by Mai Geller
The drive from Herzliya, Israel up north to the Ein Zivan kibbutz is about three hours. In this short amount of time, the landscape changes drastically. Driving alongside the Mediterranean Sea, you are quickly met with the Carmel mountain range. Once you turn inland, you travel past sprawling agricultural fields to reach the kibbutz, one of the northernmost settlements in Israel.
The trek to Ein Zivan has been made by my family every summer for the past four years. In 2014, my uncle and his family made their permanent move to the kibbutz community. There, north of the Golan Heights mountain range, he and my aunt opened a store for their jewelry company MIZZE Made for Luck. I have been wearing their jewelry for as long as I can remember, and it continues to be some of the only pieces I wear. Their beautifully handcrafted designs are incredibly unique, bringing together gemstones, charms, and amulets with a vast array of colors and thread. To me, they hold an even deeper meaning. Each collection serves as a reminder of the people I love who live so far away.
This summer, I was able to sit down with my uncle, MIZZE co-founder, Eyal Beit-On, and learn about the company they have created. As we sit in his office inside the MIZZE store, Beit-On explains that “MIZZE is actually two words in Hebrew, it’s ‘ME’ and ‘ZEH’ and it basically translates to ‘who is it.'” He goes on to mention that “the idea is that the jewelry picks the person. The person picks something that they like, and they give it the meaning. Instead of pushing our name, it’s more of a social name that lets people decide what the piece means to them.”
Beit-on then explains the creative process behind their jewelry: “We buy some materials in Israel from jewelry and gemstone suppliers. We have models of our own that we just cast in silver.” Beit-on explained,”Sometimes if there are elements we like, we order them from other companies. Today, the majority of our products we cast and make ourselves.”
Many of their collections are centered around charms and amulets that stand for luck, protection, or health. One such symbol is the Hamsa Hand, the hand of protection. Gesturing to the boxes of charms around the room, Beit-On elaborates, “[The Hamsa Hand] has different meanings in different religions. But there is a consistent theme to the hand that is believed to provide protection from the Evil Eye. The other charms we use are Solomon Seals. These are seals that are made by Kabbalah Rabbis that have celestial symbols and old ancient alphabet symbols in Hebrew. Each of these amulets is made for a specific area or field. We have a lot of Kabbalah letters, symbolized by a red string. We also did a series of South American skulls and a collection with the image of Buddha from Thailand.” One of the most important ideas of the MIZZE collections is that “the products represent a mixture of cultures with one theme, that people in every culture believe in something, and they have symbols that they see every day.”
Although MIZZE was founded in Israel and incorporates many symbols of Israeli culture, the jewelry itself is sold around the world. Beit-On added, “We started out being specifically Israeli, but we’re not anymore. Just yesterday, I saw some of our stuff is being sold in Japan. It sells everywhere, we’ve shipped and gotten orders from everywhere in the world. It has never been really Israeli. If the bracelets have Hebrew letters embedded within them, we have cards that come along with them that include an explanation of what the seal or amulet is. People like the extra meaning that something has.”
The jewelry itself attracts a wide range of consumers. “Young people that like our jewelry call it ‘festival jewelry.’ It’s the type of jewelry you can buy at a music festival. It’s very casual and fun and durable,” Beit-On continues. “We have pieces that older people also buy. We try to cater to every sort of person but it’s also a matter of style. It’s all about personal taste. Some of our designs incorporate Christian crosses or the Jewish Star of David. In a new series, we have charms with Arabic writing on them. We cater to a lot of different religions. Yet, our jewelry is not very religion specific. The hamsa, for example, can be worn by any person of any religion.”
Many of the collections require research of ancient texts and symbols. For one of his favorite pieces, Beit-On researched ancient Hebrew texts for a series of five charms that were cast in silver. He says, “It’s not our best seller or anything, but I always felt proud and it’s the one that I always wear. It’s something that we did for us and it has a more significant, personal meaning. I used the texts to write words that are significant such as protection, love, and health. I also incorporated some of the symbols from the texts. We made the amulet from scratch. We designed it, we made a model, and we cast it. It’s our brainchild.”
Right now, MIZZE is working on a new line of stainless steel charms that are hypoallergenic for people whose skin is sensitive to metal. They have a collection of 23 charms each focusing on a different theme, such as love or peace. Ranging from necklaces, anklets, and bracelets for both men and women, each piece of jewelry is incredibly light and comfortable.
As for the best aspect of jewelry making, Beit-On shares, “I like to see people wearing it for a long time, to see our jewelry on people looking worn. It means they like it and that they’ve kept it on for a long time. That’s what I enjoy the most. Sometimes people come in with something they bought from us years ago and I take it in and we replace the string and give it a new look.” Beit-on continues, “We’re very proud of the quality of our jewelry and when you buy things from us, it’s a long-term relationship.”
To answer the question of what advice he would give to someone interested in designing their own jewelry or getting into the business, Beit-On replied, “Start doing it. Do it. Don’t think about it. There’s nothing to think about. It’s something that evolves. It’s like starting to walk before you can run. The more you do the better you get. And that’s all.” •
Mai Geller is a sophomore at the University of Texas double majoring in Plan II Honors and Marketing. She has been on the Spark Social Media Team for the last year and recently joined as a blogger. In her spare time, you can find her listening to Leandra Medine’s podcast “Monocycle” or stalking the Instagram account of John Mulaney’s french bulldog, Petunia.