For millennia, humankind has believed that celestial events influence our lives on earth, so it’s odd that astrology is considered “New Age”. What’s not odd is that 2022 should be the year we all went mad for star sign necklaces and zodiac-themed jewellery, safe in the knowledge that at least our star signs won’t go rogue on us.
Van Cleef & Arpels has been gazing at the heavens for inspiration since the 1950s, taking the movements and colours of the cosmos as a theme and running with it ever since. “1953 is the earliest reference to astrology in the archives,” explains the house’s patrimonial director Lise Macdonald. “There is a product card from that year for a tiny charm representing Gemini, with sapphire stars and two human figures in silhouette.”
It’s the 1970s, however, that inspired the larger style of the two new Zodiaque collections Van Cleef & Arpels has just launched. Boldly chunky and reminiscent of vintage poker chips, the twelve signs of the zodiac are wrought in a dozen different hardstones, from streaky green malachite to striated iron eye and pale blue quartz. They take their cues from ’70s star sign necklaces, which saw discs of stone set in twisted-gold surrounds, with the relevant symbols and constellations cast in textured yellow gold.
Today’s hardstone pendants are larger and more complex, the hard, colourful minerals acting more as backgrounds over which polished rose gold can shine. On one side, the sign is represented literally – a proud lion in profile for Leo, for example – against a relief depicting the element associated with that sign, be it fire, water, air or earth. The other side shows each sign’s symbol, the dates associated with it in large Roman numerals, and its name in Latin. It’s a gloriously complex representation of each zodiac sign in one tactile pendant.
“Astrology was a big topic in the 1970s,” Macdonald says. “Sociologically there were big shifts, and people were feeling more connected to nature, more open to how they interpreted themselves, more open to travel. Astrology spoke to those shifts.”
The second collection looks to the house’s designs from the 1950s, simpler, smaller gold pendants that were created consistently in different sizes and guises from that period on, and seen on the likes of Princess Grace of Monaco and actress Romy Schneider.
“The beauty of zodiac jewellery is that people like to wear them in groups,” explains Macdonald. “You’d buy your own, but also the signs of your children and husband, so they became very collectible.”
And as easy as it is to scoff at someone believing their lives are ruled by the position of the stars and planets when they were born, there’s something deliciously tempting about owning something precious that represents just that. For zodiac lovers, star signs aren’t just about the date they were born, but about being a member of a certain club. Maybe every twelfth person on the planet is in the same club as you, but to meet a fellow Cancerian or Pisces and shriek in agreement over your common traits is to feel a connection with someone. It’s also a way of connecting your jewellery to yourself, and yourself to the cosmos.
Fully signed-up member of team horoscope or not, in the jewellery world right now, your zodiac is where it’s at. It’s why you can’t enter a jewellery store without seeing stars (of the astrological variety) strewn across pendants and rings these days.
Read on to discover more of Vogue’s favourite star sign necklaces and zodiac-themed pieces.