Today, in jewelry stores, churches, monasteries and Orthodox shops, there are a variety of wearable crosses that are offered for purchase by Orthodox believers. The church does not prohibit such a variety of forms. You can find simple four-pointed crosses, there is a complicated symbolic form, complemented by images of saints, and they are made in the form of reliquaries, that is, miniature boxes with tightly closed doors. All these forms have their long history of development in church art.
In addition to the crosses, the jewelry industry produces a wide variety of pendants in the form of small breast icons, or, as they are called, small figurines. They depict the glorified miracles of the icon of Christ, the Mother of God and the revered saints. The tradition of wearing miniature icons on the chest was developed in Byzantium in ancient times. Originally, the images were cut from stone and resembled antique cameos. The enamel and relief cast images were placed only on the covers of reliquaries. But already in the 10th century, the first pendants appeared with images of saints, cast of precious metals and decorated with sculptural reliefs, enamels and stones. Then the first cast icons of the Blessed Virgin Mary began to be made in Russia.
Now the scapulars are sometimes called “amulet”. This is not entirely true. Initially, special bags with frankincense or any shrine were worn with the cross on the neck. Later, thanks to the belief in the special effect of incense on an evil spirit (“runs like the devil from incense”), so began to call amulets from “evil eye” and “damage”. But the icon can not be an amulet. This is a superstition alien to the Orthodox tradition. Orthodox people believe that it is not the icon itself as an object that possesses effective force in the icon, but the saint who is depicted on it.
More and more often in the shops you can also see beautiful security rings. This is not a fad. Such products have a very ancient history, dating back to the first centuries of Christianity. Quite a few guard rings made in Byzantium survived. They depict saints, inscribed special protective prayers, sometimes with mention of the name of the owner.
Since ancient times, guard rings have been used to protect against evil forces. They protected themselves, and also used to seal the most valuable and expensive things. It was such rings in antiquity that they got engaged and married, as if calling the saints depicted on them, to witness the purity of the love of spouses and to the guardians of their marriage. Later, wedding rings began to appear with special inscriptions, but the tradition of getting married with rings depicting saints never disappeared.
From ancient times, the ring itself was perceived as a protective symbol because of its shape – a closed endless enclosure. The rings were worn on the most vulnerable places: on the lower back (belt), on the fingers (rings), on the wrists (bracelets), on the temples (temporal rings, woven into the hair). If the Orthodox jewelry industry has mastered the rings for a long time, then bracelets with prayers have appeared only recently. On the inside or outside of such “security” bracelets are placed the protective prayers: “Live in help,” “God rise,” and “Jesus prayer,” which believers from time immemorial were worn to protect them from demonic attacks.
Crosses, reliquaries, images and guard rings have always been not only religious symbols, but also exquisite jewelry. However, in the XX century in Russia, this tradition was lost. Now there is a clear trend towards the return of the ancient attitude to religious jewelry, the revival of the aesthetics of piety.