As Michael Coan, associate professor of jewelry design at the New York Fashion Institute of Technology, says: “Humans have contemplated, studied, and applied these shapes and proportions over millennia, and they have come to acquire a kind of “divine” importance. . Thus, a cross has a deeply rooted meaning and place in our consciousness – which predates what modern history has assigned to it.
In other words, the cross had a particular shape, common to all humanity, long before records began. And even in its Christian form, its dimensions can reveal more about the wearer, such as which branch of the religion they belong to. A cross consisting of two equal lines is associated with Greek Orthodoxy, while an elongated “pole” with shorter “arms” is part of the Western European tradition. And then there is the Maltese version: linked to heraldry and royalty, and to the ancient badge of the Knights Hospitaller, it is the style adopted by the American jeweler Lauren Harwell Godfrey.
While the four triangles of the Maltese Cross might evoke memories of another ultra-stylish and influential woman – Mademoiselle Gabrielle Chanel – who paired her pearl necklaces with a chic cuff bearing the emblem (created for her by the Duke Fulco di Verdura), Lauren Harwell Godfrey’s pieces are as much about chi as they are chic. Their colorful accents of hot pink, orange and yellow sapphire radiate positive energy, representing, she says, “the four elements of earth, air, fire and water.” They are also symbols of bravery, she adds – illustrated military medals – and she points out that “crux” (Latin for “cross”) now means “a vital, fundamental, decisive or pivotal point”, representing empowerment. .
New Yorker Eva Fehren would get Harwell Godfrey’s vote. She considers the cross that motivates her X collection (and her brand’s logo) to be “a symbol of individuality and strength…the shape has always fascinated me.” Fehren’s graphic pendants, bracelets and rings – set with white or black diamonds in blackened white gold, rose gold, yellow gold or platinum – display “balance, symmetry and elegance, and convey both purity and tenacity bold”.
Suffering and redemption, innocence and endurance, uniqueness and mystery: the crux of the problem is this: these two lines, which intersect perpendicularly, have a strange but powerful hold on us. This is why X truly marks the sweetest point in jewelry.
This article first appeared in the Tatler Watch & Jewelry Guide 2023, on sale in the December issue.