Centuries ago, charms were worn to provide protection and luck for the wearer. Stones, pieces of wood, metals and eventually gems have served as special amulets, believed to possess powers that would be imparted to the owner when worn around the neck, the wrist or carried in a small pouch.
Fast-forward to the 18th and 19th century, this age-old tradition took on new meanings. Queen Victoria made the charm bracelet a vogue piece of fashion when she began wearing charms with tiny pictures of her family members attached to her wrist.
Victorian brides would have charms tied to ribbon and hidden in the bottom layer of the wedding cake, called a cake pull. The bridesmaids would then pull out a charm which was meant to represent their future. A gold ring charm symbolized marriage for the young woman. A ship's wheel charm meant the bridesmaid would soon be traveling. A small baby shoe was the promise of children some day. A four-leaf clover symbolized good luck in life. The tradition of the charm cake pull has been resurrected by many modern brides today who enjoy the sentimentality of an age gone by.
Later, soldiers returning from World War II gave their sweethearts with small charms that represented famous landmarks in Europe. Charms such as the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben served as reminders of cities the soldier had helped liberate. European retailers quickly caught on to the trend, creating charms from celluloid, tin and sterling silver to fill the demand. Back in the States, young women wore these charms on bracelets and the tradition was transformed into a whole new trend in the 1950s.
It became a mark of good society for young girls in post-World War II to be presented with a charm bracelet around her 13th birthday. Thereafter, a charm would be added to the bracelet as the girl reached new hallmarks of her life. Charms represented a girl's hobbies and interests, such as friends, school, travel, and beaus. The tradition carried on into adulthood as the woman married and became a mother.
As time went on, mothers began passing the charm bracelets of their youth to their daughters. The charm bracelet could represent the "something old" for a new bride who proudly wore her mother's charms about her wrist. Some of these charm bracelets still remain today and can be purchased through estate sales and in antique shops. These living history lessons tell a priceless story when passed from one generation to another.
While the demand for charm bracelets waned for several decades, they re-emerged again. The return of the charm bracelet has been an exciting one, with designers creating bracelets in new designs and materials. For instance, the Italian-inspired charm bracelet launched a completely new form in which the charms snap into the body of the bracelet, rather than dangling from it.
Since 2002, the Danish-inspired European charm bracelets have created a whole new trend that built on the success of the "add a bead" jewelry of the 1980s. The modular bracelet consists of a chain in sterling silver or gold onto which various charms can be strung. This interchangeable design allows the wearer to change the look of the bracelet. Charms are designed from Murano glass, gold or silver. Because bracelets have threaded sections, beads swivel on the bracelet with the movement of a wrist, creating an eye-catching effect.
Today's charm bracelets are ideal for any occasion. Many young mothers are accepting a charm bracelet with the birth of a new child. Charms are chosen to represent the birth months of the mother, father and children. Other special hallmarks in life, such as graduations, weddings and anniversaries are perfect occasions to surprise a loved one with a charm bracelet. As the woman wears her bracelet through the years, she can add to it and change its look as she desires. Charm bracelets are also perfect best friend gifts. Or, a group of close college friends might wear charm bracelets to represent their lives and friendships. Each friend chooses a charm to symbolize her bond to each woman.
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.