A Charmed History: Charm Bracelets Provide Hope and Comfort Throughout the Ages
by Ron Peterson
As far back as the Neolithic era, humankind chose to carry unusual stones or a piece of wood as protection from enemies or evil spirits. During the time of the Egyptian pharaohs, the first recognizable charm bracelets and necklaces appeared. These were elaborate pieces of jewelry made of precious stones and metals. Charms were also used to identify an individual to the gods in the afterlife.
Much later during the Roman Empire, Christians identified one another with the “ichthys,” or fish charm, they carried beneath their garments to gain entry into secret worship meetings, held sometimes in the catacombs. Medieval kings and knights used charms with incantations for protection. Charms could also represent family origin, political standing and profession. During the Renaissance as superstitions faded, charms began to lose favor with the more wealthy and educated. However, in the early 20th century, it was Queen Victoria who began a charm bracelet trend among the European noble class during her reign. The Queen took to wearing a bracelet with tiny charm pictures of her children.
Charm bracelets again found an audience at the end of World War II. Soldiers returning home from overseas brought along trinkets made by local craftsmen to give their sweethearts. The charms represented miniature replicas of notable locations, such as the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben. Stateside jewelers quickly caught on to the trend and began fashioning charms for all occasions. Within a decade, the charm bracelet was the must-have accessory for girls and women. Charm bracelets became popular gifts for 16th birthdays, graduations, weddings, and births of children. These tiny links to one’s personal history became deeply valued for their sentimental and material worth.
More recently, Italian charms became the rage at the turn of the Millennium. A departure from the traditional hanging trinkets, these bracelets snap into the bracelet rather than dangle from it. The flat, modular charms link together to form a bracelet, keychain or other accessory. Zoppini and Nomination are two popular makers of Italian charm bracelets. Fashion gurus like Louis Vuitton and Juicy Couture have also launched their own Italian charms.
Meanwhile, in both Europe and North America, a new modular charm bracelet trend has emerged. These modular bracelets consist of a chain onto which various beads or charms can be placed. Charms are made from gold, silver or Murano glass. The bracelet’s design allows the wearer to interchange the charms and create a totally unique look. Beads can also be worn on necklaces, rings and earrings to make a complete set.
The modular jewelry concept enjoyed acclaim in Europe before coming to the States. Inspired by Greek mythology, it combines versatility with fashion to establish beloved charm and bead bracelets. This jewelry concept also encourages creativity and individuality through its beautiful designs.
Women can create their own look and style for every whim or special moment. For example, you can design the Bohemian romantic, the elegant chic, the raw grace, the 60’s flower power, the charmed sophisticate, the billionaire, the simplistic minimalist, or the pure feminine. Modular jewelry can be used to reflect a change in mood or to express personality.