Although most people associate the evil eye symbol with a certain contemporary style of jewelry, it is only one manifestation of an ancient tradition. The evil eye has appeared in many cultures throughout history and can be seen in artifacts from Asia, Europe, South America, North America and Africa.
The earliest appearance of evil eye protection was probably in the form of the symbol hamsa. The hamsa is a palm-shaped amulet with eye-like markings known to have been used in Mesopotamia and the land of the Phoencians before migrating into Mediterranean societies, notably Greece and Turkey. It was also used by early Christians in Europe as a symbol of protection from evil. The Hamsa has been used as a decorative symbol to provide household security, as well as an amulet to provide personal evil eye protection.
Islamic cultures have also associated eyes with good and bad luck, using the evil eye symbol called nazar bonugu in Turkey and surrounding countries. One modern method of warding against the evil eye is by placing a nazar bonugu blue eye on a house or doorway. The color blue is associated with protection in the Muslim world because it is the color of heaven.
The evil eye amulet has been used as part of jewelry since ancient times, often to ward off evil or bad luck rather than attract good fortune. Etruscan art from Italy, around 500 B.C., includes much use of blue-colored glass decorated with concentric circles and ovals to look like the evil eye. This style of ornamentation has been used as a design element in many parts of the world, such as Native American Indian jewelry and African tribal ornaments.
The Navajo, for example, created evil eye beads using turquoise that were believed to protect against "naughty glances." Evil eye beads symbolized endurance, strength and spiritual awareness, as well as the connection between the heavens and earth. To The Navajo, the evil eye meaning also symbolizes power. Pueblo, Zuni and Sioux cultures all use the symbol of an unblinking eye to represent protection against negative energy.
The use of evil eye jewelry appears in many places throughout history, with each culture imparting its own evil eye meaning. Evil eye amulets were used by early Christians in Europe to ward off evil spirits. The evil eye was also used by Native Americans for protection and the symbol has become part of many modern cultures around the world. It remains a powerful symbol that is also decorative, making it an enduring part of jewelry history.