Early Taoist philosophers in China created a system of mind-body-spirit wellness, based on five elements—wood, fire, earth, metal and water—to interpret rhythms and relationships between the human body and the natural environment. To achieve wellness, all five elements must be in balance.
The Ancients also considered each individual’s personality to be a mix of the elements, and believed that a stronger presence of one or more elements in your nature implies a personality type. For example, Wood people tend to be kind, optimistic and innovative. Fire people are adventurous, passionate and sensual. Earth people are generous, communicative and trustworthy; Metal people tend to be righteous, meditative and determined. And water people tend to be dreamers, with great intellect.
These beautiful, ethical and eco-friendly pieces are all inspired by one or more of these natural elements:
Each ring is handmade from salvaged pink ivory, a rare WOOD native to South Africa, by local artisans. Fourteen facet-cut sterling silver METAL studs sparkle like early morning WATER dew drops. A percentage of each ring sold is donated to The Nature Conservancy (nature.org). DO THE EXTRAORDINARY Pink Ivory Wood Ring, $75; dotheextraordinary.com
These brilliant orange, pink and yellow sapphires sparkle in celebration of EARTH’s rich bounty. Each piece is handcrafted by artist Anne Sportun using ethically sourced gemstones and fine recycled gold METAL. ANNE SPORTUN Sunburst Collection Sapphire Ring, $3,115; annesportun.com
CEO Yehouda Saketkhou named the latest collection after a constellation that includes one of the night sky’s brightest stars, which are FIRE spirits. The fire opal, the rose gold and the diamonds in this spectacular ring are all EARTH spirit, ethically sourced. YAEL DESIGNS LYRA COLLECTION Lava Fire Opal Ring, $6,779; yaeldesigns.com
Gustav Reye’s exquisite salvaged and Forest Stewardship Certified (FSC) WOOD bracelets feature wood grain reminiscent of a WATER whirlpool or FIRE smoke. Reye handcrafts each piece using a cold-bend process and works with the wood’s natural grain and color. GUSTAV REYES Limited Edition Organic Coil, $170; gustavreyes.com
George Sawyer invented the mokume gane, or “wood-grain metal” technique, which fuses and manipulates layers of precious metals to form unique works of art. The fluid swirling shapes in the METAL’s patterns also evoke WOOD grain, WATER and sensual FIRE smoke. GEORGE SAWYER Wabi Sabi Half Round Rings, $3,120-$5,680; georgesawyer.com
This unique necklace by Sarah Hood, a balance of smooth WOOD spirit and shiny silver METAL spirit, was made with hand-cast recycled sterling silver and live oak caps gathered in Savannah, Georgia. Each silver cap holds a real acorn. SARAH HOOD Savannah Necklace, $980; sarahhoodjewelry.com
A blend of techniques from Native American, African Zulu and Victorian bead-weaving traditions are used by Ezartesa to make these bracelets from repurposed vintage glass seed beads made from EARTH element sand and WOOD element amber. She uses amber from the southern shore of the Baltic Sea, where it is called the “gold of the North” and believed to possess healing powers. EZARTESA Sunny Amber Bracelet, $670; ezartesa.com
This rare and highly collectible signed porcelain bracelet is in excellent vintage condition, circa 1940s. Porcelain is a fine clay, so this piece embodies EARTH spirit. The vibrant, autumn-colored birds express FIRE in flight. TOSHIKANE Arita Sterling Silver Porcelain Bracelet, $325;