Holy symbols came in a wide variety of designs, though all shared the common quality of being directly blessed by a god, godlike being, or the servants of the former two for the purpose of aiding agents of the divine. In many ways, holy symbols were to clerics and paladins what swords were to fighters or wands were to some wizards.
An assortment of holy symbols made of different materials was available for purchase through Aurora's Whole Realms Catalogue. They needed to be blessed by their corresponding church in order to be effective for channeling divine magic.
A cleric or paladin, when casting a spell, could use a holy symbol as a spellcasting focus by holding or visibly presenting it, thereby eschewing most ordinary material components that the spell might otherwise require.
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- Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 151–203. ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.