Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Charm of a Charm Bracelet

Charm bracelets have been the subject of several waves of trends that go way back.  The first charm bracelets were worn by Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, and Hittites and began appearing from 600 – 400 BC according to Wikipedia.

But it was Queen Victoria who started the fashion among the European noble classes. She was instrumental to the popularity of charm bracelets, as she “loved to wear and give charm bracelets."  When her Prince Albert died, she even made “mourning” charms popular.  No need to go there!

 (She had a heart for each of her children)
 (another bracelet owned by Queen Victoria)
 

 (A "mourning" bracelet owned by Queen Victoria)

In 1889, Tiffany and Co. introduced their first charm bracelet — a link bracelet with a single heart dangling from it, a bracelet which is an iconic symbol for Tiffany today.



Despite the Great Depression, during the 1920s and 1930s platinum and diamonds were introduced to charm bracelet manufacturing.


 
(Vintage Cartier bracelet)
 

Soldiers returning home after WWII brought home trinkets made by craftsmen local to the area where they were fighting to give to loved ones.



American teenagers in the 1950s and early 1960s collected charms to record the events in their lives. Screen icons like Elizabeth Taylor and Joan Crawford helped to fuel the interest and popularity of charm bracelets.


(Taylor's charm bracelet from Pinterest)

Although interest and production waned through the latter part of the 20th century, there was a resurgence of popularity after 2000 and collectors eagerly sought out vintage charms.



 

 

Pandora bracelets are now very popular, a "kind" of charm bracelet but in a more modern style like the one below:

This current fashion for modular jewelry builds on the success that 'Add A Bead' jewelry had in the 80s.  I'll admit I still have my add-a-bead necklace. 

 
 
I love the old bracelets that have a story to tell; behind each charm there's a history, a drama, something special that happened so that the charm marks a spot.  If only these old bracelets could talk.  Happy Saturday.  May your day be charming in every way!
 


 

4 comments:

  1. A few years ago, Talbots sold charm bracelets for each season, I still enjoy wearing them.
    Your blog is always interesting!
    Ann

    ReplyDelete
  2. I just love this post and I have to tell you, I have an example of most of these myself - leave out the mourning one! I think charm bracelets are so much fun, and have such enduring popularity, because you can personalize them. My mother has a gorgeous 14K bracelet with lots of special charms, typical of someone who was in college in the late 50s. Sorority, children, hobbies. I inherited my grandmother's gold bracelet which I had actually never seen until after she died. I just wish I had had the chance to ask her about the charms. For example, why a 4-leaf clover set with rubies, when nobody in the family has a ruby birthday and we're not Irish? From whose collection did the diamond tuxedo stud come from? Then there are the ones I have had made, including an "Italian" charm bracelet from when they were popular in about 2002, and a Pandora-style one (a much less expensive, but still cute, version). I enjoy all of these and wear them often, including my grandma's when its loud clanking won't disrupt anything (like, not to the office).

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  3. P.S. I also have an add-a-bead though I would be hard-pressed to tell you exactly where it is located at the moment... I had a pet grab hold of and chew two of the beads so they're a bit dented and I don't wear it!

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  4. I wish charm bracelets would come back so the charms available would improve! Charm bracelets are so special but the big gold charms that pre-date the 1970's were THE BEST. My mother had three gold charm bracelets she wore for all dressy occasions. People would relay their memories to me of when our family entered church late on Sundays (at least we went, right?). My mother would point to the empty seats and the braclets would clang together. The noise of the bracelets was much more disruptive than our family trying to find seats.

    Every charm was gold and each had a special story. My brothers and I all had charm's with our names and birthdates engraved on the back. My charm was shaped as gold heart with two booties and baby pearls were at the toe. Many were the gold round disc's but some were fun/different shapes. There was a hat charm from the wedding of a friend when she was a bridesmaid. She had a St. Christopher charm given to her by my father when they started dating. My dad got the charm from his Aunt Gert who told him, "Give this to your best girl." She had a trolley from San Fransico where the driver moved back and forth when the wheels moved. But the biggest charm was round encircled with a gold braid on the outside. It was engraved, "Queen of the Horse Show 1955 SSCC" from when she used to ride.

    Sadly the bracelets were stolen. The "charm" of a charm bracelet is quite special but the charm is never as special as the story. And those stories can never be stolen.

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