What Does a Bell Mean?
Keepsake jewellery "rings a bell". It brings to mind people, places and times, but what does it mean to wear actual bells as jewellery? Are bells symbols of communication or protection? Are they a reminder that many things in life can be experienced but not kept, just like the sound of a ringing bell?
Some bells are symbols of good fortune and well-being. The Isle of Capri bells are particularly well-loved thanks to the story "San Michele's Lucky Bell" about a shepherd boy and his lost lamb. After hours of searching for the lamb the shepherd heard a soft bell ringing, and thinking it was the lamb's bell, he rushed towards the sound. However instead of finding his lamb he saw a vision of St Michele (Michael) who gave the shepherd boy a small bell and said "take it and always follow its sound; it will keep you from danger". From then on the boy's life was filled with joy and his wishes fulfilled. This tradition continues today with bells being given as tokens of affection and good fortune, so the bell wearer will know that whenever they hear their bell ring, good fortune will come and their angel is looking after them.
Many other bell stories resonate in day-to-day life. When something sounds familiar we say "that rings a bell", when we're excited we say "ring the bells" and when we are looking forward to going somewhere we say "we'll be there with bells on" . And of course those who love the movie "It's a Wonderful Life" know that every time a bell rings an angel get its wings!
Bells kept at the front door to keep gremlins out of the house may have been the origin of today's doorbell. Ringing bells at the end of a wedding ceremony is supposed to bring good fortune as the sound drives away evil spirits. Ringing consecrated bells is supposed to calm storms and another myth states that a ship's bell will ring when it is wrecked, even underwater! You probably don't want to hear bells ringing all by themselves without the assistance of a human hand - that is not supposed to be a good sign.
Some big, bold motorcyclists also have bell keepsake stories and small bells are suspended near the front fender to catch mechanical-mischief-making gremlins. The story is that these little road nasties will get stuck in the bell, and the constant ringing will eventually drive them to distraction they'll lose their grip and fall to the ground (which apparently explains where potholes come from). These bells work best when given as a gift to keep the rider safe.
Dream and Angel Bells, Harmony, Chime and Bolla Balls are exquisite sounding bells traditionally made in countries including Mexico and Indonesia. These musical ball pendants are used for many things including relaxation and meditation creating a sound to soothe the soul. They are often worn by expectant mothers to reassure their baby before it is born and so babies will recognise the sound following birth. Harmony Ball pendants are also given to friends and loved ones so they will know they are loved each time they hear the bells ring.
Larger, hand held bells such as a school bell or old-fashioned brass bells are used to summons people, capture attention or to create a signal that something is about to change. Hand-engraved with names, dates or a meaningful message, this is a keepsake that cannot be ignored.