For centuries, charms have played a significant role in many cultures. These amulets served as protection against an enemy or as a guarantee of prosperity and health. Not surprisingly, charms came to play a significant role in the union between man and woman, to guard against disease, and to ensure a happy life.
Charms in the Medieval Era
Essentially, many charms during the Medieval times were mini-spells contained in an object or series of objects, which were carried in a small pouch by the wearer. Typically, these charms or amulets were metal, stone, plants, candle wax, fruit, coins, or anything else of symbolic value to the wearer. Perhaps an individual would adopt a special feather or coin or actually take items to handcraft a dream catcher. Most often the amulet or charm was worn as a necklace or ring.
Charms in the Victorian Era
During the Victorian era, the tradition of the "ribbon pulling" came into vogue. A bride would have small charms attached to satin ribbons placed within the icing of her wedding cake. The pulls represented distinctive symbols of love and romance, friendship and future. Each of the bridesmaids as well as other important maidens attending the reception would pull a charm from the cake before it was cut. Gazing at her charm, a young woman could see a foretelling of good luck, romance or good fortune, depending on the charm she selected. An old Victorian saying indicates the meaning of four traditional charms: "The ring for marriage within a year; The penny for wealth, my dear; the thimble for an old maid or bachelor born; The button for sweethearts all forlorn."
Today's brides often reserve this tradition for a bridal shower or bridesmaid's tea prior to the wedding. Charm cakes are also being included in birthdays, Quinceaneras, bat mitzvahs, or another significant occasion where a cake is served.
Following are various types of sterling silver charms and their meaning that can be used by a bride:
Airplane: A Life of Travel and Adventure
Anchor: A Life of Stability and Hope
Baby Bootie: A Life Blessed with Children
Bird Feeder: A Life of Provision
Bird House: A Happy Home
Bride: You Will Be a Bride Soon
Ship's Wheel: A Life of Poise and Confidence
Church: Joy and Peace in Marriage
Dragonfly: Life of Good Fortune
Eiffel Tower: Life of Travel and Adventure
Four-Leafed Clover: Luck in Love and Life
Horseshoe: Life of Luck
Lucky Penny: Life of Wealth in Marriage
Thimble: An Old Maid
Wishing Well: A Wish Will Be Granted Soon
Charms in 20th-century America:
In the early 20th century and extending into the early 1960s, it became a tradition within the middle-class population to present a young girl with a sterling silver charm bracelet prior to reaching puberty. A new charm would be added thereafter on holidays, anniversaries or birthdays. While some of the charms still symbolized wishes of good luck, others simply represented hobby- or school-related pursuits. For instance, a telephone or cheerleader's megaphone was considered charms but these items actually did not serve as "amulets" (emblems of luck).
Gumball charms also became popular during the fad of the charm bracelet. These celluloid items included jungle animals, sailing ships, family pets, as well as commercial charms such as Betty Boop and Mickey Mouse. They were worn on bracelets and necklaces of string and dog tag chains.
A young woman lucky enough to receive her own sterling silver charm bracelet might collect a total of 13 charms to reverse the bad luck of the number, hence ensuring good luck. Some of the more popular charms of the early 20th century and their meanings include:
Heart Pierced by Arrow: Smitten Romantic Love
Horseshoe: Drawing or Attracting Luck
Wishbone: Wishes Come True
Money Bag: Wealth
Four-Leaf Clover: Luck
Heart Padlock: Faithful Love
Charms of Today:
While some enjoy invoking good luck or prosperity through charms, many of today's contemporary women love to receive and give charm bracelets as a way to record and signify significant moments or occasions in their lives. European-inspired charm bracelets are one of the hottest trends in jewelry today. Especially popular, the modular charm bracelets allow a woman to change the look of her bracelet on a whim. Charms are fashioned from 14K gold or sterling silver. Beads come in beautiful shapes and colors, including Murano glass. As the years go by, she can add to her bracelet with charms symbolizing the hopes and dreams she has for her family and life.
Lewis Jewelers is proud to carry the full line of Pandora Jewelry. Pandora charms, Pandora bracelets and Pandora beads are only a part of the collection. For more information, Lewis Jewelers, 2000 West Stadium Blvd., Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48103, 877-88-LEWIS or visit the website.