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The Short Version: Couples looking to celebrate relationship milestones can commemorate their love with gifts from Alef Bet by Paula. The jewelry and home goods company initially sold products relevant to Jewish women who wanted gifts for friends and family. Over the years, Alef Bet has become more focused on offering protective charms, including the Hamsa, evil eye, and red string bracelets. Its jewelry also ranges in price points, allowing customers to choose pieces that are affordable or luxurious.
Several religions have symbols that represent protection from harm and evil entities. In Judaism, one important symbol is the Hamsa, which depicts the five fingers and palm of the right hand. Each finger on the hand represents an element or chakra and is used to ward off negative energy.
The Hamsa can be worn with the fingers pointing downward to welcome abundance and peace or pointing up to protect the wearer from bad forces and keep inner demons at bay.
Another charm, the evil eye, is typically blue or green and dates back to 6th-century Greece. Town & Country magazine explained the significance of the evil eye, noting that it also indicates spiritual protection.
Alef Bet by Paula is a jewelry company that focuses on designing those spiritual and protective charms — which have taken on even more significance over the last year.
“Our business has pivoted during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve focused on spiritual jewelry and discovered a different market. People are looking for a sense of security, and a good luck charm makes them feel protected and watched over,” said Alissa Haroush, Vice President of Alef Bet.
In addition to Hamsa and evil eyes, red string bracelets have been one of the company’s top sellers this year. The symbolism of the red string is often linked to Jewish mysticism, specifically the story of Rachel, who “gave to others and was blessed in return.”
Many people like to wear these charms to protect themselves. Often couples in relationships will exchange them to pledge that they’ll always be watching over each other. And Alef Bet designs help customers look their best as they ward off bad spirits.
Alissa and the Alef Bet team didn’t set out to create symbolic jewelry. She told us that the company came about by happenstance.
Several years ago, Alissa’s mother, Paula Brooks, followed her life-long interest in accessories and started the jewelry business. She was inspired by Alissa’s husband, who was from Israel. She noticed that many beads and charms had Western alphabetic letters on them, but similar options with Hebrew letters didn’t exist.
That inspired the company’s name — Alef Bet means Hebrew alphabet.
“No companies focused on modern religious jewelry when we started. We fell into a niche market, and our company grew from there,” Alissa said.
For years, the company didn’t sell directly to consumers, instead it partnered with shops to sell its products.
The company found its niche market in Jewish women over 40 who wanted to buy religious gifts for others. Most of the products the company sold then were connected to Jewish iconography, letters, and words.
Three years ago, Alef Bet shifted to selling directly to consumers. That’s when it began moving away from primarily religious jewelry to spiritual talismans that weren’t connected to a particular religion.
Over time, the company’s core demographic also shifted to include more single women in their 30s, many of whom are Latina. The company’s clientele enjoys buying gifts for themselves or loved ones to celebrate romantic and platonic relationships.
Alef Bet has expanded its reach not just through its jewelry but also because of its team’s positive attitude.
“Our motto is, ‘Treat everyone like you would want to be treated.’ It makes people feel like they’re talking to friends,” Alissa told us.
Today’s Alef Bet jewelry and products celebrate a variety of spiritualities, religions, and traditions. If customers want to buy a relationship memento for a partner, they can purchase any of its jewelry or wall hangings, dishware, and key chains.
Its most popular gifts are red string bracelets, which come in several settings and include charms like the Hamsa or evil eye. Women, men, and even children appreciate the bracelet.
“It’s the perfect gift to show you’re watching over someone and loving them,” Alissa said.
Another popular item is a necklace that says “love” with a Jewish star on the side. Women who like to have a token of faith and demonstrate pride in their heritage often purchase it.
The company’s best-selling earrings are small, silver evil eyes with diamonds.
“They add that little watching-over, protecting-you sense if you give them to your partner,” said Alissa. “It’s the same price as a bouquet of flowers that won’t last. For any occasion, you don’t have to spend a lot to make an impression on somebody. It makes a lasting impression that you took time to think of them.”
The company offers high-end jewelry products for those looking for a high-end gift for a partner.
One of its premium evil eye necklaces has sapphires and diamonds and is set in 14k gold. The company’s home goods also allow users to adorn their living space with charms that offer a sense of protection.
Alissa has seen firsthand how much a gift of Alef Bet jewelry can mean to someone. She gave her friend a red string bracelet that she hasn’t taken off for two years. Alissa said she appreciates that her friend thinks of her when she looks at the bracelet.
“I gave her the bracelet when she was in a bad mood, and, now, she refuses to take it off. She can’t be apart from it. It’s the perfect gift for anybody,” Alissa told us.
Alef Bet offers sophisticated jewelry and home goods at a variety of price points.
Even if couples don’t have a special occasion on the horizon, they can purchase affordable jewelry to celebrate their relationships.
Building a company that helps users feel safe and cared for is what keeps Alissa excited year after year.
“I wake up excited to go to work. I love learning all the time. I love reading Facebook comments and answering the phone. There’s something to be said about creating something you’re passionate about,” said Alissa.
As the company’s offerings and demographics expand, Alef Bet aims to continue to reach more people. The company plans to create new designs celebrating protective charms, including the evil eye, Hamsa, and red string.
“We want to make the brand more universally known. People want to give jewelry that aims to offer protection now more than ever. That’s what the future is about for us,” Alissa said.