing.
Earrings with double reversed crystal intaglios, set in gold, depicting goldfish in round bowls. 1870, Made by William James Thomas. The British Museum
I wonder what attracted me in buying fish jewelry...Sure I bought those pieces without any secret thought of improving my fertility or in hope to bring me luck in fishing. I supposed I just liked the beauty and originality of the designs. I searched the net and found a few amazing pieces that I would not mind to have in my collection... if I could afford them. But at least I could enjoy the creativity and craftsmanship of those who made these beauties.
Designer Signed Oscar Heyman gold and platinum brooch. A total of 24 round brilliant cut diamonds, one 10 carat natural emerald and 26 cabochon cut natural sapphires ( 7995$ ) Found here
Cloisonne Fish Necklace "Big Fish Little Fish". Enamels in 18k Gold with three 2-2.5mm sapphires.(3600$ ) Found here
Vintage fish brooch. Gold, opal, sapphires. (1495$ ) Found here
And the following two I could possibly afford
Vintage Chinese silver enamel fish earrings (88$) Found here
Vintage gold, teal green & coral fish necklace (149$) Found here
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