Good Luck Charms
Charm bracelets have a long and storied past as various cultures have worn them for different purposes, beginning as far back as the Neolithic Era. Modern historians and archaeologists speculate that ancient cultures wore charms, or amulets, and other pieces of jewelry to protect them from danger while hunting and to ward off enemies. The earliest charms were fashioned from natural elements including wood, shell, bone, or clay and worn on a leather thong. In Ancient Egypt, more sophisticated charms were fashioned and often inscribed with special messages, and at this time people began wearing them on bracelets as well as other pieces of jewelry. The charms also held different meanings than in previous cultures as people began to wear them as an indication of class and status, since only the wealthier classes could afford more valuable charms. They were also thought to hold special power to ensure a smooth transition into the afterlife, and also to guarantee a happy, prosperous afterlife.
In the predominantly Jewish Roman Empire, Christians wore hidden amulets they could reveal to others of the same faith in order to attend secret religious ceremonies. Fast forward to the Middle Ages, and we see another wave of amulet and charm popularity as they were often worn by knights as a sort of protection from harm during battle, as well as a sign of political and family allegiances. From this time period until the start of the European Renaissance, charms were worn in much the same way they had throughout history, as a sign of status and an omen of good luck. This common thread was broken however, as the Renaissance began, scientific and academic achievement soared and more people had access to education and less dependence on superstition. During this time charm wearing fell out of fashion save for the most uneducated, underprivilged members of society, which in essence was exactly the opposite of where it began.
Bracelets Fit for a Queen
The charm bracelet trend didn’t die out completely, however and there was another resurgence in popularity in the early 1900’s when Queen Victoria became fond of the nearly forgotten bracelet style and even had some made to give as gifts to family and friends. Once again charm bracelets were embraced by the middle and upper classes as a favorite jewelry item, this time not for superstitious beliefs but purely as a fashion statement. People began wearing charms as sentimental reminders of events in their lives. During WWII, American soldiers bought charms overseas and returned to give them as exotic gifts to family and friends. In the economic boom following WWII, the popularity of charm bracelets surged as jewelers began mass producing charms to signify important events like graduation, marriage and the birth of children.
A Modern Day Fashion Statement
The popularity of charm bracelets waned somewhat in the 1970’s but it has returned with a vengeance as jewelry lovers everywhere seek out “vintage” charm bracelets and new ones are designed and manufactured by major jewelers. Charm bracelets are now commonly found in every jewelry store and there are plenty of options to customize your own bracelet with charms of your choice. There are also fashion charm bracelets and designer inspired charm bracelets widely available.