Fashion Charms

Jewelry charms can be found on almost every type of jewelry, from rings to bracelets, and have become a fashion staple. The popularity of the charms has grown so much recently, that there are now even clubs for charm collectors. While it may seem like the recent popularity of charms (fashion jewelry) is a relatively new fashion trend for adults, in actuality, charms have been an important part of a woman's jewelry box for thousands of years. There is a rich story behind these beautiful and versatile charms.

History of Charms

Charms have been found dating back to the Neolithic period, but it was not until the ancient Egyptians that the first modern styled charms are used. The Egyptians began creating delicate charms out of polished metal and precious stones, as a way to symbolize status and their place in the after world. From Egypt, charms made their way to ancient Rome and the early Christians. During the prosecution of Christians, small fish were carved from metal and worn to identify the church members to each other, and keep Jesus close to their hearts. As history progressed, the meanings behind the charms slowly changed.

By the middle ages, charms were now being worn by knights, crusaders, and noblemen. Not only were the charms used to identify family lineages and knightly orders, they were often blessed by a church official to help provide extra protection.

Throughout the earlier centuries, jewelry charms were mainly used for protection and identification, and by the end of the Renaissance they had fallen out of style. Though the wealthier classes no longer relied on charms after the invention of the printing press, the poorer classes still relied on them for protection against curses. For a time, charms had lost their popularity, but that changed in the early 20th century.

Literacy had essentially removed all need for superstitious protection, but Queen Victoria succeeded in bringing back the popularity of the jewelry attachments. No longer were charms worn as amulets, with the Queen's beautiful bracelets a new use for the modern jewelry charm was discovered. By WWII, the jewelry attachments were available for the GI's to bring back home to their sweethearts, and the popularity of the trinkets dramatically increased. Many of the South Pacific islanders began creating images on the baubles unique to their culture, and by the end of the war the jewelers at home had begun creating their own unique jewelry ornaments.

From the 1950's to Today

After WWII, these fun and unique charms began appearing on women's wrists everywhere, and by the 1950's a charm bracelet was almost a requirement for every teenage girl. Every major event in life was being captured in a small metal trinket, weddings, graduations, and holiday celebrations were all being proudly displayed. Unbelievably, some of these older charm bracelets are now selling at auction for well over $2000.

By the 1970's, the innocence of the charm bracelets had been replaced by disco music and gold chains, and it stayed that way until the 1980's when young girls began to rediscover the magic of the little jewelry trinkets. Another reason for the resurgence of the attachments popularity also came from the sudden appearance of antique charms on the jewelry market.

Types of Charms

There are several different types of charms, and they can all be great additions to any charm bracelet. The majority of charms are made from silver or yellow gold, but they can also be found in white gold and platinum. The main reasons for the popularity of the silver and yellow gold charms include lower price, and they are easier to clean and polish.

Along with the different metals, there are also different types of charms. One of the most common and popular is the three dimensional charm. Often compared to small statues, these popular trinkets are normally intricately craved to the last detail. Depending on the price, the charms can either be hollow for a lighter weight, or solid for a heavier feel.

The other common type of charm is a flat two dimensional attachment. They often have names or special dates engraved on them, while others may have small etchings engraved on their surface. Hollow or partially hollowed charms are also becoming popular. Often, the metal design of the charm lights let pass through for a light and airy effect.

Special Charms

While all charms are special and unique, the moveable three dimensional charms often hold a special place on a bracelet. Some of the more common themes for these charms include:

  • Opening and closing scissors
  • Tea pot lids
  • Lids off of wrapped presents
  • Small charm lockets
  • Wheels

These special charms often represent some of the most memorable moments in life, and they also require a little more care. The small hinges can be easily damaged, so care needs to be taken when opening and closing them.

Different charms also work better on certain types of bracelets, so it is important to place the trinkets accordingly. Lighter, hollow charms and the two dimensional ones work better on the lighter link bracelet, than the heavier, filled charms which can break or bend the delicate links in the bracelet.

Wearing Charms

Wearing charmed jewelry began with the ancient Egyptians, and was reinvented into popular fashion jewelry by Queen Victoria. They were originally worn as symbols of status and religion, granting protection into the afterlife. Today's charm jewelry instead tells a story of the wearer's life and their loves. Young girls routinely receive charms as presents, and now these sentimental fashion pieces are great conversation starters. With all of the different types and styles of charms and fashion jewelry to choose from, it can be hard to know which piece is right for the wearer. Here are some helpful tips for always choosing the right charmed jewelry.

