The cross is a symbol of faith, but lately it's also been a sign of the hip and trendy as cross jewelry and accessories explode in popularity in Fresno.
Crosses in the form of blinged-out ball caps to toe rings are flying off the shelves. Though the Christian-symbol-as-wearable-art has always been popular on traditional necklaces, now stores are selling crosses on bracelets, earrings, key chains, business card holders and hand bags.
There's no way to tell if the products are extra popular in Fresno. And though many customers buy the crosses because they're spiritual people, many buy them because they simply like the look.
The cross turned sideways seems to be leading the trend, showing up on necklaces, bracelets and rings. Julia Vogue, a jewelry store on North Blackstone Avenue near California Pizza Kitchen, sells lots of sideways crosses, some as low as $4.95.
"We couldn't keep them in the stock," when they got popular last fall, says Vannessa Morales, Julia Vogue's assistant manager.
The store sells sideways crosses worked into big gold hoops and large crosses on rosary-style chains. They even have crosses that are a mere three quarters of a centimeter long on "knuckle rings," meant to be worn midway up the finger, for $15.95.
The staff researched the sideways cross and didn't find any special or nefarious meaning, by the way. It just seems to be something celebrities started wearing that took off with the public.
More traditional vertical crosses are popular, too. Orloff Jewelers in Fig Garden has sold them for years and recently added masculine cross pendants on chunky chains for men.
At Couture New York, in Fig Garden Village, customers tend to buy the cross because of its Christian meaning, says Dorothy Juskalian, whose son, Chris Juskalian, owns the store.
They buy them for members of their Bible study groups, for people who are sick or as a birthday gift that has extra meaning.
For Beverly Workman of Visalia, who owns several pieces of cross jewelry, it's all about her faith.
"I wear it for the meaning," she says. "It keeps me thinking in the right direction."
A delicate sideways diamond cross necklace for $900 at Orloff Jewelers caught her eye recently. The store also has similar sideways crosses made from crystal that are more affordable. At $65, those sell very quickly.
The more religious people are, the more subdued a cross they tend to buy, says store owner James Orloff.
"A lot of people that are really sincere about their spirituality are not the people that tell everybody," he says. "Sometimes those people don't wear any type of a symbol like that."
On the other end of the spectrum are the customers who just like the design of the cross and may not be religious at all.
For them — and everyone in between — there's plenty of options to choose from. Stores like Couture New York carry belts with rhinestone crosses on them, even pill boxes with crosses, along with more traditional products.
"Whenever we get a purse that has a cross on it, it sells really quick," says Juskalian of Couture New York.
The columnist can be reached at (559) 441-6431, firstname.lastname@example.org or @BethanyClough on Twitter. Read her blog on fresnobeehive.com.