Charm bracelets

Charm bracelets can be defined as a bracelet with trinkets or ornaments hanging from it, although the design has taken different forms across time and culture. Charm bracelets are one of the most loved types of jewelry a woman can own.  Many women, if they don’t own one themselves, have a fond memory of looking for long happy hours at the charm bracelet of an older relative, perhaps their mother or grandmother.

The most common kind of charm bracelet is the simple belcher chain bracelet which charms can be attached to. A large padlock, shaped like a heart, is often the clasp.  The charms often come in the form of figurines and miniatures.  Often, the owner of the bracelet can add additional charms over time or the bracelet comes already complete. The chains can be made from silver, alloyed metal, gold or gold plate. The charms themselves can be simple or set with valuable gems.

A charm bracelet, by Cartier Christie’s Sale 5892

A charm bracelet, by Cartier
Christie’s Sale 5892

The charms can often be symbolic, as in the case of charms given by loved ones, perhaps to mark birthdays or anniversaries. This was a traditional way for the family to show their appreciation for the family matriarch and therefore charm bracelets can be full of meaning and memories and can act as historical records of someone’s life. Typical charms include whimsical items, horoscope signs, household items like scissors or irons, small cats or dogs, family keepsakes, symbols of money and birthstones.

Or they can be themed, for example in the case of this bracelet with USA State symbols.

Or they can be themed, for example in the case of this bracelet with USA State symbols.

Charm bracelets were worn and loved by the Victorians.  Queen Victoria was the one who popularized them and changed charms from being something that were worn as amulets or for spells into being something worn for sentimental and decorative reasons. After Albert died, the fashion for ‘mourning charms’ became popular, with charms being made with a tiny portrait or with the deceased person’s hair.

A 19th century gold charm bracelet Christie’s Sale 5647

A 19th century gold charm bracelet
Christie’s Sale 5647

 

Charm bracelets again reached a height of popularity during and after the Second World War and charms became something that service men brought home to their sweethearts from all over the world.  With people longing for connection with each other, charms became a way to express feelings and preserve memories. They continued to be popular throughout the 1940s and by the 1950s, every girl had their own charm bracelet and all rites of passage in a woman’s life were marked with a new charm.

Resources / further reading:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyld=4239306

http://jewelry.about.com/od/jewelrycomponents/a/charm_bracelet.htm

http://ezinearticles.com/?History-of-Charm-Bracelets&id=63932

 

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Pippa Bear