Looking for Charms and Bracelets

Before purchasing any trinkets, it is a good idea to find the right bracelet first. The strength of the links will help determine what type of charm can be securely attached. Heavy, three dimensional charms need a stronger link bracelet. Clasps are also another consideration, with the most popular being a twist or screw mechanism. The quality of the charm is always important, and there are several different jewelers who offer amazingly intricate and detailed baubles. The price will always depend on the craftsmanship and type of charm. Some choices include not only the metal attachments, but also precious stones, Italian glass beads, and even small leather charms. Many fashion experts recommend also choosing a theme for the bracelet, such as favorite animals, colors, or simply favorite memories. The idea of the modern charm bracelet is for each charm to tell a story that is unique to the wearer.

Styles of Charms

Different bracelet styles suit different body types, and sometimes it can make a difference in an overall fashion appearance. For example, women with fine, small boned frames should try to avoid the larger and clunkier styled fashion charm jewelry. Instead single layered bracelets or necklace charms work best. Women with larger hands, but still have small wrists and ankles can wear the heavier charm bracelets with style. Another fun look is to add a few charms to a slender ankle bracelet for a fun, chic look. Larger boned women not only look great in bracelets covered with trinkets, they also look stylish with long charm necklaces. Not only do the necklaces look great with almost any outfit, they can also add a slimming line down the body's torso.

Other fashionable styles of charm bracelets include:

  • Classic: The bracelet links are either gold or silver, with a mix of two and three dimensional charms swinging from them. Occasionally there might be a small precious stone inlaid in one of the charms.
  • Modern: Bracelets are either leather or snake with multiple rows of beads on the wrists.
  • Edgy: The bracelets are leather lariats with light, feminine pieces surrounded by darker colored charms.
  • Cool- Only a few charms placed on slim bands supporting a large open faced watch.
  • Chic- Long necklaces that are layered together with small trinkets scattered on them.

Where to Buy Charms

There are many places to buy or even make charms. With the growing popularity in these keepsake pieces, many premier jewelers, like Pandora, are offering exquisite trinkets for any style bracelet. It is not only the higher end jewelry stores that are creating unique jewelry baubles, but some of the larger chain department stores are also carrying beautifully designed charms and beads.

Other great places include jewelry auctions, and more commonly estate sales. Part of the return of the charm's popularity can be traced to the intricate antique charms showing up in many of these estate sales. Often the price will be cheaper at the sales, but it can be harder to find a charm that will match an already existing bracelet. Some women are learning how to make their own charms, at one of the many bead and jewelry shops that are quickly springing up around the country. Some of the pluses to the handmade charm bracelets include not only the dramatically cheaper price, but also the amount of sentimentality that is attached to a personally designed memory bracelet.

Where to buy the keepsakes also depends on who the charm is for. With the popularity of the bracelets, children, adults, and even babies are now wearing these adorable, stylish bracelets. One important thing to remember when buying a charm, is that the charm bracelets are keepsakes. There are meant to be passed down through the generations as a story. If the trinkets that are bought do not represent a moment in life, the bracelets can often lose their sentimental meaning.

Charm Clubs

Charms have become so popular in recent years, that there are now clubs dedicated to these beautiful and fun keepsakes. Not only are these clubs great places to show off fashionable jewelry with charms, it is also a good place to admire collections and perhaps add a few pieces. Some important things to remember, before joining a charm collecting club, is to concentrate on the collection that will most often be worn. The types of collections will also be as different as the collector, but there are some common themes to consider.

  • Vintage: Antique charms are plentiful and varied. Prices will also vary depending on the designer and material that the trinket is constructed from.
  • Bubble Gum Charms: These charms were popular in the 1940's and 50's and are usually constructed of a hard hand painted plastic. The original charms can run up to several thousand dollars, but there are several high quality, less expensive replicas for purchase.
  • A Certain Designer: Some women prefer to style their bracelet around a one jewelers charms. While this can create a stunning effect, it can become expensive depending on the jeweler.
  • Animals: One of the most popular themes will always be animal related, and there are plenty of charms that represent almost every animal. It is recommended to also space glass beads or other types of separators to keep the bracelet from becoming too cluttered. If space is a concern, then some of the animal themed charms can be placed on longer necklace chains for a chic and modern look.

Just as important as choosing a theme, is still staying with one main style of charm. While metals and plastics can be mixed together, and look appealing, it is still a good idea to stay with one main type of material.

The Love of Charms

Charms have been an intricate part of our history since the Neolithic period, and continue to be so today. Even though they have had several different meanings and functions throughout history, one thing has always remained the same, they have always told a story. Fun and beautiful, they are small reminders of the important moments in life. Start a charm bracelet or necklace today, and begin saving memories to pass down to all of the generations to come.


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