Visit any bazaar or market in Greece or Turkey and you’ll find a wide assortment of blue-and-white eye-shaped ornaments and adornments hanging from all corners–staring back at you, as though they were following your every move. The concept behind the curse of the evil eye, as well as the protective measures employed against it, dates back about 5,000 years, and belief in it continues to persist to this day.

You’ve likely seen a number of celebrities sporting evil eye jewelry: notable among them is Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, who has been seen wearing an evil eye pendant as well as an evil eye bracelet. Other A-listers who have been spotted wearing the evil eye include Jennifer Aniston, Sofia Vergara, Gigi Hadid, and Kim Kardashian. Read on below for more information on the meaning and significance of the evil eye, and why it’s such a popular design in jewelry:

What is the evil eye?

Belief in the curse of the evil eye isn’t just ancient–it is also widely prevalent. A version of the curse has existed and continues to exist in Greek, Jewish, Romanian, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Turkish, Kazakh, and many other cultures for thousands of years, with the earliest known belief in its power predating ancient Greece and Rome. According to a journal article published in the American Ethnologist, around 40% of the entire population of the world believes in the curse of the evil eye, mostly concentrated in the Mediterranean region, as well as in Central and Western Asia. Immigrants and European colonists are believed to have brought it to America.

But what is the evil eye? It is a supernatural belief that being on the receiving end of a malevolent gaze can bring all manner of misfortune and even injury to someone. The curse is said to affect humans and animals alike; innocents such as children can be especially at risk.

To that end, measures to protect oneself or ward the curse off entirely have been around for as long, too. The Greeks referred to several objects, amulets, and charms that protected against the evil eye as apotropaia, periapta, periammata, probaskania, and profylaktika; they also placed protective talismans in their homes to fortify it against the curse. Phallic charms called fascinum were used as pendants, set into rings, carved into buildings, and made into wind chimes to boost an individual’s luck and balance out the effects of the evil eye.

The nazar talisman is by far the most popular symbol in the modern world that is believed to ward off the curse of the evil eye.

The nazar: a symbol of protection against the evil eye

A nazar, derived from the Arabic word for “sight” or “surveillance” (نَظَر‎), is an eye-shaped amulet that is widely believed to protect against the evil eye. The same term is used in many other languages, including Hebrew, Hindi, Persian, Punjabi, and Turkish, among others. In Turkey, it is referred to as nazar boncuğu, roughly translating to “eye bead”. In Greece, the symbol is called mati, referring directly to the name of the curse it is meant to ward off.

Typically, a nazar is made out of handmade glass that features a design of concentric circles forming the shape of an eye. They are primarily found in shades of blue and white, with the white forming the sclera. The pupil of the nazar can either be light blue, gold, or black in color.

The nazar can be worn as jewelry or hung up as an ornament anywhere you wish to be protected. In Turkey, it is often found in homes and offices; nazar amulets are also hung on the hospital room doors of newborn children. Turkish mothers traditionally pin the nazar on their children’s clothing, or hang a nazar charm on their cribs. They are also used in cars or boats.

Suzanne Kalan’s Evil Eye Collection: a thoroughly modern take on the nazar

In these anxious times, there’s no harm in believing in items that can provide additional protection. Our Evil Eye Collection prominently features the powerful protective symbol of the nazar, forming it using a variety of precious metals, gemstones, and diamonds.

We offer bracelets, pendants, and rings that feature the evil eye; our catalog also includes evil eye stud earrings that allow you to wear the mystical symbol in a subtle and elegant way.

Our mini dark blue sapphire evil eye stud earrings follow the traditional colors of the nazar: made with 18 karat white gold, the center stones are two 3-millimeter round dark blue sapphires while the sclera around them is formed out of 0.10 round white diamonds. The eyes are surrounded by 0.32 carats of delicate baguette diamonds.

For those looking for a fresher, more feminine take on the nazar, we offer the mini pink sapphire evil eye stud earrings. Available in either rose or yellow 18 karat gold, these earrings feature pink sapphire center stones encircled by round white diamonds and surrounded by baguette diamonds.