We all have that one piece of jewelry that transports us to another time and place. Whether it’s a delicate bracelet from grandma, or an exotic evil-eye charm handed down from generations past, the symbolism and identity hidden within charms is often overlooked. But, designer and Forbes 30 Under 30 alumn Jessica Hendricks Yee is bringing back the traditional ties to fine jewelry in her latest collection, Zahava.
Launched this past summer, Zahava — the Hebrew term for “golden” — released its thoughtfully crafted tokens, minimal atlas necklaces, and cryptic “wisdom rings” out to the universe, customizable to your heart’s rustic gold desires. But, there’s more than meets the eye with these stunning pieces: each pendant, charm, and ring has a minimalist take on heritage-driven symbolism, giving the pieces an intimate perspective.
“It sets a link for something symbolic, something much bigger,” said Yee. “All of these pieces have this sort of ethos running through them, and come back to the wisdom inside yourself or any idea you want to be reminded of. “
The concept of using exotic peacocks, Ancient Aramaic engravings, and intricately placed diamonds all rose from Yee’s cultural collide of her Jewish heritage and that of her now-husband’s Chinese culture, while coordinating her wedding. “It was a feast of symbolism, colors, and rituals,” she said. “It got me thinking a lot about some of the symbols and traditions that have been passed down through generations, through so many people for thousands of years, and the power of that.”
This concept, in collaboration with her instinctive attachment to graceful botanicals and celestial imagery, sparked the birth of Zahava’s exotic aesthetic. Each and every design is rooted to cultural symbols with prominence for hundreds (if not thousands) of years, but with a modern touch. You can now donn the wisdom of a peacock, the balance of an ibex, or the peace-wielding olive branch in a single delicate token, made to resemble “another time and place, a visual from the past.”
“We’ve been using accessories for symbolism for thousands of years,” she said. “It’s something that makes you feel safe, or has a connection to the past that gives you strength.”
Through an infusion of past, present, and future, Yee is making more than just another gold necklace: she’s distilled centuries of tradition and personal identity, all into a single wearable trinket.