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January 12, 2012

Egyptian-Inspired Jewelry

By Amanda Ross | Fashion, Jewelry

Fred Leighton Egyptian jewelry
Courtesy Fred Leighton

Ancient Egypt’s mysterious religious and architectural symbols have always fascinated me, and they often influence my style. One of my favorite trips was to Luxor, Dendera and Cairo, where I visited the Khan al Khalili market, the best place to unearth rare treasures. I found lapis and turquoise scarabs, scooping them up by the handfuls. In ancient Egypt this beetle, which was often entombed with mummies, was a sacred symbol, its life cycle seen as a metaphor for rebirth and resurrection—hence, its association with immortality. Scarabs were inscribed with hieroglyphics and carried as amulets, or worn as jewelry for good luck. Today they continue to inspire jewelers everywhere. Santa Monica, California–based designer Darlene de Sedle, who carves them from gold and rainbow moonstone, helped me create a flower-shaped turquoise and purple iolite cocktail ring. I also brought scarab beads to New York–based Aurora Lopez Mejia, who used them to craft a one-of-a-kind necklace. I love the idea that these little bugs hold so much power and significance.

A 19th-century scarab and jeweled pendant necklace from Fred Leighton. $145,000; 212-288-1872.