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The Story Behind the Talisman Collection

The Story Behind the Talisman Collection

I thought that launching a small jewelry company three months before a deadly global pandemic and recession was going to be the hardest thing I did this year. Or maybe ever. Then I tried to design and produce a second collection in the midst of that pandemic. 

I began designing the Talisman Collection back in early March, just before NYC went into lockdown and things started to get scary. As lockdown anxiety set in, I started thinking that there was no point in designing a second collection: the business was bound to fail. At one point I looked at selling our products at a loss to clear inventory and then shutting down. But then our community rallied behind Common Era and we began to not only survive the pandemic, but we became profitable for the first time. Still, I had no idea what I wanted to do for my second collection. I designed piece after piece and decided they were all trash. I was in a creative funk. 

So I stopped working on the collection and turned to other things. I was meant to go on a very belated Italian honeymoon in April, and we had splurged by booking a private tour of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Of course, the honeymoon was cancelled because of the pandemic, but I still spent weeks reading up on Pompeii and listening to Italian lessons in the hope that one day we would still go. During that research I stumbled upon the SATOR square that was found buried in the ash at Herculaneum. I was instantly captivated and decided I had to make it in gold.

From there, I had the basis of the collection. I wanted it to be filled with ancient stories and hidden meaning, based upon protective symbols and magic. I began browsing the online collections of the greatest museums in the world, pretending I was walking their arched halls instead of wearing PJs for the fourth day in a row. In those collections I found all the inspiration I had been lacking. From my digital tour of the world, the Talisman collection was born, containing references from ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman cultures.

After our first collection launched, I held a few Q&A sessions on Instagram where I asked what our community really wanted from us next. I kept hearing the same things: more affordable pieces, delicate chains for layering, new pantheons.

I tried to include all of those requests by keeping the pendants small and delicate, using a longer adjustable 18-20 inch wheat chain that makes layering easy. The price points are also markedly lower than our signature Mythology collection because there are no gemstones in any pieces, bringing down costs and making production easier.

I also designed a set of four everyday stud earrings that I was SO excited to share with you, but USPS managed to lose the entire inventory somewhere between NYC and Dallas. Those pieces will debut as soon as (and if) they are located by the postal service. For now, my mum is the only person wearing the Talisman sample earrings and, hopefully, drumming up some demand down in Australia. 

Since designing the collection in March, it’s been a long road to get here. Supply chains have been failing, our workshop has been operating at minimal efficiency to combat the spread of the virus, and we have had many, many failures that I won’t share here. But we made it! It’s here and it’s shipping straight from our brand new fulfillment center. 

I hope you love the Talisman Collection as much as I do. I also invite any feedback you have - good or bad - you can email me directly at

Torie Tilley