"Ailef" Pendant

August 2008
Sterling silver

My family's Chinese surname is 艾 (Ài), which is the first character of a longer transliteration of Edelstein, namely, "Ai-de-si-tan" (coincidentally, 艾 happens to be one of the common surnames of the Jews of Kaifeng, China). In Hebrew, notwithstanding the traditional "person-son-of-other-person" naming convention, Edelstein is transliterated אדלשטיין.

א (alef), the first letter of אדלשטיין, looks kind of like the X-shaped form at the bottom of 艾, but with one of the crossing lines split and separated. I decided that I'd combine the two forms to create a symbol which would reflect both my family's heritage and our experience living in China. The name of the symbol followed naturally: ai + alef = "ailef."

I originally carved the symbol into a chop (stone signet-seal) for my dad's birthday (he's a collector), but naturally I wanted to see what the design would look like in metal, hence this pendant. As an homage to the fact that the design originated as a stamp, I stamped my maker's marks into the front of the piece so that they'd be part of the design, not just identifying symbols on the back.

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