I can remember as a very little girl being entranced by my aunt’s charm bracelets. Every time she visited, I would reach for her bracelet and count the charms to see if there was a new one; London Bridge, New York, a heart, a key… even a star fish to represent her visit to Hilton Head. I wanted one desperately so that I could add all the adventures and loving memories that I would have as I grew up. Such has been the history of these simple but charming bracelets. Just like their mate, charm necklaces, wearing talismans around your wrist that represented beauty, harmony, love and abundance, and safety and good health, is a tradition that has spanned thousands of years.
The History of Charm Bracelets
The history of bracelets is also the history of wearing mementos of occasions, places, and loved ones, known as charms. They were stones, bones, copper, iron, silver, and gold, wood, and leather; any material that represented an emotion and a goal that you may have in your life. Worn as talismans, lucky charms simply carried a belief and a faith of a positive outcome for your life. Where once a saber tooth tiger claw or a shark’s tooth may have represented protection because of the strength of the animals, or a piece of quartz crystal found in the mountains brought good charm into a person’s life, charms evolved to more sophisticated and purposeful shapes.
The Evolution of Bracelets
Eventually, charm bracelets evolved to be created primarily out of silver and gold; hearty enough materials that that could be shaped and decorated and yet outlast the chinking and chiming inherent in the wearing of bracelets. The charms themselves carry precious memories and steel and copper just did not have the quality inherent in the nature of the jewelry. Charms started as being quite tiny, part of their charm, and often decorated with gems and crystals. They began to grow in size with the market recognizing that charms were popular keepsakes for places visited and the London Bridge simply required more space than a tiny heart or dolphin.
Today, the popularity of charm bracelets has increased a thousand fold with personalization taking on the biggest craze in jewelry that has been seen for many years. Now, charms are a significant size to encompass the name of your first born, their date of birth, their weight, and their length as well as a special message such as “Vous Avez Mon Coeur” or one of your favorite Psalms. They have become rounded discs with a few accents of crystals, hearts, and pearls, representing the totality of the love imbued in the charm.
A single name, or 9 characters, can fit on a delicate gold or silver charm can dime sized charm, but with the current fashion leaning toward etchings of hearts, some of which are inlaid with 22 karat gold, or of a baby’s feet and hands as well as personalized messages, we now see charms that are 1-2 inch in circumference. Today, the message of love, tenderness, and caring is direct and most often represented on charm bracelets in the name of a beloved engraved on a silver or gold disc.