Situated along the outskirts of China's Songshan Mountains is the five centuries plus Shaolin Temple.
The temple not only played a pivotal role in Chinese Buddhism but it is believed the origin of martial arts began with the early monks who worshiped here.
China is also the ancestral home of featured jewelry designer Alex Woo.
A desire for well-being and good fortune is common throughout many cultures from Egypt to Ireland.
Good luck charms and talismans are part of a jewelry trend dating back thousands of years with items from simple pieces of paper covered with written prayers to scarab beetles that assured resurrection after death.
Since the launch of her company in 2001, Woo actively integrates luck symbols such as horseshoes, wishbones, four-leaf clovers, and interpretations of bamboo into her eponymous jewelry line.
The designer's interest in cultural superstitions, powerful symbolism, and nature's magnetism led Woo to incorporate seasonal motifs, as well as initial and number pendant necklaces reflected in her respective collections Little Letters, and Little Numbers.
Like French designer Aurelie Bidermann, Woo's level of creativity is not limited to charm jewelry. At the age of five, she watched closely as her father, a bench jeweler, hand-fabricate trinkets while working in New York's Chinatown jewelry district.
The sights and sounds of watching her father create jewelry prompted Woo to abandon playing with dolls opting instead to mimic her father's actions by drawing for hours on end.
With a seed firmly planted, Woo studied fine arts and jewelry design at Cornell University, and Parsons New School of Design. In 1998, Woo's clean design aesthetic garnered a design award from the Women's Jewelry Association, and within three years, she launched her company Alex Woo Jewelry.
Woo also underscores her varied travels throughout the world with collections that highlight spectacular international imagery through a grand display of the designer's gift for fluid form.
The items from the ocean-inspired Narissa Collection are beautifully buoyant in their billowy, web-like detailing. Paying homage to African landscapes and wildlife, her Sweni Collection is fluid, sculptural and delicate; while the scale-like arrangement of items from her Peru-inspired Inka Collection are quietly primal yet sophisticated.
Proceeds from a number Woo's collections, such as Vida, and Sweni, provide funds to charitable organizations like the Natural Resources Defense Council, the African Wildlife Foundation, and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
Photo 1 (top right): 14-Karat Yellow Gold Large Zahrah Pendant NecklacePhoto 2 (center): Rose Gold Vermeil Narissa Cuff BraceletPhoto 3 (bottom left): 14-Karat Gold Siri Bell Earrings with Carnelian