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For the love of God

February 2, 2011

Saints on a string, pile on the pendants! These religious hand painted charms, called “smaltes,” are finding their way on to necklaces, earrings, and bracelets, and for good reason – they’re dainty, almost whimsical pieces of art, which don’t give off a creepy vibe that some antiquities tend to give.  These particular ones are found and repaired (some of them are about 150 years old!) by jewelry designer Natalya Lagdameo.

Each smaltes is no more than the size of a quarter. The smallest one is the size of a pinky fingernail, yet the hand painted detail is exquisite.


The ladies


The men


The Holy Family


Adorned with tiny pearls


Elaborate gold detail


No bigger than your pinky fingernail and set within a colonial Spanish “tamborine”


Surrounded by rough cut diamonds


What I personally love about the smaltes can be found on the back. Each saint’s name is hand painted in the coolest type.

St. Peter and St. Jude (not Judas, if that’s what you’re thinking)


If you’re the type that likes to pile on the pendants (like me), she also makes separate pendant holders to hang all your charms without putting too much strain on your chain.


There’s a lot of history to each piece, and the designer knows her stuff. Each smaltes is set in gold-dipped silver, 10K, 14k, or 18K gold. For more information, contact the designer at


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